Business Management

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.

Renting through bubbles

14857685644_16ac87ddf7_o   As an undergraduate I took the stupid decision to move nearer my university and  that was the first time I rented through a housing bubble. I say stupid because I still kept a daily part time job at my hometown and spent most of my weekends there, so I got a big cell in a flat that basically was used for nursing hangovers. My Mother still says that, basically, I was throwing away money, being this the rare occasion in which I’d agree with her.

After finishing my degree I decided to move out with two friends. My second rental through the bubble. To the average Londoner our old house would seem like an impressive mansion. Two floors plus loft and basement, a garden big enough for a plastic pool in the summer and massive BBQs in Mediterranean winter, spacious dining room and a big kitchen. It was near the peak of Spain’s housing bubble and we paid around 1,200 euros per month, a scandalous quantity we believed. In hindsight, it was the best deal I’ve ever had. I did not know much worse it could be.

Make no mistake, the housing situation at that point in Spain was not sustainable and it was a really worrying bubble. We rented 20 kms away from Barcelona, where rents were much higher.  Real estate prices turned home ownership into the pipedream of a generation plagued by temp contacts and unstable jobs. Despite all this, the consequences of Spain’s bubble pales in comparison to London’s bubble, even if you are lucky.

After leaving Queen Mary’s accommodation, my girlfriend and I shared a flat with a guy from Madrid. His former French flatmates were moving and we quickly offered to substitute them.  This involved living two weeks on an inflatable mattress in the dining room while the French couple moved out, but, hey, at least we had a dining room! When our flatmate decided to go back to Spain, we decided that it was time to go. Even more challenging, we would eschew flat sharing and find a place for ourselves alone. With more time to plan, we carefully balanced the different trade- offs that we faced.

In economics, the Trilemma on international finance puts that countries cannot have: A fixed exchange rate, an open capital market and an independent monetary policy. From three desirable things, you only can have two. I’d say that when you rent in London there is also a certain trilemma: location, extortion, and ruin.

You can have a nice flat in a desirable area: of course you’ll landlord will extort loads of money from you. Otherwise you can use to have a cheap nice flat in a not so desirable area, is possible that you spend most of your life commuting then. Perhaps you find a “cheap” flat in a desirable area; the most possible is that it has some sort of undesirable feature.  I guess that this trilemma is common to all rental decisions, but in a normal situation you can always find a nice equilibria between these three dimensions. In London, I do not think it possible. Hell, I am starting to think not so much far away there will be only one good thing left to pick!

In our case, first we opted to have a nice accommodation in a not so central area. We lived between Wood Green and Palmers Green, just below the North Circular road. The zone has some charm: you live near Alexandra Palace, can hike across the new river, and run through Broomfield and Arnos Parks –with spectacular views of the City-.  However there is a long commute to go to most of places, certainly long to get to Queen Mary.  We compensated our commute by enjoying an extended studio, with our own room, bathroom, and separate “open” kitchen / living room. The rent was not bad and our landlord took care of us but we grew wary of the commuting, and we feel that we were missing out, after all one of the perks of living in London is too actually live in London. Our current situation reminisced too much of our own hometown, a nice suburbia near Barcelona.

Last May we started looking at Gumtree et al -just in case we said to ourselves – but when we found an affordable flat around Highbury we throw our caution away. We visited and realized that would mean to transition to another trilemma’s vortex:  “cheap” in a cool zone, but with its quirky features: No natural light on the dining room, no furnishings, and paying for electricity through inserting coins in a box. When the winter came, we also discover that humidity may be an issue.   We went for it and made most of it, learned to live with humidity, took the chance to make the flat our own place by repairing furniture thrown away and a carefully planned purchase budget: the first month the bed, the second the sofa, etc. Now, we are fairly happy in it.  Although we never have £1 or £2 coins, as they go directly to our appreciated “electricity vending machine”.

It is also now were the vertigo starts to pile up, with our renewal date looming in the horizon. We have meet our landlord a couple of times, exchanged some mails, he seems like a nice guy. However we do not know if he is more interested in having a reliable couple that pays rent on time and takes care of the flat or in improving his margins through an unaffordable –for us- rent hike.  Thus, in three months we could find ourselves and our shiny new or reused furniture in the lookout for a flat… again.

Rental accommodation is always going to be the default choice for most postgraduate students, however doing it through London’s housing bubble just gives more headaches. I can vouch that moving one week before your progression report is not stress free. Now, fingers crossed, I will not have to experience it again through my dissertation deadline.

More and more volunteering!!!!

