You usually hear people tell you how much harder second year of university is compared to first. Your first year “practically doesn’t count” so “don’t take it too seriously”. There’s no lie; workload is heavier this year and counts for more towards your final grade. But overall, my second year is going way better than my first. Why?
Firstly, I’ve familiarised myself with workload. I know how much to expect, when to expect it, and how to deal with it. Though my work is harder this year, I know not to neglect it too long and how to get it all done. This way, I do well in school and also have time to enjoy my life.
Secondly, I love my degree subject more. Maybe because I’m living in the era of Brexit and Trump-onomics where Economics is in the heart of every hot topic right now, I’ve really learned to appreciate my studies and everything that it will have to offer me in the future. My goals are more clear, I know what I love and don’t enjoy as much, and I get more involved in Economics events. Lastly and most importantly, I’m settled. When you first move to a new place, especially as one as daunting as London, every day can be nerve-wracking and you can even find yourself quite lonely for a while. Don’t worry – this is completely normal and you WILL find your place. You will find who your friends are, your favourite hangout spots, places to eat, a good balance between work and social life, etc. It’s a natural way the universe works. You can’t force it and you can’t resist it – you will eventually become a citizen of London.
Who could have thought that the transition from a first year to a second year would bring about such dramatic changes ? It’s true that leaving student accommodation to live with the people that have become your spiritual siblings during freshers’ week is a huge sign of evolution, but it’s something more than that- I actually grew up.
I got a hang of how to study…and kind of enjoy it now
Yes, I am not a lost sheep anymore. I am confident, the time management skills got unbelievably strong after the chaos of first year’s exams and I do not panic anymore when hearing the word mid-term; it’s more of a ‘bring it on’ attitude rather than a ‘how am I going to do this’ mentality. It could be that the amplitude and workload of first year got me one step closer to managing responsibilities like an adult- or I just can’t find the time to freak out.
No more parties every other day
It seems unbelievable, but it’s not. I gradually got tired of being tired. Spending the night with a couple of quality people turns out to be a lot more fun than going out in fancy clubs (from where it took 3 hours to get back home, because I wasn’t lucky enough to enjoy the perks of night tube in my first year) and realizing that this lifestyle is just too expensive and not as fun if it becomes a habit. I decided to go out when it’s really worth it and for the rest of the time treat myself with nice, chill evenings with the people that matter- and some Drapers from time to time.
I started to consider what I want to be when I grow up, besides happy
First year was incredibly fun, with all of its chaotic moments and constant freshers’ events, the only thing I had to stress about was how to make friends and how to get good grades at the same time. Now, however, life confronts me with the ultimate question “What do I want to be?”. The stress is off the charts with this one; it requires a thorough research, probably more than 3rd years do for their dissertation.
As an Economics student it’s really hard, since everyone expects us to become investment bankers (a.k.a to give up on our lives the moment we graduate). I want something else for myself, I want adventure, travel, human interaction, pressure and space to evolve- believe me, finding the job to give you all of this is hard. Internships are, apparently, the key to figuring yourself out, so now I’m in the crazy process of applying all over, in the hope that my path will be enlightened.
Friends come and even more friends go
I left home, came to uni, met many new people, found friends, everything went smoothly. That’s all first years want-lots of friends and lots of parties (completely fair). As the year went by I started to put things in balance and become aware of what is truly important: having someone to be there for you at 2 am when I am sick and not 20 ‘someones’ to go out with during the night and not talk to during the day. I understood that I need healthy relationships for me to be a healthy person.
First year has been so eventful and filled with memories, but one year is more than enough. It’s time to focus on myself and what makes me grow as a person, because, unfortunately, those late nights in Soho were no help in discovering what it is that makes me an accomplished person.
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.
It’s reading week, a well-deserved break for many students at Queen Mary. My first semester has been hectic and super busy, with not a moment to spare. But I’ve loved every minute.
The School of Economics and Finance (SEF) at QMUL has so many opportunities to get stuck in too! You can work with the school as a Student Helper, help our growing department at induction, open days and outreach activities. Guiding and assisting the first year’s during the schools induction, will remind you of old times. We even have a super fun team of helpers and staff! Not only this, but you can become a PASS Mentor for SEF, guiding 1st years. I am also a Student Blogger for SEF, writing blogs such as this, giving my insight into QMUL. Blogging is great fun, and allows you to share your experiences in order to help others.
SEF Student Helpers
If you’re a second or third year, you have the chance to be a Research Assistant to a member of staff within the department. I currently work as a Research Assistant with an inspiring academic “Yioryos Makedonis”, it’s a very flexible role that will give you the chance to witness cutting edge research. It’s useful for students considering a career in research or academia. It even keeps me reading business news, something I never did before!
