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Year in Review: Second Year

Now that, for me, exam season is over for my second year, it is a good time to review my module choices for this year and how they will help me as I enter my final year at university.

 

Each year I need to take 120 credits worth of modules to complete my course. As a History and Politics student, I take 60 credits from each discipline per year. This year, on the History side of my course, I took one year long module (30 credits), which spans two terms – A Century of Extremes (20th Century Germany).

 

From its inception to its reunification in 1991 and everything in between. In this module I studied the ways in which Germany changed for better and for worse over the last 100 years, its involvement in triggering the First and Second World Wars and the pivotal role both East and West Germany played, as the battleground of the Cold War.

 

Meanwhile, I took two single semester modules (15 credits each) for my other history module. In the first term of History I studied Anglo-American Relations.

 

Here I set about understanding the complexities, fluctuations and peculiarities of the ‘special’ relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. As well as seeing how different presidential personalities, events and threats have altered the dynamics of the relationship over time, with periods of real closeness between the two nations followed by times of distance and distrust.

 

In term two I took the London and its Museums, my only non-exam based, module. Over the semester, my class and I visited numerous different museums in London each week, critically analysing their contents, focusing on particular controversies and historical debates regarding certain artifacts and galleries. This was a particularly interactive and fun module; indeed, we often presented our findings in groups to the class, with curious members of the public watching on.

 

Picture 1: Week 1: The British Museum

 

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Picture 2: Not your average coursework – Gallery Analysis in Greenwich

 

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For Politics, both my modules were yearlong (30 credits). The first, War and Security, looked at the academic controversies regarding the different aspects of war; its nature, causes and consequences. Whilst also analysing the various different threats to our security, how governments combat both war and security and the extent to which the strategies they have implemented have been successful.

 

Finally, my other politics module was Modern Political Thought. From Machiavelli to Marx I explored many of the major, particularly western, political philosophers since the Renaissance, challenging and dissecting their ideas. I also discovered how their ideas are still heavily influential in politics today, providing the bedrock for our current political ideologies and parties.

 

All the modules combined for my second year make up 30% of my overall grade for university. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed studying these modules this year and I will be able to transfer many of the aspects of what I have learned this year to my modules next year and my final year dissertation on The War on Terror.

Countdown 2030, SDGs Conference

In winter of 2015, UCL institution for ‘Global Poverty’ was holding a conference – one academic conference at the UCL institution and a pop-up workshop with installations in Stratford, East London. The conference brought together award-winning young entrepreneurs and the millennial generation on the roadmap to 2030 when the United Nations (UN) will strive to eradicate poverty worldwide by achieving the 17 set goals. As I was at the academic conference, with fellow UpRisers and UpRising Alumni (in partnership with Queen Mary University of London) we volunteered to act as correspondence by tweeting on all things based on the 20 years to prosperity and Sustainable Development Goals. It was a day packed with cakes, Twitter and fun and entailed a very informative and interesting agenda with key issues that were being discussed.

The team! At the end of a successful day full of tweeting all Sustainable Goals related topics

The team! At the end of a successful day full of tweeting all Sustainable Goals related topics

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Q&A at the end of the second half of the conference! Many points were raised about ‘How many aspirations are based on what people want the world to look like rather than personal objectives and goals’ Data shows millennial are not as selfish and narcissistic as people may think, as young people aged between 18-30 years are the new game changers, we are the millennium generation!

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Some interesting issues were raised about the link between poor education and health. Studies show that there is a link between people who have poor school performance and poor health in later life, this makes sense, right!. Poor education leads to the likelihood of dropping out of school, becoming unemployed and thus receiving welfare. Therefore, the prospects of attaining a job or building a career are non-existent. Consequently leading to low self-confidence, self-worth and inevitably depression. The adverse effects of not investing in good quality education – stay in school kids!

QConsult, Supported by [J.P.Morgan]

Queen Mary University Partnered with J.P.Morgan to offer students an opportunity to work as consultants on mini-consultancy projects in East London. I applied for QConsult, Supported by J.P.Morgan in summer 2016 and was fortunate to be accepted into the program. I had the privilege to work with the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation who supports scientists and researchers to answer scientific questions in the area of medical science and public health. The funding that the institution receives benefits over 14,000 people in over 70 countries and thus has major development impacts to the world.

The aim of the program was to support the Wellcome Trust overcome their challenges while increasing our employability by gaining new skills. Our objective as a team of 5 was to raise Wellcome Trusts profile as a graduate scheme amongst new graduates so that the institution employes people from a mixture of backgrounds in terms of their education, ethnicity and social status. Therefore, the scope of our work consisted of researching and analysing information on the Wellcome Trusts website design, entry requirements, application and assessment, salary, career progression, reputation and location. Through analysing this information we compared it to other organisations with reputable graduate schemes such as Deloitte, Accenture and Atkins in hopes to find a way to incorporate features which improve and increase the Wellcome Trusts appeal. Whilst conducting our project, my team and I received advice, professional guidance and training from the University Careers and Enterprise team which we adopted throughout our experience as consultants.

