I Am Still Alive


Despite what you may have thought, this three-month radio silence wasn’t because I died. I am not typing this from the afterlife (although, if there is an afterlife I fully expect there to be computers and Wi-Fi). If you’re expecting a reason for why I haven’t posted since July 1st then I’m afraid I’m gonna have to let you down, because I don’t have a reasonable excuse. It has really just been a combination of not having anything to report, laziness, and, lately, business. The past month or so has been rather quite hectic, so I’ll give you a short summary of what’s transpired since my last post:

  1. I got into Cardiff University to study Biochemistry, so I’m here now.
  2. I have a boyfriend. That guy I mentioned in my last post? Yeah, well that happened.

Obviously the move to university and all that has taken up most of my time and thoughts, but it’s still not a good excuse for not having posted in over three months. So I apologise. I apologise profusely for my blog neglect. I think this is probably what would happen if I was to ever have a child…I’d be really into it for a year or two and then all of a sudden I’d forget about it for three months.

Anyway, university. Firstly, this is my room:

Photo on 15-10-2014 at 21.29 #2I moved in September 18th, so I’ve been here a while. Basically, I’m in a flat with four other people; two girls and two boys. They’re all very nice and we get on well. Fresher’s fortnight (which is just a two-week period before term officially starts when all the first years go partying, get drunk and generally build “great memories”) was alright. I went out a few times but I didn’t get too drunk, because I don’t drink. The only time I’ve been in a horrific state was when it was my best friend’s birthday (she goes to university on the other side of Cardiff) and I drank slightly too much and came home and was sick eight times. It was vile and I felt like death. I do not recommend.

Anyway, one of my flat mates, Lewis, is an absolute animal and I kid you not, he went out every single night of Freshers. And he’d always bring stuff back from his nightly, drunken adventures. One morning I went into the kitchen to find two traffic cones on the table, another morning I found a half-eaten piece of bread and the end of a pitch fork. One night he dropped his keys down a drain and had to buy a small magnet the next day and tape it to the end of a spoon to retrieve them because he didn’t want to pay the £20 to get his keys replaced.


The traffic cones

Other than Freshers, nothing much exciting has happened. The fire alarm went off at 11PM once because someone burnt their toast, but that’s about it. The Monday after Freshers finished, we were launched straight into our courses and I tell you, the people doing Arts and Humanities courses do not know how easy they have it. The two other boys in my flat are doing Chemistry and the two girls are doing History and Modern Languages. The girl doing History has a four-hour week most weeks. That’s more than I – and everyone else doing Science degrees – do in a day. I have a few 9-5 days, but other than that they’re 10-2, which isn’t too bad.

For my course all the Biosciences students have a common first year, which means students doing Zoology, Biochemistry, Genetics etc. are all together this year learning the same stuff. It kinda sucks because it means I have to do modules in Anatomy & Physiology and Ecology and stuff like that. I mean, I came here to do Biochemistry, you know? But the point of having a common first year is that we get to have a taster of all the Biosciences degree courses in case we want to change our course next year. That’s pretty good, because if someone’s not enjoying their original choice of, say, Ecology, they could switch to Neuroscience or something.

Photo on 15-10-2014 at 22.02

My very own lab coat!

So I have a lot of work at the moment. Our practicals are every Friday and they’re three hours long, we get pre- and post-practical online tests, we have module assessments, essays, and group work projects. So it’s a handful. But I’m managing at the moment. My autumn essay title is:

With reference to named amino acids, write an illustrated account of the various types of covalent and non-covalent bonds between amino acids. How do these bonds contribute to the secondary and tertiary structure of a protein and ultimately its function?

It’s not due in until December, but I’m about half way through it already. The only difficult thing about it is citing and referencing sources, which takes a lot of time and effort and which I’ve never had to do properly before.

Anyway, enough of this boring stuff. You know what’s really sad? The fact that I haven’t written anything new since FEBRUARY. How horrific is that? I did literally nothing over the summer holidays, which is just plain awful. NaNoWriMo is looming next month, but I very much doubt I’ll be able to do that on top of university work. I feel like a need to start something new just to have an escape from everyday things, but I literally have no ideas. I feel like my writing juice has completely dried up. I just seem to be brain-dead by about five everyday, so I just sit and watch Netflix for most of the evening. It’s so bad.

If any of you are tackling NaNoWriMo next month I wish you the very best of luck!

Anyway, I shall go now. It’s felt to type this up and I apologise again for my lengthy, lengthy absence! Auf wiedersehen!

Well Strike Me Down with a Ham Sandwich

I have a date.

When I told my Mum her first response was “with a guy?”

I was like “yes, Mum. With a male of the species.”

I think it’s safe to say a fair amount of surprise registered on her face.

So anyway he’s 21 and a civil engineer and because I don’t know him that well yet I’m doing a Safety Date, which is where me and him are going out to dinner, but my two friends will also have a date at the same place. It’s just so that I have two people there, really. It’s almost sad that as a woman I have to take so many precautions when going on a date, but then I think that I’d rather be safe then show my defiance against the patriarchy. So my friend’s picking me and my other friend up, I’m meeting him at the restaurant and then he’ll drop me near my house (not at my actual house, obviously).

