Dream journey to University of Exeter

Last night, I dreamt of celebrating Kennedy’s viva at Impy, a pub near campus where we usually gather for drinks after work, and asking about Fer’s marathon experience in Exeter. Suddenly, I woke up in my little bed at Tsinghua, reminiscing about those good old days…

I yearn for the light-hearted atmosphere and the heartwarming culture within the department. Our group sits in the same room or the adjacent one. Every day, as we entered and left the office, we exchanged greetings. During lunchtime, we would gather in the common room and share meals together. From cooking and discussing weekend plans to our future careers, there was no topic left unexplored. But what I miss the most is the Monday cake tradition. Each week, everyone took turns baking something delightful to share. This simple gesture served as my motivation to rise and shine on Monday mornings, and eagerly head onto the university. How could anyone resist such heavenly cakes?

Peek at Monday cake

I long for the weekly Ecology talks, although they were occasionally canceled due to strikes. Tim, a professors in our department, organized these talks for PhD students and postdocs to present their latest research. I believe it is crucial to hear feedback from individuals outside our group and learn about what others have been doing. These discussions often led to research improvements and fostered new collaborations. Moreover, the talks took place at noon, allowing us to enjoy lunch while listening, thereby creating a less formal atmosphere.

I miss the healthy work-life balance we maintained. We usually work an 8-hour workday during weekdays, with no overtime work. On weekends, I would engage in activities like grocery shopping, cooking with friends, visiting nearby beaches, or even taking short trips. This balance between work and personal life showed me that I can excel in my work while savoring life’s pleasures simultaneously. Before I left the UK, I was advised, “Don’t work on weekends. That’s not life.” I still recall the email from my supervisor before the summer break, urging us to ” take some time away from your laptops!” Sadly, upon my return, I inadvertently slipped back into my previous unhealthy lifestyle, as it seemed to be the norm for everyone. However, I am determined to realign my mindset and rediscover a healthy balance once more. The past year has presented me with numerous and diverse life experiences. I not only learned more about academic pursuits but also gained insight into various facets of life. I am immensely grateful for this dream-like journey that allowed me to meet such extraordinary individuals. I wish, one day, I could go back to Exeter again.

My farewell party at Tenpin bowling


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