I'd heard rumours of the legendary queue at the Co-op in Bramber House before I even knew where that was. Now I know, and confirm the rumours! I just meant to pop in for the very basics on Sunday, aware that, on the days of moving in, many students would probably be doing the same. Although getting through the packed, narrow lanes was quite a squeeze, the shelves were still reasonably full (I hear things got a little more sparse on Monday, though, as might be expected). But oh, the queue. Winding around shelves, it easily reached the far end of the shop. I groaned a little and prepared to be very patient, but I soon noticed I'd been thoroughly fooled: The staff worked quickly and efficiently, and with all eight registers open, it wasn't long before I was out of the shop myself. That was my pleasant queue experience #1.
Queue experience #2 came yesterday as I went to pick up my student ID card together with some friends. On the first attempt, we didn't even reach the queue - instead, we were told to come back in half an hour. So we went over to John Maynard Smith building to pick up our LifeSci welcome packs; queue experience #3: Starting outside the ground-floor entrance, along a hallway, up an expansive flight of stairs, we may well have spent half an hour or more patiently waiting for our turn. Surprisingly enough, when we were done, the hallway and stairs behind us were empty... So then we went back for the ID cards, and after some persistence - "We've been told to come back in 30 minutes half an hour ago, would you please just let us through? We're patient people!" - tacked another half-hour on for queue experience #4. I'm glad my surname isn't in the A-H category, or it would've been a longer wait yet. If Sussex were a Swiss university, students might've complained. If it were German, they might've started a riot. But make it English, and people just stand in line without so much as grimacing. What an extraordinary country!
With regards to patience, there's something else I'd like to tell you about. You see, I was a massive biology geek back in highschool. I was certain I was going to study biology... until the time came to sign up for Uni. For some reason (I guess I was young, clueless and misguided?) I went for Computer Science instead, and within less than a year, I was bored and depressed from all the mathematics in the first year courses. I quit, dove head first into military service (which was, and still is, compulsory for Swiss males), and emerged nine months later with the idea of studying Translation to make use of my aptitude for languages and my love of reading. Three years later, I took my fresh-off-the-press degree overseas to pursue an internship turned full-time job at an Aupair and Study abroad agency in Berlin, Germany. The job involved some translation, but segued seamlessly into web development and copywriting. I was elated with the challenge, loved both the linguistic and the programming side, and felt like I had landed the job of my life.
Soon, however, it became clear it wouldn't last. The challenge and on-the-job learning experience I got from the web development aspect was a one-off thing - once the agency's new website was up and running, I would be relegated to maintenance and increasingly dull, monotonous writing jobs. It was then, not quite a year later, that I stumbled upon a disjointed collection of texts and ideas that challenged my view of the world, of humanity and its future. I tasted some of Ray Kurzweil's Singularity hypothesis, learned about "mind uploading", and was immediately fascinated. An essay by Randal Koene on evolution (Link) convinced me that, if I wanted to lead a meaningful life beyond my own satisfaction, I'd best get into Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence or similarly future-oriented research.
And so it is that I came full circle, right back to where I'd left off during highschool; I rediscovered my passion for science and living systems which had guided so much of my interests as a teenager. I decided to make it happen. After some research, I found that I'd have to either study undergraduate Biology or Psychology to specialise later - or leave continental Europe to take up a Neuroscience course in the UK or further afield. Sussex seemed like a very good choice - my first, as it were - for both the interdisciplinary Neuroscience/Cognitive Science programme and its leading position in relevant research.
My academic adviser further reinforced my positive feelings towards Sussex just today. I am absolutely stoked. It's terrific to know I'm on the right path, in the right place, and, given that I'm a patient person, at the right time, too. It's great that it's finally beginning - it was well worth the long wait!
Until next time,
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