As the first week of university begins for many new students, there is much to experience. I remember finding out about all the clubs and societies available to join at the students union and the events taking place. it all helped me settle in. The freshers fair, for example, is set up for new students. It has many stalls where you can join different clubs and societies you are interested in, such as the Engineering Society, Cheese tasting society, Harry Potter Society or any sports club. What was great for me was that even though there were societies I didn’t like, I always had the option to make my own.
An example of the typical set-up during freshers fair.
For those who didn’t believe me when I mentioned the Harry Potter Society, this is proof you can sign up to be a wizard here at QMUL !
At Queen Mary, I remember attending a disco that had DJ’s playing music as well as food and drink being served at a bar. This was a great experience for me because despite generally not enjoying this type of environment, I wanted to meet new people who had different hobbies from myself. In the end I was able to make lots of friends, some of which I still hang out with today. In addition, I found it funny that some of the people I met also didn’t like going to discos, and shared the same views as me regarding meeting new people. If I could go back to my first year, I wish I had tried more events such as comedy shows, as I assumed they wouldn’t make me laugh.
Drapers bar before a night event for students.
Typical scenery of students on the dance floor at Drapers !
This was an example of the event I attended during my first year at Queen Mary.
Make sure to check out the QMUL students’ union page to find out what will be happening during this year’s freshers !
Query Mary School of Law 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner at the Guild Hall 2015
With my final year at Queen Mary coming to an end, I would now like to reflect on some of the most memorable social events I attended during my time as a Queen Mary law student. Even though social life at Queen Mary is varied, I would like to briefly describe just a few social events – the ones I was the most impressed with.
Having just arrived to university from abroad, I didn’t have many friends in the UK and couldn’t imagine how beautiful London was. Soon after settling in, I attended a fantastic night out with other Queen Mary freshers just as excited about starting university as me. During the Freshers Ball, I very much enjoyed a cruise along the Thames, admired London at night, socialised with people from around the world and was lucky to meet some of my best friends at university. The atmosphere during the Ball was relaxed and my first ever London cruise was simply unforgettable.
The Queen Mary Law Ball
During my second year, the Queen Mary Law and Bar societies organised the Law Ball – a great event held at Lincoln’s Inn and attended by QM law students and alumni, QM professors and other inspiring people. During the official part of the Ball, I socialised with fellow students and heard some of the QM alumni success stories. Afterwards, I attended an after party – a cruise around Thames at night. Remembering how impressed I was during my first Thames cruise during the Freshers Ball, my second cruise was just as unforgettable – London was breathtaking! Also, being able to spend more time with my good friends and meet new people made the night fantastic. Given the success of the event, I hope the societies will organise it for many years to come.
The Queen Mary Christmas Formal
During my third year, the Queen Mary Law and Bar societies organised another great event – the Christmas Formal – held at the Law Society of England and Wales. I really enjoyed this event as I could dance to live music with so many other students which made it a fun experience, enjoy beautiful venue and had an opportunity to catch up with my friends in a more relaxed environment.
The Queen Mary School of Law 50th anniversary dinner
The highlight of my final year at Queen Mary was attending the School of Law 50th anniversary dinner held in Guildhall. The event started with drinks reception and was followed by a formal dinner during which I listened to students’ and professors’ reflections on the School of Law. Smiling people and beautiful dinner hall created an unforgettable atmosphere. I once again realised how happy and proud I am to be a part of the QM School of Law and how rich my experience at Queen Mary has been.
Martin Pettitt, ‘Books About Town, Book Benches, 1984’: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mdpettitt/15184743411/in/photolist-p74779-oRBtq9-2cWNX-9WVUH4-6Lts9K-8FFArr-oRBhUi-p8PMbT
Over the summer, a number of book benches popped up around London. Their purpose was to demonstrate London’s literary culture and help you explore the city in a way you would never have thought of. There were fifty benches altogether, spread over four trails: The Riverside Trail, The City Trail, The Bloomsbury Trail and last but not least the Greenwich Trail.
My mum, sister and I spent two days travelling around London following the book bench trails, all set with snacks and drink and spent approximately £20 between us on both days. (Not including meeting my brother for a well-earned dinner afterwards).
We spent the first day following the City and Bloomsbury trails, starting at the Tower of London. Walking for four hours around London following tiny print outs of Google Maps was a great opportunity for us to discover little alcoves you would never come across walking around London as a tourist heading to the main attractions. We found numerous little hidden churches and gardens where we stopped for tea breaks whilst on this literary trail as well as stumbling across unique bookshops, antique shops and clothes stores.
One of the most fantastic things about studying in London is that all the time, free days out like this are happening all over the place. After the book benches, buses appeared around London to celebrate TFL’s the year of the bus, currently a large number of Paddington statues have emerged all across London, and whatever is next is sure to be great fun and not too expensive.
