Student Life

Colour Up Your London Summertime

Summer has come upon us now and let’s all be honest, as much as we love the feeling of not thinking about any studies, we get bored. However, there are definitely some things to do to fill your time here in London, both near campus and away from the campus. Let me give you a sample in-the-day-of-my-life time table:

 

09:00 – 10:00

Wake up, reply to all the texts from back home, make myself a smooth cup of hot coffee.

 

10:00 – 12:00

It’s all about the gains. Hitting the gym at QMotion which is on campus making it so convenient for students that needs to burn off some fats from last night’s dinner.

 

12:00 – 13:00

I usually cook – I’ll get ingredients beforehand from either Co-op or Sainsbury’s which can be found beside the campus and opposite the campus respectively. Again, convenience is key here. Otherwise, I’d go eat in Mile End chicken shops (ahem, Dixie’s £2 for 8 wings) or go around London. Where to go, though? We’ll see below.

 

13:00 – 21:00

Okay, I go out a lot and spend a lot of time outside because staying inside for too long can get my mind tangled thinking about life and such too much. I spend this much time because I usually go out with my good friends that I’ve met in my course, my department, or even the societies I joined. Here’s a list of places you can visit:

  1. Chilling in the park: London has so many parks that you can just sit down and chill on, all very accessible by both the closest stations near campus. Need a closer one? Go to Victoria Park or Mile End Park.
  2. Central London: Of course, who doesn’t go here? Take the westbound central line to either Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus, or Bond Street, and treat yourself for some good food.
  3. Westfield Stratford: Just a stop away, take the eastbound central line and you can spend time shopping, bowl, or ride the Boris Bikes around the Olympic Park, which is right behind
  4. Mile End Pool & Snooker OR Riley’s: Interested in pool or snooker? You should definitely give them a visit – one just very close to the campus and the other in Victoria, which is possible to get to using the District Line from both Mile End station and Stepney Green station, literally approximately 2-3 minutes away from campus.
  5. Tourist-y stuff: Check online some touristy things to do and get the most of London, simple ones like visiting the Museums for FREE, or even watch the changing of the Guards at Buckingham palace.

 

21:00 – 00:00

At this time, I usually have a couple of pints with my friends, just talk about what to do the next day, or even sleep earlier.

 

There’s so much that you can do around London as you study in Queen Mary. First year studying here has been eventful for me but there’s definitely more outside London – in my hometown Bandung, Indonesia – that I will tell you about in the next blog!

UCAS Adjustment – Changing your plans at the last minute

I had an offer to study at another university, but after doing better than I expected in my exams, I changed my mind and decided to join QMUL through Adjustment.

 

Choosing to study at Queen Mary

I had in mind that I wanted to follow a medicine-related career. Queen Mary University of London has a very good reputation in this field, ranking 2nd in the UK for medicine, so I knew that studying at this university would best prepare me for my future career. The Mile End campus, where the majority of teaching takes place, has great facilities, is very beautiful and green, and is located alongside the Regent’s Canal and the Mile End Park. Also, QMUL is located in central London, which makes it very convenient to explore London.

 

The Adjustment process

I found out about Adjustment through my Diploma coordinator back in Greece after I received my IB results in July, which exceeded my offer’s requirements. I feel fortunate and thankful that my school was so helpful and did everything humanly possible to support my Adjustment application. After discussing my options, I researched various universities on UCAS and on their websites. After selecting a couple of universities, I started contacting them via phone or email. QMUL was the first university to offer me a place on their Biomedical Sciences course. After getting a provisional acceptance, I had to wait until A-level results day (mid August) to apply via UCAS Adjustment. It took only a few days to receive my QMUL final acceptance.

 

Changing plans at the last minute

Changing plans at the last minute is never easy and always stressful. Take a step back so that you can clearly see your options and the benefits and drawbacks that come with each. It is very important to use every single available resource (eg teachers, university counsellors, university websites, etc). Trust your gut feeling, believe that you are on the right track and everything will be alright!

 

Moving to a different country

Moving to London from Greece was a huge step in my life. The first months were a culture shock, but eventually I became part of London. Making friends was initially one of my biggest concerns, but when I came to London, and especially to QMUL, I realised how easy it was to find great friends from all around the world.

