Exams 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.
I 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!
Last week was Welcome Week at Queen Mary. Seeing loads of first year students, milling about the campus with a bewildered yet excited look on their face made me smile, and pause to reminisce about my first day as a fully-fledged university student.
I remember the night before the start of the term last year. I was terrified. What if I don’t make any friends? What if I don’t fit in? What if I hate my course? What if I wear the wrong thing in lectures? These questions kept swarming in my head. I could hardly sleep. My anxieties, however, were mixed together with a sense of adventure and excitement. For me, getting into university was the culmination of years of preparing for exams (GCSEs and A Levels) and months of waiting for the results. This was it. As clichéd as it sounds, I was about to start a new chapter in my life – meet new people and study a subject that I really enjoy. My fears were balanced and calmed by a feeling of optimism.
Recently, I was talking to my friends about this and realised I wasn’t the only person who felt nervous. For a lot of students, this is the first time they are moving away from home, from family and friends, and it is quite daunting. But the important thing to remember is that everyone is in the same boat. The issue with ‘what ifs’ is that the complete opposite of your worst fears are also a possibility: what if you met a group of really interesting and friendly people? What if you absolutely loved your course? At school, I think, we spend a lot of time worrying about fitting in but it is completely different at university. It is ok to be different and to have a different opinion to other people. I can guarantee you that you will gravitate towards people who have similar interests to you. You will also make friends with people who are very different to you, and that is a brilliant thing because I think we should celebrate difference as it expands our outlook and introduces us to new ideas.
My friend, Dina, packing up the information point
Universities have Welcome Weeks to ease the transition into Higher Education. During this week there are no lessons. There are induction talks by each academic school, welcoming the new students to university and their course. The School of English and Drama asked me to briefly talk to the new students about my experience of university so far. I was a bit nervous but I am happy to report that it went really well – people laughed at my jokes! My department also held a Welcome Party which was a great way for the students to meet members of the staff and other students in their course. There were, of course, countless events organised by our Student Union. This included events held during the day and night.
The fabulous Student Ambassadors from the UK Student Recruitment Team at the Freshers’ Fair
One of the best events to attend is the Freshers’ Fair. This is when all the student-led societies congregate together and set up stalls. Both old and new students can visit each stall to find out more about what they do and sign up. Societies are a bit like extra-curricular clubs that you have at school – only so much better! At QM, we have hundreds of societies. There are academic societies, sports societies, political societies, Wine Society, Game of Thrones Society, Harry Potter Society, just to name a few. Societies are a great way to make friends, and to meet people from different years, and people outside your course. Last year, I have to say I went a bit overboard and joined quite a few societies but I didn’t end up going to a lot of them. So, I’d definitely recommend you try out as many societies as possible, but perhaps make sure you’re really going to go to them before committing long-term.
I hope you have found this insight into Welcome Week a little helpful. My advice about starting university would be to have an open mind and a positive attitude. Try out new things – you never know you might really end up liking it!
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 !
Having joined the editorial team of QM Political Review, formerly QMJPIR, as Commissioning Editor last spring, I was asked by the School of Politics and IR to write up a blog entry describing how this student-led journal is put together and distributed. However, due to my relatively limited experience as one of the more recent members of the editorial team, I believe Editor-in-Chief Petros Petrikkos is in a better position to describe the kind of work that went into publishing the first two volumes, thanks to his more extensive and long-standing involvement with the journal. His thoughts about his experience with QM Political Review can be found below. I instead opted to write a few paragraphs discussing the motivations of the editorial team for getting involved in this project, as well as the values and goals that have guided the editorial process currently paving the way for the third volume of the journal.
These values and motivations form the glue that hold together the editorial team and guide our work. Reflecting upon my own motivations for joining the project, our discussions during editorial meetings, and the applications we have received from prospective editors, a few core values seem to constitute the driving force behind QM Political Review. These values include a commitment to promoting academic enquiry and engagement on the one hand, and supporting our fellow students by providing them with the opportunity to get some of their academic work published at an early stage in their academic career.
