A walk in the park

Arian Arjomandi RadArian Arjomandi Rad (Medicine, fourth year) finds balance among the light and shade of Hyde Park.

Interview: Lucy Jolin / Photography: Joe McGorty

I’m originally from Iran but I was born and grew up in Italy, and it’s been a lifelong ambition of mine to study at Imperial. Cardiothoracic surgery excites me the most – it’s challenging and has a very observable impact on a patient’s quality of life that only few professions can provide. But it can also be stressful; Hyde Park is my escape from academia and work.

During term time, it can be intense. I spend long hours in the Central Library almost every day of the week – so I try to add balance by spending at least an hour or so in Hyde Park. It’s the only truly green area near Imperial and, as much London air is polluted, I find the air there refreshing and stimulating. And its beauty and tranquility helps me to reflect.

My favourite times are early in the morning as the sun comes up – and when it gets dark. I love the lake, with the swans that you pass when you get off the tube at Queensway. I’ll often get off the tube early on my way to College, even though it takes longer, just so I can have a walk to get my blood flowing and to think about something other than my studies.

It can be inspiring, too: last summer, I was walking through the park and thinking about how I could actively contribute to the Imperial teaching material available. Imperial had introduced a brand new type of practical examination for second-year medical students, with very few resources to use in preparation for the exam. So, I had an idea: why not produce a new medical textbook to help students through this exam? I went on to collaborate with five of my fellow students, and we created The Essential Guide to the OSPE Assessments.

I’ve also enjoyed the peace and tranquility of Hyde Park while on summer placement. I am in the heart surgery unit at Hammersmith Hospital, which I found out about when I met consultant cardiothoracic surgeon Professor Prakash Punjabi at a careers fair organised by the Imperial College Surgical Society. I’ve been a member of the society since my first year and actively involved in the committee since my second year.

Like studying, it is hard work, but I don’t mind that: I’m usually in the hospital from 8am to 5.30pm, either assisting or observing operations and getting involved with research. There isn’t much time for breaks, which is why, when I finish, and if the weather is good, I’ll lie on the grass in Hyde Park. I’ll think and I’ll write in my notebook all the things I want to achieve and what I need to do next in order to achieve them.