A Day in the Life – Ronald Saraswat

Ronald Saraswat is an international student from India earning his MSc in Neuropharmacology.

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Sai Abinesh – a day in my life …..studying MSc in Computer Science (Data Analytics) at NUI Galway

A day in my life

Not a day goes by in my course without thinking of the assignment overdue just around the corner. It’s usually many. Once you’ve gotten that pain out of your stomach, you’re free to make any breakfast you want and get on to prepare for another exciting day at the university.

After the usual oats, blueberries and eggs, I try and make it on time to the first lecture usually at 10 or 11. (Which is supposed to be ‘early’ in student standards) Arrive on time and everything’s nice and peaceful. 5 or 10 minutes late (like  a fifth of the class does) and you’ll have to worry about losing continuity of the lecture, let alone losing a place next to your Greek friend, who is almost always on time.

There’s rarely a dull moment in lectures.  Especially the 2 hour lectures because 1 hour classes just fly away and you have to be on the edge of your seat if it has to make any sense. One really can’t afford to slack away, take a 20 second notifications break, or a micro nap because the whole problem or derivation would be solved by then. Unfortunately the lecturers are so dexterous that they can write something on the board, while explaining it, faster than a student can take them down on paper. It couldn’t feel that fast till you tune out to daydream and a couple of seconds later, you’re desperately trying to put the pieces together while your hands are trying to copy them down as fast as they could before it’s rubbed off. But they’re all nice people!  you could stop them any time and they’ll explain it to you. No question is stupid. Trust me, I’ve done it many times. They don’t assume anything. People have asked all different sorts of questions – from what is an inverse of a matrix in Advanced Probability class – to what is an access modifier in Large scale data analytics(where you’re supposed to know in advance , how to code in Java). Every time, you get a friendly, concise answer that would get you upto speed; and then some version of “Does that make sense?” to make sure you got it. You could also email them and expect a prompt reply. Or just drop into their office. All of them.

One really can’t appreciate the lectures enough when they’re in the middle of it. The slides and their supporting materials(like tutorials and excel sheets and java codes) are works of art that have an elegance in their minimalism. They really come to life during exam time when you don’t have enough time for textbooks, with their wordy explanations and cryptic notations. Nor can you type something on YouTube or Wikipedia and try to brood over which one of them to watch because you only have limited time). That’s when the concise and the beautifully crafted slides would come to life, covering the essence of every single topic and their explanations would start to play in your head. So it was a realization that in the digital era of the internet, you still need lectures and professors. They do add value. At least in top universities they do.

Whenever I’m not at home or at lectures, my time is spent at IT305. It’s an awesome lab with nearly 30 computers that are exclusively for our masters. (with rarely 10 in regular use because everyone works with their own laptops, which is kind of sad). It’s not the lab or the computers themselves that make the place awesome. It’s basically a computer lab and a lecture hall for programming modules.

It’s a home away from home in a sense that it’s the go-to place for most of the DAs(Data Analytics gang) who hang around there all the time. In between lectures; during assignment nights when the eerie deadline grins at us while we bash each other’s brains, trying to decide which stackoverflow code will do the magic for us.

During group study sessions we play tutors, trying to fill in gaps in knowledge and bring something to the table when someone is in doubt or some obscure algorithm doesn’t make sense for any of us. “To the board. Time for the markers”. During one of these sessions, I took the lead when trying to piece together a machine learning algorithm. I tried to start from scratch and oversimplified a partial differential equation trying to explain to my classmates who didn’t have calculus exposure. It so happened that they liked the way I did it and told me A couple of classmates told me they’d pay me to do this. I only realized they weren’t kidding when they actually had me grind them for a session in “Calculus for Probability”, and paid me handsomely for it. A lot of potential to make money and help people at the same time. Then there is the NUIG grinds where you could register to tutor for students who are willing to be tutored, in subjects where you think you can contribute.

Except for an average of three and a half hours a day of labs and lectures combined, you’re free to do whatever you want. Except you’re not. Because reading for, and doing assignments take twice as much time a day.(If you know what you’re doing, otherwise longer). You can’t blame them because that’s the only way professors can evaluate that you can actually put the knowledge into practice and make something out of it. That’s more important than just knowledge, which is why continuous assessments carry as much as 40% of the entire grade, the remaining from written exams.

If one can figure out how to get out of the vicious cycle of going through the entire student  life, moving from one assignment to another, which is tough, but doable, there’s always time and place for awesome things inside the university. Every Monday, 6-8 pm and Wednesday (9 -11 pm) are awesome because of badminton at the monstrous 12 court facility of the college. Every Fridays and Saturdays are awesome because of the Kayaking club’s beginner sessions. (where a magical boat like an f1 car, you sit inside and keep rowing). These are the regulars that I visit.