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This experience most definitely increased my confidence as I had always felt like I was never good enough or equal to others due to my background, however, being accepted into the program and given the opportunity to partake in the various activities of group work, attending meetings, working with the client at Wellcome Trust and giving presentations all added to my confidence. As a student, I was only ever exposed to classroom settings and so having the experience to work in a professional environment prepared me to work amongst professionals throughout in the workplace.

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Once I completed the programme, the Careers and Enterprise team got my group and me together in order to review the skills that we had gained from this experience in hopes to teach us how to communicate them effectively on our C.Vs and in an interview – I personally, I capitalised on my team working, communication, research and presentation skills. As a third-year student in Environmental Science, I had been thinking about my career prospects and I was considering becoming an Environmental Consultant. Therefore, taking part in this program allowed me to see what consultancy actually entails and whether it was something I truly want to pursue. I would definitely encourage students to apply for the programme and visit the Careers and Enterprise team as they truly help and guide you towards your next step in either further studies and/or career search.

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Smells Like Team Spirit

Queen Mary has a wide range of societies on offer. With over 200 societies, whether you are interested in politics, gaming, sport or something in between Queen Mary has a society for you. This year I made it my goal to join a sports society. After much deliberation, I chose fencing, as it looked very fast and exciting when I watched it at the Olympics a couple of years ago. It’s always been something I have been interested in from afar, but I have never had the opportunity to participate in it prior to coming to university.

 

The novice sessions are held on a Wednesday afternoon, and are led by a friendly coach, who is a former commonwealth games athlete. Each week, after an intense warmup, we learn different techniques, skills and actions. Along with the other fantastic novices, the improvement in the quality of our fencing has been great. By the end of the tenth and final week of the novice session our fencing was almost unrecognisable compared to our first week.

 

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Picture 1 – All the gear and no idea – me during my first novice session

 

Also, over time, the comradery between the novices has developed and there has been a seamless integration and acceptance into the main, more experienced, Queen Mary fencers club. Now, like many of the many other novices, I take part in the ten-week intermediate fencing sessions with the same coach on Wednesdays, as well as the main club training on Saturdays. The experienced fencers are very kind and helpful, providing insightful tips and a tough challenge to fence against. As we improve further, our minds start turning to more competitive fencing and competitions.

 

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Picture 2 – Smells like team spirit – the fencing novices at the team fencing competition

 

Incidentally, on the 18th March I took part in my first novice fencing competition at the University of London. Two teams of three represented Queen Mary: ‘the Beekeepers’ and ‘We are the fencing Queens,’ I was in the latter. After the round robin group stage, the knockout tournament began. In the quarter finals, my team had an intense, narrow and hard-fought victory, winning 45-43 against the Oxford team. Meanwhile, after a valiant effort, the beekeepers were stung by their opponents in their match. While, in the semi-final we narrowly lost to St. George’s University, we still achieved a bronze medal.

 

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Picture 3 – “We are the Fencing Queens” – My team for the ULU Team Fencing competition in action

 

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Picture 4 – Can’t Touché Us – The Medallists’ Group photo at the social after the tournament

 

After my fantastic first tournament experience I have officially caught the fencing bug. I’m looking forward to future competitions I may do in the future, as I continue this fast paced, high adrenaline hobby for a second year.

Moving into the Real World

After a fantastic first year living in student accommodation, for my second year studying at Queen Mary I have moved off campus and into private accommodation. The residential block I live in is clean and modern, with easy access to local shops and amenities. I share my flat with one of the many friends I made on my course last year, he’s friendly, reliable and clean, so that’s the major boxes ticked. My flat is a convenient 20-minute walk from campus and only 5 minutes from the nearest railway station. Dealing with landlords and estate agents, living off campus and managing bills myself, means I have some more responsibilities than I had living on campus in the first year; where most of my bills were incorporated into the cost of rent. As I no longer have the comforts of student living, most notably a cleaner, and my neighbours are not students who go to Queen Mary, for the first time, I feel like I am living in the real world. Here’s a look at some of my flat’s highlights:

Living Room (Image 1):

 

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First stop on the tour is the living room. This is the main communal space and social hub of the flat, hence my flatmate and I spend most of our time here. In the room we’ve got a television and sofa, whilst the adjacent balcony offers views of the main road below. Most importantly, the living room has witnessed a great many victories from myself on Mario Kart.

