Posts Tagged ‘experience’

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!

Good Grades, Social Life, Enough Sleep – How About All Of Them?

Exam time is here! That means a few things:

cramming, cramming, and cramming…and loads of coffee perhaps.

Is cramming necessary though? It is natural for university students like many of us to

stress everything into last minute but                                   of course, that is not wise at all. We all

talk about setting a neat time table and                              creating to-do lists but in the end do not

follow  them  at  all.  Then, how do we                                 prepare  well  for exams,  while getting

enough time to rest and relax? People                                 usually believe that you can only choose

two  out of  these  three:  good grades,                               sleep, and social life. Lucky enough, we

 can     do  the   simple   maths    here.                                 24 hours  for  three   aspects  of life we

        would like to indulge  in. That                                   sounds like 24/3 and that gives us 8.

Eight  hours  of sleep,  eight                                   hours of  studying, and eight

hours of relaxing. Eight hours of relaxing and eight hours of studying is a LOT

of time when you  come to  think  of  it. This simple  8-hour rule  for these

three aspects vital to the lives of university students who wish to obtain a first

in their degrees, get enough sleep for daily energy, and parrrrr-tay! Now, following

the   eight-hour   rule   isn’t  too                                      difficult. That just  means you only

need  a  little  bit of  discipline and                                    not following the timetable wouldn’t

be  much of an issue. What  comes                                     with this eight-hour rule is efficiency

with  this  time.  Be productive  and                                      be efficient – study hard, play hard, and

eventually this while exhaust you to                                     a  good  level where you can get into  a

deep  sleep.  Studying  for 2  hours                                     can  give  you so  much when  you are

focused,  imagine what 8  hours                                       can give you! Relaxing for the same

amount of time can bring you                                     so much  enjoyment  as well. Is

  this  rule difficult?  Definitely not, and it’s definitely worth a try.  Now,  to keep

 track of any  other things, you  can simply make notes on your phone

   and make sure you would not forget any other things, may

    that be giving your parents back home a phone call,

meeting a friend for brunch, and more.

I recommend you all to give this a try this – and hopefully the results would amaze you!

The importance of having a mentor

Hi Everyone and a Happy New Year to you all!

Recently I had an informal meeting with someone I was introduced to through a family friend. The person I met with is an Engineer who runs their own successful company . What I want you all to take away from today’s blog, is the power of having a mentor.

First of all, what is a mentor? Well in my opinion I see mentors as individuals who have relevant life experience or subject specific knowledge who you can go to for advice and support. For example, during my meeting with the Engineer I met, I asked many questions such as “What do you suggest I could do after I finish my degree if I want to stay in the engineering industry?” or “How can I open up my own business?” to which I was provided with a lot of really useful information and inspiration. Now in the future since I have their contact information, I can contact them whenever they are available for further advice.

Mentors can offer you direction, and suggestions; they can help you stay on track to success if there is a risk you could get lost. For example, lets say someone wants to become an actor, well what a mentor could do is tell the individual the best ways of becoming an actor based on the persons own needs. An example of this could be: if an aspiring actor is not confident acting in front of large crowds, the mentor could suggest which workshops to attend to improve the persons confidence before they start attending auditions.

At this stage, you may now be wondering “Where can I find a mentor ?” or “How can I find a mentor ?” The concept of having a mentor is really popular right now, so it might be that you ask your teachers at school if they know of a mentor scheme. It might be that you could find a suitable mentor during work experience – if you find someone you work with particularly inspiring and knowledgeable you could ask them for further specific advice. Other ways you can find a mentor is to start by doing a bit of research e.g. “Mentor schemes for students interested in … Many charities run mentor schemes for young people; some of whom will provide mentors who have knowledge about specific subjects, or running your own business, or writing a good personal statement.  You should ensure you find the right person for you based on the advice you need and what they have done/what they know about. Finally, once you get to university you will often find that there are student led mentor schemes. QMUL offer a scheme called PASS (Peer Assisted Study Support) which I have used myself, where experienced students at QMUL can offer specific subject help and advice to first year students  (I highly recommend you find out more about it if you’re interested).

Now that your aware of the roles of a mentor, achieving your dreams may be more easier than you initially thought. In addition, my parents never went to university so couldn’t always answer my questions about what I could do after I graduate, which may be the same for you too.

Good luck in your search for a mentor !

University Essentials

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!

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

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!

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

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.

snazzy travel 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"

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!


Much Love,


Made in Dharavi – Geographers head to Mumbai

We travelled to Mumbai, India, as part of our final year here at QMUL Geography – and here’s a bit more about the project we undertook exploring the economy that underpins one of the world’s largest slums, Dharavi.

