Student Life

What do rocks, pebbles an empty jar and sand have in common with prioritising?

Many of us, especially students, are faced with multiple tasks that need to be completed every day. So how do I make sure I get all the important stuff done while still having time to carry out my hobbies? Let’s solve this problem, using an analogy you might have heard of.

Below you can see a list of things I need to complete, as well as what I would like to do for the day:

Important tasks (rocks):
1. Attend lectures
2. Write lecture notes on tissue mechanics.
3. Email lecturer about problem with answering exam question.
4. Write blog for Widening Participation student ambassador work.

Less important tasks (pebbles):
1. Top up my bus card.
2. Renew my borrowed library book.

Leisure/Fun (sand):
1. Watch my favourite TV show.
2. Go out with friends.

The challenge is how to fit all these items (rocks, pebbles and sand) in one jar. The jar represents the amount of time you have in a day.

Image 1: Rocks, pebbles, sand and empty jar to start off the day with.

Image 1: Rocks, pebbles, sand and empty jar to start off the day with.

 

Image 2: Trying to complete the least important tasks and hobbies first, mean I cannot complete all the important tasks (Rocks) in a day (Jar).

Image 2: Putting off the important tasks means I cannot complete them all in a day.

 

 

Image 3: If I complete all the important tasks first, followed by the less important ones and hobbies, I can fit everything I need to do into one day.

Image 3: If I complete all the important tasks first, followed by the less important ones and hobbies, I can fit everything I need to do into one day.

Remember that this rock, jar, pebble and sand analogy is not the only way to organise completing your tasks, and should be considered as a “tool” if required. I have used this technique throughout my time at university, and have had a lot of success with it. It is definitely worth giving it a go if you haven’t tried it out already!

The Ultimate Goal

After two years of decision making, months of revising, weeks of planning, hours of driving and lugging the far too many suitcases I brought up five flights of stairs; I had finally made it.  For me, university always felt like the ultimate goal; a route out of a small town; a way to learn things that genuinely interest me rather than being dictated an enforced curriculum.   However, within a week this euphoric independence already began to wear off.  I was not as prepared for University as I initially thought.

 

Before attending university, I was a little unsure of how exactly I would be taught.  I was so used to my school timetable; I had a good relationship with all my teachers, knew all my classmates well and was completely comfortable with the course.   However, with a little time I got used to the new university system I found myself in.  I use lectures to soak up as much information as possible; each one of my lecturers offers invaluable insight into Mathematics and, even if I don’t understand all of it yet, I write as much down as I can.  During my tutorials, which usually only contain 20 to 30 students, I ask any questions I need to and discuss any topic I feel necessary in order to get myself as comfortable with the material as possible.

 

Despite all of the academic support available, a substantial amount of independent learning and self-discipline is often required in order to do well.  Surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoy this part of university.  As well as attending everything that is required, there are often extra lectures and events put on by the university that explore different aspects of the subject and offer an insight you won’t obtain anywhere else.   In addition, even though there isn’t usually specific ‘required reading’ for a first-year mathematician, there are so many resources available to deepen your knowledge in general.  If a particular theorem, idea or field of mathematics sparks an interest during a lecture or whilst completing a piece of work I can research that specific item at the library and possibly use it to further my studies.  Mathematics can be a rather intense degree, but I personally find that the more engaged with it I become, the easier the work load is to manage.

 

When deciding what course to apply for I read a brief overview of module options and a snippet of their content.  In reality, the courses are much more in depth and detailed than I could ever imagine.  In the first semester, we pushed our A Level knowledge further in Calculus 1, we tackled Mathematical Structures where number systems and proofs were discussed, we were introduced to the world of Probability where we built on our knowledge of expected values and random variables, and we were exposed to procedures and plots in Computing.   Within the first week I found myself researching Fermat’s Last Theorem for an assignment and getting far too carried away with what was supposed to be a “small summary.”   After five months at QMUL, I can positively say that I have not “made it.”  Being here isn’t in fact the ultimate goal, but it is assisting me in discovering what my “ultimate goal” actually is; whether its working in finance or scientific research or something completely different and unexpected; I am excited to keep studying and find out.

 

Mile End Campus

 

This is ArtsOne. This is the home of the School of English and Drama. We are located all the way up in the third floor! It’s where my persona adviser, lecturers and tutors have their offices.

This is ArtsOne. This is the home of the School of English and Drama. We are located all the way up in the third floor! It’s where my personal adviser, lecturers and tutors have their offices.

As I have mentioned before in this blog, Queen Mary is a campus-based university. This means the teaching facilities and the student accommodation are very close to each other. Queen Mary has 5 campuses: Whitechapel, Charter House square, West Smithfield, Lincoln Inn Fields & Mile End. I am based on the Mile End campus. This week, I thought I would write all about the places on campus where I spend a lot of my time.

