New Beginnings – Start of the Fall 2020 Term

Hi everyone, welcome to my first ever blog!

I’ve decided to share my experience of the first week of my Fall ’20 term here at Western, albeit virtually. To be honest, this term looks a lot different than what I initially anticipated due to the current pandemic. Not being physically present at Western for starters, and what a disappointment that is! There are a few challenges that come with studying from home, the different time zones for instance. I never thought there would be a time in my life when I’d be attending lectures at 2 AM in the morning! I guess there’s a first time for everything. It took me a while, but I’m slowly getting used to this new schedule.

The wonderful speakers from the short course

So, the first week of the term started with a bang in my opinion. I participated in a Planetary Science short course taught by Dr. Catherine Neish and a few other guest instructors from Western. I had really amazing time learning about different aspects of planetary science that I had very little prior knowledge of.  I’ve always had an interest in planetary surfaces and their atmospheres, so getting to know more about their origin and evolution was absolute delight! What came as a surprise was a lecture on Exoplanets, delivered by Dr. Stanimir Metchev. Before I took this short course, I had limited knowledge of and interest in exoplanets. However, that changed after I attended this lecture. Now not only am I fascinated by these worlds far away from ours, I’m in a complete awe of how amazingly clever humans are to have been able to discover and interpret various facts about them despite being literally millions of miles away.

Some snippets of the short course

Aside from theoretical lectures, I also got to participate in more hands-on activities like JMARS labs and mission planning, which was fun, as they were more interactive and we also got to work on them in small groups! That served as an ice-breaker in starting conversation with my classmates. It was also interesting to know how this course attracted students from many different fields like geology, astronomy, physics, engineering, even biology to name a few!

Amidst the intense course work, I also got to participate in a virtual welcome party/orientation event for all incoming international students, #GlobalWesternU hosted by the International Student and Exchange Centre (ISEC) of Western. It was an amazing experience to say the least. Students from all over the world gathered in one place, playing games, sharing interesting facts about their hobbies, culture and making new friends. It was also very reassuring to see other people being in the same boat as me, nervous but excited at the same time for this new chapter of life!

Overall, it was a very hectic yet satisfying first week of the term. In coming weeks, I’m mostly planning on finishing my assignments from the short course and working on my share of the group project report. To wrap up, I’m very thrilled to start my research journey as a part of the Neish Lab and learning new things from my supervisor and other lab-mates here at Western.

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