MSc Computer Science – Year 1 – Semester 1

With the Christmas holidays coming up around the corner, I thought I might give an update on how I’ve been getting on as I haven’t posted in quite some time. Having settled into university life, I feel it is an appropriate time to share my thoughts and experiences over the last 12 weeks.

Upon receiving admission to my first choice university, University of Birmingham, I had many contemplations on this choice and how it would affect me in the future. Being raised and attending school in Birmingham heavily affected my decision and led me to question whether being so close to home would be a blessing or a burden on my growth as an individual.  However I was soon to realise that you’re never too old for the occasional home-cooked meal.

The first impressions of University of Birmingham were lasting with the green campus looking  even more pretty during the winter months. Having lived all of my life in the area surrounding Birmingham, I had never thought such a nice campus could be found in the middle of this once manufacturing powerhouse city. The same can be said for the Computer Science department with it’s grand atrium and oh-so-comfortable work spaces. In terms of content being taught the majority of modules I am deeply interested by, such as Introduction to AI and Language and Logic. Unfortunately, I have learnt I don’t share this same passion for functional computing as of yet. I am very much looking forward to next semesters modules such as Robot Programming with the end team project aiming to create a system of warehouse robots out of Lego Mindstorm NXTs. I’m very happy with the choice of Birmingham as my university due to the modules available and the quality of teaching here.

One of the highlights of the first semester was attending my first hackathon, BrumHack. Not only collaboratively working with friends to turn an idea into something real, but witnessing firsthand the innovation capable by my peers. Our team created a questionably satirical platformer game, whereas others were able to create mind boggling projects such as a virtual Theremin using infrared hand motion detection , which to no surprise won multiples of awards. With sponsors along the likes of Capgemini and Bloomberg there were many awards going with our team picking one up for our game.

Living in halls has had its ups and downs, most of which I have gotten used to by now. The ‘relaxed’ hygiene standards present in our kitchen of 5 students never fails to welcome one with the ripe smell of youth and rotten veg. Despite of our differences in preferences in cleanliness, they are all great people and I’d like to think that I get on well with all of them. The one thing that I feel is a great shame is that we’re all somewhat unsociable with one another, all being parts of separate friend circles outside of the flat. The only forms of communication with the other flatmates is only when seeing them in passing in the kitchen while preparing food, which is hastily taken back to the respective flatmates bedroom once its ready to eat. I’m not a fan of eating by myself but that’s something that I’ve grown used to now. Thankfully I have made friends in other flats in my accommodation through knowing people on my course or were just friendly individuals. In my spare time not spent in my room, it’s usually spent with these friends, whether it’s partaking in our weekly quiz nights or just going to watch some Louis Theroux documentaries on their flat screen TV.

With the more independent lifestyle that comes with living away from home is the increase in free time to do as I choose. Ways in using up this time included joining the university’s ‘Bad Film Society’(which is as self explanatory as it sounds), by joining the university’s Kabaddi team and signing up to the local gym. When I’m at none of the aforementioned locations, I will be most likely be in my room reading, watching netflix or listening to music/podcasts. One thing I do miss is being able to play any instruments.I would love to use my new found free time to practice but I am unable to due to the impracticality of keeping a drum kit/guitar in my already crowded room. I have also not been able to keep up with my photography whilst being here at university which is a shame.

Next semester I’m aiming to improve my organisational skills so I can maximise my productivity with the end goal reaching a stage where I do not have to work on weekends. The reasoning behind this is whilst I have been at university, the weekends usually consist of finishing assignments due for the following week. I am now realising that in the whole of the first semester I have not visited any of my school friend’s current universities. This is something that I will aim to do in my second semester as in spite of making many new friends here at university, I must not forget those who helped me get here in the first place.

 

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