It is important to note that these values go hand in hand, and that the latter is shaped by the former instead of being driven by altruistic or charitable intentions. Indeed, the goal of the journal is to motivate students to do their best to engage with academic debates within the fields of Politics & IR, and it is only those students most successful in this endeavour who will be rewarded by having their work published. Therefore, while QM Political Review does seek to support students by providing them with an accessible avenue for potential publication of their work, it is by virtue of their own hard work and exemplary academic ability that they are able to gain the respect, not altruistic benevolence, of the editorial team consisting of their peers.
QM Political Review, then, is guided by a dual commitment to the promotion of exemplary academic enquiry and supporting our fellow students in their quest to reach their full academic potential. The role of the editorial team is to achieve the former by ensuring the latter, and it is this balance between the two that, in my view, continues to guide our work in anticipation of the upcoming third volume of the journal. These are also the values I encourage my fellow students to keep in mind when sending their essays to the editorial team for review. It remains our promise to promote and reward the best our fellow students’ exemplary abilities to the best of ours.
– Samuel W. Singler, Commissioning Editor, QM Political Review
The idea of forming a Journal was conceived when Alan Saritas and Carl Lentz first discussed this among their peers. They then decided to present it to the School of Politics and International Relations, with the Head of the School, Professor Adam Fagan, showing a keen interest in the project.
After raising it as an agenda item during one SSLC meeting in 2014, the Head advised them to attend and present their ideas in front of the Board. That was the moment when I first found out about the project.
I first started off as a PR of some sort. I was incredibly excited with the whole idea of having a Journal edited by students, so I felt it was my duty to try and help the project in any way I could. I was promoting the Queen Mary Journal of Politics and International Relations everywhere before, during, and after the launch of Volume 1 in 2015. The Team had managed to print hundreds of copies, all funded by SPIR, including the launch event. Lecturers and students were invited to attend the launch and receive their free copy. As we were left with a lot of copies from the launch, I decided to get a few copies and distribute them myself.
A few weeks later, I had decided to deactivate my Facebook, because of assignments and exam revision. The Journal Team, however, had been trying to get in touch with me (no one knew of my phone number). I accidentally bumped onto them at Ground café just a few minutes before they went off to Hive West for a meeting. They wanted to discuss their plans for next year. As the only first-year student, I was very lucky and grateful for attending that meeting, as I pitched in my ideas, discussed the potential plans for the growth of the Journal, and even had a good laugh and drinks with the rest of the Team.
After the examination period, I had a Skype call with Alan and Carl. It was decided that I would become the Commissioning Editor for the Journal. When we got back to QMUL in September, we had a presentation in front of first-year students about the Journal. I also happened to get in touch with Milica Apostolovic, a brilliant student and a good friend of mine. She was very keen on working as an editor, and by March, Milica and I both became Editors-in-Chief. We soon began forming our team for 2016-2017, with Samuel Singler, another incredible student, as the Commissioning Editor. The QM Political Review team now also includes Ilona Berchtold, Josef Lusser, Mercy Muroki, Andrea Nilsson and Lee Pedder.
– Petros Petrikkos, Editor-in-Chief, QM Political Review
1981 was the year of the first London Marathon. Since then, the event has become the biggest single fundraising day in the World! And this year, 2016, marks the 35th time of its happening.
Some facts on the Event include:
– Course length: 42 miles with the finish line right outside Buckingham Palace
– Fastest finish time recored: 2:03:05 by Eliud Kipchoge (2016)
– Number of Runners: 35,000+ registered in 2016
– Total fund raised: £54 million recorded in 2015
Such an amazing event with impressive numbers in the heart of London every Easter!
Would you get involved? Would I get involved?
The answer is Why not?!
