The beginning of postgraduate studies

by Kristen Sandys-Thomas

Honours is a super fun year! What I love most about it is that we are physically contributing to the body of science through our research projects and this is how it’s so different from undergrad studies. I think it’s really important to go into honours with a positive mindset and aim to work hard (during modules and the research component). The year goes really quickly so I think the best advice is to try and enjoy every component of the course as it is not a long and recognise that we are very privileged to be studying at the Health Science Faculty. You will meet a lot of really nice people in the course (your class mates, your supervisors, and professors). Don’t stress that we have transitioned to face-to-face (F2F) learning and F2F exams. F2F has been so much better than online learning and it helps you to feel more comfortable with the course, your supervisors and your peers. It’s also really nice to be on campus and see that campus as for the most of us it’s a new campus, and it’s nice meeting your professors in person rather than via a computer. Exams were also not bad this year even though they were F2F and I was super nervous as the last time I wrote a physical exam was in 2019 (3 years ago). Modules are intense as it’s only three weeks per module for course work and we write an assessment at the end of each module – this is great because it forces you keep up to date and not fall behind so that you are prepared for exam week.   

Don’t stress if you don’t get your project of choice – I guarantee you, whatever project you land up with you are going to meet some really awesome, intelligent people who are going to inspire you in one way or another. I came into honours having the expectation that I would not enjoy research. It took me a bit of time this year to start getting comfortable with research,  lab work, and reading lots of articles & getting familiar with my research field, but once you reach a level of confidence you begin to realise that the life of a researcher is rather nice. I plan to do my MSc next year, here at UCT, where we will look at next generation sequencing data of 2 twins who experienced an ACL rupture, and through the use of bioinformatic analysis we hope to underpin the genetics of ACL rupture or get closer to unravelling the genetics of ACL rupture.

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