Clubs and Socities

Smells Like Team Spirit

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


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




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


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




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


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




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




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


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

Being Vegan at University

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

  • Preparation is key!

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

  • Eating out

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

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

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

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

  • Try not to get drawn into arguments

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

  • Join QM Vegetarian and Vegan Society

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

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

Oh and did I mention…I’m vegan!

A Day in My Life: Wednesday 27th September 2017

Summer is over but a new chapter of my life is beginning, I have just started my second-year reading History and Politics at Queen Mary. As I am no longer new to the university, finding my way around campus and adjusting to my new timetable is easier. The campus at Queen Mary includes the teaching buildings and accommodation on one site. Below is an outline of how I spent my first Wednesday in second year – an example of a day in my life:

8:00 am: My alarm goes off, but it’s bit early for me, so, with time on my side, I stay in bed a little longer.

9:00 am: Finally, having mustered up the energy, I wake up and get ready to go.

10 am: To shake the cobwebs away and prepare myself for the day ahead, I did a quick session in the gym. Queen Mary has its own gym, the Qmotion sport and Fitness Centre, and I used this last year when living in university accommodation (halls). However, now that I have moved into private accommodation, a rented flat a short distance from campus, my new, local gym is more practical to get to, but has equally good facilities and customer service.



Image 1: Me on the roof of my flat, just before heading to the gym.

Midday: After walking to campus, I arrive at my History lecture. A lecture is a talk by an academic on a given subject, where students are expected to take notes. Class sizes are a lot larger than in secondary school, with potentially over 100 students attending. Today’s focus was early German history, from its formation to World War 2. I’ll spare you the specific details today, but (spoiler alert) it didn’t end well.

1pm: Straight after this I went to a free taster session for Fencing, one of Queen Mary’s 60 sports teams, having signed up at the Welcome Fair. During the 2-day event the full range of Queen Mary’s 200 plus societies are showcased and students can sign up to the societies they are interested in. It was a quick and fun introduction to Fencing’s basic techniques aimed at novices, like myself, of any academic year, who wanted to try out a new sport before fully committing to it (I have since signed up for the full year).

2.30 pm: I then went to Queen Mary’s Mild End Library, where I printed off, read and made notes on my lecture readings. As part of my degree I am expected to read around my subject independently to supplement the lecture so that I can participate in in-depth discussion, in much smaller groups, during the seminar tomorrow.

5.45 pm: Finally, time for dinner! I usually make my own meals, as it is cheaper and healthier than ready meals or take aways, today I had Chicken in a satay sauce and noodles (image 2).




7 pm: Over the course of my first year, I made many new friends for life; some were people who I lived with and others I made through my course. A few of them have become my new flatmates for this year. With my work finished for today I could enjoy some downtime with them. It wasn’t all relaxing though, as our game of Mario Kart Wii got very intense (image 3), although I’m pleased to say that I eventually won the race. Afterwards, we went out socialising.



11.30 pm: Exhausted, we returned home and swiftly went to bed (image 4).


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.


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!

Welcome Week

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

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

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!


Freshers 2016 – What is it really like during freshers?

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.


freshers-fair picture

An example of the typical set-up during freshers fair.


harry potter society

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.



The bar makes use of really cool lighting for tables as you can see

Drapers bar before a night event for students.


Typical scenery of students at Drapers.

Typical scenery of students on the dance floor at Drapers !


This was an example of the event I attended during my first year at university.

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 !

QM Political Review: The SPIR journal by students, for students

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


42 Miles London Marathon: you don’t always have to run :)

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+ QM Student Volunteers at the London Marathon 2013-16

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

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 🙂



Trolley Dash in Olympia

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)

Volunteering group 2014 at the Toy fair

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!

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

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.

QM Team at KidsOut Toy Trolley 2016 - Olympia

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.

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