 

Bedroom (Image 2):

 

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Next stop on the tour is my bedroom; I definitely did not just clean my room before taking this photo. Otherwise known as the essay factory, my bedroom is where most of my work gets done, but, equally, it is a place of rest and relaxation after a long day’s work. That bed looks very tempting!

 

Kitchen (Image 3) and Bathroom (Image 4):

 

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I hope these next two rooms are self-explanatory.

 

Rooftop terrace (Image 5):

 

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The aspect of my flat that drew my flatmate and I to it when we were initially shown the property was the access we had to the communal rooftop terrace, which, on a good day, offers some really nice views of London.

Delving Deeper Into Yourself

I reckon most of us have probably heard of the Myers-Briggs Indicator Type test. Well if you haven’t, you can check your ‘personality’ at https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test. According to this test, I am an ENFJ-T. However, I won’t elaborate too much about this –  there’s something else interesting about your personality.

 

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Do you know that every individual also has a risk personality? Psychological Consultancy Ltd created an assessment to evaluate one’s risk personality. These personalities are shown in the Risk Type Compass® below.

 

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Unfortunately, we would be unable to take the assessment as these are mainly created for businesses. This assessment has particular relevance to the banking and finance, insurance, energy, manufacturing and consulting sectors. Why do I have to say all these? Because as maths students, many of us are attracted to those industries.

 

Especially in the sectors mentioned above, an effective management of risk within the industry is vital to its growth. A study done by researchers over a 19-year period on over 1000 senior bankers from more than 150 were carried out. The study measures the riskiness of strategies of these bankers. It found that personalities were the integral factor in risk-taking.

 

Most organisational failures are typically caused by taking too much risk or taking insufficient risk, e.g. a group of predominantly risk-takers tend to amplify risk-taking, and a group with a great number of risk-averse members are less likely to take them. Hence, we need a more diverse range of personalities to balance this out to achieve an effective risk management! Of course, there are other factors that would make this work, such as establishing working relationships and concise communication with your colleagues in the firm. Other than winter, a number of us are in the season of applying for internships. Perhaps, if you are confident of your risk type or personality, could this probably be a point to mention to employers? (ehem, maybe.)

 

It is good for us to know ourselves deeper. Not just our risk personalities, but who we really are. More fully understanding yourself is a catalyst to personal growth – in studies, applying for jobs, decision-making and many more. Most significantly, always be genuine to yourself – no one is better than you at being you!

 

 

Living at University

New responsibilities

When I arrived on campus for my first year in student housing, I did not know what to expect from university life. I knew I was going to be living on the same site as my lecture buildings, which would come in handy. But this was the first time I was going to be fully responsible for myself,  previously I had only ever lived with my parents.

At first my new responsibilities, like cooking, cleaning and money management, seemed daunting, but with the passage of time these became part of my everyday routine; they were nothing to get too stressed over. I nervously anticipated the start of my time at university, wondering if my flatmates would be friendly, but most importantly how clean they were, as, after all, I would have to spend a year living with them.

 

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Image 1: The view from my flat window

My Flat:

My apartment was modern and came with all the essentials for student living. It was an en-suite, with a personal fridge in my room, eliminating the confusion caused by shared fridges. There was something going on most nights; the kitchen became the main social area of the flat. It came with the essential facilities, including multiple ovens, and was cleaned weekly as part of the cost of rent, but, as you can imagine with nine people sharing one communal area, it got messy quickly. As I am relatively low maintenance, a weekly shop of around £20 covered my shopping for essentials. It also had to budget for travel, because I was living away from my family, and I still wanted to go home and see them from time to time.

 

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Image 2: My kitchen, which, thankfully, was regularly cleaned by the university’s cleaning staff.

 

Fantastic Flatmates:

I lived in Pooley House with eight other people, four were exchange students from America and Australia and four were home students (from the UK). Thankfully, my initial anxieties were quickly extinguished by my new fantastic flatmates, who were all very kind and welcoming. With them I have made friends for life. Over the course of the year we bonded as a flat and had a lot of fun, making my time at Queen Mary particularly enjoyable. What’s more, the experiences I’ve had with them has enabled my social life to flourish, in a way that it had not done so previously. Indeed, the bustling university night life, in the heart of London, is something I wouldn’t have been able to fully experience, had I stayed relatively isolated from it all at home. Since moving out, I have enjoyed more freedom than I would have at home, I can now choose when to go to bed and what I want to eat.

My first year flew past. I am now in my second year and have moved into private accommodation, ready to do it all again with new flatmates.

 

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Image 3: A birthday surprise from my flatmates. One of the highlights of my year was the birthday party my flatmates threw for me, it was also lovely to receive the card signed by everyone and the presents they bought me.

