Lancaster, they say, is the second most congested town or city in the UK. It’s the next best place for traffic apart from London. Since coming here, I’ve become so acclimatised to the weather, that I’ve stopped creating variations of the following: “Why is still raining?”, “Why is it windy?” (local residents only accept the feeble description of a `breeze’ to describe the gales here), and the ever popular “Is this as warm as it gets?!” To be fair, it is the middle of July. Surely, there’s such a thing as summer around these parts?
Two weeks into my research internship, I can honestly say that I’ve never socialised or thrown myself into my work as much as I have here. I’ve ran head first towards everything, that I can hardly recognise who I’ve become. Normally, I wouldn’t react as well to such a hectic, people-oriented environment. I think that it’s been easy to integrate into life here, because the other interns are not only from a similar academic environment to me, but they are very quick to accept difference and welcome you in.
There’s been a lot of activity on the exercise front. For some bizarre reason, I’ve managed to complete some form of exercise every day thus far. There’s been badminton (I now consider myself to be an expert at this one), walking, hiking (how I survived this one I don’t know), swimming (it had been six years since I had entered a pool), and running. Alongside all of this, I’ve been challenged to execute a full pull-up before the end of the internship. As an athletically-challenged and lazy individual, all of this stuff is wildly outside of my comfort zone and expertise. I just pray to the powers that be that I don’t make a total prat of myself.
I would say that I have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of conversations I’ve had. It’s one thing to introduce yourself to everybody on the first day, but is a ten minute presentation about ourselves to the entire department really necessary? As a collective group of interns, we tend to do everything together. Work in the office, eat lunch, buy our weekly shop from Sainsbury’s, drink coffee, go the sports centre and cook. There’s very little that I actually do on my own. To challenge my boundaries, I do take the initiative to socialise more than I normally would do at university, but it does get tiring. The few hours of private free time I get are utter bliss. To be perfectly honest, I do joke that it’s like we’ve all moved into a little retirement home for the summer, with scheduled activities at every waking moment of the day. Even though the social aspect of the internship is a lot for me to take on, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Overall, my music and film knowledge have grown, I’ve realised that I love pub quizzes, and I’ve never laughed as much I have in the last fortnight.
The research side of the research internship has also been a major leap into the unknown. I came here with no knowledge of computer programming or academic writing. The transformation from utter novice to fairly competent user was frustrating, mentally exhausting, but also very rewarding. My actual project on time series has only just begun, so I can’t really say much on that. However, I am certain that it will be a rather steep learning curve! My degree programme doesn’t really offer the opportunity for this sort of skills building and that makes this opportunity that much more valuable to me. The department here are investing lots of time, resources and manpower into helping me shape this internship into something I can be proud of.
Once I stopped doubting that I wasn’t right or qualified enough for this internship (that one took the entire first week to shake off), I really started to feel at home. I’m really happy right now. The people, the place, the work and even the weather have grown on me. Let’s see where the rest of the summer will take me!!