I am pretty certain that 42 Miles may be a great challenge for me, as I am not very athletic myself (sadly). And perhaps the idea of just blending in with the crowd at a cheer point and scream out runners’ names to keep them going is just not appealing enough to get me out of the house and spend half the day outdoor. But surely putting me on the course and giving me a Marshal tag is!
80+ QMUL Student Volunteers at the London Marathon 2013-16
The QMUL Volunteer Service has been having this honour to be involved with the London Marathon for a period of time. Each year, there are 80 positions for students to volunteer at the event (look at the amazing collage above!) – in particularly, marshaling the route roughly between Mile 18 and 19 entirely within Canary Wharf.No previous marshaling experience required (haha), basic training and briefing is provided together with “gears” for the day, light refreshments and of course uniforms. All you need to do is look out for the registration form closer to the date (available in March – early April), apply and bring your best smile and encouragement!
In terms of provision, you’ll have 2 briefings – 1 is on campus a week before the event to give you information on the event, to equip you and to get you exited while the other will be on the day itself, to highlight your task of the day and to remind you on key information (contact, toilets, security,…). Additionally, there’s a goodie bag that includes a T-Shirt and a cap (from Adidas for the past 3 years I’ve done this event), course pass (that enables access to the route), area map, timing calculations, key contacts, juices, snack bars and a fresh fruit maybe (3 times apple for me). Great prep! Great energy! 🙂
London Marathon 2014-16 course passes
The day kicks off as early as 8am. Meeting point has been at Upper Bank street all these times and Volunteers are gathered at a nearby building to go through the brief. After that, we’ll have a chance to grab more snacks and use the toilet before going to our position. Walking the route backwards, Team leaders will assign volunteers to some position, possibly in a pair, a 3 or a 4, most likely at crossing points and turning points. Crossing point “managers” coordinate with one another (and with turning point if they are close to one) and decide when to open the barriers and let spectators cross the course – let me answer that, when there are no runners. The task is significantly important as crossing at inconvenient time would interrupt the runners. On the other hand, at turning point, it is crucial to keep an eye out and notify crossing point when they can’t see what’s coming.
Some questions I have had while volunteering includes:
– How to get to the other side? – this question comes up when the crossing point is closed. I usually tell them to cross via the DLR bridge (which TFL staff not always happy about) or to go to Lower Ground B-)
– Where’s the nearest toilet? – for spectators, I’ll suggest the shopping centre and for runners, I’ll check the information card I have
– What Mile is this? Well, in between 18 and 19 *pointing where’s 18 and where’s 19*
– Is there a double viewing point? – this, depends on the course each year actually. For the 3 years I did 2014-16, only 2014 had a double viewing point, looking at Mile 15 and Mile 18.
– Did Mo Farah run past here? – Well, if you saw him then yes, if you haven’t maybe he will xD
The day can certainly seem long. In fact, it is! – From 8am to 5pm (that’s 9 hours logged to your profile on QMSU Volunteer towards that certificate you deserve!). Things get really busy 12-3pm as there will be waves and waves of runners and constant cheering, whistling and noises made with a variety of instruments xD Well, did I mention there will be live music?
You’ll see so many different colours from costumes, face paint and even shoelaces 🙂 things that don’t normally go together for an ordinary afternoon. And the energy is just enormous! People cheering, people meeting up with their runners, people giving out Haribo, people taking selfies in the middle of the course, and of course, lots and lots of people running…
Overall, I find the event very nice and interesting. I definitely got friends involved in the subsequent years I participated. Being there cheering for the runners who are determined to complete the marathon for the good cause they are supporting makes me really really happy. It is not an easy route they are on and you will see some struggles. That makes me admire and appreciate those who kept going and achieved what they set out. One day in 2015, I told a friend of mine that later on, when I don’t get this opportunity to volunteer for the London Marathon through QMUL anymore, I’ll run it. Well… That’s also something to look forward too 🙂
It was a happy day. One of the happiest day that I had. I’m talking about the Trolley Dash of course.