 

Living in London

The best thing about living in London is that you can never get bored. There are so many things to do and so many places to explore that make London a very unique place to live. After living in London for nine months, I can honestly say that I have seen only a small part of London’s beauty and culture. It feels like I’m living the dream, but it has not fully sunken in yet.

 

Making the most of student life

London is full of extra-curricular opportunities for students. I am a volunteer with St. John Ambulance, something that I discovered through QMUL’s LINKS society. I am currently planning to undertake a summer placement in one of London’s biggest hospitals. Being a competitive swimmer for many years before coming to QMUL, I now also enjoy staying fit and going to the gym regularly.

 

The best thing about studying at QMUL

The best thing about studying at QMUL has been the people I have met and the friendships I have developed which made the whole journey enjoyable and exciting.

 

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First time visiting QMUL (29th July 2016)

 

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Last lecture of 2016 (16th December 2016)

A Summer Guide to East London

Summer is officially here! Exams are over, Bank Holiday weekends are upon us and the sun is shining (for once). Yet as East London is currently scorching in 28° heat, we become completely unsure of what to do with ourselves in the nice weather, and guilt-ridden by the realisation that Netflixing in bed is probably not acceptable. Alas, grab your sunglasses and ice-cream, here’s a helpful guide on how to make the most of the sunshine in East London without blowing your budget.

Check out one of the beautiful parks of East London. In the summer months, the once unfamiliar green spaces proximate to campus become densely populated with sunbathers, picnickers and ice-cream trucks. My personal favourite is Victoria Park, which is approximately a 10-minute walk from the Mile End campus and the oldest public park in the country. Situated around a stunning lake, Victoria park is a popular destination for sailors, sunbathers and brunchers (the brunch menu at the Pavillion café is delicious). The park also hosts world famous festivals including Field Day and Lovebox, with performances from the likes of Chase and Status and Frank Ocean.victoria-park

 

Running adjacent to Mile End campus is Regent’s Canal, a tranquil waterway leading into the river Thames. Ambling alongside the Canal with friends is a great way to spend an afternoon without spending a penny. I would recommend walking North along the canal, passing through the likes of Victoria Park, Battle Basin at Kings Cross and finally into trendy Camden Market for some well-earned street food. Feeling brave? Why not try running or cycling alongside Regents Canal for an ultimate workout.

Hiring so-called Boris Bikes is one of the best ways to see the East End when the sun is shining. For just £2 for 24 hours, Santander Cycles could take you anywhere. Furthermore, hiring Boris Bikes could not be more convenient as there are several docking stations surrounding the Mile End campus and a new cycle highway, separating cyclists from motorists to ensure that you remain safe. Whilst cycling is fast, fun and affordable, the process of hiring a Santander Cycling is somewhat confusing on your first time. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Find a Santander Docking Station
  2. Go to the docking station terminal with your debit/credit card, touch the screen to begin and follow the steps on screen
  3. Take your five-digit release code to your chosen bike and type it into the docking point’s keypad
  4. Once the green light appears, pull the bike out (and take note of the time)
  5. Adjust the seat and cycle away!
  6. Return your bike by pushing it firmly into an empty docking point and wait for the green light (to avoid incurring a charge, do this within 30 minutes)

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East London is also famous for its trendy pubs and bars, which become a hive of activity when the sun comes out. Want to stay close to Mile End? The beer gardens at the Morgan Arms and the Lord Tredegar are perfect for catching those rays and refreshments, and not to mention the beloved ‘Spoons’ of Mile End Road. Fancy more of an adventure? Shoreditch Boxpark and the many rooftop bars of Shoreditch are great places to hang out and host numerous cultural and musical events during the summer months to keep you entertained.

Finally, whilst summer is all about relaxing and recharging, for some studying continues. Yet studying and sunshine are not necessarily incompatible, but present a great opportunity to make the most of Queen Mary’s picturesque outside study areas. The green at the heart of the Student Village is transformed into an outside study area, with an abundance of garden furniture and motivational banners to get you through the last push. Venturing further into the Student Village, the many picnic benches alongside Regents Canal and the Canalside study room are great places to study when the sun is shining.