Mr Makedonis “an inspiring academic”
The Queen Mary Students’ Union (QMSU) is home to many student societies, you can even start your own! This year, I started up my own Fashion Society, which I love more than my life. With the help of an amazing committee, I publicised our new society through social media and the welcome fair. The turnout and response we got was amazing, over 400 active members! QMUL students sure love their fashion. Though, running a society is more work than I realised, it’s worth it. Especially when you see members enjoying themselves at events. We have held our meet & greet, skills sessions, day trips and are planning our first ANNUAL RUNWAY!
QM Fashion Society members
Want to be the voice of your course? Stand for course rep elections! Organised by QMSU, course rep elections run at the start of every year. Course reps are elected for every year and course at QMUL. These students represent their year and help make students’ voices heard! As a second year Economics course rep, I can tell you it’s a rewarding and fun experience.
QMUL’s Communications Team runs some great competitions for students. During welcome week, they ran the #QMULWelcome photo competition. Students and staff engaged over social media, tagging their photos from welcome week with hashtag QMULWelcome. It was a great way to show your passion and who doesn’t love social media? 3 students’ photos were chosen (including me!), we won an ipad mini 2!
The lovely Communications manager “Cat Heaton” giving me my iPad mini prize! YAY
I’ve taken on a lot this year, and everyone who knows me, tells me I’m doing way too much. I love being involved though, it never seems like work. Not only is it super fun and keeps you busy, you make so many new friends along the way, trying new things. You discover who you are and what you love. So grab these opportunities while you have them and take a chance to try something new. Get involved and get stuck in at QMUL!
About to start your life at Queen Mary, or maybe you’re progressing to the next year of study. No matter where you are, everyone needs to go shopping for university before September.
When I first started university, I didn’t know what to take with me and wasn’t even sure if I needed a bag! So if you’re a bit concerned with what to take to uni this year, don’t worry. I’ve got a list of essentials that will make your life as a student a whole lot easier.
My Uni Essentials
Essential 1: A Trusty Laptop
Whether you go for a MacBook Air or HP Notebook, a portable and lightweight laptop is a must at university. I invested in new MacBook Air 11’ before I started university. Apple normally offers special discounts to university students and you could get your MacBook for a very reasonable price. All you need to do is confirm your QMUL email.
Though, it’s a huge investment, you will be using your laptop loads at uni, as most of your coursework, assignments and tests are done online on QMPlus and need to be word processed. It also means you can do work on the go and will never have to hunt the library for a free computer.
I use my MacBook LOADS
Essential 2: Wall Calendar/ White Board.
Throughout first year, I learnt that managing your time at university is very hard. I spent almost all of Semester A doing nothing, and during Semester B I didn’t even have a spare moment. I got a wall calendar in January and have never felt more organised! Get yourself a calendar or white board to stick up in your room. You can then plan your week effectively, writing in any assignments due, society meetings or other commitments you have that week. Jotting things down means you will never forget it. Paperchase have some really cute wall calendars.
My calendar during exam time was a mess
Essential 3: A4 Notebook/ Refill Pad
Taking a Notebook or Refill Pad to lectures is a must. Unlike school, lecturers don’t give you new books to write in at the start of year. You are expected to be independent, so don’t forget to bring your own supplies.
At Queen Mary, you normally do 4 modules per Semester so I find buying Pukka Pad with dividers is really useful. You could then use each section to take notes for a different module. Alternatively, you could just take a big A4 refill pad to all your lectures, and write all your notes in there. But then, rip out the pages and file them in a ring binder with dividers separating modules.
Staying organised at the start will help you immensely during revision time. So, don’t keep pages flying everywhere- TRUST ME!
Essential 4: Pencil case full of stationery
This is one of my favourites. A pencil case is essential, though many students think taking a pen in their hand is enough, this pen may stop working.
Taking a bunch of stationery- highlighters, coloured pens, pencils, rubber and a ruler, will not only make note-taking fun, but will help you annotate your work more effectively. Highlighters come in handy, when Lecturers tell you the important bits and you can simply highlight them, so you know what to revise. A pencil case will make storing your stationery easy and there’s no chance you will lose your favourite pens! Also, don’t forget your clear pencil case, which you will need for exams.
My new fave pencil case from Jim Chapman’s “James & Friends” range
Essential 5: Travel Mug
Students spend a large amount of money buying coffee every morning. Save yourself the cash and buy a travel mug instead. Make your own beverage and take it to lectures in a snazzy travel mug. The Ground café on campus offers discounted coffee prices to students who bring in their own mug.
