One thing I like about science is that it’s built around the community of researchers who do it. While inter-department networking is really useful, the most immediate effect is from the people in the same group or the same department as you. I’ve been on my MPhys placement a lot recently and I’m sad to say I’ve not been able to visit the Physics Department at Surrey anywhere near often enough over the past year. I’ve missed it a lot!
In the past month I’ve visited twice, and both times I’ve been encouraged and boosted by just talking to some of my peers. Often we’ve not even spoken about our research, but you can get a lot of encouragement just from talking to people doing the same thing as you are. You get a huge morale boost just by associating with people who are doing what you do (or who you aspire to follow), which I’ve never got from the daily 8.00-17.00 work environment.
In some ways, I’ve been wishing I had that kind of support and encouragement all year rather than near the end of my placement. It’s not that I’ve been unhappy all year, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been encouraged as much as I would have liked. The extra boost would certainly have done me good, is what I’m saying.
I suppose in that sense, my research year has been really missing something; that has been a proper community. Don’t get me wrong, there are other students at RAL but they are neither on the same course type as I am or even on the same schedule – this makes things very awkward. I would have sincerely appreciated the opportunity to see more of my peers over the year.
Still, I have another semester at University to go – I’m sure I’ll get fed up of the lot of them again before the end!