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!
Classes started a few weeks ago so I finally have a really reason to get up before 9am. I was starting to become one of those people that wanted to go back to school because it gives me something to do and think about.
I am excited for my classes although none of them are easy. The university categorizes modules by level, so I am currently taking three meant for second year and one for final year students. The last one will be much more difficult because they expect a higher caliber of work and theorizing. I think I am up to the challenge.
So far I like that classes only meet once a week with a section or film screening later on. It allows for more free time to do other things, but it also means I need to be productive on my own. I need to work on my individual productivity the most because I have grown used to constant class meetings covering all material pertaining to the courses in great detail. One two hour lecture a week obviously has less time for class-wide theorizing on major topics, so it is all up to me to connect the dots and make further connections.
Since art history isn’t technically a major here I am taking a combination of history and film classes, but this semester they are offering a class in Impressionism and another in Modern Art. I was enrolled in a Spanish Realism course but I mistakenly thought that it was Spanish fine art, not literature. I didn’t realize my mistake until receiving the reading list for the course and downloading one of the books. I noticed that the entire book was in Spanish and then checked if the other six were also not in English. After realizing that all of the full novels that I would need to read were in Spanish, I decided to switch into Cine-Museology, which focuses on theorizing cinema and the museum. This will likely be one of my hardest classes, but also the one that I am most interested in. There are only eight students enrolled and we screened Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” on the first day; all of these are promising characteristics of a class.
One great thing about the amount of free time is that I could take a trip down to Covent Garden with my flatmates, Sophie and Hetty, on Tuesday to walk around and explore without having to worry about classes or class work. There were musicians to be heard, food to be eaten and sights to be seen. There was a talented group of people playing string instruments who drew a large crowd on the balconies above them, so I got to enjoy their music until their time was up.
With this kind of time on my hands I am either going to be very well traveled within London and broke, or I will be making money with a part time job and much less free time. Hopefully I can manage a combination of the two!
Moving back to London after a few years spent in rural Scotland, locked up in a boarding school was something I was looking most forward to when writing the last words on my last exam in May. June went by faster than ever and before I knew it I was back! Standing on a smelly Euston platform, inhaling the odor of big city. Oh London, how I missed you. It was an amazing feeling to experience different smells rather than the steady ‘countryside/sheep’ one. I was so glad to be back, and funny thing here, instead of putting my holiday party hat on I literally could not wait for uni to start, and for the first time in my life picked studying over holidaying.
Summer went past at a speed of light, maybe because I really wanted uni to start. And before I realized it, the 16th September was here. First day at Queen Mary was beyond terrifying. Interesting fact here: people are divided into two groups: those who are scared of first days and being a fresher and big liars. It was a nightmare trying to find where what was but I was determined not to use the little map we were given at introduction. I wanted to keep my cool on and seem relaxed, even though I was shaking inside. Before I knew it I was sitting in a lecture theatre with other 300 people who seemed just as stressed as I was, being welcomed to QM. I was a bit disappointed when I found out that tutorials won’t start until next week (NERD !!!) but this was actually something good. It gave me the opportunity to stand outside lecture theatre chatting to people and not having to worry about being on time to class.
The first week of lectures was amazing. You know that song ‘born to be wild’ by Steppenwolf? Well my version would be ‘born to be a lawyer’. Strange thing, but for the first time in my life I was a million percent sure that I was in the right place. I was a bit surprised, but nevertheless excited, that we got straight to work. I listened carefully, with my mouth open to every single word the lecturers were saying, trying to write notes and focus on the topic at the same time (a skill that I have now fully mastered #pro). At the end of first week, I had no less than 30 pages of notes and around 300 pages to read for next week’s tutorials. But nevertheless I was excited to get to work. Turns out that law was even more interesting that I thought it would be, and I found the beginning quite easy. Soon enough though, I would find out that law was absolutely everything but easy. But to be honest I was expecting that from the start.
