Posts Tagged ‘London’

Colour Up Your London Summertime

Summer has come upon us now and let’s all be honest, as much as we love the feeling of not thinking about any studies, we get bored. However, there are definitely some things to do to fill your time here in London, both near campus and away from the campus. Let me give you a sample in-the-day-of-my-life time table:

 

09:00 – 10:00

Wake up, reply to all the texts from back home, make myself a smooth cup of hot coffee.

 

10:00 – 12:00

It’s all about the gains. Hitting the gym at QMotion which is on campus making it so convenient for students that needs to burn off some fats from last night’s dinner.

 

12:00 – 13:00

I usually cook – I’ll get ingredients beforehand from either Co-op or Sainsbury’s which can be found beside the campus and opposite the campus respectively. Again, convenience is key here. Otherwise, I’d go eat in Mile End chicken shops (ahem, Dixie’s £2 for 8 wings) or go around London. Where to go, though? We’ll see below.

 

13:00 – 21:00

Okay, I go out a lot and spend a lot of time outside because staying inside for too long can get my mind tangled thinking about life and such too much. I spend this much time because I usually go out with my good friends that I’ve met in my course, my department, or even the societies I joined. Here’s a list of places you can visit:

  1. Chilling in the park: London has so many parks that you can just sit down and chill on, all very accessible by both the closest stations near campus. Need a closer one? Go to Victoria Park or Mile End Park.
  2. Central London: Of course, who doesn’t go here? Take the westbound central line to either Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus, or Bond Street, and treat yourself for some good food.
  3. Westfield Stratford: Just a stop away, take the eastbound central line and you can spend time shopping, bowl, or ride the Boris Bikes around the Olympic Park, which is right behind
  4. Mile End Pool & Snooker OR Riley’s: Interested in pool or snooker? You should definitely give them a visit – one just very close to the campus and the other in Victoria, which is possible to get to using the District Line from both Mile End station and Stepney Green station, literally approximately 2-3 minutes away from campus.
  5. Tourist-y stuff: Check online some touristy things to do and get the most of London, simple ones like visiting the Museums for FREE, or even watch the changing of the Guards at Buckingham palace.

 

21:00 – 00:00

At this time, I usually have a couple of pints with my friends, just talk about what to do the next day, or even sleep earlier.

 

There’s so much that you can do around London as you study in Queen Mary. First year studying here has been eventful for me but there’s definitely more outside London – in my hometown Bandung, Indonesia – that I will tell you about in the next blog!

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.

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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!

One Angry Nan and 76 Minutes I’ll Never Get Back

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.

 

 

 

 

Building Kingdoms, Chasing Dreams

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!

 

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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

Sunsets, Science and Sunflowers

Exploring London is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable elements of living in this city.  From scouting out hidden treasures; obscure coffee shops and underground bars; to being able to weave through the crowds of tourists and relax with a book on parliament square with Big Ben in view, the quote “When a man is tired of London; he is tired of life” has never felt more true.  Here are 3 of my best-loved outings at the moment:

 

Columbia Road Flower Market
Between the hours of 8:00 and 15:00 every Sunday, Columbia Road transforms into a vibrant floral paradise.  After popping to The Hackney Coffee Company for my early Sunday morning caffeine fix, a stroll through the bustling flower market is the ideal way to begin my day.  The incredible aroma of the plants intertwined with hint of coffee coming from one of the many independent shops along the street, as well as the hundreds of people socialising whilst boasting their large bunches of sunflowers and attempting to balance their over-sized orchids on under-sized coffee tables makes Columbia Road Flower Market my happiest place in the city.

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The Science Museum
London boasts an impressive range of Museums and Galleries, however the most significant one for me is, of course, the Science Museum.  I could spend hours meandering through the Space section, gawking at the rockets suspended from the ceiling.  Every so often the museum opens its doors after hours and hosts a range of unique workshops and interactive experiences, as well as a silent disco.  An evening spent talking to astronaut impersonators and dancing to Beyoncé below a suspended United States Scout was undoubtedly one of the most memorable evenings I’ve ever had.

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Primrose Hill
After 15 minutes attempting to navigate the streets encompassing Regents Park in what felt like arctic conditions following a rather temperamental phone which occasionally told me to “make a legal U-turn”, I finally noticed a rather large hill poking out from behind some houses.   Honestly, the difficult journey and slight dizziness just made the view from the top even more satisfying.  Roughly 65 metres tall, Primrose Hill offers panoramic views of the entire city and on a wintery evening at sunset, it is one of the most spectacular things I have ever laid eyes on.  At the top very top is a stone with a William Blake inscription, reading “I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.”

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I have an ever-growing list of favourite places; and an ever-growing list of places I want to visit.  I am so thrilled that I have another 2 and a half years in this city; although I highly doubt that this is an adequate amount of time experience everything London has to offer.

 

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!

