Thursday, 31 December 2015

1 week to go.

So 2 weeks after saying I'll post something once a week I finally get down to writing another one. Good job there Jack. But anyway, lets start.

    1 WEEK TO GO!!!! and I'll be driving down with family to the airport ready to jet off to what will be home for 5 months. The town Longyearbyen is where The University Centre in Svalbard is located which is one of 4 main settlements on the island, and the team heading up there will be staying just outside of town in a group of barracks called Nybyen ( pronounced: Nyerbyern ). Unfortunately, as some of you may have heard on the news, there was an avalanche in Longyearbyen recently that took the lives of 2 residents and displaced a lot of peoples homes, ripping off one of the barracks roofs too which means that one of our party will be staying nearby till repairs can be made. We won't lie, it shook a few of us but in all fairness, a place as remote as this and subject to the harsh environment up there, it's no surprise that something like this has happened. Nonetheless we're still incredibly excited to go!
    On a seriously lighter but still solemn note, I leave Aberystwyth in just 2 days (2nd January) to return home to Rugby to get the final things ready for departure. Leaving behind the town that I have spent and enjoyed 4 years in and it's not going to be fun though I'm sure that the excitement of what lies ahead will spur me on regardless but I honestly don't know what I'm going to do without my little, best friend. A lot of my friends will know about Kit and he's been such an incredible addition to my life for the last year and a half, always there when I get in from long days and always manages to make me smile. Yes Kit is a cat, deal with it. For those that don't know Kit, here's a picture of him looking rather dapper and mysterious.

I'm leaving the little guy in the hands of my friend Aled, god only knows what state he'll be in when I get back, Aled will likely have given him a makeover and he'll be dressed in a tutu or something ridiculous like that. BUT before this turns into some kind of blog shrine to Kit I should probably move on...
    When I get home I'll have the lovely job of trying to fit everything into suitcases which would ordinarily be something that I could do here in Aberystwyth but that would require me being organised and to have a set of scales or something but nope. Thank god for grandparents. I really don't know how I'm going to fit everything in, unsurprisingly arctic gear is somewhat bulky. Not to mention I need to fit in a 5 month supply of tea bags... but I finally have everything I need, I think. No doubt I'll get to Svalbard and realise I forgot something. Probably my Laptop charger or something stupid like that, either that or Kit will come bounding out of my suitcase as I subconsciously pack him in too. Ooops.
But anyway, I should probably get back to revision and stop procrastinating. Next post I do will hopefully be in the airport before we leave!

Time for a cuppah I think.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

3 weeks to go.

My name is Jack Jenkins and I'm going to take you on a journey through my time as a student travelling to UNIS Svalbard and studying the Upper Polar Atmosphere. Of course it won't all be studying, all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy so expect tales of glaciers, polar bears, dog sleds, Ski-Doos, hikes, arctic life, and so so much more.

A bit about myself:
    I grew up in the home of the sport, Rugby, so naturally there was a push for everyone to be involved. I hated the damn thing, I just wanted to sit at a computer and play video games as a lot of my generation did and have done and to no surprise it's boomed as a profession as I've grown up, silly me had to go and fall in love with the sciences instead didn't I! Of course I still play video games from time to time but fitting it in around studies seems to get harder and harder.
    I'm a student at Aberystwyth University and I'm studying Astrophysics. I can already hear people clicking off this tab and going back to watching cat videos but I promise it's not as dull as it sounds! I found my love for space in a obscure way actually, through Star Trek ( just lost a few more to Kitten videos) and primarily my Uncle. The vastness of space portrayed in the series and the films, and the terror therein just made me more curious as to what was actually out there. Of course I knew that Star Trek wasn't real but what if it WAS! What if one day we really got a chance to go into space to such lengths that we met new species and new civilizations, how fantastic would that be?! So from Star Trek to High school I kept this love for space and exploration, and it was no surprise that I chose to do the sciences, maths, and IT at GCSE and A-Level, and I did well enough to get to University here at Aberystwyth.
    I'm now in my 4th year, studying the masters segment of the course, and I have to say I've never had a harder time at anything in my life. I even decided to make it harder by choosing the Svalbard option which meant that not only did I have 2 of the hardest modules (Quantum Technology and Electromagnetic Theory) to deal with, with a coursework intensive Advanced Numerical Methods module, I also had to complete the same amount of work in about 6-7 weeks that the rest of my peers would have 6 months to complete. Okay so I didn't necessarily have to complete as much work as them in the shortened time frame but I'm not one for backing away from a challenge but hey, I'm still alive and have nearly all my sanity intact and I couldn't be prouder of myself for managing to succeed. All the modules for this semester are done and all the coursework has been submitted including the full and finished minor project. So now that's done, I can set my sights on the next task.
    With all the semesters work out the way, as always, now I move into revision and preparation for exams, but I also have to prep everything for Svalbard. I have to say it's expensive to buy all this winter gear but not as expensive as I thought it would be. Being the geek that I am however, I couldn't not spend nearly £1300 on a laptop for the venture now could I... Okay so I probably could have done without that expenditure but then again, if I manage to get a PhD after all of this then that's one thing I already have bought for it! Then there's coats, thermals, socks, salopettes, boots, balaclavas, suitcase, and other misc items which make me thankful for the student loan and the glory that is student overdraft or I don't know where half of this would have come from.

So, I think that's enough for the first post. I have a lot of work to be getting on with to make sure that things run smoothly between now and the departure date, I have to admit that this post is somewhat of a procrastination but hey, sue me. So I hope that you'll keep with and witness me and my adventure that I'm about to embark on, I'll endeavor to keep to a post a week. I promise pictures!

Till next time,