I used to love toys and my favourite would be my cooking set… Or Barbie… Or my Sylvanian set… 🙂 Ahh~! I just love them all! <3 Having said that, I on the other hand, cannot recall precisely when was the last time I actually played with them… Probably some time during my 8th grade or… even long before that. I still like them, trust me I do and that should be the exact reason why I was thrilled when I saw the SU offered an opportunity to collect toys!
OMG! Count me in! x)
QMUL Volunteering team at the Toy Fair – Barnardos Toy Trolley 2014
At the time, the opportunity was organised by Barnardos with the permission of the Toy fair in Kensington Olympia. Volunteers come in on the last day of the fair and for the last 30 minutes, would take a trolley (sponsored by Tesco) and collect as many toy donations as we could . Sorting out them afterwards, according to size, we would then load them on to truck after truck, sending them to disadvantaged children in need.
But for the whole process of sorting up until loading, we had some fun ourselves admiring the toys we loved. There was a huge giraffe I remembered, tiny shopping trolleys, countless cooking sets and so many dolls! Then there were construction toys, teddy bears, tiny figures, mobile phones, colourful fruit baskets and so much more than I can name. It was like a toy heaven!
Huge Giraffe on top a trolley full of toys!
The event took place on 23rd January 2014 and it actually was the first time I volunteered through QMSU Volunteering service. It was the start for a series of all the great opportunities I continued to get involved in later days. Now looking back it felt even greater :’)
Me pushing mini trolley, “nagging” for more toys
January 2015, I looked forward so much to another memorable trip to the wonderful toy-land and my heart sank when days after days checking the website without seeing the opportunity pop up. What could I do if there was no event held altogether.
But I felt the worst when it came back in 2016 and I could not go. This time, organised by Kids Out.
QMUL Team at Toy fair – KidsOut Toy Trolley 2016 – Kensington Olympia
The event crashed with my school schedule but I wanted to go so much that I was considering skipping class… Everyone who went told me the same thing – it was amazing! 🙂 I knew that, I knew that all along. And I’m glad that they had great fun volunteering at the Event as I did 2 years before.
There’s not much to say besides it’s a really really really really nice event that one should definitely consider going (if it doesn’t crash with your classes xD) Take it from me, and from those who were there.
I kick myself every time I think back to some of the experiences I missed out on in first year – in particular the ones to do with student media. I found myself intimidated at the meetings because I was too scared to talk about my own ideas and the thought of anyone reading my writing almost nauseated me.
I had this idea of writing an article about YouTubers on campus and had it all planned out. (It wasn’t until third year that I finally ended up writing it.)
My YouTube article, FINALLY written!
It wasn’t until the summer holidays, when I was approaching my second year, that I saw an advertisement for open positions on the editing team for QMessenger, the name of the university newspaper at the time. I applied for the Features Editor position because these were the sort of articles that I enjoyed reading and writing about the most. To be honest, I didn’t really think I’d get the position and was so surprised when I did. But I was also pleased. I’d done a lot of writing for my parish magazine back at home and I really relished the chance of writing for something again and seeing my articles in print.
When I got the job, the editor changed the name of the paper to The Print, gave the paper a fresh new look and changed a lot about it. It felt more inclusive now I was on the inside, and though I was still anxious about people I knew reading my work, I was ready to get something into print. I came forward with a lot of ideas and I got to do my first article with the editor. He wanted something on life on the canals, and the people who live on the boats opposite the uni. It was a great experience – we interviewed loads of interesting people, had the photographer take a lot of great pictures, and we even got showed how the canal locks worked. I got pretty carried away with writing the whole article and sent him a 2000 word draft. He came back, simply telling me ‘no’. It was way too long. After a big panic and a lot of collaboration in cutting it down, the article turned out really well and I’m still really proud of it.