Awkward Hugs and Problematic Ovens

After pacing up and down the corridor a few more times, I looked down at my trembling hand to check my watch. I had been stood outside my flat mate’s door for roughly 4 and a half minutes. I lifted my arm once again, hoping that this time, I would have the courage to knock. Just before I could finally tap the door, it opened. I was now eye to eye with a stranger that I was going to have to live with for an entire year. Standing in his doorway, slightly perplexed as to why I was loitering directly outside his room, he introduced himself. Not thinking, I went straight for a hug. We’re now good friends.

The first week of university was a complete whirlwind of excitement intertwined with a little anxiety and a dash of homesickness. Moving from a small town in South Wales to the capital city was a shock to the system to say the least. Leaving a home with a supportive family and wonderful friends is always going to be difficult; especially when you realize after 3 days of living in halls that you have absolutely no idea how to work your own oven or iron your clothes. However, I’m so happy to be able to say that after 3 months I am well and truly settled and completely content with every aspect of my new life; and, after an hour on Facetime with my mother, I was able to resolve all my oven related issues.

After the craziness that was Freshers Week, I came face to face with an overwhelming realization. I know absolutely nothing. Or at least, very little.. As a Maths student I attend roughly 15 to 17 hours of lectures and tutorials a week, and in each of those hours, I would learn completely new concepts that I couldn’t have even imagined existed whilst sitting my A-levels. The jump is big, but I learnt to view it as an exciting challenge, rather than an impossible task. From learning the exam content to being introduced to some of Maths’ greatest problems; The Goldbach Conjecture, Fermat’s Last Theorem, The Riemann Hypothesis; I am more engrossed in Mathematics now than I have ever been.

Now that first semester is almost over, I am thrilled to be taking a well-earned break. As enjoyable and fascinating as it is, university can be difficult. Sometimes I think it’s important to remind myself that not long ago I was in a small school close to my house, which contained teachers who knew me well, friends who had known me my whole life and I was learning material that I was very comfortable with. I am very ready to unwind somewhere homely and familiar over the Christmas break but am happy to say I am thoroughly enjoying my first taste of the university experience.

Shakespeare’s Globe

This summer I have been fortunate enough to attend three different theatre productions at Shakespeare’s Globe. All three plays were absolutely phenomenal. The tense and eerie atmosphere in Macbeth, the genuinely hilarious scenes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the unsettling feelings that The Taming of the Shrew created, stayed with me long after the curtain call.

Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT

Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT

I have to confess – this is probably a cardinal sin for an English Literature student – but I was not always a big fan of Shakespeare. Studying Shakespeare in the lower years at secondary school was a frustrating ordeal. We spent absolutely ages analysing just one metaphor! I could not engage with the old-fashioned language, and I remember finding it incredibly difficult to concentrate in class. It was especially bad when I had double English on a Friday afternoon. The words just felt dead on the page.

My attitude began to change somewhat near the end of GCSEs, and it changed completely after I began studying English at Queen Mary. This is because I started watching theatrical productions of Shakespeare’s plays. Reading a play is not enough to understand it. Plays are meant to be performed – it is why they are written. This seems very obvious but it is an important fact that is worth mentioning. When you watch a performance, the physical action of the actors, their tone and mannerisms bring the words to life. Hearing Shakespeare’s words out loud make them feel less alien than they appear on paper. The development of the storyline becomes more clear and easier to follow. For example, Macbeth is about a loyal soldier who becomes seduced by the lust for power. He kills his own King, and all those who get in his way, to take the throne.  The three witches utter one of the most iconic lines in the play, ‘Fair is foul, and foul is fair’. This is meant to foreshadow a sense of confusion, where nothing is as it seems. The witches represent evil and immorality, and they tempt Macbeth to create his own downfall. When you just read the witches’ lines on a page, you cannot visualise their wickedness or feel the sense of danger that they pose to Macbeth. Nevertheless, in the Globe’s current production, initially the actors playing the witches are all heaped together, like a mass of limbs. Then, they disentangle themselves into one menacing, conjoined being. Moreover, the use of prosthetic limbs, coupled with the eerie organ music gives them a sinister presence as they lurk about the stage. For the audience, the threatening evilness of the witches become a tangible reality.

Our £5 yard tickets to see A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Our £5 yard tickets to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Shakespeare’s Globe is my favourite theatre in London. Every time I go there, it feels like taking a walk through the pages of history. It is a faithful reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre which was built in 1599. There is a yard which is encircled by three floors of tiered seating. From a bird’s-eye-view, Shakespeare’s Globe looks like a massive ring doughnut because only the stage and the seating is covered by a thatched roof.