 

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Image 4: Another great part of living in student accommodation were the themed nights we had, these included: burrito, curry and movie nights. This picture was taken on one of the burrito nights we had, and, as you can see, my flatmate approves.

Getting Used To Readjusting and Experiencing More to Life

I used to sit at the back row in lectures sipping on my long black from Ground Café, while I listen to the lecturer explain. I’d nod in agreement and understanding of the material, and write down vital key points. I usually hit the gym or get extra sleep after lectures like these.

Keywords: USED TO.

Second year is tough as you have to readjust some things again. I’d come early to be able to save my friends and I some seats closer to the front. That implies waking up earlier as I no longer stay in the convenient halls on campus. I still tend to daydream in classes of my summer back home in Indonesia with good friends – and although it sounds really depressing how the start of this year goes, it actually isn’t.

Keyword: READJUST.

I find that the materials in second year are mostly based on your first year. Without a strong fundamental knowledge in first year, this year will feel difficult. However, as I am studying Mathematics with Actuarial Science, I feel that the modules made compulsory for me included the technical skills and knowledge that I need to becoming an actuary, for instance, “actuarial mathematics”. It has been very busy this year, considering internship online applications were mostly opened at the same time as term started. So I definitely recommend making a timetable for yourself so that you can balance and have time for other things as well, may they be work or leisure.

For the first years reading this, I recommend you to get work experience that would be relevant to your CV for second year internships.

For the second years reading this, join me in applying for internships. I’ve been rejected by a few but I’m still going. Hold on tight and keep going – we’ll get there.

Now, I drink my coffee quicker and take my notes faster than my cognition. I put on my earphones and launch Spotify while I revise in the library during hours between lectures or tutorials. I come home and after getting dinner, I continue either my revision, coursework, or online applications. This repeats until the weekend wakes me up like the morning light that shines on my face as it slid through the gaps in the blinds. Trust me though, despite the stress, challenges, and difficulties, it’s all part of that missing word, that in real life has the potential to make you grow and learn over time.

Keyword: EXPERIENCE.

Being Vegan at University

We have all heard of the “freshers 15”- a testament to the absolute chaos some of us inflict upon our minds and bodies when we first leave home. Beginning university as a vegetarian, my diet during that year reverted to the unhealthy and lazy stereotype of carbs and cheese. However, after learning about the wide-ranging harms of the dairy and egg industries, I decided to make the step of becoming vegan. Since then, I’ve learnt a lot about maintaining a vegan and (mostly!) healthy diet while studying.

  • Preparation is key!

Lunch should be the best meal of the day…but it is difficult to find tasty vegan lunches in restaurants, cafes and shops. That’s why half an hour of evening cooking and a leak-proof Tupperware box can save you a lot of trouble! Even if you can’t manage to cook a whole lunch for the next day, quickly frying some tofu, seitan or pulses the night or morning before can take care of your protein source and save you going hungry! You can then supplement your meal by ordering a side; for example, a jacket potato or chips.

  • Eating out

Being a vegan in London provides so much variety in restaurants! A quick google search can provide a crazy amount of information; lists like the following one are all over the internet:

https://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/the-best-vegan-restaurants-in-london

Some of my personal favourites in the area include The Gallery Café (Bethnal Green), 90 Degree Melt (Stepney), Fed By Water (Kingsland) and Mildred’s (Soho).

There are so many amazing vegan restaurants to choose from, but don’t feel limited to these! Many popular restaurants are accommodating to vegans, so make sure to check menus online beforehand, or give them a quick call to enquire.

(Pro-tip: If you want to impress both your vegan and your “determined carnivore” friends, “Homeslice” in Old Street is a non-vegan pizza joint, but the vegan alternatives they make are OUT OF THIS WORLD.)

  • Try not to get drawn into arguments

We’ve all heard the cliché that we can’t go two minutes without mentioning that we’re vegan…I mean, that’s pretty accurate for me! Our diets and ethical choices do form a large part of our lives, so it’s easy to see why. On top of this, it’s difficult not to get drawn into provocative questionings when being in a new environment around new people, who are all trying to figure out their own identities. One thing I’ve learnt through first-hand experience is that when you’re happily being you and living the lifestyle that fulfils you, you become a positive role model; so you just keep doing your thang!

  • Join QM Vegetarian and Vegan Society

With pot-lucks, events and outings, this is a great way to meet new people who share your lifestyle, and eat great food! Here is the link to the facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/QM-Vegetarian-and-Vegan-Society-310873675763769/

I hope you enjoyed these tips! Happy vegan-ing!

Oh and did I mention…I’m vegan!

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