One more nice surprise from the very beginning was that before the tutorials started I stumbled across a group J Facebook page (oh Mark Zuckerberg, I am forever in your debt). I started chatting to other people in my group so it was really nice and not awkward when we actually met in person, because we knew a bit about each other and broke the ice (virtually, but still). First tutorial of the year was contract law, and as I was walking through the door into our 303 seminar room I opened a new exciting chapter of my life, and could not wait for what was in store. And off we went and took a one way trip to Legalville.
Getting my Queen Mary memorabilia before it’s too late!
Wow?! Classes are over already?
At Queen Mary, there are only 12 weeks of classes and most of the classes only meet twice a week: once a week for lecture and once a week for seminar (or as my school back in the States likes to called it, “discussion”). So if you think about it, that’s only 12 lectures per class! Now there’s a month break before exams start, but if you’re studying liberal arts you most likely don’t have many or any exams. Luckily all my exams were given during week 12 and I just have two more papers due by the end of April. However, if you’re studying abroad for an entire year, you might have to cut your month-long holiday short because exam month will not only cover what you learned this semester, but also last semester. I have a flat mate who’s taking seven exams!
Whatever number of exams you may have, you should have no problem fitting in time to travel and have fun. I’ve noticed many study abroad students go out of the country on the weekends (but that’s personally a bit too short of a trip for me and I need the weekends to catch up and rest), but I think you should also spend a lot of time in London to soak in the culture and see what the city has to offer… and boy does it have a lot to offer! This past week I got to see two phenomenal plays and one (‘Peter and Alice’) starred Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw! To save money on plays, I recommend queuing early in the morning for day tickets, which are around £10-12 (compared to £50 tickets you buy ahead of time online). Because of the high demand for ‘Peter and Alice’, my friends and I lined up at 6:45 am, but it was worth it. You’re young and in London after all!
There are several skills that a university student has to develop. I believe that the most important one is time management, because, once you know how to manage your time, everything else shortly follows. At the beginning, you might be pleasantly surprised to know that an Economics student only has twelve hours of taught classes per week: four lectures that last two hours each, and the four corresponding seminars that last one hour each. My hours are even shorter, since I am a joint degree student and, for what concerns Politics, the lectures last only one hour. Furthermore, deadlines for exams or assignments are usually set weeks in advance.
These things combined can give us the impression that we have all the time in world, and many of us fall victims of procrastination. Until we realise that the deadlines are not so far, and that, above all, most deadlines tend to fall in the time lapse of one, maximum two weeks.
Time management is the only answer. I (slowly!) learned that there is no need to spend the night on your books right before the deadline: all you need to do is to start working on your assignments and studying for your tests as soon as possible, and to carefully plan your studies. That way, not only is your workload more evenly spread, but you will also be in a more relaxed state of mind.
Time management will also allow you to fit different extracurricular activities into your schedule, and this will definitely have a positive impact on your CV.
Coming to Queen Mary University was quite a daunting prospect. Everything in the course of a 6 week summer holiday had changed; I was no longer a college student, my friends began moving away and now I had to push my brain to its very limit in the world of an undergraduate of law.
On my first week, I pushed aside my stylish, one folder capacity satchel and donned the mountaineering back- pack to face the trains, the city and my new life.
I found the lectures in the first week interesting, but so much of it flew over my head and I wondered if the actual lectures were going to be this intense. Although they were, they were much more engaging and I felt optimistic and reassured.
Then the real work started, tutorials, cases, articles… and the reading! The reading was probably the biggest challenge to overcome, but once a routine was set, it didn’t seem half as bad as when I started. I also write notes on every lecture, I don’t use a laptop, but the quality is there and I’m one of the few who actually look at a lecturer instead of clacking on keys for 2 hours, which I find helps me take in the information better.
In a room of 300 people, I found myself a little unsure of who to talk to. I was a little shy of just going up to someone and just saying “Hi!”. The tutorials and mooting made it much easier, we became a tight knit group who then introduced each other to friends of friends and now I know so many people who offer amazing support, but also who encourage me to relax once in a while and get into the spirit of being a fun-loving student.