I always get yard tickets because they are the cheapest, costing only £5. The one drawback to getting yard tickets is that you have to stand for the whole performance. For me, however, this is not a problem, because I think the yard is the best place to watch the productions. You are the closest to the stage and the actors constantly interact with the audience. The plays are so entertaining and engrossing that time flies without you noticing. One of the things that I really like about Globe productions is how the plays bring Shakespeare to the twenty-first century by making it relevant to modern audience. For example, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the actors were dressed as Hipsters instead of Athenians. They made jokes about health and safety, sang David Bowie songs, and when Hermia told Helenus about her engagement to Lysander, the two best friends broke into a Bollywood infused rendition of Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’.

The stage in A Midsummer Night's Dream

The stage in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

One reason why I decided to study at Queen Mary is because of its location. Not only does it have one of the best English and Drama Departments in the country, it is also in London. For me, London is the heart of culture, music, art and creativity. Going to a London university allows me to have access to fabulous places like the Globe. Also, there are numerous museums and galleries which are almost always free, and going to these places allows me to enhance my understanding of the contents covered in my course. The West End always has concessions for students and young people and I would encourage everyone to take advantage of that. For instance, the Donmar Warehouse is currently running a ‘Young and Free’ scheme which gives people aged under 25 free tickets to watch their Shakespeare Trilogy. I will include the link for more information below and I really hope I have persuaded you into going to the theatre very soon to check out some Shakespeare!

Donmar Warehouse: http://www.donmarwarehouse.com/mailing-list#xkGeHFHZ0WYEgvX7.97

Shakespeare’s Globe: http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/

London Marathon 2016- Time to Marshal!

Hi all, I hope revision is going well for you. I thought I’d share my experience of volunteering with QMSU Volunteering at the amazing London Marathon last week- one of my favourite annual events to volunteer or spectate at.

The London Marathon is 26.2 miles and runners pass sights including the National Maritime Museum and One Canada Square, finishing at Buckingham Palace. This year’s was the 36th London Marathon and the millionth participant ran the route too!

Sunday 24th April 2016- the runners’ big day!

It is barely 4°C at 9am when we set off along Mile 19 to choose our places to be stationed at!

It is barely 4°C at 9am when we set off along Mile 19 to choose our places to be stationed at!

 

At around 7:45am, we had a rundown of the event (pardon the pun) as we’d been briefed on our role as marshals at uni on Friday. At 9am, we walked around to Mile 19 and I chose to be at a crossing point with three other volunteers. With a pair of us on opposite sides of the road, in charge of the crossing, we started cheering on the elite women, followed by the Paralympic athletes and then the elite men. We were directing spectators when they needed assistance. Soon, the masses started approaching us and hundreds of spectators on our road alone, us marshals included, began encouraging thousands of runners!

 

One of the elite runners approaches our section

One of the elite runners approaches our section on The North Colonnade

 

The whole day was brilliant. Though my hands were hurting from continuous clapping, icy wind and occasional freezing sheets of rain, I continued applauding the runners- the reactions of some runners when they saw everyone, even if it was just you clapping and calling their name at times, was my fuel!! My voice was going too and the responses of some concerned spectators saying “oh no, you’re going to lose your voice” was heart-warming. Some spectators were even cheering me on for cheering, aha!!!

 

A marshal portrays just how cold it can be during the London Marathon!

Tried to portray just how cold it was! This expression unfortunately doesn’t look like one of a cold me but a cautious me, aha- it was very cold indeed!!! I used my backpack straps to hold onto my useful event guide and free my hands, ready to applaud.

 

The great majority of runners were strangers (I did cheer on a colleague, a YouTuber and a former teacher, though) but I still genuinely believe they are ALL CHAMPIONS for running the marathon! Mile 19 can be one of the most gruelling miles. One of my favourite received reactions was people actually speeding up or starting to run when we cheered for them. And my reaction to that? Well, I was thrilled each time and jumped up and down cheering even more excitedly for them as they sprinted past me yelling a “thank you” or smiling from ear to ear at me while I mirrored the smile or laughed!

 

A wonderful event to marshal- substantiated by my sore and freezing hands at the end of the day and my now-croaky voice in need of a rest!

A wonderful event to marshal- substantiated by my sore and freezing hands at the end of the day and my now-croaky voice in need of a rest!

 

Well done, one and all, what an accomplishment, what a feat (that one was intentional)!

Be proud of yourselves for completing the London Marathon! A huge congratulations to Eliud Kipchoge who smashed his 2015 course record and Wilson Kipsang’s 2014 course record, setting a new course record for the elite men and to Jemima Sumgong who overcame some horrible falls and even an inconsiderate intruder on the course to win the women’s elite race!

 

Fact: The first event I can ever remember volunteering at was the 2011 London Marathon. Yes, eesh, half a decade ago!! Thus, volunteering at this year’s marathon marked half a decade of volunteering for me (not at every Marathon event but volunteering in general- 5 years ago is when it all started in volunteering for me)!

Fact: The first event I can remember volunteering at was the 2011 London Marathon. Volunteering at this year’s marathon marked half a decade of volunteering for me (generally, not at every Marathon).

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