Friends had warned me how hard postgraduate is in comparison to undergraduate. I had previously studied Physical Geography, so I was just excited for the opportunity to focus solely on hydrology. After the first semester, I can confirm they were right. It is hard. It requires far more of your time, energy, and dedication. However, I’d argue that it is all worth it
I chose Advanced Water Management MSc, as I have an interest in water resources and management. This has been confirmed throughout the semester. I’ve enjoyed learning about groundwater abstraction, pharmaceutical elements found within waterbodies, and even fun facts about dragonflies (they die within 56 days in their adult stage). Each week we are developing different and new skills, from using ArcGIS software to kick sampling techniques within the field. In addition, there is a field trip or practical every other week, which highlights the resources and facilities available at Cranfield, alongside the care and consideration the course leaders have towards the students’ academic development.
Our course cohort is relatively small, which is lovely as it has allowed everyone to bond, and it feels like a small community. And with the University being so diverse with international students, it has been really interesting listening to other backgrounds and stories, alongside finding out some British traditions. My favourite so far is avid bird watching and the love of tea. Which I can’t dispute, I do enjoy watching the robins in the garden with my morning brew.
Reflecting on my favourite activity across the semester, it has to be the water quality analysis practical. We spent a day in the field at the Ouse Valley Park, Milton Keynes, where we collected a litre of water from the Great River Ouse. In addition, we also learnt invertebrate sampling methods (more dragonflies) and toured the park location. The following lab practical, we sampled the collected river water for its phosphorus, nitrate and ammonia concentrations using a spectrophotometer, and took a measuring weight of the suspended solids. These techniques were all new to me, and it was super interesting having the opportunity to test water chemistry. In the end, the results did show the river water to be of good quality.
Overall, the first semester has been tough but completely worth it. I personally feel like I’ve made the right decision in the course and university, and excited to begin the next semester. There is just so much to the course, and whilst it has been hard, it’s been incredibly rewarding so far. All the extra time and energy required feels minimal.