Assorted Thoughts

A Day in the Life of a UK Grad Student

This post is is a peak into what my daily life entails and what I usually do as a Grad Student here in the UK. I want you guys, my readers, to get to know me and my life a little better and I figured telling you about what I do on a typical day might be a good start. This may not seem like the most exciting post, but it does give an accurate picture of what the daily life of a master’s student is. Now, where to begin? Well, for those who don’t know, I am currently pursuing an MSc in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine at the University of Manchester. I am currently in my second semester of the year long program so I am still taking taught courses while starting to plan my dissertation.
For this post, I am going to discuss what Wednesday March 2nd entailed for me. Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week this semester because its the day I have my “Medicine, Science and Modernity” course, which is my favorite course thus far in my Program. This course is a history of medicine course that focuses on different topics each week such as framing of disease, the impact laboratories had on medicine, and this week we discussed Race and Medicine. Unlike many undergraduate courses I took where the professor would lecture for part of the class and then there would maybe be a guided discussion, this class is usually 2 full hours of discussion based on readings we completed outside of class. The discussion is driven entirely by our thoughts as students with the professor only interjecting to guide us to main points. This type of course is part of why I love my master’s program so much, because you learn a great deal without even realizing it.

Today’s discussion was as lively as usual and we discussed the questions “What is Race?”, “What is Racism?”, and “Does race have any relevance in medicine?” specifically referring to our readings that discussed ideas of race in 18th and 19th century colonial medicine. We discussed the monogeny and polygeny theories of race from that time, we discussed how the seeming inability of Europeans to adapt to tropical climates gave them an inferiority complex, and then we discussed modern ideas of race as more of a social identity based on both biological and cultural ancestry rather than a definitive biological category. That was all in the first hour class.

The second hour was dedicated to watching an episode of the chow “Who do you think you are?” about comedian and impressionist, Alistair McGowan, and his investigation into his paternal ancestry. It was particularly interesting as he had always thought he was British and Scottish, but it turned out he was Anglo-Indian and Irish, The episode followed him as he traced his ancestry back through India to find when his ancestors first arrived in India from the UK and when an Indian Woman first married into his family(a very common practice during the British Raj). It was a fascinating look into how your constructed cultural identity may not be based on facts.

Following class, I did what I do nearly every day and wandered upstairs to the Master’s students office, had lunch with some classmates and lamented Trump’s Super Tuesday victories, before heading off to the library to get classwork done. I am currently working on an Essay that is due next week for this History of Medicine class. The Assignment is to write about the way in which historians write about disease and I am focusing on Tuberculosis(Yes, I know. Such an uplifting topic). The bright side is that I got a desk by a window so when I took breaks from reading I was able to enjoy a view of one of the most beautiful courtyards on campus, where at one point I got to see snow start falling, even though it really isn’t that cold here right now(about 40 F or 6 C).

After the library, I wandered down to the Sainsburys Local that is closest to campus and my flat to pick up some food to make for dinner and then made my way home for the day. The biggest adjustment to living here has definitely been not having the convenience of a car or large grocery stores so I have to shop much more often and usually have to be flexible about what I want to buy and adjust based on what’s available. Once I got home, I decided to relax and do a little more reading for next weeks classes and then I made some delicious Balsamic glazed Chicken and veggies for dinner. Now, I will spend the rest of my evening planning the two week Backpacking trip I am taking during my upcoming Easter break, but more on that later!

From one misguided millennial to the world, this has been a recap of my day!

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