Other than that I’ve tried out ultimate frisbee, Rock climbing, Soccer and  Basketball. There’s a sports club for every sport it’s a shame that you can only select so much to play in a week owing to the schedules. When I am not doing assignments, or studying, or playing badminton, or dancing, or kayaking, or doing radio shows in my university, I like to read and watch about subjects that interest me, which are a lot: insightful and thought-provoking books like Thinking, Fast and Slow and Antifragile; scientific(especially cognitive science) documentaries of BBC, NGC, and Discovery Channel; actionable TED talks; biographies of the likes of Nikola Tesla, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Michael Jackson and Elon Musk.There’s also the beautiful library where I wanted to spend the majority of time, I just couldn’t. But I have the  whole semester 2 ahead of me and I will.

My day ends with dinner and good rest and I can’t wait to repeat all over again.

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MA Culture and Colonialism at the National University of Ireland Galway | Study in Ireland | Education in Ireland Blog


MA Culture and Colonialism at the National University of Ireland Galway

Studying MA Culture and Colonialism at NUI Galway, Parul Verma shares why her course is so engaging and why Ireland offers a literary seduction which is difficult to resist…

Ireland has produced some of the greatest writers in literature. From James Joyce and Oscar Wilde to Anne Enright and William Yeats. It is a dream destination for each and everyone who is seduced by archaic or modern literature. Any art student with a history, sociology, political science or a literature background will identify how Ireland has incorporated the arts within its national identity, right from fighting the British colonialism to achieving her independence. Hence, my interest in pursuing my higher education in Ireland couldn’t be more convincing.

MA Culture and Colonialism at the National University of Ireland, Galway

NUIG offers an MA programme which provides the developmental stimulation of both, the intellect and cultural experience, to its students.

If you are an art student, you’ll know the utter importance of critical thinking and giving birth to ideas that form the basis of any revolutionary and engaging literary work. This intellectual stimulation becomes necessary especially when reading and understanding the abstractions of words in literature. NUIG offers an MA programme which provides the developmental stimulation of both, the intellect and cultural experience, to its students. The programme is multi-disciplinary and aims to holistically gather literature, politics and culture from Ireland, India, Africa and the Middle East. Students critically engage with race and racial theories, imperialism, postcolonial experiences of the writers, neo-colonialsm, nationalist movements and the politics of development in the post colonial era.

NUIG offers that space to polish your critical engagements with politics of literature and beyond. The programme is aptly suited for students who have specific interest in postcolonial literature. The University offers generous Scholarly fellowships for any students who have a keen interest to pursue their research in literature after post graduation.

Different nationalities under one programme

The coming together of students of more that four different nationalities, the literary debates and the  discussions  becomes highly insightful and enriching.

From India, South Korea, Scotland to United States of America, my class is truly enriching in its cultural diversity. The coming together of students of more that four different nationalities, the literary debates and the  discussions  becomes highly insightful and enriching. The curriculum encourages the historical and political understanding of imperialism and post colonial era of various countries and the discussions in the class truly reflects the same. The faculty is the another reason why you can’t resist NUIG. The professors here, create a space where you can learn your infinite potential and unlearn your limits. A space where individuality of the student is encouraged and polished. Furthermore, a space which transforms a student from a reader to a substantial writer.

If you are an arts student who loves to read, critically think, passionately write and obtains a desire to pursue this passion up to a research scholarly level, then MA Culture and Colonialism in NUIG is the space for you. The programme will truly challenge your limits and will aid you in sparking out your literary potentials.

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Why I’m a MSc Neuropharmacology student at NUI Galway…

Interested in a post grad course in Neuropharmacology?

Ronald Saraswat has you covered with the full run down as to what’s involved in MSc. Neuropharmacology course at NUI Galway…

I am high on exam fever right now, and guess it’s exactly almost the right time for me to wonder that what really made me choose this program over plenty of other options worldwide and after actually going through it in last three months, is it still what I thought it to be?

The course

I was almost always intrigued about what science has to offer, it’s just not always what you study but the way you think which brings you to science. The natural world has always inspired me to explore and learn why and how the intricate interactions of non-animate things give birth to this wonder we know as reality and life. Most of all, I learnt later in life that it is our brain which makes us wonder the same and I built this strong liking to learn more about the most complex machinery known to man in the universe, the human brain!

Long story short, I went through a lot of research before arriving on Ireland as a study abroad destination (I have written about my experience in this country, and how it has treated me on my personal blog) but for this piece I’ll be focusing on my course, MSc in Neuropharmacology at NUIG.

The beginning

NUI Galway was established way back in 1845 and the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics here was incepted in 1974. The MSc in Neuropharmacology programme was initiated in 1998, to equip students with the latest in Neuroscience knowledge and research. It has been actively involved in the field of neuropharmacological research and, for a scientist, what’s better than being part of a historical institute which brings them close to real world scientific problems that are being worked currently.

