Thursday, 16 February 2012

One of those days...

Hey everyone! Hope you're well and that you're having a better day than I have had today. As my title says, it was just one of those days where I felt like giving up on everything.

Song of the day: The Show Must Go On by Queen (maybe this will motivate me...^^:;)

I've talked a bit about my research project before, but I didn't really mention what it was like to work on it on a day to day basis. At Cambridge, if you take a Masters during your fourth year as an undergrad, then one of the requirements is for you to complete a research project and to write it up as a dissertation. You get assigned a day-to-day supervisor who has detailed knowledge of your project and who is there to give you close supervision when you're working in the lab. They are your mentor for the duration of your project, and as such, the success and enjoyment of your lab experience will depend on your working relationship with them.

Now, I hadn't given my fourth year much thought ~ I'd originally planned on graduating with a BA after three years. But a lack of job offer and the security of one more year in the bubble changed my mind...three days before research project applications were due in. By then, all of the interviews had already happened, and since I hadn't met any of the supervisors, it was highly unlikely that I'd get a good project. Luckily, I bumped into a PhD student, A, who had taught me in labs before, and after a quick catch up, he suggested that I do a research project with him. Guaranteed project? Yes please.

Now let's fast forward to the present.

My research project supervisor is a nice guy, but after starting my project with him, I've come to learn that A just happens to be a really bad supervisor. He's never in the lab when I need help, doesn't give me close supervision when I get stuck and expects me to be this amazing chemist who can make things happen like magic. I've wasted days in the lab trying to figure things out, when a simple hint or guidance could have made all the difference.

As such, I've been turning to the other PhD students in the lab for support, and they've all been really helpful, but at the end of the day, it's not their job to look after me, and I always feel bad that I have to ask them for help. The neglect has been driving me crazy ~ I've talked to A and superiors about it, but if there are any changes, they are always short lived. My project is worth 25% of my MSci grade, and as I spend so much time in the lab, I have no time to learn/revise my lecture notes, which are worth 50% when I sit the exams in the summer. Stressful... :(

Today, I was walking down the stairs with a test tube, intending on runnning some tests on a sample reaction that had worked every time I tried it before but failed to work this time. I bumped into my lecture course supervisor, E, who asked me how I was getting on. I've always had a soft spot for him and admired him since he started to supervise me in my third year - he's also a PhD student and is one of the most intelligent people that I have ever met. When he asked me how I was doing, I said I was fine, but then a few steps later, I broke down in tears.

I tried so hard not to cry, but all it took was that one simple question, and there I was, having a mini breakdown from all of the things that have been making me sad since the start of this semester. E looked awkward, not really expecting anything like this at all, but he offered me emotional support and gave up half an hour of his time to give me guidance on how to overcome the obstacles in my project. Thinking about that simple act of kindness whilst walking home just set me off in tears again...! >_<:; I put it down to Week Five Blues ~ a slang term we use to describe a phenomena:
When the beginning-of-term partying dies down a little bit and work piles up to the level that sometimes makes you despair. Many Cambridge students find Week 5 (or Week 4 or 6, depending on the person and subject) a tough week with mounting work pressure.
It's not just work and feeling emotionally drained that's been getting me down. This week, I've had a series of medical appointments: blood test results came back fine (phew!), one at the hospital where they stuck loads of patches on my back to see what my body reacts to, and I'll have another one at the hospital tomorrow morning at 8:50am for them to check the patches...

This is what my back looks like at the moment...they're making me wear a bandagey vest so the patches don't fall's pretty icky as I'm not allowed to wash my torso until the patches are removed. I feel like a walking experiment... T_T

Anyway, I have a series of photos that I took today showing my walking/cycling route to lectures which I planned to blog about for today's post, but since it ended up being a rant about how awful my day was, I'll save it for a happier post! ^^:;

Kudos to you if you made it to the end! Can you tell me a joke to cheer me up? :D

Yishi xxx


  1. Wow. You look like the girl from the Fifth Element!

    What's green and eats nuts?


  2. Haha cheers Harley!

    And lol, that totally made me laugh! xDDD

  3. I don't know any jokes but here watch Maru slide into a box. That always makes me laugh.
    And I am sorry that your mentor isn't exactly doing his job. I hope next week is better, just remember to take a few minutes to breathe. I know you can't afford to waste time but you may need to take a breather every now and then so you don't explode. :/
    I'm rooting for you and I hope everything turns out alright. <3<3<3

  4. it sounds really stressful right now but I hope you can make things work and it'll work out for you!!Keep at it, ad keep pestering that supervisor - I'm sure he'll get the message at some point..! Good luck :)


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