Posts Tagged ‘international’

Hello From The Other Side!

How’s everybody doing? I hope everybody’s having a great time relaxing, or preparing in advance for many things ahead! Summer’s always the best time for everybody – personally for me, this is the first time I am experiencing summer that lasts for around 3 months and this explained fully why summer is said to be the best 104 days (according to Phineas and Ferb…anyone?). Why? Because this is not the case from where I come from, that is, Indonesia!


Coming from the other side of the world means that coming home after 9 months of living in London has made me miss home more than ever. Coming back to Indonesia allowed me to meet my family and friends, and also savour all of our dishes and street food and all the small things that I have always been craving for in London. Of course, happiness is meant to be shared and hence I will share my joy with all of you through some pictures to allow you to see through my eyes.


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Food as expected – and a bowl of chili!           Nighttime culinary market called Cibadak.

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Nature! Indonesia attracts tourists mostly for its natural scenes!

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A bowl of meatballs in soup would cost about 1.5 pounds and two or three bowls are enough to make you full! Definitely, the picture on the right is a restaurant that serves everyone’s (ehem) favourite instant noodle – Indomie – that is topped with Indonesian traditional spices and sauces!


Being at home means being able to play with the cats again!


Even though summer is such a great time for all of us, let us not forget a few things! For many of you applying to Queen Mary, don’t forget to sort out your accommodation, tuition fees, or even your visas if you are coming from outside the UK. Get prepared for university life! It may be hard to settle and fit in in the beginning, but eventually ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ and you will meet the right group of people for you, and QMUL is even glad to help you out with their buddy scheme which allows you to feel more than welcome on campus. Most importantly, going to Queen Mary means that you are about to be surrounded by a diverse environment, and you will be able to see the beauty coming from the differences every one of us owns.


With that, have a fantastic summer and have a good time, and see you soon!

Breathing the London Air

Hal: Palace of Westminster Moving in to London, a bustling metropolitan city saturated with cultural differences and varied social backgrounds is to me an exciting challenge. During the first few weeks I moved in, I was busy with opening my student bank account, sorting out all the books that I need to purchase and decorating my room. Mingling with people here at first is difficult, especially when the kind of humour is different from where I come from – Indonesia! (If any of you wonder what and where on earth Indonesia is, it’s a tropical country home to Bali located in the Maritime of Southeast Asia.) The weather to me is a shock, perhaps more shocking than the cultural differences as the chilling wind stung my skin and made me shiver constantly. I underestimated the cold…I really did.

As a slightly socially awkward person, making friends and breaking the ice was tough. It took me time to find people I became comfortable with, and eventually spend time studying and playing around with.img_5232 Transitioning from school to university isn’t too rough if you keep this in mind – be open-minded! I’m glad to say, some first year modules supported the process of this transition, simultaneously refreshing your knowledge of the course that you are taking. Moreover, studies isn’t everything – you need your fun. I have joined the rowing club amongst the other hundreds of societies that the institution offer and I have been enjoying it to its fullest extent. Overall, eventually things get better over time and as the days and nights go by, Queen Mary and London feels more and more like home. Now I wonder what will London surprise me with next!

Get with the lingo!



Now, I know that around 90% of you would ‘jaw drop’, tumble to your feet and blush eccentrically if a gorgeous Parisian raised your fingertips and gingerly brushed his lips on the front of your hand, greeting you with the French salutation enchantée’. Recently I’ve decided I’d rather swap places, and become the mysterious femme en rouge walking through the colossal doors at the French, Spanish or even Mandarin Ball. Just to utter a single phrase in a second language can make you feel, intelligent, sophisticated and refined. Not only that, many jobs recruiters are now looking for extra hobbies and attributes in a person before they offer jobs out to applicants. So rather than let them skim-read my application that I spent hours and hours perfecting, I decided to do something about it, and learn new languages to stand out from the crowd.

It is only now that I fully understand the importance of learning a language. We use language as a medium to communicate with the world and share our thoughts and emotions. Why not change “Hello” into “Bonjour, Hola or Guten Tag? As a learner, the different accents and pronunciation really fascinate me; you can utter a phrase and completely surprise yourself with a finalised reaction of “Oo that sounded good” which motivates you further into continuation with the language.

We are at a pivotal point in what is increasingly called world-language education, poised to regain a measure of competitiveness with innovative tools and programs that promote cross-cultural understanding. Unless we shed our reluctance to speak any language other than English, the potential of this renaissance may not take hold, and we could lose our edge.’ (Fost. D Edutopia) Due to advances in technology over time, new opportunities and experiences have been created, providing communication with those speaking other languages; encouraging and motivating students to learn to communicate in a foreign language. With the help of government funding, student-exchange programs are now being created to maximise learning and to prepare students for international work, which is continually progressing and is present in all industries.

I have built a solid passion and desire to travel around the world, spluttering out linguistic phrases and embracing rich cultures. Learning a language has been very inspiring and enjoyable, as well as being beneficial to my education. My English writing skills have improved, I can make conversation when I visit particular countries and overall the French language has also assisted me in my third language Spanish, so now, I’m not just sticking an ‘o’ on the end of every word in English, hoping that it will be ‘correcto’.

There are various ways in which you can learn a language, you can find a teacher, purchase CDs/DVDs or even better, visit the country! It’s astounding how much you can pick up within two weeks. Here’s a little fact for you, “If you want to learn French or German, you know 40% of the vocab already”. Stop the gamut of excuses such as “I don’t have the time to learn the Spanish verbs” or “ I’m too busy”. Think of it this way: it’s beneficial for your future career, it is very rewarding when you can hold a conversation with a speaker from another country and even better, it’s an excuse to get out of England right? You can return cultured, experienced with the language and maybe even with a handsome beau. Who knows?