Cute travel mug
Essential 6: Medium sized backpack or satchel
Carrying books in your hand isn’t the ideal choice when it’s pouring down. Buy yourself a medium sized backpack or satchel, something that is big enough to fit A4 paper. Though you won’t be carrying much around campus, it’s always wise to carry a bag that can fit your Pukka Pad and Laptop. I carry the Michael Kors Selma satchel, which I find is the perfect.
Essential 7: Umbrella
If you’re studying in London, it’s a MUST to carry around an umbrella everywhere. The unpredictable British weather cannot be trusted. A sunny morning could turn into a thunderstorm in seconds.
Essential 8: A good book
Apart from your textbooks and other work related books, its always good to keep handy a reading book or novel. Reading, not only helps take your mind off work, but also exercises your brain. It’s a great way to relax on a rainy day and if you commute to university, it’s a good way to pass time on the tube. I’ve only just gotten into reading and find it helps me unwind, rather than picking up your iPhone next time, try a book.
Book I am currently reading “One hundred years of solitude”
Beyond these few essentials, there is a lot more you may want or need. These are just a few of the things I have discovered to be very useful throughout my time at university. Hope you find all your uni essentials on your shopping trip!
Many students studying Economics or Finance related degrees feel investment banking is their ONLY option. And just because they have a finance degree they have to go on to become a banker in a huge financial firm. Yes, it’s true that many economics graduates do go on to become investment bankers and financial analysts at bulge bracket banks. But, this isn’t all you can do with your degree.
An Economics or Finance degree can open several career paths for you. Lately, the job market has become increasingly competitive and most graduates come out of university with a 2:1 or higher. Economics and Finance graduates face intense competition when applying for work at bulge bracket banks, this made the recent graduates think out of the box to the kinds of jobs they could do. Economics graduates have started to enter the professional services industry, media, academia, civil service and government.
Economics & Finance students
Professional service firms such as Deloitte, Pwc, KPGM and EY are known for recruiting majority of economics and finance graduates. So if you want to enter the world of finance, but not particularly as a trader or banker then the professional services could be perfect for you. They specialise in things like consulting, audit, tax, financial advisory, property advisory, risk and technology. So they really offer it all, and link your work to the business world.
London Bridge “Home to professional services”
Working for the civil service or the government is another great alternative. Economics graduates come out with detailed knowledge on fiscal and monetary policy and government policies, which they could apply in the real world working as an economist for the government. As glamorous as the private sector might sound, the public sector can offer a lot too. Working as an economist, you get the chance to work with the Bank of England and help make decisions that will shape the future of Britain.
Near the Bank of England
Academia is another popular choice for many. If you like the theory of your subject and like talking and communicating the world of academia could be for you. You can pursue further study in your area of interest within economics, maybe a master’s degree or PhD. This will help you specialize in a field of study, and you could go ahead and become a lecturer or researcher. This is a pathway that is rare and easily disregarded by students, but it is a very rewarding career. Who knows you could be the next great economist to publish an amazing theory!
If you love to inspire, Academia could be your thing!
The media industry is becoming increasingly popular, not just for marketing and media students. I’m sure you must have watched Bloomberg news once as a student; well you can work for Bloomberg. Companies like Bloomberg, The Economist and Financial Times like recruiting economics and finance graduates as TV newsreaders, journalists and writers because these graduates have in-depth knowledge on business and economic news. Entering the media industry is tough, but once you show an interest nothing is impossible.
It turns out that an economics or finance degree equips students with marketable skills that can allow them to thrive in a range of careers. And though investment banking is the traditional career path, the world is changing and so is what you can do with your degree. So look further than others and find yourself a career that you enjoy.
Have fun with your career, there’s so much you can do!
It’s here; the long anticipated 4 months off! With university exams over and freedom from your daily study routine, you are free to spend the next few months the way you like. Whether that’s waking up at 1pm everyday, watching a movie marathon every night, becoming a tourist or getting a summer job.
But many of us realise after 1 week of doing nothing and “chilling”, what was fun for a while, soon becomes boring. And we think, “now what?”
But making the most of summer is easier than you think. Instead of lazing around at home, think about travelling and exploring London everyday. Many beautiful parts of London are left unexplored by Londoner’s because they think they’ve seen it all, for example Shoreditch and Brick Lane. London has much more to it than, Leicester Square and Oxford Street.
Shaun the Sheep “Liverpool Street”
But when we talk about travelling, sky’s the limit. You don’t have to limit yourself to London. A weekend in Paris or a week in Barcelona, whatever it is, I suggest you do it now. Going abroad with friends is the best experience ever. You can go abroad for as little as £200, so trust me its not expensive.
