It really is the end of an era.
I started at the University of Birmingham in 2009. Back then, Michael Jackson had just died, SuBo was actually relevant, Rio had just won the bid for the olympics in 2016 and Disney films were still cartoons. Since then, the Rio olympics surprised us all by actually happening successfully, every other film is now in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there have been two royal weddings and Facebook pulled a MySpace and isn’t cool any more.
I spent the first four years at B’ham with such a fantastic bunch of people and graduated in 2013. Along the way I learned that far more people prefer Hobnobs over Jammy Dodgers, the fun (and pain) of FIFA, what it’s like to eat rice for almost every meal and the feeling of exasperation when your housemates come home with a fishtank, two greenhouses and a tree about two weeks before you all need to move out. Oh, and some chemistry also got stuck in my brain by accident, I guess.
For some of us, the School of Chemistry was just too delightful to leave behind and so, good idea or not, we stayed and signed up to study towards a Ph.D. The good side of that – independence, they pay you and you are working to solve humanity’s great problems. The downside – no one can tell you how to fix the thing you just broke, they don’t pay you enough to get over the thing you just broke, and you soon realise that most of humanity can’t even pronounce what you’re trying to investigate anyway.
Regardless, surrounded by friends, I worked away in an office with a climate that could either home polar bears or camels from one day to the next on a project that refused to come quietly. Four years later, I graduated again. For some of us, this was the end of 8-9 years at the university.
Would I do it again? Probably not, but I certainly don’t regret it. I just want to thank everyone who was been a part of the journey – it has been so much fun to share it with you all.
As my best man said at my wedding, I’m “not the useful kind of doctor“, but now I am a doctor nonetheless. If only there wasn’t another Dr Phil with whom I have to share the name….