So yeah. I don’t even know how this happened really. But anyway, his sense of humour’s right up my street and I’m fairly sure he’s a gentleman. But, as my friend said, you can never be sure. I actually have a contingency plan for if things go weird when he’s dropping me home and my Mum’s given me some tips because she used to date every guy under the sun, some of whom were quite dodgy. I might try and subtly gather info about his views on feminism and women’s rights in general, because that’ll be a strong indicator of whether he’s decent or not.

So yeah, that’s an update on my life right now. Exams went well, I just have to wait until mid August for my results now. It’s going to be a nerve-wracking wait so I’ll have to try and not think about it too much.

It’s Nearly All Over. Just One More Exam.

My final A-Level exam is tomorrow, at 09:30, and after that it’ll all be over. I’ll be free for the summer. I’ll have around thirteen weeks – thirteen weeks - to do absolutely nothing.

Tomorrow I have unit 5 of Biology and I’m not even joking, I am so unprepared. My revision’s been really behind and I haven’t actually properly revised at all for it, and I need an A in Biology overall. Since I came home at midday, I’ve gone through every past paper and their mark schemes and I’m reading the revision guide and my revision notes at the moment. I went through the most recent paper and tried to figure out what’s probably not going to come up on tomorrow’s paper, because it’s very rare for them to do two similar papers, one after the other. A basic rule of thumb is that if there’s a long question on a particular topic – say, biotechnology – then there’s a high chance there won’t be any large questions (or any questions at all) on it in the next paper. So, after having looked at the most recent paper I’m quite upset about the fact that hardly anything came up about protein synthesis and cellular control, which means there’s a high probability we’ll get a bitch of question about it this year, which sucks because it’s a difficult topic.

Anyway, I had my Ethics exam today at 09:30 and it really could’ve been better, but I think I managed to scrape by. I’d made the decision to only revise four out of the seven topics within A2 Ethics, because revising all seven would just be impossible – there’d be far too much information to retain. So, I revised four topics and hoped to God at least one of them would come up, otherwise I would’ve been screwed. And, lo and behold, two of them did come up, but they weren’t particularly nice questions. The two topics were business ethics and sexual ethics. The other questions were about conscience and free will and determinism, but I didn’t answer those.

The question for business ethics was really difficult and I didn’t like it that much. It was “Critically assess the view that businesses have a religious moral duty to put their employees first.” We’d literally never learnt about business ethics in relation to religion during lessons, so I was so, so thankful that I’d read about it in the text book. The sexual ethics question was nice though: “Critically assess the view that Utilitarianism is of no use when discussing issues of sexual ethics.” That was fairly easy to answer; I just narrowed my answer down to classic and modern Utilitarian views on contraception and homosexuality and then compared that with the views advocated by Natural Law. I think I got John-Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant mixed up at one point, because I went on about how Mill was in favour of contraception since it was a tool for the emancipation of women, but I’m pretty sure Kant actually said that because he was all about autonomy and the rights of the individual. But oh well, it’s done now. I think the rest of the essay should make up for that blunder though.

But yeah. There’s sixty-five pages I’ve got to read through in the revision guide for unit 5 Biology and that’s going to be such an arduous task. You know you’re a bit screwed for the exam when, a day before the exam, you look at a massive section in the book about auxins and think “what the fuck is an auxin?” There’s just so many words and definitions we need to know for unit 5 and it sucks. A lot.

Talk Science To Me


So I’m extremely tired right now and I’ve literally just sat on my bed, stared at my wall and thought up various science sweet-nothings. Like, this is what I do with my life now. I’ll share them with you:

You’re the fourth dimension to my special relativity

You’re the uncertainity principle to my quantum entanglement

You’re the work function to my photoelectric effect

You’re the scalar to my matrix vector

You’re the entropy to my Gibb’s free energy

You’re the condition changes to my Le Chatelier’s Principle

You’re the specific heat capacity of water to my enthalpy equation

Are you an ion, because you slip through my membrane easily

Are you high-frequency electromagnetic radiation, because you get me excited

I could go on, but I don’t particularly want to. I just texted my friend (who’s been revising Biology today) some of them and she replied with this:

You must be auxin, because you’re causing me to have rapid stem elongation

Whether she got that off Google I don’t know, but it’s brilliant.

But yeah, this is what I do for fun these days. I think the stress of exams has actually caused me to go mad.

Pretend Less, Read More


The issue perfectly put into words

Originally posted on The History Woman's Blog:

nerd-glassesSince being a nerd has become cool I don’t like it any more. Big glasses are no longer the indicator of a visual impairment caused by too much reading, and pasty skin is less likely caused by long hours spent in libraries, archives or labs. It’s more likely the result of an overpriced holiday in Finland and cleverly applied make-up.

It is now socially acceptable, even hip, to be seen sitting by yourself in a murky café reading Camus. It is even more so if you’re wearing a baggy jumper you found in a charity shop, while frantically scribbling notes into your Moleskin notebook or are indeed staring into your MacBook. Not even questionable personal hygiene or unkempt hair are a safe indicator that the person next to you is a borderline genius.