So, who went to the QM International Week?
If you missed it, you missed all the fooooooooddddd and the performanceeeee! And a chance to win £200 voucher! xD

I was there from start to end and I can tell you, it was brilliant! A must-go next year if you don’t know what I’m talking about! 🙂
It was also my opportunity to have a mini reunion with some (not all) crew members from Fresher Week last year. We “flew” to Sydney and back to “Paris” during the event! Here’s my proof.

The crew and the organisers

The crew and the organisers

It’s currently on my wall now!

Anyways, this week is the last of the 1st half of the 2nd semester 😛

We celebrated our Lunar New Year (or CNY some people say) this week as well. I had some friends over and we were preparing the food since like 8am on wednesday, since 5pm was midnight in our home country! I don’t think I will inset any demonstration now ’cause I’m actually quite hungry…

Thinking about celebrating New Year, it has now my 4th year doing it away from home. Everyone I talked to so far usually asked me if I missed home ever. I guess from time to time I do get a little blue but not that homesick. Once in a while, I do think of my grandma, and my cat, and all the street food that I can’t replicate no matter how hard I try 🙂 But it’s a good thing that my parents call me/video call me so often as well as taking turn to pay me a visit. Perhaps I should thank technology achievement? x)
Here’s a picture of my cat 🙂 He’s 11 years old now (time flies too fast!) but only like 4 months ago that I finally know his breed!

Nia's cat - Smooth

Nia’s cat – Smooth

I swear, you can never fine a more obedient cat that will stay that still for dress up! :3
Can you guess the breed? I didnt even think there’s a name since he looks like British short hair but all white… I would say he’s a white cat… but honestly, his breed is rare! Khao manee. Look it up, search to buy one, you would be surprise I got my Smooth for free!

Anyways, enough cat fever!
This week I also submitted my nomination form to run for the Mile End Volunteering Officer!
Ahead will be a long but fun route. My campaign gonna start soon! Wait for it! 🙂

Milestones

I can’t believe I have finished half of my degree now!

I have to express it straight away ’cause it has been in my head for several days now!

It’s not like I’m feeling old or something but I guess my time at Queen Mary will be running out soon. I still haven’t explore/exprience everything there is to offer me here!

Recalling January 2014, on the 23rd was my first volunteering opportunity with QMSU Volunteer. It was the Barnardo’s toy trolley in Olympia London. Back then, I have only been with QM for like almost 4 months and started to gain interest in other activities rather than study and get to know my course mates.

Team QM Voluteer at the London Olympia

Team QM Voluteer at the London Olympia

The experience working with other like-minded peer from QM made me feel so warm and happy; and that was the scoring point in encouraging my commitment with other activities with the University.

On 13th April 2014, after joining several other volunteering opportunities, I got my chance to help out with the London Marathon 2014, which was like the biggest event I know of ever! The crew from the Uni was so big. There were more than 80 of us, all happy and excited!

Team QM @ London Marathon 2014

QMSU Volunteer team for London Marathon 2014

It was one of the most memorable moments in my entire student life! (I’m so gonna do it again this year! Wait for that post!!!) And it made me realise I do, very much enjoy what I’m doing 🙂 and that I like to be more involved than just being a student, being a volunteer member of the Volunteering society.

It was not a difficult decision to put my name down for being a One-day Volunteer Team Leader. At the time, I was not very certain that I’m good enough to take on the role, I was not confident at all. Nevertheless, in the end, I got myself a position in the Leader team (woohoo) and I was beyond happiness! I felt like I can do so much more for the community as well as learn so many things while I’m volunteering. But on top of all, I really enjoy it and and want to do it!

September 6th 2014 was my first day back in Uni. Not simply a student keen on coming back, but also a QMSU Crew member to welcome the freshers for 2014!

QMSU Fresher Crew 2014

QMSU Fresher Crew 2014

 

 

Gradually, I was getting more and more involved with the University and everything around study and student life. I even picked up blogging (sometime in October 2014), which was an unusual thing for me to do, but it’s still great!

Come to think about my little time left, I really want to do more than what I’m already doing now! What sort of milestones will I have in 2015? There’s “Get Active” from QMSU that I have been wanting to try but I never seem to have enough time. There’s “International week” (I’m gonna do this!). There’s “QMSU Ball” or the “Boat Party” that I never have the motivation to go… And I know another one that can make it in to my list though… (Just that I’m not quite sure if I can do it :()

… Since we are in the nomination period for new QMSU officers… should I give it a try? :3

I’ll give myself a little more time to think about this! Maybe it would be one of the best thing I have done while being at QMUL! <3

 

Mile End Recreations

East London, the home of the new cool. Thanks to the 2012 Olympics, East London has become more popular than ever with Shoreditch, Hackney and Brick Lane. This is the place to be, this is the place to hang out, go to pubs, restaurants and exhibitions. So when you find out that your campus is in the heart of East London, a bus or tube ride away from everywhere, you get excited. Even around the campus, there are some many things to do! Let’s take a look at some of them

Taking a walk down the Regent’s Canal

The canal is one of my favorite things about the campus. Located next to the campus, it gives the feeling of nature in the middle of the city. On a sunny day, you can have a nice jog, walk down to Victoria Park or even rent a Barclay’s Bike in front of the campus and take a nice ride with the gorgeous view of the boathouses.