For our project in India, my group conducted research on Dharavi’s leather industry and how leather is a local and global commodity. Dharavi is widely known as the largest slum in Mumbai, but less people know about the economic activity that occurs there!


Leather sheets in a factory

Leather sheets in one of the many factories in Dharavi


For the first part of our project, a tour guide took us around Dharavi, where we had the chance to go to various factories and see the leather production process in action. Most of the leather production process occurs in Dharavi, excluding tanning, due to the fact it is very polluting. The factories create the raw materials through several stages, and then the raw material is used to make leather products such as belts, wallets and bags.


Leather sheets

Leather sheets


After our tour of the slum, we were driven ten minutes down the road to Megha’s office, owner of Dharavi Market. Her company sells leather products, amongst many other items such as clothes, jewellery and clay pots, made by craftsmen living in Dharavi. The website aims to promote the work of people living and working in the slum and demonstrate that Dharavi is full of economic activity. She told us that ‘the whole point is to make Dharavi more visible, provide a platform and I want to make it more mainstream where regular people…who have this perception of the slum being this notorious area… I want to change that attitude and mind-set’. Furthermore, she explained that she also wants to improve Dharavi in many ways through her website – ”It’s not just going to be returns in terms of more business but also social good, so improve the lifestyle, the whole final aim would be to improve the living conditions [of Dharavi]”.


Dharavi Market (

Dharavi Market (


The people that make the products upload photos of their products to an Android app. After approving the items, Megha sells it online to international buyers. She explained that ‘it’s nice for them to know that people around the world are buying from them’. If you’re in need of some new products, her website is You can choose from a wide range of commodities, while benefitting people living in Dharavi. They have a Facebook page too so make sure to check it out!


Megha Gupta, owner of Dharavi Market

Megha Gupta, owner of Dharavi Market and our team


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


A Cup (or Two) a Day

I have asked several friends what amount of tea you can consume in a day before it becomes a problem. I’ve always been a tea drinker (unlike most Americans), but my daily tea intake has increased by about 200% since I came to London in September. I’m finally in a country where it’s not considered strange that I prefer tea to coffee, and I’m letting it get to me.IMG_0462

I see coffee as a wake-up drink: a grab it and go shot of caffeine. Tea, on the other hand, is the drink of relaxation. A nice hot mug as a relaxing start to the morning, a calming break in the afternoon, and a way to wind down at the end of the day. Amidst the chaos of classwork and travel and laundry and whatever else comes throughout the day, I always have a cup of tea to look forward to.

Out of deference to my love for tea, I’ve gone for a traditional afternoon tea once three times since I’ve been in London. The first was on my own a week after arriving (sounds odd, I know, but there’s something incredibly lovely about treating yourself). The second was with my parents at the Pump Room in Bath (highly recommended – not cheap, but much cheaper than a comparable tea in London). And finally, just for good measure, I went to the tea arranged by the study abroad office during Reading Week.


For you nay-saying coffee drinkers out there, you have to give tea a try while you’re in London. It’s a British tradition! Plus, when you drink it out of a fancy cup, you feel wonderfully classy 🙂

This is how I spent my weekend :)

Hi readers!

My name is Nia and this is my first entry 🙂

First of all, I shall assume that you guys know nothing about me and have no interest in me (sad but that’s fine) thus, I’m gonna introduce myself in this post and express my personality in future ones as well. So, here it goes! 😛

Basic: I’m currently in my 2nd year, studying Business Management. I’m an international student (from Vietnam, speaking Vietnamese :3) and it has now been my 4th year in London so far. I rented a private flat since year 1 and shared it with 2 other friends – both studying in Queen Mary as well. It takes me around 25 minutes to walk to uni but considering the wind, the rain and the future snow, I usually take the bus, which cost me only 12 minutes or so 🙂

But anyways…

The neon Glow fun run 2014


This picture above is how much fun I had with other QM Students last friday (17th, by the way, my weekend is prolonged thanks to a friday-off, muahahahah).

There were Glow sticks, Glow paint, UV lights and very very loud music!

Guess what…

*Drum roll*

I went to the Neon Glow Fun Run!!!!!!!! (not clubbing >:P haha)

Sorry if I disappointed you 🙂 I am a member of the QMSU Volunteer and I am also a one-day event team leader 😀 (Nia, remember!)
Last friday, there was an event called the Neon Glow fun run held in the Mile End Stadium. I was not leading this event but it was equally fun for me 🙂 We got a chance to do face painting for the runners (and for each other) prior to the run. What was said is that we, as marshals, can spray paint on the runners while they are running… It didn’t happen though… (I think it would if we asked) but instead, we could run and be sprayed ourselves (some of us did).

