I have just finished my MRes course in Physics of the Earth and Atmosphere- got a Merit in it as well, so all in all a positive result.
The positive result summed up a very positive year- the period September 2005-August 2006 probably represented the best year of my life so far. The course was very good with a lot of meteorology content, and it was good to be able to get involved in research into convective storm initiation and converse with the Environment department, the lecturers and PhD students who were all well-versed in the academic side of meteorology. At first I questioned whether academia was really something I would get into, but in the end, I certainly did.
Not just that, but it was also excellent socially. There was very little of the suppression of individuality ("you have to fit in with the norm or you get ostracised") stuff- people generally respected each other as individuals, rather than putting pressure on them to conform. Consequently, forming frienships was remarkably easy. I also found the city of Leeds to be surprisingly good- I expected it to be just another city, but it has a very vibrant atmosphere with a wide variety of things to do, yet does not suffer from overcrowding, even on a Friday or Saturday night. There was also ample scope to do things other than go to nightclubs and get drunk- playing pool and going tenpin bowling were two favourites.
I certainly have far more confidence in making friendships than I've had for at least a good ten years. In Lancaster and my old school I learnt how to deal with social problems; in Leeds I learnt how to deal with not having social problems- a very welcome experience indeed.
Now for the bad news- I'm not there any more, and I'm in the position of looking out for a combination of job and PhD/research opportunities from my parents' home instead. On the research front the main thing will be to apply for the next batch of research funding early next year (or something might turn up before then; some PhD projects are available all year round, but funding is a problem). However, paying the odd visit to Leeds is certainly on the agenda, especially since three of the people on my course still live around there (two are doing PhDs). Ideally I'd love to be back there again doing some kind of research next year, but you can't put all your eggs in one basket- I have to look elsewhere as well, and for jobs as well as research courses. I guess that if I don't land anything in research by mid-next-year and haven't found a job in an area of my interests in the North East by then, I will have to put more emphasis on jobseeking and search outside of the North East region for jobs.
People might be thinking "why do you want to go into research, or jobs in environment/meteorology, when they don't give much money". They may well not, but my main priority in life isn't to get loads of money- it's to have a happy life with an enjoyable work and home life, and to get enough money to sustain a basic living. Work isn't such a burden if you're working in something you take an interest in anyway.