Where Now?

I thought I’d fit in a quick blog entry while I waited for my lab supervisors to turn up. Getting used to a lab very different from the one we were based in over our iGEM-ey summer is a weird experience: I’m not sure I understand the concepts of fitting lab work around lectures and not working nine til five with as much squeezed in as possible. I enjoy it, but I don’t think it will ever give me what iGEM did.

Amsterdam was fantastic. We didn’t get to the Boston finals but we know we did very well, and I think we all feel quite proud of the group as a whole and very grateful to Tom for deftly and patiently shepherding us there without getting directly involved in our choices and work output. I sometimes wondered how he stopped himself wrestling the agar plates from our hands and carrying on himself.

An undergraduate degree is all well and good, but for someone like myself who still doesn’t know what to do with themselves when it’s over, I just don’t really have anything to aim for beyond a number. Last Christmas holiday, while I was supposed to be revising, I sort of lost it and ended up reading Sherlock Holmes novels instead. I attempt not to sound trite: I probably would have been stuck if Nic Harmer hadn’t advertised iGEM to us and I hadn’t been in a peculiarly impulsive and confident mood the day I decided to apply. To put my new-found (quite minimal) web skillz to use-

<overemotional>Where would I be without iGEM?!?</overemotional>

I’m currently investigating methods of avoiding the post-iGEM feeling of deflation, and I think the answer is another project which means something to me (it’s going to have to be my third year project). I frankly do not understand why, after the past two weeks of late nights in bed and a workload which took me by surprise, I can’t manage to be happy that iGEM is over. Then again, the team spent several months living in each others’ pockets (I feel like I’m related to Freddie having spent so much time in the lab with him) and mutual enthusiasm for a goal spurs you on.

I might put some Amsterdam photos up if the mood strikes me. Life feels very odd right now.


Mary B.



I’ve just been given a complimentary cocktail by the waiter of the top floor hotel bar. It’s apple-ish, and reminds me of Christmas. If I drank, life would be amazing right now. I’m pretty sure I can see half of Amsterdam from the window; very sparkly.

It would be nice to say that we are all flawless ambassadors for the university, but though we’re trying so hard (we really are) somehow some of us look like less-than seasoned travellers. After haphazardly making our way across the city on the metro system, we managed to find our hotel (it’s fairly hard to miss, i.e. tall and ugly) somebody accidentally got us two extra twin hotel rooms. Fools. After ten hours in the foyer it was sorted out.

The hotel is great when you have the right number of rooms. The room plays seductive music as you enter for the first time and the TV addresses you by name. Stellar. We’re less fans of the public transport system, which has thrown up a few hurdles. Our beloved supervisor, Tom, rocked up a day after everyone else (he’s a busy man) and got stuck in the metro barriers. Did we rescue him? Yes we did.

The trains run like clockwork, from the engines to the doors, and even more enjoyable than rescuing Tom was watching as the whole team piled off the train apart from Becca, whom Raf attempted in vain to rescue. I wish I had photographed her expression as she left us staring on the station, but I did not.

I could tell other stories of our social inadequacy, about failing to get food from a restaurant or about butchering the Dutch language in public places, but to be frank it’s been a crazy day and I’m knackered. Time for bed: we’ve got some sort of presentation tomorrow morning apparently. Wonder if that’s important.

Mary B.