 

 This is Ground. It’s a café that’s run by our Student Union. It’s a great place to grab a coffee and hang out with friends between or after lectures. I would really recommend their Mediterranean veggie wrap!


This is Ground. It’s a café that’s run by our Student Union. It’s a great place to grab a coffee and hang out with friends between or after lectures. I would really recommend their Mediterranean veggie wrap!

 

library-square

Here is the Library Square, and you guessed it… it’s where the Library is. The Library Square is used for events, stalls, and socialising. It’s always busy and with lots of people milling around. The sculpture that you can see in the picture is called ‘knowledge’. The sphere is the globe, and the arms represent the open-handed sharing and communication of experience and knowledge. Behind the statue is the Bancroft Building. This is where I have most of my seminars.

This is People’s Palace. I have my Arthurian Literature and my Postcolonial and Global Literatures lectures here. The original People’s Palace was opened in 1887 by Queen Victoria. It provided a library, reading rooms, a swimming pool and winter gardens for the local people of East London.

This is People’s Palace. I have my Arthurian Literature and my Postcolonial and Global Literatures lectures here. The original People’s Palace was opened in 1887 by Queen Victoria. It provided a library, reading rooms, a swimming pool and winter gardens for the local people of East London

 

The Regent’s Canal is right next to our campus. It passes through Mile End, Bethnal Green, all the way to Camden, right through the middle of London Zoo. The area surrounding the canal is beautiful, especially during the summer. On the left hand side, you can see some of our student accommodation. I have shown you a few places in Mile End Campus, but there are so much more to see!! I would strongly encourage you to come and visit us and have a look for yourself. We run campus tours throughout the year. You can book your tour via this link: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/undergraduate/openday/cant-make-it/campustours/index.html 

 

 

canal 

 

 

 

 

Why my second year is better than the first

You usually hear people tell you how much harder second year of university is compared to first. Your first year “practically doesn’t count” so “don’t take it too seriously”. There’s no lie; workload is heavier this year and counts for more towards your final grade. But overall, my second year is going way better than my first. Why?

 

Firstly, I’ve familiarised myself with workload. I know how much to expect, when to expect it, and how to deal with it. Though my work is harder this year, I know not to neglect it too long and how to get it all done. This way, I do well in school and also have time to enjoy my life.

 

Secondly, I love my degree subject more. Maybe because I’m living in the era of Brexit and Trump-onomics where Economics is in the heart of every hot topic right now, I’ve really learned to appreciate my studies and everything that it will have to offer me in the future. My goals are more clear, I know what I love and don’t enjoy as much, and I get more involved in Economics events.
Lastly and most importantly, I’m settled. When you first move to a new place, especially as one as daunting as London, every day can be nerve-wracking and you can even find yourself quite lonely for a while. Don’t worry – this is completely normal and you WILL find your place. You will find who your friends are, your favourite hangout spots, places to eat, a good balance between work and social life, etc. It’s a natural way the universe works. You can’t force it and you can’t resist it – you will eventually become a citizen of London.

Second year – a devil in disguise ?

Yes, yes it is. I am not sure exactly how it happened or what it even is that happened, but my uni life is not as together as it seemed to be. One month ago everything was a bright pink, with some shades of red from my lipstick. Lectures were worthwhile, classes did the trick and the coursework went smooth – it didn’t exist. Now- a completely different story. With midterm season at its peak, opening the actual textbooks made me realize I didn’t know why Marx thought that there is a tendency of the profit to fall, I couldn’t figure out what makes a random sample random and I most certainly couldn’t tell you the relationship between Phillips Curve and the Aggregate Supply (the dark side of economics). Oh, did I mention the utter madness caused by desperately seeking an internship for the summer ?
What had happened to my inner peace being…well, so peaceful ? I jumped from red on my lips to grey on my soul, without even a warning. We are expected to know everything and we are questioned on everything; this everything I’m talking about is about 4 times bigger than it was last year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot more interesting, but I miss the days when reading the slides and going to classes were an almost guaranteed first. They tell you first year is to adjust, they don’t tell you that second year is to survive.

It may be that I am overreacting, since I am writing this at a high point on my stress scale, but I think you could do with a warning: don’t underestimate the workload and don’t assume you can cram 3 months worth of lectures in one night- you will be proven very wrong. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

With Christmas break just around the corner and 2 more midterms to go, I am determined to start fresh next term, put on my red lipstick and make sure I study constantly, thoroughly, to avoid midnight breakdowns…Who am I kidding ? It’s university, if you don’t have a meltdown, it will definitely find a way to give it to you. But that’s what makes it the ‘uni life’ we all crave for, doesn’t it?

