If you haven’t already noticed, I treat these blog posts a lot like a sit down conversation with an old friend, catching them up after a long time away. I like to picture that kind of scenario - maybe we’ve both been living in completely different cities and have come to talk over a coffee about what’s been happening in our lives. Maybe they’re someone I haven’t seen or heard from in years, and I have a lot to explain about where I am now and how I see the world.
I suppose I hope to convey a bit of that with the way I’m writing now.
Spending decent lengths of time away from the blog means that each time I come back to it, there are always interesting things to talk about: the fact that I finished my second year exams, and with it, my second year of university, around 2 months ago - that the overwhelming relief, followed by the subsequent post-exam emptiness left me with little to do except game the rest of the stress away, and that ever since, I’ve been weirdly consumed by the sudden need to get my life in order again, decide what I’m doing with my time and work on something meaningful. I’ll get into that later.
For now at least - the usual catchup.
When I last wrote on here, around five months ago, I was a completely different person. Reading back through my writing, I remember the way I felt. Stressed, overwhelmed, desperately wanting to escape from my responsibilities, but pushing on to try and meet the expectations of the people around me. Like I mentioned then, I think I have a bad habit of overcommitting, and prioritising the wants of the people around me over my own.
But things got a lot better once I realised that, and took steps to stop the burnout. I began putting more of an effort into things that I liked, or felt like doing, and spent more time on new hobbies.
Here are some random highlights from the past few months - things I look back on and smile at.
The Drone Project
Having been in a number of drone teams for the past two years at university, and seen the work of some amazing friends and fellow project members, this year was a big year for me in terms of developing a proper interest in the actual design of quadcopters. How they’re made, how they work and how I can start on my own. The addition of an entire university module based around a design project for a quadcopter helped a lot with that interest, giving our cohort a great new experience with the practical elements of an engineering project, as well as the aspect of planning and assessing risks (all that professional real world engineering stuff). Basically, I finally got into the hobby.
For the longest time it felt like such a massive investment to go out and spend money on a drone for myself, but having been through a few similar projects previously (this blog for one) I knew that it was a learning experience regardless of the outcome, so about a month ago I took the plunge and ordered a drone kit, as well as my first few components. To those wondering, it was the Tyro 119 kit that Joshua Bardwell, a famous FPV drone Youtuber, made an entire playlist of videos about, going through the full assembly and setup. I figured I’d need a hand for my first build!
I often found that it was the spontaneous encounters and conversations that sparked some of the best experiences I had at university. I don’t remember exactly how it started, but after some friends who studied medicine mentioned it to me, we talked about how it would be cool to see what each other’s lectures were actually like.
We ended up organising a time to sneak into a lecture, disguised (incredibly well I have to say) as medical students, to see what studying was like in a subject outside of engineering.
Seeing neuroradiology and common mental health disorders on my timetable was weirdly refreshing, compared to another maths tutorial or a lab - and although it was actual content, learning about something new from the perspective of a second or third year medical student, and acting like I had even the slightest idea what was going on was pretty fun (because I really didn’t).
Walks to the Peaks
One of the things I loved about Sheffield when I got here for the first time was the scenery - the idea that you can be walking downhill on a road and see the full view of houses and trees stacked up in the background.
I didn’t really get a chance to appreciate the views properly this year until my flatmate organised some walks to Castleton, and the areas around it - one short bus ride on a sunny day, and it felt like a completely different place.
There’s something about nature and the idea of getting fresh air that I think is so core to humans, that it feels like nobody can go without it for too long. So thanks for that David :D
3am Diamond Sessions
Towards the end of the year it became pretty normal for the avionics cohort (there are about 20 of us) to band together and head over to the diamond for a late night study session. I guarantee you it wasn’t like we didn’t have better things to do - but assignment deadlines and exams meant that we actually had work, so everyone started knuckling down around April. And to be honest, it was pretty fun looking back, even if it might have felt tiring in the moment.
It’s one of those experiences I think you don’t get anywhere else other than university. Joking and laughing with friends when we all got bored of looking at screens for hours was nice. Going for random walks to get food and come back to study, or just laughing at how much trouble we were in: having no idea what any of the content meant less than a week before the exam (maybe that was just me, not too sure).
The Easter Social
An event organised by the aerospace department at our university after lockdown, the Easter social was a really nice break from work - I got the chance to meet up again with friends and lecturers, and relax a little from the everyday business.
The social was themed around designing stomp rockets, with the room split into teams, each designing the best one to fire at a number of Easter themed targets, and try to score the most points. It was actually a lot of fun, and I got some pretty funny pictures/videos out of it (see below :) )
The Start of Askari Delights
These last few months gave me the chance to properly get off the ground with my food page - originally I started it out of boredom, and with the idea that I’d be learning to make food for myself anyway, so I might as well post about it.
I made some interesting dishes, gave a few reviews of restaurants and dessert places, and even started getting shouted out by a few other food accounts which felt really nice.
It’s now turned into a nice little side project of mine, - I did a recent post with a time lapse of myself making tomato soup which went quite well :) and I’m considering adding a few recipes in a separate cooking section on this site. Check the page out here:
Having taken up a position as Avionics lead earlier this year at Project Kestrel, it was a great chance for me to develop my skills and experience on a new initiative.
Thanks to some great leadership from a friend who took up the position of project lead earlier this year, the ideas that we discussed led to an entirely new team structure, a brand new hiring workshop, regular meetings to assess goals, and the introduction of a completely new hiring process to invite even more members to the team than before.
Essentially, all the seemingly normal but really crucial things that you need to do well as the leader of an organisation to be able to run it properly. (and damn Will, did you do them well!)
Getting the chance to do things like interview candidates in a hiring workshop, asking them technical questions and judging their experience, really gave me the opportunity to see the other side of what it’s like going through application processes, and expanded my perspective on it.
By the end of the academic year, I’d finished up ordering a massive amount of avionics components to assemble a new Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) drone, which I expect will be the focus for this summer and the new academic year - here’s hoping we can get it to work!
Follow the Instagram account for more info about our project:
Reminiscing, and Looking Forward
In just these past few months, I’ve become close friends with people who, at any other time before, I would never have been speaking with, purely because we both lived completely different lives that never intertwined in the way they ended up doing, on one fine day, some months ago.
And then there are the friends that I’ve known since the beginning - that I’ve seen grow and change, and try new and different things. Friends that I’ve gone on trips with, that I’ve had deep conversations with, being vulnerable and venting our feelings in a way that only friends can do.
It’s weird, and yet there’s something completely natural and unquestionable about it too. To see the people you talk to now - compare them to the people you used to talk to, or the people you thought you knew - and realise how diverse and multifaceted we really are as humans, to develop new patterns, new ways of being, new relationships every day. Slowly, gradually, until we become less and less recognisable from the people we knew just a few months ago. I think back and cherish all those friendships, as well as the ones I’m glad I’ve kept.
With just a couple months left before the start of the new academic year, I’d like to put more of my focus on getting my drones finished, as well as working on my internship. That’s one thing I didn’t mention - if you’re interested to learn more about the internship I took this summer, you can check out my latest post on LinkedIn, but in any case, I’ve got a few exciting projects coming up that I’ll be talking about soon :)
On the off chance that you've read something on here and loved it, or want to read more, feel free to shoot me a message on my socials:
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