Dancing Glow Hunter

Then on sunday, I was the event leader for the Breakfast challenge (another volunteer opportunity). If you guys don’t know, the challenge is not for who can eat the most or who can eat the fastest xD but it’s about preparing and serving breakfast for the homeless at the Whitechapel mission. There were 7 of us (including me) meeting up outside the Mile End station at 5am on a sunday morning – how enthusiastic it sounds! For this occasion (and for the first time), the president of the Student Union – Dola Osilaja, joined our crew!
 I would quote the link of the 2 events’ photos once they are uploaded on the QMSU Volunteer Facebook webpage 🙂

But there are some photos I took that I can show you guys now, like this one:

Cooking sausages, bacons and eggs

Cooking sausages, bacons and eggs – Breakfast Challenge

Cleaning up

Cleaning up afterwards – Breakfast Challenge

Our work finished around 11:30am when the sun was up bright and shine – a beautiful sunday 😀
We volunteers all got on the bus and headed back to the Mile End station. My duty officially ended for the event <3

♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪

Some asked me why I do this sort of activities, I replied “why not?”.
Volunteering has different purpose/meaning to different people. It can be a mean of enhancing your cv, improving your soft skills, expanding your social network and so on and so forth. It does the same for me and I can see how useful and wonderful it is after each and every event I went to.
After quite sometime doing this (I started last year), I think the real reason why I enjoy volunteering is because of the benefit it raises for both parties. It’s good for me to volunteer as for the reasons above and it’s better off for the people I help through these fund-raising, care-giving through these events.
The bonus (+) for me it’s the satisfying feeling when I know I am doing something good and worthwhile  for the society :”> It is just a great feeling…

♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩♭ ♪

That’s it for this first entry of mine 🙂
Hope I didn’t exhaust your eyes!
Have a nice and productive week! See you guys next time 😛

(Bonus Picture – me and the staff at the Whitechapel mission)

The staff and the team leader

The staff and the team leader

Presentation time!

I did my first ever individual (assessed) presentation of my degree so far yesterday and can I say that it was such an amazing sense of relief afterwards! It was really quite daunting at first being all up there by yourself but once I got into it, I was fine and my chosen topic’s capacity to be intellectually stimulating took over – it brought out the inner ‘teacher’ in me. I chose to talk about “Turn-taking” and conversational management – a fascinating aspect of linguistics and spoken language research. It started off well till it came to the point in my presentation where I had to play an audio clip (of people having a conversation) to support a particular argument of mine. Unfortunately, it wasn’t loud enough for the classroom to hear as it had been recorded from a considerable distance from those speaking in the clip. I was disappointed but I didn’t let it get me down. I continued and remained calm until the end where my class and lecturer commenced the ‘questions’ portion of the talk. And that was it! Over in just over 15 mins. Later in the day, I received an email with my mark which I was really pleased with, given some of the shortcomings I had. But I thought this would be a great opportunity to share a few tips (I could add way more but the space!) on how to deliver a great presentation:

1. Be prepared: Research widely in your chosen presentation topic/field as you lecturer can really tell when you have well-prepared for it and have spent considerable time and effort on it, compared to a couple of Google searches. Strive to stand out by researching widely!

2. Project your voice: Right, so this really does apply to those of us who are quite shy and quiet (like I am), but your lecturer needs to hear what you are saying in order to assess you. If you’re nervous, think about positive things (e.g. something really funny or maybe something that always makes you smile inside, or even pretend one of your friends/loved ones is standing right beside you in front of the class silently reassuring and encouraging you, to kick-start the process of release into a relaxed, composed side of you – it all sounds a bit weird but it works)

3. Eye contact: It is REALLY important that you maintain eye contact with both your lecturer and classmates to make your presentation engaging by acknowledging them and not simply reading from your presentation notes which can easily become a habit. Try even memorising your presentation notes so that you don’t have to read or constantly look down at your notes and can therefore maintain the flow of your speech.

4. Audio: Last but not the least, if you’re playing any audio sound or video clip in your presentation; try it out before your presentation on the day in the classroom you will be doing it in. Politely ask your lecturer at the end of your lecture if you could test your audio ahead of your presentation next week (or even 2 weeks ahead), assuming there isn’t a class in the same classroom straight afterwards in which I’m still sure you can work something out.

These are just a few. But presentations I think don’t have to be daunting or time-consuming to prepare for – preparing adequately for a presentation puts your mind at rest ahead of the day. Perhaps even checking out books on presentation skills can take your presentation to a whole new level. Not sure whether I prefer individual or group presentations though!

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