Loughborough University – Rohan Rao

360 Views, Posted on: July 22, 2016

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I am trying my best to make sure that the reader has fun reading and scrolls through. Well there are a lot of blogs already out, each with a fascinating story and a rich experience to share and all sum upto something similar. I’ve tried to give the readers something different over here by being as less technical as possible.

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It was a typical sunny afternoon and the only thing different about it was someone said those three magical words to me. “Lag gayi intern”. Oh boy was I ever more excited. Months of apping, mailing and writing up SOP’s and finally I could go out in the sunshine and enjoy the green grass again. This had worked me up enough that for a whole week, I charted my trip with a newly made UK bucket list. Yes, the daydreamer of me took over me. Well truly the feels of it was beautiful and those actually were the three magical words that changed everything (Love you PT Cell).

Being British

After my ambitious plan of a night out in London was ruined by the bleak weather and the biting wind, me along with my intern buddies made our way to Loughborough a day later. It is a place away from the hustles of the city, beautifully set up in the heart of the country. I was greeted by policemen and that was when I had my first taste of British hospitality. They were kind enough to acquaint us with the place and even dropped us with all our luggage to the accommodation center. Yeah, we arrived in a police van! What followed was consistent with our experience and throughout my stay the people have been very helpful and extremely polite. The culture here promotes social interaction to a great extent. No sunny day passes by without the weather being complimented by a local passerby with a typical british accent. The cities are beautifully planned and every bit of it flawless. If you notice a road with rough edges, the next day you could see three construction workers with their protective gears on working to make the rough end perpendicular. YES.. that is how British you can get. Frequent mails of decibel levels in the surrounding, alerts of dust flying by due to some construction work happening somewhere or any worldly task worth mentioning will definitely be brought to your attention. The rooms where we were assigned were beautiful single rooms equipped with a basin, a cupboard, a large table and a springy bed. The food was tough as we were not accustomed to the bland taste but we could find some respite by cooking spicy stuff enough to make us cry with content in the kitchen. The university was quite lively all the time with partying students and weekly union disco parties. (Anyone visiting next year make it a point to take some good fundaes… You definitely do not want to miss out on this)

Being with the British

Led by a fanatic tourism enthusiast on a mission to cross off every corner of the map we spent all of our weekends touring the country. It started from the beautiful city of Manchester which was quite successful to charm us by its beauty and motivate us to plan all our subsequent weekends. Our next destination was the homeland of The Beatles, Liverpool. Being a very big fan of The Beatles, touring around the city was quite an exciting ride. My literature falls short to describe the tranquility of listening to my beatles playlist on the docks with the red waves of sunset crashing right under the feet which was followed by an epic night at Lennon’s Club. Every weekend was a different city, a different culture, a different set of people and what followed us always was the chilly British weather and Café Nero. The rich history and the architectural marvel of Cambridge, the classic Robinhood of Nottingham, the shady streets and the beautiful “Stannage edge” in Sheffield, the busy streets and the sensational theatre of London, the Scottish experience and the house of illusions in Edinburgh and the lively streets of Glasgow – these, in no way give any measure of the wonderful time that we spent in these place.

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My Project

My project was focused on developing a perovskite lead free material to replace the cuurent lead based piezoelectric materials. The work timings were during the weekdays from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM though it was quite flexible. My work included synthesis of Sodium Bismuth Titanate and characterization of it. Apart from the standard characterization techniques like XRD and SEM I was also trained to carry out electrical conductivity measurements and impedance spectroscopy. The project was quite interesting and the variety of permutations possible with the experimentation always kept me intrigued.

Shit that happened (This is fun)

Lennon’s club in Liverpool : The land of beatles – Liverpool had a whole street full of clubs, all Beatles themed with their classics playing inside. One bar which drew our attention was Lennon’s Bar. There was no DJ inside and the bartender mixed his playlist. After staying sometime inside the four of us were the only guys on the dance floor. After some rounds of dancing few people joined us and we were the center of attraction of everyone in the bar. Soon the bartender came up to us and asked us for us for our playlist. Without any hesitation I gave him the list of my beatles favorites and everyone was grooving to it in the bar.

Sheffield trip and our host : If there was any trip on which I could write a whole book it was our trip to Sheffield. The moment we reached the place, we were in the mood to explore all the nooks and corners of it. We were greeted by shady streets with gangs all around and all we did was follow the pleasant smell that lingered in the air. After some tough nightouts in Manchester and Liverpool we had decided to book an accommodation for our Sheffield trip. We had no idea that this decision could make our whole trip so lively. The place was hosted by “BHAU” a personification of coolness. After some late night talks with him, we both realized the similarity of our interests and hobbies. The night we did our routine blaze which we missed for such a long time. What followed was a drive in the empty roads of Sheffield at 2 AM in the night with the bass of the speakers keeping us on the edge of our seats. Oh boy.. I’d call it the best trip ever and I am sure you can understand what I mean here. Well we were up for a surprise when he treated us for breakfast and believe me it was the only time when no one complained about the green in it. He drove us to stannage edge which was a picturesque set up of plateaus and cliffs. We crawled our way to the edge of a cliff which overlooked the entire plateau and no lens could ever capture the sight of the clouds rising from the ranges like bursts of smoke.

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London Musicals : This was the trip I was most eager about. Being a big fan of theatre, I was adamant on going to a musical. I went around London learning everything about the theatres there and finally zeroed on the MJ Thriller musical. With my level of excitement, I couldn’t settle for anything lesser than the best seats and let me tell you, every penny of it was worth it. By the end of the show, the crowd was so ecstatic that the entire theatre was up dancing and singing to MJ hits. Anyone travelling to London the next time, do make it a point to watch the theatre. It is not your common day to day theatre that you see and it would be nothing less than a crime to judge it before you see it.

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Edinburgh pub crawl and Camera obscura: Edinburgh trip was a good Scottish experience. The street performers and the bagpipers amused us a lot. The illusion house – camera obscura is a must visit place. It is a 6 storied stone building with some mind blowing illusions. I was inside for 2 hours and still felt I didn’t get enough of it. Late night I met a group from US and went on to a pub crawl along with them.

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Loughborough FnD’s : The university is a balance between academics sports and parties. The sporting facilities are top notch with state of art buildings. All the courts are artificial turf and the grounds are comparable to international standards. Though most of the facilities are not free there are few turf courts are open to all. FnD’s or Friday night Disco’s is something that you should definitely attend. It is organized by the student union and it happens on a very large scale. There are 4 very big disco’s connected and the entire university is in an ecstatic mood during the hours.

What do I take from this?

For the few readers who managed to scroll through and reach to this point would be wondering “what this guy got out of his internship !” Well let me tell you one thing, 8 weeks is not sufficient for you to do some breakthrough in research or find a cure for cancer. Definitely, I have learnt a great deal about ceramic processing and electrical characterization techniques and even the Prof’s were happy about the work. But the actual learning was the experience of handling yourself, now with no one to look after you, backpacking and exploring cities where you know no one and meeting new people along the way. It is the journey that I fell in love with and it would be an understatement of my whole experience if I try to put it in words.
PS: One week in Amsterdam.