My Travels Around Scotland: Arbroath

Last year I wrote a blog post for the RSGS about Arbroath. I consider it a neat little thing, so I hope you don’t mind if I share it with you:

https://rsgs.org/favourite-place-scotland-arbroath/

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Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Groups

One of the great things about studying in the School of GeoSciences post-graduate programmes at the University of Edinburgh is the university’s very close proximity to policy-makers whose own work is often informed by our programmes’ research and teaching. The Scottish Parliament operates a wide variety of Cross-Party Groups, which are forums for its elected members to interact with leaders of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the general public on matters of public interest. Several of the groups are dedicated to topical areas of concern to us in GeoSciences; these include food, renewable energy, animal welfare, crofting, oil and gas, among many others.

Meetings usually feature presentations from experts in government, academics, and industry, followed by opportunities for all present to pose questions and offer comments to the presenters. Members of the Scottish Parliament, for their part, use the information presented during the Cross-Party Group meetings to inform the policy decisions they take at Holyrood. Coffee, tea, and light refreshments are available for all participants.

One of the best parts of these Cross-Party Group meetings is that anyone is welcome to attend and even to join their memberships, regardless as to citizenship. These groups represent excellent opportunities for post-graduate students seeking opportunities to meet future employers, to gain contacts for research and activism, to influence public policy in a meaningful way, or simply to deepen their own knowledge in areas of their own concern.

For further information on the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Groups as well as contact information for the group convenors and secretaries, point your browser to http://www.parliament.scot/msps/cross-party-groups.aspx.

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Exams are over (and I’m still alive!)

Hello and happy New Year!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed your winter holidays and are ready for uni to start again!img_1559

At the moment I’m still in Germany, enjoying the first snow. It was so nice being here for Christmas, having some real German Lebkuchen and Glühwein. For New Year’s Eve, I went to Kiel, which is a city right at the Baltic Sea. I lived there for a while before I came to Edinburgh. Most of my friends are still there, so of course it was great to be back! We had great fun making cocktails and cooking amounts of fingerfood that will probably last until the end of February! Still, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to stay in Edinburgh to experience Hogmanay next year!

Afterwards, I visited another friend in Hamburg and then went on to the North Sea to spend some (very cold) days with my family. After two days of fog, rain and litres of East Frisian tea (first put a big chunk of sugar into your cup, listen to the nice sound it makes to pour in the tea, add some milk using a small spoon and by all means, DON’T STIR!), we were really happy to have at least one day which really was as nice and sunny as it looks on these pictures:

I feel very lucky compared to my friends at home, as I’ve already written my exams before Christmas and they are just starting revision now. Exams seem soo long ago already, and luckily, there’s more to university than those endless hours of sitting in my room trying to remember the life cycles of plants and feeling guilty the odd time I left the house with other plans than going to the library. I promise!

Actually I’m really looking forward to the new semester (Although the Spanish book I have to read for my course looks quite daunting). It will be nice to come back to Edinburgh not being new: I won’t stumble from one freshers event to the next, desperately trying to meet people or get that free toaster, and I won’t get lost around King’s buildings anymore (or so I hope). I’m looking forward to seeing my friends again, to meeting my three new flatmates, and to my new courses!

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New Year, New You?

2017

Okay. So it’s January. 2017. A hideously scary thought isn’t it? As we contemplate just how we have managed to survive 2016, chances are you’ve either thought about, or you have produced a list of New Year’s resolutions as the majority of us do entering the new year with the hope of transforming our sluggish post-Christmas selves. Personally, experience has shown me that let’s be honest, keeping these resolutions is not all that easy, and quite frankly by February it’s likely that I’ve waved them goodbye already. But NO, not this year. This year I’m determined to make realistic, achievable goals that I WILL (try my best to) stick to. And you will to. So here I offer you my best tips on how you can be successful on your quest, we’re all in this together folks so let’s give it a whirl.