Building Kingdoms, Chasing Dreams

Happy new year to all of you! 2016 has been a rather interesting year for all of us, but I believe 2017 would be a better year for all of us if we act upon our dreams and our goals, and be motivated and passionate about our ambitions. I too, have personal dreams and goals – both short term and long term – and by living each day driven by the will to become better, we experience circumstances that acts as stepping-stones that bring us closer to our aspirations. In my own opinion, our education is one of these stepping-stones. There are in fact numerous simple things that you can do now that will contribute achieving greatly in university or even after. Here are some things that I personally do:

 

  • 1. Manage my time, by having a calendar beside my study table and on it are upcoming events or deadlines.

 

  • 2. Keeping my room always organised, and not only when I feel like cleaning up!

 

  • 3. Set up a ‘goals and to-do’ list, as if making SMART goals, but less strict with the time limit, for example, ‘Go to Bermondsey and eat Padang food’ and ‘patch my jeans,’ as you can see in the picture below!

 

img_6464-1

Above all these, I believe that there is one thing that will motivate you, drive you, keep you fuelled up and burning with passion – your purpose. Finding your purpose liberates you from work that you may see as burdens now. Finding your purpose is not at all easy and can be time-consuming. It is a slow process, but it is an investment. I am also still in the process of discovering myself. I wouldn’t say that I have found my purpose, but it seems to me that I would love to become an inspiration to others, and this idea of becoming an inspiration has encouraged me more than ever before. Other than that, pushing yourself beyond your own limits and being a life-long learner are just as vital.

At Queen Mary, how are you doing? Are you pushing yourself in understanding the materials in the lectures, or do you have a more apathetic attitude towards learning? Remember, again, education plays a major role in achieving your dreams. Most importantly, keep in mind that “your mind has to arrive at the destination before your life does.” Let us all not just create new year’s resolutions, but act on it! #hustle2k17

Lectures? Seminars?

Hello everyone! Hope you all have had a brilliant start to the new year. The new term has begun on a positive note, and I feel rested and rejuvenated after the Christmas break. It feels very surreal that I am already at my second term in my second year at university – how time flies!!

It’s been fun getting back into the swing of things: catching up with friends, and going to my lectures and seminars.  I have realised that I have talked about attending lectures and seminars in this blog before, but I have never gone into full details. So today, I thought we would discuss the teaching format at university.

The teaching style at university is very different from school and college. For a lot of degrees, the teaching format consists of a combination of lectures and seminars. For some degrees, there is also the additional lab hours and field work.

Modules

A module is a topic you will cover for either one or two terms. For both this terms and last term, I have been studying Arthurian Literature, which explores the representation of King Arthur and his knights throughout the ages; Postcolonial Literature; Romanticism, including poets such as Wordsworth and Keats; and Renaissance literature.

Lectures

A lecture is a like a presentation where your professor or your lecturer talks about a certain topic. For example, last year during my Shakespeare module, one lecture was about a particular interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s plays. A lecture takes place in a lecture theatre where you sit in seats like in a cinema. There could be up to 200 students in one lecture. Usually, in lectures, only the lecturer talks and you sit quietly and listen to them, and make notes (although this is not always the case). Sometimes, lectures are interactive with lots of Q&As. My lectures last for one hour and they are then followed by a seminar.

Example of my notes from Postcolonial Literatures

Example of my notes from Postcolonial Literatures

Seminars

A seminar is when the students from the lecture are split into smaller groups, and these groups go to seminar rooms to discuss what has been learnt from the lecture. Like my lectures, my seminar lasts an hour. Seminar rooms are very much like classrooms in school, but the number of students is smaller. However, seminars have a different structure to school lessons. In school, the teacher decides on what you learn. In seminars, it is very much about what you want to discuss, what you found interesting, what you agreed with or disagreed with in the lecture. Seminars are great because you get to find out a lot of different opinions on the same topic, which generates fascinating conversations. Sometimes, your peers can really challenge the way you think, and help you adapt your views and consider arguments from a different perspective – this is essentially what university is all about.

A typical seminar room

A typical seminar room

How to get the most out of your lectures and seminars

Preparation is key. Each week, in each of my four modules, I have a list of texts that I have to read. The lectures are based on these texts. It is vital that you do the reading because otherwise you will have no idea about what the lecturer is talking about. I like making notes as I do my reading, marking areas that I don’t understand, so I can bring them to my seminars, and discuss it further with my peers and my lecturer.

In your seminars, take part in all the discussions. Don’t be afraid to get things wrong – there would be no point in coming to university if you already knew all the answers! Sometimes, you will agree with other people in your seminar, and sometimes you will have a completely different stance to everyone else. And that’s ok because it’s the differences in opinions that generate the most interesting debates, and you never know, you might change someone else’s mind or they can end up changing the way you think.