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

The World is Yours

Hard work pays off.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email which let me know that I’d been selected for Queen Mary’s International Exchange programme, which means that, assuming I can get a 2:1 again, I’ll be in Miami in about six months studying for my third year of physics!

Miami acceptance

As well as this, it simultaneously means that if I go to Miami, I’ll be studying at Queen Mary in my fourth year for my Master’s Degree in Physics! This is an incredibly exciting prospect!

And whilst Miami might sound just like a yearlong holiday, I’ll still be doing a third year in physics, the only difference is I’ll be doing my revision in my boardies on a beach!

The theme of this month is definitely ‘Preparation’. On top of loads of paper work to get myself into Miami, I’ve got a lab report to write and midterms to revise for!

Last time I had midterms, I was in the midst of trying to get my business off the ground, now that everything has settled a bit more, the revision should be much easier to get done. And as for the lab report, I actually enjoy writing long pieces of coursework, there’s an immense amount of satisfaction getting a good mark for a paper you’ve worked on for hours on end.
It’s just a matter of putting asides enough time to get all of the work done!

So now that the dream is real, all I’ve got to do is prepare, and show Miami why I deserve to be there!

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! 🙂

Ni hao China!

The month of July was certainly filled with adventure because I spent it in China and for me that is quite a journey! I participated in Queen Mary’s ‘Summer in China 2013’ programme and I am grateful to have had such a rare opportunity.  Thanks to Queen Mary’s International Office, undergraduate students at the 2nd year level and above with a 2.1 average were eligible to apply for this academic/cultural programme, regardless of their course of study.

Nineteen Queen Mary students and I were selected. We lived on the University of Sichuan campus (Chengdu, Sichuan province) for three weeks where we attended lectures on topics ranging from Confucianism to the Chinese business environment and participated in a variety of activities. We even learned a bit of kung fu, tai chi, mandarin, calligraphy and visited popular tourist attractions including the Leshan Giant Buddah, Buddhist and Taoist temples, and a Giant Panda Reserve.

(FYI: The province of Sichuan is home of the Giant Panda and it’s also known for its spicy food – particularly the hot-pot dish and ‘face-changing’ opera performances).


Four Queen Mary students and I volunteered to learn a choreographed tai chi routine for the closing ceremony at the University of Sichuan.
Four Queen Mary students and I volunteered to learn a choreographed tai chi routine for the closing ceremony at the University of Sichuan.
Leshan Giant Buddah

Leshan Giant Buddah

Leshan Giant Buddah

Leshan Giant Buddah


Entrance to a mountain we climbed in Sichuan Province where we saw many beautiful Taoist temples along the way.


*This trip was my first time in China and I will never forget it.  I met some Chinese students who I will be sure to keep in touch with and I definitely improved my chopsticks usage skills, although I still have a little ways to go (lol).*


Sichuan's traditional 'hot pot'

Sichuan’s traditional ‘hot pot’

Hot pot dinner in Chengdu with QM and University of Sichuan Students.

Hot pot dinner in Chengdu with QM and University of Sichuan Students.

Sichuan Opera Performance

Sichuan Opera Performance

Some QM students and I volunteered to play a game of basketball with University of Sichuan students. This photo shows the QM girls who volunteered as well as one of the University of Sichuan students.

Some QM students and I volunteered to play a game of basketball with University of Sichuan students. This photo shows the QM girls who volunteered as well as one of the University of Sichuan students.


*Before leaving the country I stopped in Beijing and had an opportunity to feast on tasty Peking duck, observe the production of traditional cloisonné vases and visit the 2008 Olympic grounds. I also went to a jade museum, tea house and explored both The Great Wall of China and The Forbidden City. “Wow” is the perfect way to describe those two historical sites. It was a surreal experience and I knew after those moments that I could leave the country feeling like I truly had been to China.*


The Great Wall of China (Badaling)

The Great Wall of China (Badaling)

Climbing The Great Wall of China (Badaling)

Climbing The Great Wall of China (Badaling)


While in Beijing I also visited the Temple of Heaven

While in Beijing I also visited the Temple of Heaven

Wangfujing Snack Street

Wangfujing Snack Street (downtown Beijing)


Beijing is known for its cloisonné artwork and this is a giant cloisonné vase.

Beijing is known for its cloisonné artwork and this is a giant cloisonné vase.


Tiananmen Square (Beijing)

Tiananmen Square (Beijing)


The Forbidden City (Beijing)

The Forbidden City (Beijing)


Statue in The Forbidden City

Statue in The Forbidden City


My first impressions of QM

My first days at Queen Mary, University of London, were literally dreamlike, dreamlike in a very positive way. I simply loved the campus, it felt like being in a movie about university life. And while those movies, more often than not, seem to forget about the actual study part, they can be quite accurate about the new challenges that a fresher has to face.

Above all, the biggest challenge for me was to make new friends. Since I am from Italy, I did not know anyone here. On top of the initial disorientation, I certainly was not helping myself by being really, really shy, especially since everyone spoke a language that I was only starting to master.

So, I went to my scheduled Induction week’s activities feeling hopeful but also a little anxious. And, I have to admit, I was surprised to find out that you spend most of Induction Week playing games. Well, let me tell you this: the teachers who make you play what can look like “silly games” are actually doing you a huge favour. Games are excellent ice-breakers and, before you realise it, you have introduced yourself to a bunch of new people and are sharing jokes with them. I am very grateful for those bonding moments, and I am still friends with many people I met in those occasions.

Thanks to that, I adapted to my new life quite quickly. I was somehow scared that I would be disadvantaged because English was not my first language, but what I found was an extremely welcoming and already international environment. Although I am not an English native speaker, I now write for the journal of the Economics Society. This is how many opportunities Queen Mary offers!

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