We might say I am now a veteran of lab work and practicals, or so I like to think after a whole term of lab-coats and gloves.

The lab is made of two rooms in the School of Biological Sciences, top floor. Microscopes have their own room.
The first thing to do when you have a practical is arrive on time (duh!) and patiently wait until they open the door get changed in one of two rooms and wear the famous lab-coat and the protective spectacles (the ones you got when you arrived).

Depending on the kind of experiment we use:

  • light microscopes
  • spectrophotometers
  • burettes
  • scales
  • pipettes etc.

But what are experiments about? Depending on the module (subject) which forced you to leave last night alcoholic social earlier than everybody else, it ranges from observing living creatures and/or slicing their mortal remains, to handling dangerous and toxic chemicals, or making a really shiny salt.
Most of the time is simply a titration (using a tube with a stopcock to drop some liquid into some other liquid, hoping it will change colour before lunch time) or a drawing of something you see under the microscope (whilst praying: «please look like the thing I’m seeing!»).

Now for the fun bit, the five lab partners you’ll end up with:

  • the lazy/insecure one: you don’t know why, but he always waits for you to draw it first, then once he realises he’s still on question one, he just copies your drawings.
  • the clumsy one: you thought British people grew up in labs, and you’d be the worst? SURPRISE! And now look at her climbing on a stool to fill the burette and not looking where she’s pipetting the acid!
  • the blonde one: you had a lab with her once, but since it was a normal person, the one thing you remember is a random phenotypic trait, i.e. the colour of her hair
  • the neat one: you need to record data twice, weight everything thrice and using different vessels (weighted, of course), but then during the titration, let’s open the valve at 80% and “correct” the results…
  • the perfect one: not only she’s not any worse than you (those who are better than you hide), but she can chat with you for the whole duration of that really long experiment, without being and distraction and letting you screw the practical up. You’d pick her for a 3-years mission on Mars. Inside jokes about that TV show you both watch galore. The two partners next to you watch as if studying mating rituals of a polka dot coelacanth.

You never get bored in the lab, and you’re graded by filling in a lab report consisting of questions and some (alas!) hand-made graph.

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