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A day in the life of a law student

Yes, there is as much reading as people tell you. And yes, you really do spend so much time in the library that it practically becomes your second home. Up to the challenge of a law degree? Read on for an insight into my typical Monday as a second-year law student…

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7:30 am Wake up

As my alarm goes up at 7.30am, I instantly get up and head down to the kitchen for breakfast, knowing that I have a busy day (make that week) ahead of me. Although my house mates may think its slightly strange for a student, I enjoy getting up early to seize the day and make good use of my time.

 

8.00 am Swim

Fortunately, we’re lucky enough to live right next to a gym and swimming pool, so I head to the pool for an early morning workout to prepare myself for the week ahead. When studying law, it is quite difficult to juggle the workload, a social life and exercise, but organisation is key to ensuring that you get the balance right.

 

10.30 am Leave for Uni

As the clock hits 10.30, my housemates and I assemble at the door for a walk to Uni, as we all begin lectures at 11am on a Monday. When selecting a house, living within walking distance of Queen Mary was high on our list of priorities, and we always have a great catch-up and a giggle along the way; a much more enjoyable journey than having to cram into the tube. Just before we leave, I always find time to grab a quick coffee to give myself a much needed caffeine fix for the long day ahead.

 

11 am Tort Law Lecture

As I make my way into my first lecture of the week, I always proceed to the same spot in the lecture hall to find my friends already there. We usually get the chance for a quick 5 minute catch-up before Professor Mulheron begins our two-hour tort lectures. Whilst Tort is a compulsory module for all second-year students, Professor Mulheron’s lectures are interesting and engaging, which makes the two-hour slot go considerably faster. We however leave the lecture exhausted, and upon reviewing my notes, I find that on a typical two hour lecture I have typed around 14 pages of notes.

 

1 pm Lunch Break

When our Tort Law lecture finishes, I race to meet my friends for lunch in an attempt to skip the queue. We usually head to Ground, which is a high-street style café ran by Queen Mary Student’s Union. With Ground offering a great range of sandwiches, salads and Sushi, we grab a (relatively) healthy lunch and settle in the comfy sofas to recharge our batteries, and our laptops, for the next lecture.

 

2 pm Administrative Law Lecture

Administrative law is a compulsory half-module for second year students, so I head to the luxury of Arts Two Lecture Theatre for an hour’s lecture on Administrative Law. The module focuses on ideas of administrative justice, and we learn about concepts such as judicial review and the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

 

3 pm Library

After our Administrative Law lecture, I head to the library to tackle some of the reading set for the week ahead. With each module typically setting around 100 pages of reading per week, in addition to cases and journal reading, I try to stick to a schedule in order to keep up with the pace of the work load. On the way up the stairs, I often bump into fellow law students and we make our way to the designated law section of the library for mutual support as we begin working in silence.

 

5 pm Tort Law Tutorial

At 5pm, I make my way over to the law building for a Tort Law tutorial. Tutorials are typically taught in smaller groups of around 10 people, and you are assigned reading and questions for each week. Having done all the reading for the tutorial and prepared answers to the questions over the weekend, I settle down in the classroom ready to engage in discussion. Tort Law tutorials generally consist of a case presentation, followed by a lengthy problem question on a particular tort. After debating the intricate and controversial points of the law, we leave the tutorial at 6pm fulfilled by the knowledge gained, but often still disagreeing on the answers to a question!

 

6 pm Home Time

As it begins to get dark, I begin my walk home after my tutorial. When walking home alone, I call my mum for a catch-up and to let her know how my day has been. Wherever your parents are in the world, it’s always comforting to hear from them and to keep each other updated; although one of my greatest concerns is always how my horses and dogs are at home and if they have been behaving themselves without me!

 

6.30pm Dinner Time

I arrive home at 6.30 to my best friend waiting in the kitchen, with dinner ready for me. As cooking for yourself whilst at University can be expensive, time-consuming and require a lot of effort, we decide to cook for each other and have designated days to fit around one another’s schedule. As we tuck into great food, we discuss our day and often proceed to plan our next night out or holiday.