I think it’s beneficial to regularly review the notes that you have made during your lectures and your seminars to consolidate what you have learnt. Moreover, I think it is crucial that you follow up on any ideas that you found interesting in your lecture or from your discussions in seminars. Be curious and proactive. If there is something that stimulates you academically, do further research; read an article about it, watch a documentary, listen to a podcast or hit the library to see what other academics think about your topic of interest.

I hope you found this useful, and if you have any further questions about the teaching format of your degree, go to university open days and speak to members of staff and students about it. Alternatively, most universities should provide details about their teaching formats on their websites.

My current third year project at university

As a third year student, one of the things I am expected to do is an individual third year project. My project is currently based on the study of nanofibres (really small fibres which are similar to fibres in your clothing) for their use in respiratory protective equipment (A device which protects against dangerous particles in the air such as dust). This week for example, I had to complete a presentation on my current findings for to my supervisor (see next paragraph for what a supervisor does). This involved summarising the key research I found from scientific papers published by other scientists such as how big the nanofibres are and where respirators are used in the real world.

Image 1: This is an example of a respirator worn around the face.

Image 1: This is an example of a respirator worn around the face.

Image 2: This is one component for the respirator which a filter is attached to and is then worn by an individual.

Image 2: This is one component for the respirator which is a filter attached and worn by an individual.

Image 3: The actual filter I am planning to replicate using nanofibres.

Image 3: The actual filter I am planning to replicate using nanofibres.

Image 4: Filter holder to hold the filter from image 3 which is then attached to the respirator in image 2.

Image 4: Filter holder to hold the filter from image 3 which is then attached to the respirator in image 2.

Furthermore, third year students are also assigned a project supervisor who guides them on things such as decision making, based on their experience, in the area that the student is researching. In my case, I not only work alongside my supervisor, but I also work with their PhD research student. For the upcoming months I will be carrying out experiments designed by myself, to test filters used in respiratory equipment. Below you can see an image I took of these fibres using specialist microscopic equipment. These fibres will be used to make the filter which is used in respirators.

Image 5: What the filter from image 3 looks like when taken apart.

Image 5: What the filter from image 3 looks like when taken apart.

 

Image 6: What the fibres look like under a special microscope.

Image 6: What the fibres look like under a special microscope.

What is even more exciting is that if my work is successfully carried out, I could potentially publish my work for other scientists to see, who could use my project to help with their own research !

Sunsets, Science and Sunflowers

Exploring London is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable elements of living in this city.  From scouting out hidden treasures; obscure coffee shops and underground bars; to being able to weave through the crowds of tourists and relax with a book on parliament square with Big Ben in view, the quote “When a man is tired of London; he is tired of life” has never felt more true.  Here are 3 of my best-loved outings at the moment:

 

Columbia Road Flower Market
Between the hours of 8:00 and 15:00 every Sunday, Columbia Road transforms into a vibrant floral paradise.  After popping to The Hackney Coffee Company for my early Sunday morning caffeine fix, a stroll through the bustling flower market is the ideal way to begin my day.  The incredible aroma of the plants intertwined with hint of coffee coming from one of the many independent shops along the street, as well as the hundreds of people socialising whilst boasting their large bunches of sunflowers and attempting to balance their over-sized orchids on under-sized coffee tables makes Columbia Road Flower Market my happiest place in the city.

columbiaroad

The Science Museum
London boasts an impressive range of Museums and Galleries, however the most significant one for me is, of course, the Science Museum.  I could spend hours meandering through the Space section, gawking at the rockets suspended from the ceiling.  Every so often the museum opens its doors after hours and hosts a range of unique workshops and interactive experiences, as well as a silent disco.  An evening spent talking to astronaut impersonators and dancing to Beyoncé below a suspended United States Scout was undoubtedly one of the most memorable evenings I’ve ever had.

scimuseum

Primrose Hill
After 15 minutes attempting to navigate the streets encompassing Regents Park in what felt like arctic conditions following a rather temperamental phone which occasionally told me to “make a legal U-turn”, I finally noticed a rather large hill poking out from behind some houses.   Honestly, the difficult journey and slight dizziness just made the view from the top even more satisfying.  Roughly 65 metres tall, Primrose Hill offers panoramic views of the entire city and on a wintery evening at sunset, it is one of the most spectacular things I have ever laid eyes on.  At the top very top is a stone with a William Blake inscription, reading “I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.”

primhill

I have an ever-growing list of favourite places; and an ever-growing list of places I want to visit.  I am so thrilled that I have another 2 and a half years in this city; although I highly doubt that this is an adequate amount of time experience everything London has to offer.

 

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