On the other hand, real nerds are now heading to the gym to fight the pen pusher’s…

View original 350 more words

My Last Day of Academic Philosophy

Well, for a long time anyway. I had my last ever Philosophy exam today and it was a sad occasion that marked the end of my academic journey of Philosophy. I might pick it up again in a few years if I decide to do a second degree (or if I can do it as a side module alongside Biochemistry), but for now there’s no more. It’s very sad. I’m tempted to keep my revision notes just in case I feel nostalgic in a few months’/years’ time.

Anyway, the exam didn’t go too badly. It could’ve gone better but I don’t think I did too badly. There were four question choices (all 35-mark essays) and we had to answer two. The four were (roughly):

  1. “Myths are more successful than symbols in conveying religious ideas.” Discuss.
  2. Critically assess the views of John Hick and Plato in relation to the soul and body.
  3. [Something about revelation]
  4. Critically assess the philosophical issues raised in relation to God intervening in the world in the Biblical sense of miracle.

We haven’t studied revelation so we were explicitly told not to answer that question, so I chose to do questions 2 and 4. I couldn’t for the life of me think where to begin the first question, so I chose the only two I could do. For question 2 I think I spent too much time on Hick and I wrote down all I could think of about Plato, but it still wasn’t an even balance. Hopefully I brought it all back in my conclusion. For question 4 I wrote a fair bit about the issues raised over God’s omnibenevolence, but I think I screwed up a bit when I went on to discuss the issues raised over His omniscience. But again, hopefully my conclusion will gain me more marks.

The two topics I really wanted to come up didn’t (logical positivism and God’s omniscience in relation to free will) but I still think I did fairly okay. If the Ethics paper is as nice as today’s paper then hopefully things will go smoothly and I’ll be on track for an A overall.

My Contingency Plan for Being a Failure

I knew this was going to happen, that’s why I kept all my university prospectuses. I somehow just knew that I’d fail Chemistry and that I’d have to look for something else to do at university apart from Biochemistry.

I’ve taken enough exams in my time to know when I’ve failed one and today was a prime example of me failing an exam. What’s really annoying is the fact that for all the past papers I did for Unit 4 Chemistry I was getting As and Bs, but the exam I sat today was just something else entirely. Also, I’m pretty sure there was at least one mistake in the paper and when the exam paper’s wrong, you’re screwed. Firstly, I’m pretty sure there was a typo in the name of one of the compounds, which was an ester. When you write out an ester’s name it’s always [something] -thyl [something] -oate, for example methyl propanoate, but in the paper today they’d named an ester as “methyl 2-methyl propenoate”. I’m pretty sure the “e” in “propenoate” is wrong.

Also, for one question we were asked to draw a reaction mechanism, but they’d only given us one reagent and I was just sat there thinking “I can’t draw a bloody reaction mechanism if there aren’t reagents for the reaction to happen.” It really screwed me up. Also, the buffer calculation question we got was nothing like we’d ever done before and the questions on benzene and nitrification were at the front of the paper, instead of at the back like they’d been for all the past papers.

If AQA were aiming to confuse people with this year’s exam, they sure achieved it. Most people said it went awfully when we came outside, so hopefully the grade boundaries will be low.

BUT, onto why I know I’m a failure.

So, if today’s exam went awfully – let’s say I got a D – then next week’s Chemistry exam is going to be even worse, because I simply cannot do Unit 5. So, if I get, say, a D in next week’s exam, that means that I’ll probably get a D or an E overall and my two universities will probably not give me a place. So, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve come up with a contingency plan for if I get rejected by both my firm and insurance university.

In England, how the university application works is this: after midnight on exam results day (the 14th of August I think) the universities you’ve applied for will send you an automated response, based on your results, on whether you’ve got in or not (they receive your results after midnight). Most of the time, because it’s an automated response, if you don’t quite get the required grades and ring them up they’ll still give you a place anyway, because it’s too much hassle for them to reject you and search for another applicant. If, however, neither of your two universities accept you even after you’ve called up, you have to options: take a gap year, or go through clearing. Clearing starts the day after results day and it’s where you can put your application out there for any university that’ll take you, or you can apply for a different course altogether, provided you’ve got the qualifications for it.

So, my plan is this: I reckon I’ll have the qualifications to get into either Law or Philosophy at practically any university in the country. I’ll have the qualifications to do Evolutionary Biology at Exeter, but that’s hassle. So, my plan is if both Sheffield and Cardiff reject me for the Biochemistry course, then I’ll go through clearing and apply for Law. I honestly would love to do Philosophy, but my Mum’s forbidden me because there’s no career prospects.

Applying for Law will be a bit on the hairy side because my knowledge of Law is very limited. Well, at the moment. I could of course read a tonne of books over the summer on various aspects of Law and re-write my personal statement in preparation for clearing, but it’s all so much effort. But, who knows. If, for some miraculous reason, Chemistry goes well next Monday then I’ll re-think my position, but at the moment it’s looking pretty grim.