 

7pm Back to studying

Feeling full and satisfied, I then head to my room to continue studying. Monday nights often consist of Administrative Law reading for my oncoming tutorial later in the week, and I settle down to read and make notes on the textbook, before reading the assigned cases and journals to enable myself to answer the questions set.

 

11pm Bed time

By the time it reaches 11pm, I often begin yawning and my body clock tells me it’s time for bed.  Feeling exhausted, I climb into bed and set my alarm for my two-hour International Human Rights Seminar at 9am the following morning…

Stepping Out of First Year

img_6451Exams are finally done and there goes my first year! It is crazy to think that being in a three-year course would eat up a lot of time but now I’m done with one-third of the way as we speak. In the grand scheme, life passes by in the blink of an eye. I would honestly say this year has been one of the greatest years in my life. It started from coming here alone without anyone that I know, a shy Indonesian kid that tried to make his very first friend. I went through thick and thin with my closest friends that eventually found me, and helped me with the struggles that I face, may it be my studies or even my relationship problems! I’ve got to learn that there are good people out there that become your good friends and that you can depend on them regardless of many circumstances.

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img_7252I even joined clubs here that promoted my physical well-being, simultaneously allowing me to experience further university life and what it feels to be like to be in an international environment. I managed to even experience working part-time in a foreign country, and performed several gigs around London with my band. However, we should all keep in mind that this would not be able to be achieved if all we do is stay in our comfort zone. Reach out of your comfort zone – be tired, be ambitious, be stressed, and in the long-run, you will realise that you have become a stronger version of yourself, and that everything done was worth it. Now that my first year is over, I can’t wait to see what lies ahead in my second year!

London on a budget: A survival guide for students

Moving to the “Big City” for University? What could be more exciting! As much as I loved growing up in a small rural town, I could not wait to get involved in the buzz of City life and the world of opportunities. I have found one of the most enjoyable things and greatest benefits of the London experience is the cultural diversity the city has to offer; although I have never felt more multicultural, London will also embrace your differences and soon feel like home and a place you belong. As the capital City, London also offers thousands of opportunities which other Universities simply can’t provide, such as networking events at some of the world’s largest corporations (my advice: go for the free food, and the networking of course). Yet, people were constantly telling me “the cost of living in London is too expensive” or “student life in London is not fun because you will be poor all the time.” Sound familiar? Here how to prove them wrong and enjoy the ‘London experience’ on a student budget.

The golden rule of being a student in London: make the most of student discounts. In contrast to living in a rural location, London is full of chain restaurants, high street shops and entertainment venues; the majority of which accept student discounts or run promotions for students. Speaking from personal experience, never be afraid to ask if a business offers student discount and you’d be surprised how much you could save. Furthermore, sign up to promotional emails to receive notifications of the best deals across London; Myunidays, NUS and Timeout London are a great place to start, as they will send you weekly offers and exciting ideas.

Everyday Essentials I never realised quite how much that tub of Ben & Jerry’s or fillet of fish cost before moving to London and having to do my own grocery shopping. Surprisingly, it is however possible to do your weekly shop cheaper in London than in other cities across the UK. Firstly, London has countless street markets selling all kinds of food which is a fraction of the price of supermarket food and much fresher. The day I brought 10 avocadoes for £1 will forever be dear in my heart. Secondly, shop around. As you’re in London, there are so many shops within a small proximity which gives you the advantage of being able to visit different shops to get the best deals on products. Finally, London has thousands of opportunities to get bargain food at closing time. Whether you go to a supermarket or a restaurant (Itsu reduces all produce by 50% before closing time), shopping later in the day can save you a small fortune.

Travel One of the biggest contrasts between London and a smaller city or town is the expansive travel network London has to offer. Gone are the days of waiting for the bus which comes once every hour; in London, travel runs 24/7 and getting from A to B has never been easier. Yet convenience comes at a price, which quickly adds up. Certain ‘student hacks’ can however make your money go further and your journey go faster. A student rail card entitles you to 1/3 off rail journeys, and a student Oyster card can get you 30% off the standard price of Travelcards and Bus & Tram Pass season tickets. Also, avoid travelling in rush hour; not least to save your personal space, but it may also save your purse, as you could see the cost of your journey rise by at least 40p per journey during peak times.

