Having come directly from undergraduate studies at Surrey, the initial step felt surprisingly seamless – partly due to joining as a post-graduate two weeks before actually graduating.
The warm welcome and provisioning provided by the administrative staff is amazing and ensured that I slotted in and felt part of things super fast.
I quickly came to realise that working solely on research, however, has a completely different set of pressures than the short, deadline driven coursework to which I had become accustomed. In a way, the removal of these dates and times with their associated marking criteria is refreshing (like having constraints removed), but I soon found that a sense of direction and drive now has to be drawn from elsewhere – this may not sound like a pressure but it is!
Fortunately, there are many people around working in related areas who provide guidance and inspiration (as well as my supervisor of course!). The Nature Inspired Computing and Engineering (NICE) group consists of people doing research from many different angles; from cognitive and neuroscience to engineering optimisation and bio-informatics. In particular, the Journal Club – a bi-weekly meeting to discuss a selected paper – is a great way to learn the interpretations and interests of different academics. I am sure this will be a guiding influence for the direction of my research as it develops in the year ahead.