It is no secret that living in London isn’t cheap. My rent is double that of friends at other universities, I don’t have the heating on but instead walk around the flat in several jumpers every night, and the price of a pint is enough to turn any student sober. However, what London lacks in the way of economical living, it more than makes up for in the never ending cheap and free arts and culture destinations. While other students spend far too much money on a long train journey to the capital to rush all it has to offer into a day or two, we can wake up with nothing to do and within an hour be at one of its numerous museums, art galleries, theatres and concert halls for the cost of up to £3 for the tube fare.
London’s free venues are, in my opinion, what makes it a spectacular place to study for three years and many of my modules at Queen Mary try to incorporate this. One module focuses on London in the Eighteenth Century and requires you to take a walking tour of an Eighteenth Century route and then create a journal about what you have learnt, how the route is today, and the similarities and differences between now and the eighteenth century. As a student at Queen Mary, which is part of the University of London, we get free membership to Senate House Library (also known as the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s1984). As a QMUL English undergraduate, in first year we were able to go and watch performances of two plays we were studying at the Globe Theatre for free, and we were lucky enough to be given a lecture at the Globe and go on the stage. In fact, many modules encourage trips to art galleries, museums, and even coffee shops to soak up the culture and get the most out of our time living in London.
Away from the academic benefits of London, Queen Mary is in a wonderful location. It is a mere 15 minutes by tube into central London, 15 minutes to Shoreditch and we are surrounded by unique markets which are easy to walk to from campus. A great day out on a Sunday is to head to Colombia Road flower market, walk through Brick Lane market of course stopping at the biegel shop and at the many vintage stores to try and find a bargain, before finishing the trip at Spitalfields market.
Doing all these things for free is amazing but also sadly free trips are not always the case. Luckily for us there are apps which offer discount tickets to comedy clubs and theatre performances or, if you’re really keen you can queue up outside a theatre early in the morning to try and get £5 tickets to the best shows in London. Yes, having a night out is expensive but there are ways around that too. Most bars offer a happy hour, and at B@1, a regular haunt of my friends and I, there is an app which allows us to buy 2-4-1 cocktails to our hearts content. There is a roller disco in Vauxhall for the ridiculous cost of £3.50 on a Thursday night for students, the world famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is £5 for students after 11pm and if you’re feeling a particularly cheap night out, Cheapskates near Tottenham Court Road always lives up to its name.
London is honestly the best place to be a student, there is nowhere else with a wider range of unbelievably cheap and free excursions. Sign up to alerts from companies like Time Out London for exclusive offers and The Londonist for everyday email updates of free and wacky things to do and soon the cost of London won’t seem so high once you start seeing all it has to offer for free.
So on the last day of term on the 12th Dec, I went to see one of the most popular musical show in theatre right now, Memphis the Musical, partly to celebrate the end of my exam and a stressful semester as a whole. I had only been to the Shaftesbury theatre once before to see “Umoja” in 2004 (I think – *jogging my memory*). Got there and the theatre was packed with people, eagerly anticipating the show. I waited a while for the show to start but when it did, it went straight into song with a loud thump/beat that caught the immediate attention of every member of the audience. It tells the story of forbidden love between a black female singer (played by the UK soul artist, Beverley Knight) and a white male radio show presenter set in racially segregated Memphis, U.S. There were so many moving and catchy songs; my personal favourite is “Someday”. I was singing the songs a good 2 weeks after the show – everything about it was great, the dancing and the production. My favourite scene is definitely the finale where all the actors sing an dance “Steal your Rock and Roll” in bright gold and black outfits. Beverley’s voice was phenomenal! For those who love musicals, you’ll love it. Ii think it’s the hottest place in Oxford Street this winter.
I have spent the past three birthdays away from home, so celebrating my birthday with new people in new places is not new phenomena. Despite that, this year I had one of my best birthdays I can recall, and it is not specifically because I am in London or because I have “finally escaped” my family. It was just generally a great day with great people.
I woke up to a video from my family singing me “Happy Birthday,” which was a nice change from the typical voice mail rendition of the song. One thing I am still confused about is why they decided to record in my room instead of anywhere else in the house.
The day didn’t start with any expectations that it was going to be a day filled with excitement or that much of anything was going to happen. I am not a big party person and would much rather have a fun night with a group of people then some sort of rager. I went to class in the morning, a class I ended up switching out of, and came back to the flat to take a nap. Right as I was waking up Sophie texts asking where I am and what my plans are for the day.
I came out of my room and into the kitchen finding Sophie, Hetty and Shannon around the table with cupcakes and cards on the table. Yes, they were store bought, but they were still delicious. Including the cards and drawings on them there were a total of eleven cupcakes thanks to the addition of Hetty’s artwork.
At about seven o’clock three of my flatmates including Jack, who is pretty much a flatmate at this point, took me out to dinner. They would not tell me where we were going or even which tube we were taking until we got to it. Of course the entire time I kept pestering them to find out where we were stopping or what we might be eating. They would not tell me no matter what. We finally got out of the station and walked right past the London Eye down the Thames, and it was beautiful at night with the lights with fewer people around compared to the day.
