Caroline Taylor

Caroline Taylor (BSc Sports and Materials Science, 2015) tells us how she's adjusting to life after Birmingham.

Since graduating I spent most of the summer working to top up my bank account after the year and end of term celebrations. Unlike a lot of graduates, I still had a summer holiday before studying started again, as I opted to immediately continue studying towards a Master’s degree.

Postgraduate life differs hugely from being an undergraduate, although that effect may be heightened for me as I no longer live in a student house near university - I commute into Imperial College London from my home in Hertfordshire, which is a far flung experience from the short walk to campus while living in Selly Oak! I join thousands of workers from the commuter belt on packed peak time trains into Kings Cross St Pancras. My daily journey time is approximately the same length of time it takes to travel from London to Birmingham. Think of that journey twice a day, three or four times a week, and suddenly efficiency while working has become far more important than it ever was before. Sometimes I feel much more like a worker than a student; far more time is spent travelling and working in the library, often ready for bed as soon as I get home in the evening.

While at the University of Birmingham, I learned to take part in many activities outside of lectures, including societies and social groups that hugely developed my skills and friendships. The three years we spent together formed the basis of friendships that will last a long time. Six months into graduate life and everyone could have dispersed across the world. Instead I still have an excuse to visit regularly, as many friends chose to continue living and studying in Birmingham - it's a good place to be! Last month, I attended an event in Birmingham called Matopoly, hosted by the Institute of Materials Younger Members' Committee. This was effectively a treasure hunt, following clues to different parts of the city.

I apply the same principles to my time in London, where you are surrounded by a wide choice of opportunities and events. For instance, I recently went to the launch of a policy paper entitled "Improving the Visibility of Women in STEM" hosted by The London Forum for Science and Policy. Within the Department of Materials at Imperial, there are regular internal seminars and external speakers keeping students up to date on current research in materials science and career opportunities, which also provide fantastic networking opportunities. As in Birmingham, I am now a class representative and have met lots of people this way.  I have made friends from around the world, experiencing different food, language and cultures every day.