  1. BE REALISTIC

One of the most important things when creating resolutions you can actually stick to, is making them realistic and being straight with yourself. Don’t kid yourself. You’ll just end up giving up prematurely and thinking you’re a failure. If you’re currently out of breath walking up one flight of stairs, chances are you might not be able to run a marathon by February. Likewise, if you’ve set foot in the library once since starting University, perhaps promising yourself you’ll now be going nine till five, seven days a week may not be a great idea. This brings me on to my next tip…

  1. SET SMALL, ACHIEVABLE GOALS

Rather than ‘run a marathon’ or ‘never eat chocolate ever again’ go for smaller mile stones that can be realistically achievable, perhaps along the lines of ‘run for 2 miles by the end of February’ or ‘cut down chocolate intake to one bar a week by Easter’ or simply ‘make healthier choices’, if improving health and fitness is on your 2017 agenda. Smaller goals that are actually in sight will give you more motivation to persevere and believe in yourself.

  1. REWARDS

Being kind to yourself is important. If you’ve set yourself the goal of eating at 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, and you’ve succeeded for the whole of January, TREAT YOURSELF. Go wild and get yourself an ice-cream sundae or go and get your nails done. Or even just a pat on the back. This will give you greater incentive and drive to continue reaching for those goals.

  1. DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP

If you slip up or only manage to go to one gym class a week instead of two, don’t revert back to square one and sit in a pit of doom and gloom feeling useless. It’s totally fine, no one is perfect, by any means. Perhaps take a step back, re-assess, maybe break down your bigger goals into smaller parts, and get back on that path to success.

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Hogmanay :)

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Hogmanay was nothing I had ever dreamed of in a new years celebration. In the past, I have watched, from my television, a colourful sphere slowly drop down in Time Square, and I have visited a temple while in Japan, living with a host family. This New Years, however, I had the opportunity to participate in an event as fun, warming, and happy as Hogmanay. I joined the street party with my friends from the United Kingdom, and we went to one of the stages that held a trio of bands play music. There were so many people cheering, laughing, and singing, and it felt absolutely wonderful to be part of such a joyful moment. Thank you Edinburgh for creating another amazing memory, and bringing in the new year with a beautiful display of fire works 🙂

 

 

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Reflections on First Semester

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As the dust settles at the end of the first semester, life admin tasks are taken and sleep has been recovered, I can finally start to reflect on what has been a crazy 14 weeks or so.

You always come to university with the best of intentions, which are made even more ambitious in freshers week, you find yourself signing yourself up to 3 societies and 5 sports clubs, you’re going to run that marathon you always wanted to run, why not? You can fit it around your studies can’t you?

And them boom,

you get lulled into a false sense of security from the first two weeks and then all at once the work hits you and you start on a treadmill, albeit it not the one you expected. It’s a very different marathon you have embarked upon. I always thought that if I worked hard I could contain my working week to a monday -friday 9-5. By week three you do your first late session at the library working until 9. Fast forward 4 weeks and this is just the norm you’re sprinting just to keep up.

Exams roll around, by this point you’re settled in, you have your spot in the library, you’re on nodding terms with the security guards, the library is your life, you are at one with the books.

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A 5 Bengala-pesa note, from a lecture regarding alternative currencies. 
But all of this sounds like a bad thing, yes the work has been intense, the hours has been very long. I study Ecological Economics, and as a consequence I now have a manageable understanding of micro and macro-economics (and what’s wrong with Neoclassical Economics)! That in itself is a massive achievement. Within the first semester I have been able to meet so many like-minded people, who are all pulling in the same direction with ambitions in creating a better, fairer and more sustainable world, my course has formed into a really close knit group of 22 people all of whom I find remarkable. I was able to take breaks and the amount of work you undertake means that the time you do manage to take off feels amazing, that day trip to the highlands is a real treat, your study break can be exploring the summit of an extinct volcano or even visiting the grave of Tom Riddle!

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Day trips away become so much better when you earn them! This is Killin in the Autumn
One of the real bonuses of doing a masters degree at a Scottish University is that you start a month earlier, but it also means you finish before Christmas, no worrying about exams or coursework over the festive season.

Doing a masters degree is a lot of work, more than you may even suspect, but it’s worth it when you get there, at least that’s the view from the end of semester one!

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Merry Christmas from the Ecological Economics students!