Flashback: A week or so before while walking around Covent Gardens, my flatmates and I found a Mexican food restaurant called Benito’s Hat. As a result, I had the honor of showing what Mexican food could taste like while getting to eat a delicious burrito with Sophie and Hetty. They kept pointing out the quesadillas on the menu since I had said I could make them before. They know the basics right now, but by the time I’m done with them they will likely know more about Mexican than they could have asked for.
So as you probably guessed at this point, they took me to Wahaca, which the internet said was the best Mexican restaurant in London. We waited for a table up at the bar where I had the best two Mojitos I could have ever imagined, but those are just two of the delicious choices on their drinks menu. The food was satisfying, especially their tacos, but I doubt it would stand a chance against the hole-in-the-wall Mexican food places in San Diego or Santa Cruz. Still, I did get their delicious guacamole recipe along with matchbook style chili pepper seeds to plant.
While waiting for our food my friends learned the difference between nachos and tortilla chips. I had to explain that nachos are made from tortilla chips (crisps if you want to be nit-picky) and while nachos have cheese and other toppings on them, they are not inherently the same thing. Of course that was only important to me, but it was funny trying to explain the difference.
They later revealed that they wanted to take me to get Mexican food to make me feel more at home in London on my birthday. I thought was extremely sweet and thoughtful of them, so if you read this thank you again. The scenery was breathtaking on the way back as well and all in all wrapped up a great day.
I am extremely grateful for the friends I have made here so far, and while I have only known them for a few weeks it feels like its been forever, in a good way.
Now, I recently visited the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, West London with my sister for the Rays of Sunshine charity concert. Though I’m a born and bred Londoner, I hadn’t had the opportunity to visit the exquisite site previously and so, it was my very first time visiting. At first sight, one is definitely struck by the sheer size of the slightly oval-shaped building (it’s huge!). Its exterior is dressed with arched, golden-framed windows, dark ochre walls and a dome-like frame.
Side view of the Royal Albert Hall, opposite Kensington Park!
It is undoubtedly an amazingly designed building with so many doors! Opened by Prince Albert in 1871 through his passion for grand British infrastructure, it’s the famous stage for world class performers like Frank Sinatra, Elton John, the Beatles and Adele, and performers at the traditional Royal Variety Show for the Queen like the dance group, “Diversity”, high political figures and powerful
speakers like Sir Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela, not to mention home to the BBC Proms.
The stage from the back row seats!
The beautiful sight of the building at night after the event!
Entering at door 11 stall J, the corridors inside are sophisticated and nicely modernized with historical pictures of events like the Queen’s 50th Anniversary Concert in July 2003 and Jay Z’s performance in September 2006. What’s really nice is that the hall offers an inside out tour of the entire building for individuals and groups (upon request) which would be great for all those new to London and want to explore some of its greatest sites, conveniently next to one of London’s largest parks, Hyde Park.
The brochure about the tours of the Royal Albert Hall
The brochure about the tours of the Royal Albert Hall (2)
More information is at www.royalalberthall.co.uk and its official Facebook page!
Mabel I. Osejindu
BA English Language and Linguistics, 2nd Year
I have lived in London for nearly all my life and I can safely say there is no other location I’d rather spend the next three years of my life. What I find most intriguing about London is how uniquely multi-culturally integrated it is. Originally of African heritage, I studied the International Baccalaureate so I found that I have been surrounded by and studied so many cultures throughout my life but unlike the narrator in Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan by Moniza Alvi, I do not feel like an ‘alien in my living room’; On the contrary I feel like every day I am Wendy embarking on an adventure in London-land.
However, one cannot forget the originality of London Culture. If you are a serial shopper (which I am proudly guilty of) you can visit the new Stratford Westfield 10 minutes away from Mile End Campus, where you can shop at famous high street brands: New Look, H&M, and Forever 21. Or if you like clothes which have a history, you can visit the legendary Brick Lane where there are a selection of Vintage stores such as Rokit Clothing and Beyond Retro.
As a student of course I cannot forget to mention the amazing nightlife in London. If you’re a clubbing person you can visit Mayfair: Aura, Funky Buddha; or students with a budget will love the student nights at Proud (in Camden), Ministry of Sound, and Moonies Bar. Or if you’re a pub-person, don’t worry because London has hundreds; visit Shoreditch or Dalston Junction! Or my personal favourite Amersham Arms in New Cross which is a pub and a club – ingenious!
Just by walking through Central London there are so many aspects of the world thrown at you. Trekking through Leicester Square, the sounds of the Chilean drums entertaining the streets; the flashing advertisements alike the screens in the famous Times Square; wrapped up warm, you can feel the brisk London breeze on your face; and if you close your eyes just long enough you can almost smell Chinese dumplings from just around the corner.