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!
On the 19th of May, at exactly 12:00 my final exam was over, marking the end of the academic year. As much as I am looking forward to summer and being a relatively stress-free human for a few months; I am feeling particularly reflective. As well as experiencing all the typical student scenarios; coffee induced late nights in the library, intoxicated Wednesday evenings at the student’s union and subsequently rocking up to your Thursday 9am lecture half still in your pyjamas at 9:10; the most rewarding and exciting moments of the year, are a collation of completely unexpected, spontaneous and terrifying scenarios. Here are a few of my favourite:
The Time my Grandmother Came to London and Got Very Mad at Theresa May
I had an unexpected phone call off my mum one Wednesday morning, explaining that my Nan and her two friends would be travelling to London to take part in a protest. I was instructed to go and ensure that she “didn’t get herself into any trouble.” Assuming this was a slight exaggeration on my mum’s behalf, I arrived at Parliament Square with intentions of a relatively calm afternoon with my Nan. However, when I emerged from Westminster Tube Station, all I could see was thousands of women draped in purple sashes labelled “WASPI”, yelling, singing and waving their fists towards the Houses of Parliament. A few hours later I found myself in the heart of that crowd, with my Nan, learning about their struggle and chanting along with them. After living in London for two years, my first genuine experience at a protest was completely accidental but a completely irreplaceable adventure.
The Time I Got Lost at 4am We were somewhere in central London, it was 4am, I was exhausted, my friend had just lost her Oyster card, our phones were on low battery, and we weren’t entirely sure of where to get our next bus from. We decided to walk down the road towards the street map, and stopped to check the name of the street we were on. Tired, lost and so very ready to be at home in bed, we both looked up at the street name. Turn Again Lane. London was surely mocking us. We looked at each other, both perplexed but desperate enough to be willing to take advice from a street sign, without any exchange of words, we turned around and began walking in the opposite direction. As if it were a miracle, within 30 seconds we could see our bus stop and within a few minutes we were on our bus, driving through the city centre. It became clear that being lost in central London isn’t actually something to be hugely concerned about; I mean, I wouldn’t suggest looking to inanimate objects for advice; however, the number of maps, night busses, and people in the similar situations as you almost ensure that there is a way for you to arrive home safely.
The Time I spent 76 Minutes Stuck in a Lift Living on the 5th floor meant that, occasionally, I had to overcome my slightly irrational fear of lifts. One morning I was supposed to be travelling to South Wales for a family party and I was running extremely late. I hopped into the lift with my shoes still untied and clothes falling out of my not very well packed bag. I was so preoccupied with composing myself that I failed to recognise that the lift was not moving. It wasn’t until the lights turned off that it dawned on me; I was stuck. None of the buttons were working. Everyone I phoned was busy. After being stuck for 15 minutes, I had to call the fire brigade. They arrived swiftly but were at a loss when considering possible ways to get me out. When it got to the half hour mark, I had stressed, cried, gotten frustrated with myself for being lazy and not taking the stairs, called my mum, and finally, accepted the fact that I was probably going to spend the majority of my day completely alone in a glorified box. One of the firemen stayed outside the lift the entire time, and we discussed a variety of topics from my increasing levels of hunger to the British weather; until finally, after 76 minutes, I was released.
From my first experience calling 999 to accidentally protesting the rising age of pensions with my 60-year-old grandmother, this year has been a series of peculiar events; but I honestly don’t think I would change a thing. Soon I’ll begin organising my Summer; even though knowing my luck, none of it will go to plan. I look forward to the slightly terrifying, unsuspected chaos that will almost definitely unfold over the next few months.
Advice on how to get the most out of your revision, from information on visual aids to what foods you should be eating, is available everywhere. As someone who is prone to stress, I often feel overwhelmed with everything that I am told I “should” be doing whilst revising.After years of trial and error, I have found a few things that really work for me:
1.Mathematics can be intense and overwhelming so I find it incredibly useful to take a few hours to remind myself why I’m doing the degree.If I’m finding a module particularly wearing I’ll find an article, book or video loosely based on the subject to spark my interest again.For example, after reading through my probability notes for a few hours yesterday and very almost losing the will to live, I decided to watch a video by Vsauce about the maths behind shuffling a deck of cards (which, by the way, is mind blowing).
2.Finding a suitable place to revise was actually a bit issue for me.At home I get too easily distracted but I can’t deal with the silence in the library.Coffee shops were my saviour.When I’m struggling to revise, I walk to a local coffee shop, order myself a drink and set out all my revision on a little table.I enjoy working within a lightly bustling area; I can concentrate well but also when I need a break I can get some fresh air and take a stroll.Obviously, the big upside to working in a café is the possibility of a constant supply of caffeine which is extremely alluring.