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My Postgrad Experience so Far

As I am studying for my last final exam, I have been contemplating my experience of being a graduate student. It was weird at first, for I dedicated four years of undergraduate to studying neuroscience, prodding nerve cells with a thin glass need, and trying to understand why oftentimes humans want that one chocolate bar right this minute instead of waiting one week to maybe receive two. Now, however, here I am doing carbon management and learning how to prepare society and businesses for the devastating impacts of climate change. But I have to say, in the transition from brains to business, I have greatly enjoyed my time here at the University of Edinburgh. The people, the professors, and the atmosphere(potential climate change pun) have been so warm and welcoming! I absolutely cannot wait for what next semester has to offer!

I hope this little Pikachu wearing a Santa hat will brighten up your day and give you hope to move on through finals.img_0462

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Living the Commuter’s Life as a Carbon Data Analyst Intern

Finding an internship related to my degree, Geography, and more specifically my interests in quantitative models, glaciology, and climate change is pretty tough! I would say impossible but luckily, I stumbled across a listing for an internship at CDP (the Carbon Disclosure Project). Never heard of them I hear you say? They are a NGO based in London, but have offices worldwide, who work with shareholders and companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions. The listing described the position very succinctly but what jumped out at me was the fact that the outcomes of the work the data team did would be packaged up and spread across the world to investors and relevant stakeholders so that they could make better informed decisions, whether that be promoting or investing in more environmentally friendly/conscious companies or identifying which companies are not pulling their weight in the battle against anthropogenic climate warming. This wasn’t a topic I had been physically involved in before but I knew right then that it was definitely something I wanted to be involved in; luckily, I was hired!

Waking up at 6am to jump the 7am train from Colchester to London every weekday was not my idea of fun, nor was discovering how horrific the tube is in rush hour, but it was totally worth it! A typical day would involve a team meeting with the data team, who were a group of really interesting and awesome guys, many hours of collecting and cleaning data, some vegan sour dough pizza from the market outside, and a few more hours developing bottom up models. I also got the opportunity to work on the general linear models that my colleague had created. I had some experience of coding with R in the past, but nothing on this scale. The shear amount of data that was going in and out of these models were incredible (data science geek, I apologise).  I did a lot of data cleaning for these models, which may sound boring but I really enjoyed the task, especially working with companies in the high emitting sectors. Working in the data team involved a lot of getting your head down in the midst of models, running scripts, reading corporate sustainability responsibility reports, trying to get Excel to be clever and save you boring work… but it was always nice to take a step back and think about what you’re doing in the grand scheme of things, and talking to people working in the other departments to see how everything fitted together. Everyone there had the same mindset about climate change and it was nice to work alongside so many likeminded individuals.

Now I’m coming up to half way through the last year of my degree and trying to decide where to go next. This internship meant a lot to me not only in the skills I developed but also the people I met, the experiences I had in the industry, and is now also my dissertation topic, in addition to acting as another one of the reasons why I’m interested in going into environmental modelling in the future. To add to all this I found out last week that the data team at CDP have published the methodology reports on their site for the 2016 Clean & Complete Dataset, and I am a co-author on one of the annexes, and a contributor to the other two, which is crazy and an awesome thing to able to say I’ve achieved and contributed to! I enjoyed working at CDP a lot and I’m ecstatic to have had the opportunity to work alongside some fantastic minds in the data team. So, if you’re looking for an internship at the moment don’t stress, keep looking, and I hope a good opportunity pops up for you.

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Charlie Moriarty on being a social media rep!

One of our social media reps  Charlie Moriarty shared his experience of being social media rep for the School of GeoSciences:

I’d say the biggest challenge has been how busy my course has been! In the weeks when I’ve been assigned different accounts, I’ve often found that my amount of time free to generate posts has been much less than I expected. I’ve really enjoyed watching what the other social media reps have been posting though, and overall I’ve found that the experience of being a rep is keeping me much more in touch with the Geosciences social media pages!

I think this first semester is the busiest part of our course, but I think things should ease up a bit going into Semester 2 and thesis work, so I’m hoping to get more time to dedicate to rep duties in the new year! I’m also really enjoying the advent calendar 🙂

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Making the most of it!

Advice from our graduates to all our future students…

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