Accommodation Missed out on student halls and living in private accommodation? I’m not going to pretend that renting in London isn’t more expensive than other cities in the UK, but it is certainly affordable on a student budget. Many of the misconceptions about how expensive London overlook the fact that you do receive a higher student loan to cover the price of accommodation. I would advise looking for accommodation with a set rent which includes bills, as they tend to work out more economical. However, if that is not possible, be a savvy student and do your homework; many utility providers, such as Virgin, offer great packages tailored towards student needs (think fast Wi-Fi) and student budgets.

Finally, plan a budget a try to stick to it. Remember that there’s always help out there. But by simply managing your money effectively, the London experience is affordable and fun.

Summer Schools

Recently, I had the pleasure of working at the Experience University Week: Creating a Language summer school at Queen Mary. The absolutely brilliant David Adger and Coppe Van Urk from the Department of Linguistics invited a group of Year 10 students to learn all about the ‘science of language’. They learned about syntax (word order in a sentence, and its agreement), phonology (study of syllables), and phonetics (how speech sounds) – to name just a few things. They also got to study the construction of invented languages, such as Dothraki from Game of Thrones, Elvish from The Lord of the Rings, and had the very exciting opportunity to meet Francis Nolan – the maker of Parseltongue from Harry Potter! The aim of this week was for the students to create their own language and then write poems, spells or chants in it. It was a lot of fun for me to work at this summer school because, as you know, I study English Literature, and therefore know very few things about Linguistics, so like the Year 10 students, I also got to learn something new!

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The languages that the students created

The languages that the students created

I really hope all of you are entertaining the idea of pursuing further education, and I think summer schools are a great way to get a taste of university life. Most universities in the UK hold summer schools for secondary school students, and I would encourage you all to apply to them. When I was in Year 10 (not that long ago, I promise!), I went to a residential summer school at Durham University to study English. I got to experience what it was like to study at university level, to be away from home, met wonderful people from all over the country (just like you do at university) and the students and lecturers at Durham gave me valuable insight and great advice about academia and university life. It was also where I knew for certain that I wanted my degree to be in English Literature. In addition, going to summer schools are not only a great way of finding out about what you want out of university, but also it helps you figure out what isn’t your cup of tea.

If you haven’t thought about applying to summer schools already, I hope all the exciting events at the Linguistic Department’s summer school is tempting you. To find out more about the summer schools organised by Queen Mary, please visit this webpage: www.qmul.ac.uk/wp 

My fellow student ambassador and I translated a Haiku poem from English to the language we created

My fellow student ambassador and I translated a Haiku poem from English to the language we created

One Angry Nan and 76 Minutes I’ll Never Get Back

On the 19th of May, at exactly 12:00 my final exam was over, marking the end of the academic year.  As much as I am looking forward to summer and being a relatively stress-free human for a few months; I am feeling particularly reflective. As well as experiencing all the typical student scenarios; coffee induced late nights in the library, intoxicated Wednesday evenings at the student’s union and subsequently rocking up to your Thursday 9am lecture half still in your pyjamas at 9:10; the most rewarding and exciting moments of the year, are a collation of completely unexpected, spontaneous and terrifying scenarios.  Here are a few of my favourite:

The Time my Grandmother Came to London and Got Very Mad at Theresa May
I had an unexpected phone call off my mum one Wednesday morning, explaining that my Nan and her two friends would be travelling to London to take part in a protest.  I was instructed to go and ensure that she “didn’t get herself into any trouble.”  Assuming this was a slight exaggeration on my mum’s behalf, I arrived at Parliament Square with intentions of a relatively calm afternoon with my Nan.  However, when I emerged from Westminster Tube Station, all I could see was thousands of women draped in purple sashes labelled “WASPI”, yelling, singing and waving their fists towards the Houses of Parliament.  A few hours later I found myself in the heart of that crowd, with my Nan, learning about their struggle and chanting along with them.  After living in London for two years, my first genuine experience at a protest was completely accidental but a completely irreplaceable adventure.