3.One major issue I used to have whilst studying for exams was confidence.I would always compare my work and results to my friends’ and subsequently be far too hard on myself.During exam season, I find it useful to remember that people work at different paces and revise in diverse ways.It is for this reason I tend to steer clear of ‘group revision’ as I know I am more comfortable going through things at my own speed.
4.Finally, I find it most useful to be ridiculously organised during exam season.Revision timetables are my strength, however I must remind myself to be realistic.If I had followed the first timetable I had made for myself this year I’d be clocking a solid ten hours of revision a day, and subsequently, probably would have died after about a week.Setting myself unattainable goals is a bad habit; I am never going to be doing ten hours a day and that is completely fine.I find it important to set myself reachable goals at the end of each week and if I was unable to finish everything one week I go back and assess what the issues are.
There is roughly twenty-two days, one hour and 35 minutes until my first exam.I am soon to be completely submerged in scrap notes, past papers and post-it notes. My hands are decorated with black ink smudges.I am simultaneously completely exhausted and also experiencing a caffeine-induced spark of motivation.My brain seems to be completely incapable of completing any tasks that aren’t maths related; for instance, after making a cup of tea, I proceeded to put the milk in the cupboard, tea bags in the fridge and spoon in the bin.
Revision sucks. There is no point in sugar coating it. However now that I have found my own little preferences, it sucks just a little bit less.
Happy new year to all of you! 2016 has been a rather interesting year for all of us, but I believe 2017 would be a better year for all of us if we act upon our dreams and our goals, and be motivated and passionate about our ambitions. I too, have personal dreams and goals – both short term and long term – and by living each day driven by the will to become better, we experience circumstances that acts as stepping-stones that bring us closer to our aspirations. In my own opinion, our education is one of these stepping-stones. There are in fact numerous simple things that you can do now that will contribute achieving greatly in university or even after. Here are some things that I personally do:
1. Manage my time, by having a calendar beside my study table and on it are upcoming events or deadlines.
2. Keeping my room always organised, and not only when I feel like cleaning up!
3. Set up a ‘goals and to-do’ list, as if making SMART goals, but less strict with the time limit, for example, ‘Go to Bermondsey and eat Padang food’ and ‘patch my jeans,’ as you can see in the picture below!
Above all these, I believe that there is one thing that will motivate you, drive you, keep you fuelled up and burning with passion – your purpose. Finding your purpose liberates you from work that you may see as burdens now. Finding your purpose is not at all easy and can be time-consuming. It is a slow process, but it is an investment. I am also still in the process of discovering myself. I wouldn’t say that I have found my purpose, but it seems to me that I would love to become an inspiration to others, and this idea of becoming an inspiration has encouraged me more than ever before. Other than that, pushing yourself beyond your own limits and being a life-long learner are just as vital.
At Queen Mary, how are you doing? Are you pushing yourself in understanding the materials in the lectures, or do you have a more apathetic attitude towards learning? Remember, again, education plays a major role in achieving your dreams. Most importantly, keep in mind that “your mind has to arrive at the destination before your life does.” Let us all not just create new year’s resolutions, but act on it! #hustle2k17
I made it through another gruelling semester of exams. They were extremely stressful, but they only come around once a year, so we should embrace them! Because now that they’re all over, I’ve got so much to look forward too!
Long evenings spent relaxing in the park with your friends, exploring beautiful cities for their historic wealth, days where you can open the window and smell the morning air without your whole room becoming a freezer. I love summer.
Although I’m probably one of the worst people when it comes to receiving results, because I can’t think of anything but think about what my results might be! Which is silly, because no matter how hard I think about my results, they won’t get any better (I wish they would).
So this time, I’m going to try and spend more time doing the things I love as opposed to waiting for nothing to change.
These results are as big as my last year of college, because once again, they will determine whether or not I get into another university, but this time, it’s in Miami.
A 2:1 with no fails guarantees my place at the university. And to be honest, anything less than 2:1 will be disappointing because I know that I’ve done better than that!
I hope everyone gets what they’re wishing for this summer. If you don’t, learn from it and come back stronger. It took me three years to pick the right A-levels for university, but once I picked the right ones, I soared.
Long nights at the twenty four hour library, ramming so much knowledge into one ear you think it’s about to come out of the other, enough energy drinks to actually give you wings and the daily countdown to each exam.