Victoria Park

Even though there is the very nice and recreational Millennium Park on the other side of the canal, If you want to have the real park experience, Victoria Park is where you should go. As one of the oldest and biggest parks in London, Victoria Park has proper weekend leisure activities. You can have amazing cakes at The Pavillion Café, take a walk, have a picnic, rent a boat or even play tennis.

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Genesis Cinema

One of the things that excited me the most when I first moved in was to see that there was a cinema down the road, 10 minute walk away. Genesis Cinema shows all the new box office movies as well as some old classics. Don’t forget that Wednesdays are two-for-one.

Go Karting

This one does not really need much explanation. Every single one of us love to bring out the ‘Fast and Furious’ in us and this is the safest and most fun place for it. Only a 4 minute walk away from campus, Revolution Go karting even has a café where you can enjoy a delicious meal. Also, if you want to keep the adrenalin rush going, not only in your mind but also on your hard drive, they even provide a ‘Helmet Cam’ service.

Networking

14673469100_6b649fb4a4_zNetworking slowly has become my most hated English word. Perhaps is because as English is my third language I have a more limited range of words-to-hate, but I am sure that it has more to do with the dreadful nature of the deed. As I suspect that my hate of networking is broadly shared across PhD students in the UK and beyond, without regard of origin or language.

I guess that there was some sort of mythical academia when networking was reducing to small workshops and drinks among colleagues. Nowadays, networking is a required tool on any career, especially in an academia that requires to sell you and your research.  In some aspects is certainly positive, forcing thinkers out their ivory tower and making them engage with society, in other aspects is deeply disturbing. When your future employment prospects depend not only on your skills (or lack of thereof) but on your agenda, it will not be so surprising that those with fatter agendas have much better employment prospects.  Take it how you want but it is a fact that you want a smooth transition between your PhD and your future career (be in academia or outside it) you need to network for it! (more…)

First contact

Bon Dia!

I’m Jaume a 2nd year PhD student at the School of Business and Management. Originally from Barcelona, I hold a BSc on Political Science and acquired some work experience before I came to London and resume my studies three years ago. I spent my first year in the UK at Queen Mary, enrolled at the MSc International Business at the School of Business and Management and living on campus. Despite that I never seriously thought of doing a PhD when I was an undergrad, further education awoke some sort of academic curiosity so last year decided to come back at the School of Business and Management and pursue a PhD.

(more…)

Thoughts From Home

I have been back in the United States for about a month and a half, now, and I still miss London pretty much every day. The public transportation, the city life, and the friends I made are all dear to me and though I wish that I could go back, I could not be happier to have spent five months in the best city on Earth. I recently received my final marks from courses, which seemed to mark a good time to finish off my blogging for Queen Mary with some closing remarks on coursework expectations and course selection.

As a Chemical Engineering major, finding courses that were accepted at my home university was fine. I was able to identify three, but only one was offered in the spring semester. Sadly that module conflicted with every other module I had signed up for, and I had to drop it. So there I was, an engineering major taking three history classes and a business class — Corporate Law and Governance. I remember very well being told during the study-abroad orientation that no student should take a level six (senior in US terms) course outside of their major. I ignored those instructions and took Corporate Law because I spoke to a representative of the Business school as well as the professor, and they both said that as there was no pre-requisite knowledge, all it would take was diligence. I am glad that I took their advice, for the class added some much desired diversity in my course-load. However, I would suggest that regardless of the course level (4, 5, or 6), future study abroad students contact the department or the professor to determine what pre-requisite knowledge is required or expected, and determine whether the syllabus really matches up with what they want to learn during their time in London.

As for grades, this was my hardest semester in University, as I was unused to the requirements of liberal arts courses. I ended the semester with three upper level second honors (high B/ low A) in the history courses, and a first class honors in Corporate Law and Governance. Overall, I was a tad disappointed with my performance, but I understand that the curriculum in most UK universities is very demanding and I was taking upper level courses in disciplines which I am unused to. The fact that I was able to excel in Corporate Law, though, goes to show that a level 6 course — even outside of one’s major — can be perfectly feasible provided you have the interest and the dedication.

I wish anyone reading this the best of luck choosing their modules, and encourage you to go out and enjoy London to its fullest! So far, University has been an undeniably enjoyable experience for me, and studying abroad has been its highlight.

Cheers,

-S. Quinlan Arlington

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