The Time I Got Lost at 4am
We were somewhere in central London, it was 4am, I was exhausted, my friend had just lost her Oyster card, our phones were on low battery, and we weren’t entirely sure of where to get our next bus from.  We decided to walk down the road towards the street map, and stopped to check the name of the street we were on.  Tired, lost and so very ready to be at home in bed, we both looked up at the street name.  Turn Again Lane.  London was surely mocking us.  We looked at each other, both perplexed but desperate enough to be willing to take advice from a street sign, without any exchange of words, we turned around and began walking in the opposite direction.  As if it were a miracle, within 30 seconds we could see our bus stop and within a few minutes we were on our bus, driving through the city centre.  It became clear that being lost in central London isn’t actually something to be hugely concerned about; I mean, I wouldn’t suggest looking to inanimate objects for advice; however, the number of maps, night busses, and people in the similar situations as you almost ensure that there is a way for you to arrive home safely.

The Time I spent 76 Minutes Stuck in a Lift
Living on the 5th floor meant that, occasionally, I had to overcome my slightly irrational fear of lifts.  One morning I was supposed to be travelling to South Wales for a family party and I was running extremely late.  I hopped into the lift with my shoes still untied and clothes falling out of my not very well packed bag.  I was so preoccupied with composing myself that I failed to recognise that the lift was not moving.  It wasn’t until the lights turned off that it dawned on me; I was stuck.  None of the buttons were working.  Everyone I phoned was busy.  After being stuck for 15 minutes, I had to call the fire brigade.  They arrived swiftly but were at a loss when considering possible ways to get me out.  When it got to the half hour mark, I had stressed, cried, gotten frustrated with myself for being lazy and not taking the stairs, called my mum, and finally, accepted the fact that I was probably going to spend the majority of my day completely alone in a glorified box.   One of the firemen stayed outside the lift the entire time, and we discussed a variety of topics from my increasing levels of hunger to the British weather; until finally, after 76 minutes, I was released.

From my first experience calling 999 to accidentally protesting the rising age of pensions with my 60-year-old grandmother, this year has been a series of peculiar events; but I honestly don’t think I would change a thing.  Soon I’ll begin organising my Summer; even though knowing my luck, none of it will go to plan.  I look forward to the slightly terrifying, unsuspected chaos that will almost definitely unfold over the next few months.

 

 

 

 

Revision and Relaxing

When the revision period starts, this is an opportunity for me to test my knowledge on everything I have learnt, and identify any gaps in my current understanding. In the past I may have dreaded the revision period due to the natural stresses that exams can cause, but now I am more relaxed which mainly comes down to giving myself regular breaks when revising and rewarding myself daily for hard work. A typical revision day for me involves treating my day as if I am going to university. I start revising around 9am until 6pm, taking regular breaks when needed. I first start with the most difficult module, as I feel mentally fresh at the start of the day, and continue with other modules later. In general, I find studying 2 modules a day to be optimum for myself although other people may find this to be different.

Image 1: This is an example of a study area at QMUL which gives a more relaxed environment for studying.

Image 1: This is an example of one of many study areas at QMUL which I use to study.

Once I have finished revising for the day, I always make sure to reward myself. Psychologically, this makes me feel much better about revising because I always know I will have time for myself if I work hard. Therefore, I am more likely to be focused entirely on revision when studying, and completely switch off from studying mode when having fun. Another reason why I always reward myself is that this gives my mind a chance to relax. I like to think of my mind as a funnel which I fill with information, but there is only so much information I can absorb and process. In this case, feeling overwhelmed would be equivalent to the funnel overflowing, while having time to relax would be the funnel emptying so that next time I am ready to absorb new information. If I could share my top 3 tips when it comes to revising I would say the following:
1) Always try to make your study notes easily accessible
2) Always try to keep your study area tidy – Think “Clear desk, clear mind”
3) As long as you tried your best there is nothing more you can do when it comes to revising.

Image 1: Don't forget to relax as well !

Image 2: Don’t forget to relax!

Revision is meant to challenge you and ensure you are well prepared for an exam. It is also completely normal to feel stressed at times.  Why not try rewarding yourself more next time? You may even be surprised to find you actually study better and more efficiently as well. Evidence has actually shown that having time for yourself especially when revising, could increase your ability to retain information!

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