You’re never too young for DisneyLand Paris
If travelling’s not for you, get a summer job. Not only is it great experience helping build your employability, but also if you pick the right job, it can be fun, not to mention it helps you earn a bit of extra cash. Companies are always looking for summer temps, and university students are the perfect fit. Queen Mary itself, hires many students to work on campus. Queen Mary has a great “Qtemps” service, which lists all jobs currently available for qmul students. If you are interested in any vacancy, it is super easy to apply using your qmul id. I’ve actually used this service and secured a few jobs in the past.
London “Bank Station”
But most of all, summer is a time to just have fun! Take a few days out now and then, to just go out, party, eat, shop or do whatever makes you happy. For most of us, this will be one of the last few summers we have before we enter the working world, where we will get just a few weeks off. So make everyday count and have a great summer!
In this post I’d like to talk about what it is like to study economics at Queen Mary, more specifically from the viewpoint of a student who had never studied economics before.
First, I’ll provide a little bit about my educational background and how I feel it has helped me. I studied Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology at A level, and Applied ICT up to AS level. Apart from Maths, which is required for BSc Economics at Queen Mary, my A Levels might not seem like they would be of much use in a university economics course. But I think that they have made the transition to university study much more smooth, as the way in which you study for a chemistry or biology exam is similar to how one would revise for an economics exam. You have a textbook full of rules, key terms, equations and diagrams, which you have to make sense of to be able to answer exam questions.
You’ll notice that there is no A Level economics listed above, and it turns out that this is the case for around 25% of the students on my course this year. Do I feel that this has put me at a disadvantage? No, not at all. You will in fact find that all the students on the course seem to be on a level playing field, and that the required concepts are covered in a way that makes them easily accessible to anyone. The differences, however, come from your mathematical ability. A good knowledge of differentiation and good all round algebra skills will really help in all modules. If you feel you need to brush up on any maths skills, the ‘maths for economics’ textbook has you covered. The book ranges from more advanced topics such as matrices and constrained optimisation, to the very basics including adding two positive numbers together.
The Principles of Economics module starts from the basics of economics including concepts such as supply and demand, as well as explaining what the subject of economics is actually about. The modules at Queen Mary will demonstrate to you just how wide ranging economics is, and this will further your interest in the subject.
So what advice would I give to a student who was looking to make the most of their economics course at Queen Mary?
-Make sure that you are confident in your mathematical ability, and practice any areas that you are unsure about
-Get used to revising with a textbook and making notes from one, as this is where most of the economics content is learned
-Do some background reading on economics issues; this could be newspapers, books, or online sources
-Enjoy your course and have an enthusiasm for your subject.
If you have studied economics before, you’ll see some familiar concepts. If you haven’t, within the first few weeks you will have all the knowledge you need to study the remainder of the course!
I have to admit the student budget is hard to live on. We are practically young adults with many bills and payments. From accommodation to groceries, we need to buy all those things our parents always bought for us. Except our parents weren’t living on a student budget.
I realise many students find it hard to manage their finances. So, I decided to give you insider tips on how to live on a student budget.
Tip 1; open a student account. I know it sounds minor, but student accounts are especially designed for student lifestyle, and are a handy way of safely storing and managing your money. I have both the NatWest and Santander student accounts, and I can tell you they offer some great perks, such as a free railcard, taste card membership and big overdrafts. Student accounts will make your life so much easier – Trust.
Tip 2; student discounts are your best friend. There should not be even one time, you go shopping and don’t ask about student discount at the till. You will be surprised how many retailers offer discount to students! And how much you can save as a result.
If you are more of an online shopper, good news! There are many websites offering codes for student discount. One of my favourites is myunidays.com, which basically gives you student discount on all major high street and designer brands. QMUL is also involved with NUS Extra, a student discount card, which you can buy for £10.
Tip 3; don’t travel without a student oyster. Tfl offers a student oyster card, giving up to 30% discount on travel cards. This can save you a whole lot of money when travelling round London. Perfect for those night outs in the city or just exploring London. Because we all know how expensive travel can be.
Tip 4; packed lunches are lifesavers. Instead of eating out everyday, try bulk buying some handy snacks or groceries over the weekend. Then make yourself a healthy lunch to take to Uni. Homemade smoothies and cereal bars are great on the go. I carry packed lunch with me everyday, and have saved over £80 a month. Plus, the bookshop on campus sells some really pretty lunch boxes!
QM “The Ground cafe”
Tip 5, Budget every month. I tend to keep a little book, with all my spending recorded. I find budgeting how much you will spend every month and sticking to it, will save you the trouble of going broke. As students we have all experienced that terrible feeling of being broke, and budgeting will help save you.
Hopefully you’ve found my tips useful. If I’ve survived the student budget, I’m pretty sure you can too.
#THAT STUDENT LIFE (That’s me, third from the right)