Three years ago I attended my first day at the University of Dundee which didn’t get off to the best start. The first challenge I would face as an aspiring scientist was deciphering my timetable; not an easy task as I end up in the wrong class on the basement level of the building. Realising my mistake I run back up the stairs to the ground floor and think, among the profanities, “Phew! That’s my exercise done for the day“. Catching my breath, I re-read my timetable and see an insolent little “3” staring back at me. The third floor.


As I notice the lift I think to myself “My saviour! thank go – ” and suddenly my enthusiasm is halted as a sign reads “Students are Not Permitted to Use The Lift at Any Time“. Burdened with first day nerves, I do not want to break the rules. The second challenge, for me, in climbing the proverbial career ladder is literally a climb. “Three flights? It’s not that bad” I hear you say. Challenge number three of my ten minute University experience: at the top of what I am led to believe is the second floor I am met with a sign that says “1”; I realise that each floor is the height of two and my scientific mind calculates upon further ascent that this amounts to six flights of stairs.

The bi-weekly ascent to the laboratories rendered Mondays and Fridays my least favourite days of the week.  However, my relationship with the stairs has improved over time. You get to know your much-used staircases and can come to terms with their magnitude when you find yourself a “half way there” mark. New staircases, however, are a mysterious entity; “Where is the half way mark?“, “How many steps to go?” and “Please tell me there is a lift” are just some of the thoughts that you might have as oxygen levels deplete and you consider rationing your bottle of water.


Upon starting work with The SCPN, I decided to walk to work every day – a forty minute journey with no stairs involved. I like the fresh air in the morning, the accomplishment of walking those two miles and the time that it gives me to think. A thought I have been mulling over recently is how can walking briskly for forty minutes without a break be so much easier than climbing stairs for one minute?

The SCPN tell me that stair climbing is classed as vigorous exercise and even uses more calories than jogging. I feel proudly justified as I reflect on those near collapses upon arrival at the “third” floor at uni. At the office, they encourage me to increase my daily physical activity by walking around and even taking plenty of loo breaks. The first challenge in my time at The SCPN is a first port of call for most sensible beings; finding the toilets. The usual questions run through my head as I worry specifically about the altitude of their location. “The toilets are down the stairs” they tell me. “Thank goodness“, I think to myself gratefully before the realisation slowly hits me upon my long and winding descent.