These times are tough, but they’re made possible with enough drive, ambition and friendship. I honestly don’t think I would’ve got through my exams last year without my friends helping me out along the way, with those group study sessions and huge Facebook group chats.
Ever since I got my offer to study at Miami, it really feels like I’ve got something huge to work towards, sadly, it will mean I leave a lot of people behind, friends and loved ones. But opportunities like this only come around once in a life time, and I’ll be back in London to do my masters next year!
Yes, exams are hard, and there are plenty of them in physics. Yes, these exams are stressful, and some don’t understand why we carry on studying if we complain about it so much. But there’s a much bigger picture behind all of this.
Obviously I don’t enjoy trading out my lie ins for more time in the library. But I know that I’d enjoy receiving an email saying I got a first this year, as opposed to the 69.5% mark I got last year (0.5% away from a first).
The little inches you need to be great are all around you, so go get them.
“Unleash the exam timetables!” said the head of department, and so it was done.
My exam timetable this year has been more forgiving than my previous timetables. But with seven exams spread out over four weeks, it’s still safe to say that it’ll be hard work! Especially because I’ve found the content much harder to comprehend this year. But I’ve almost finished all of my coursework just in time to start revision about a month ahead of the first exam.
These last few weeks before Easter have also been crowded with a heap of job applications, which means writing and re-writing a lot of cover letters. Although it’s starting to pay through as I’ve already managed to land myself an interview with BAE Systems for a job in augmented reality! Where I’d get to work with exciting new technologies such as the Oculus Rift. It’d be the perfect summer plan before jetting off to Miami!
Since I’ve only got what feels like a very short time to enjoy London right now. I’m trying to make the most out of it! Tonight I’m suiting up and going to the end of year sports ball at Queen Mary’s Great Hall, I’ll be arriving with my swimming team, who I’ve loved training with this year. I really came for the swimming, and stayed for the people.
Last night I had an evening in Soho with a couple of my flatmates as well, the prices in central London reminded us why most students stick to the east of London!
It’s important to find the balance between work and fun, it’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learnt this year.
So on the last day of term on the 12th Dec, I went to see one of the most popular musical show in theatre right now, Memphis the Musical, partly to celebrate the end of my exam and a stressful semester as a whole. I had only been to the Shaftesbury theatre once before to see “Umoja” in 2004 (I think – *jogging my memory*). Got there and the theatre was packed with people, eagerly anticipating the show. I waited a while for the show to start but when it did, it went straight into song with a loud thump/beat that caught the immediate attention of every member of the audience. It tells the story of forbidden love between a black female singer (played by the UK soul artist, Beverley Knight) and a white male radio show presenter set in racially segregated Memphis, U.S. There were so many moving and catchy songs; my personal favourite is “Someday”. I was singing the songs a good 2 weeks after the show – everything about it was great, the dancing and the production. My favourite scene is definitely the finale where all the actors sing an dance “Steal your Rock and Roll” in bright gold and black outfits. Beverley’s voice was phenomenal! For those who love musicals, you’ll love it. Ii think it’s the hottest place in Oxford Street this winter.
There’s this disease that is well-known to college students. They call it end-of-term-itis. It sneaks up on you, especially as a study abroad student who has been exploring and traveling at every opportunity. All of a sudden, there are only a few weeks left in the semester, and you actually have to start working on the five essays you haven’t thought about since they were assigned. Where did all the time go? you think. There was so much of it, and now it’s gone! And then the Stress Monster attacks. I’ve compiled a few tips on how to banish him and finish out the semester as strongly as you started it.
Look at your reading lists. All of my professors gave supplementary reading lists at the beginning of the semester. I didn’t really pay much attention to them when I got them, but they are proving very useful in finding resources for my essays.
Take one thing at a time. When I sat down and looked at the assignments I needed to complete, I was totally overwhelmed. My mind was pulled in too many directions and I couldn’t focus on any of them. Once I decided to tackle one assignment at a time, I became a lot more productive.
Go to the library. Aside from being a great source of research material, the library can be a good change of pace. The upper floors of the library have lots of quiet study spaces that can make it easier for me to focus because everyone around me is focused. Added bonus: no need to leave the building to get coffee or a snack – there is a café inside the QMUL Mile End library.
If you get stuck, take a break. Go for a walk, read a fun article on Buzzfeed, or watch a few YouTube videos. It may sound counterproductive, but when I find myself getting mentally blocked, the most productive thing can sometimes be to step away from it for a little while.