After that I wrote a lot more articles for The Print and edited articles that other people sent in too. I then also started looking at doing other things for student media. The university also has a magazine, called CUB and I ended up doing a couple of articles for their final issue of the year. Me and my two house mates also started our own radio show called What’s Cooking on our student radio station, Quest. We run a weekly radio show (Mondays 8pm-9pm if you’re interested) and I also interviewed the musician Robbie Boyd for them. The culmination of all of this was the student media awards where I was nominated for CUB contributor of the year, and The Print’s own awards. I loved it and met so many interesting people as part of it.
Me and my friends at the Student Media Awards after party
In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I continued doing everything over into my third year too. I reapplied for my position as Features Editor and got it again, I even applied for a position with CUB and although I didn’t get it, I still contributed a number of articles. One of the highlights of this year was interviewing Newton Faulkner (!!!) for Quest Radio too. Despite this, there were opportunities I also missed out on last year. This year I finally attended the Student Media Conference and got to listen to industry professionals and alumni in media jobs talk about how to get into media. It was such an invaluable experience and I learnt so much.
Myself and Newton Faulkner after my interview
I’ve loved doing so much stuff for student media and only wish I’d started earlier. I’d really recommend just going for it when you get to uni and taking all the opportunities you can get. You never know who you’ll meet or what opportunities you’ll get!
If you’re a university student, you probably know that student life isn’t easy. Juggling assignments, part time work and fun takes effort. Some of us have the same day everyday, but for most students that’s not the case. For me, some days are busy as ever and others I do barely anything.
People say, second year is the hardest of them all, as the jump from year 1 to year 2 is massive. But personally, apart from the increase in the number of midterms, I would say anyone can get through it (with a bit of coffee and library time). I thought it would be useful to give you an insight into the life of a second year QMUL student.
7 am – 9am: Wake up and have breakfast if you’re lucky
Most of my days start quite early, even though you don’t have lectures till late, I find its useful to get up early and use the time to do your class work, catch up on reading or even go for that morning run.
Breakfast for me is a challenge as I’m never hungry so early. I’ve found a remedy – the nutribullet. It’s the best smoothie maker around and makes for a refreshing and healthy breakfast.
The Nutri bullet is the best kitchen appliance
9am – 9:45am: Tube journey
A big part of every student’s life is the dreaded commute (unless you live on campus). London Underground can be unreliable with its random tube strikes, but its quick and the best we’ve got. As long as you travel after 7am rush hour, you’ll have a pleasant journey.
My journey isn’t too long, you’ll be surprised how quick 45 minutes passes when you’ve got your favourite songs on loop and the metro in your hand.
9:45am – 10am: Starbucks time
Stepping out of Mile End station, you’ll find a range of coffee shops on the way to campus (both Starbucks and Costa), perfect for that morning coffee. Just don’t get sucked into their loyalty schemes, there’s no coming back once you start collecting stars on the Starbucks app.
Starbucks thinks of it all
10am – 12pm: Classes
Every student within “the school of economics and finance” has four, 1 hour classes per week. Classes are usually handy to understand what goes on in lectures and grasp key concepts through practical problems. Just don’t forget to attempt the problem sets before you come to class!
When I’m early for class, for once
12pm-4pm: Student Communications Intern duties
Working part-time is normal for students, we need the experience and sometimes the money. For me, I love my job and enjoy the work I do as a QMUL student communications intern; writing the student newsletter, working with QMSU and researching student news stories. My role has really given me good exposure to the field of higher education marketing and communications. I intern for 10 hours a week within the QMUL communications office on campus, which is great as I don’t have to travel.
Skipping lunch, used to be my thing but not anymore – you have to make time for it. I usually bring something with me or dash to the ground café on campus for a Panini.
My desk in the comms office!
Promoting the NSS as an intern
4pm – 6pm: Lecture
Economics students have four, 2 hour lectures a week, which tend to be nicely spread out. Lectures lay the foundations for your modules and without them I would be so lost, economics is about much more than demand and supply. Most of our lecturers are engaging and make learning a rewarding experience.