It’s a one year program with three 4-month semesters, comprising of 90 ECTS in total. The starting of the first trimester is full of theoretical knowledge of basic and advanced aspects of neuropharmacology involving the Central Nervous System and related systems in the body; hands on practicals and projects involving presentations and posters are taught and students are guided through the field and encouraged to explore unbiased scientific critical thinking. The use of experimental design and statistics to neuropharmacological research and hands on tutorials of computer packages involved in data processing and presentation will bring you to a different understanding. Written, verbal and presentation skills are also enhanced through regular group based and individual efforts. Most of all, if you haven’t experienced a “real” research environment, you’ll do it here.

Fret not if you are new to a few of the concepts. It can get a bit tricky at times, as in my case, but the lecturers and guides provided are ample – enabling students to get through any difficulties you may face along the way.

First exams & second semester

Exams take place before the Christmas holidays and are based on theory and practical sessions that you attend during the semester, they can be online or written, and you get an insight of them during the pre-final activities and MCQs during the course work, The second semester will be more focused on the detailed knowledge of what you learn in the first semester and refer to more advanced aspects of pharmacology. It is also this time that you start to focus on your research project for the final trimester. Don’t forget to actually getting involved in the seminars that take place throughout the study year, it will help you to gain the latest insights in the field and decide what to focus on your energy on in the future.

What to expect

In the end, you’ll have to do a research project and for that you’ll have to write your own research thesis under the guidance of a professional, I still have to figure that out… The rest all depends on what you really want out of your study abroad experience, I managed to be part of many societies and clubs during my study time. It depends on your personal preferences but you’ll have to focus on the studies from the beginning to keep up with the workload as well! It’s all just a balance and it might be difficult in the initial days for some to adjust in, but with an International crowd it’s totally a different experience.

All in all, it has been a brilliant experience for me and while I prepare for my exams and write this for you to read, right now am very much firm that my decision to join this program is worth it. After coming here it feels am part of a bigger scientific community that is helping the world to make a better place and It has been a brilliant experience as of now in this beautiful country and hope it will be the same for you as well. Rest there’s still a lot for me to explore and I wish I achieve what I look forward for in the scientific community and in turn for the world.

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February 1, 2017 · 9:57 am

How to Blend In When Studying Abroad in Ireland – Tip No. 6, Crossing the Road

Irish law requires pedestrians to exercise care when crossing the road, however the specific offense known as Jaywalking in countries including the US, Canada, China and Australia is not strictly enforced. While pedestrian crossings are common in Irish towns and cities, don’t be surprised to see people skip past you while you wait for the green light, or indeed if you see people simply crossing the road wherever they like. On the subject of crossing the road, remember too to look right for approaching traffic, as we drive on the left :0)

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Study Abroad Jargon Buster

Study at NUI Galway

  • Accommodation

Student Accommodation means Student Housing. The Student Accommodation Office oversees the Student Residences and provides advice and information on all matters relating to housing.

  • Colloquium

Colloquium modules are small group teaching modules. These modules have a limited number of students. Colloquia require reading, presentation, oral participation and regular attendance.

  • Course/Programme

Full time, degree-seeking, students study a specific Course or Programme  from their first year at university in Ireland. The two terms are generally used interchangeably. This is different to universities in the US and other countries that follow the US model, where all students are required to study a general education programme before declaring a major.  A Course or Programme comprises individual modules. The University sets out specific rules that determine which modules you need to successfully complete each year to graduate with the appropriate degree title (e.g. B.Sc. (Physics), B.Comm., B.A. (History), etc).

  • Continuous Assessment

Continuous Assessment refers…

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Photo Tour of NUI Galway (Part 3)

The third installment of our photo tour of NUI Galway looks at the north campus.

Kingfisher Sports Centre, NUI Galway

Kingfisher Sports Centre

The Kingfisher Sports Centre houses the university’s indoor sports facilities, including a 25 metre swimming pool, gym, squash and basketball courts.

Engineering Building, NUI Galway

Engineering Building

NUI Galway’s Engineering Building was officially opened by the Irish Prime minister (Taoiseach) in June 2011. The 14,250 sqm world-class teaching and research facility accommodates some 1,100 students and 110 staff.

Aras Moyola

Aras Moyola

Aras Moyola houses the university’s School of Political Science and Sociology and the School of Nursing.  The building comprises state of the art training facilities, as well as a lecture theatre, study areas and classrooms.

J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics

Cairnes Building

The Cairnes Building, which also incorporates the old Friary, houses our teaching and research programmes in Accountancy and Finance, Business Information Systems, Economics, Management and Marketing.

Clinical Science Institute, NUI Galway

Clinical Science Institute (Galway University Hospital)

The Clinical Science Institute is situated across the street from the main campus, on the grounds of Galway University Hospital, and houses teaching and research facilities of the university’s  School of Medicine.

NUI Galway Sportsgrounds, Dangan

The picturesque NUI Galway sports complex at Dangan is situated along the banks of the River Corrib. The facility includes an 8 lane synthetic track, with jumping and throwing facilities, as well as numerous playing fields for Gaelic Games, Rugby, Soccer, Hockey and Cross-Country. As an added bonus, you can enjoy a lovely view of Menlo Castle across the river.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our Photo Tour of NUI Galway.

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