You need a coffee to survive a 6pm lecture
6pm-7pm: Fashion Society event
I recently started a Fashion Society at QMSU – best decision ever!I’ve really enjoyed running it this year as president. I usually organise events, skills sessions, club nights and day trips for members. I try to keep in mind that students have classes during the day, so many events are after 6pm. However, Wednesday afternoons are left free from teaching for society events.
QMSU is completely student-run. If you’re passionate about something you can take that further and find people with similar interests. Running a society has let me live student life at its best and meet people from a range of courses.
10pm: Netflix catch up
If I’ve got exams, then this step isn’t really a good choice. But, I like to relax watching some of my favourite TV series (i.e. Pretty Little Liars) after a long day. Before I fall asleep on my iPad.
Time to relax 🙂
Don’t be scared, my days don’t all end this late. On a Friday, I’m off at noon to do what I want. To be honest, every day is different – as cliché as that may sound, it’s really true. As a student, you have the chance to do so many different things and discover yourself, be sure to make the most of your time at QMUL.
Over Christmas I had a really nice break, did a bit of reading, went on holiday and also had a couple assignments too. However, when I came back from Christmas, just like any time when you’re away from work for a while, things got a little bit crazy.
For my course, I had a module pack to pick up, which I needed to complete the first week of reading. I had already done a bit of pre-reading for the first week back – I had read two novels over Christmas, one for my Writing Modern London module and a brand new module for this semester, British Culture in the 1950s. In my blog about self study, I spoke a bit about how it’s wise to read ahead, especially if you know you’re going to have a lot of work to do or you have a lot of reading for that week.
Film Society’s 2 Co-Presidents. Myself (left) and Gemma (right)
I mentioned in another previous blog that I’m co-president of Film Society with my housemate and fellow film loving friend, Gemma. We also had a lot of work to do for film society, as we had the second round of welcome week for all the new students joining Queen Mary coming up. That was pretty hectic too, as we had leaflets to print out, and the fair ran from 2-6, on the day of our first screening. This involved a lot of dashing about and last minute changes, but we pulled it off okay in the end!
The somewhat chaotic Welcome Back Fair
I also had to begin writing my dissertation, a scary prospect for most. In case you don’t know, a dissertation is a large piece of writing (mine has to be 10,000 words) on pretty much any topic (as long as it’s to do with English!) of my choice. My supervisor, who is someone who helps me through the process, is trying to get me to write it as soon as possible, so I have plenty of time to edit it and look it over. I had to write a first draft of my introduction over the Christmas break too, to hand in when I got back. Although it took me a week longer than I said, I also got that done and now have the next chapter to begin. I’m feeling more confident about the project as a whole now, and am not freaking out too much about the fact it’s due in May!
On top of all of this, there was also the next issue of The Print due, and trying to settle back into a life where my mum doesn’t cook all of my meals and wash all my clothes.
Overall, although there was a lot to do, the work is manageable. I like to make lists of all the things I have to do so I have things to tick off. I feel more productive and this helps me complete all of my other tasks. Other things I’ve found that work are breaking up larger tasks with smaller ones or doing something fun in between, like organising my notes whilst watching a TV show I enjoy. Sometimes things can feel overwhelming but everyone else is in the same boat, and all my housemates have as much work to do as I do. Luckily we own a VHS player and about thirty classic Disney movies so we can all unwind together.
I’m getting back into the swing of university now, so I’m getting back into a regular work schedule again. Plus, even though sometimes work can be hard, I’m really going to miss it. I’m seriously considering the masters degree I wrote about in my previous post. I’ve been doing a bit more research, which shows you that work is never too overwhelming. My best advice is to stay motivated, and if this all sounds a little scary, trust me – these are all skills you develop during school and university. Time management and balancing your work becomes the norm, they’re talents that you can never stop getting better at.