Posts Tagged ‘society’

Back to university

Although university classes started this week, last week was ‘Welcome Week’ which meant the uni held a whole bunch of events to welcome all the new students, and ease the returning ones back in. I thought I’d start my blog with the biggest and busiest event – the ‘Fresher’s Fair’, aimed to help freshers (first years) see all of the clubs, societies and sports groups the uni has and choose which ones they want to join. For me, this was a particularly busy time! Me and my house mate are this year’s new Co-Presidents of Film Society, meaning that we are in charge of the running of our society, including organising our booth at the fair. We had also just moved into a new house and so everything was all quite panicked, but we managed to pull it off!

Me (left) and my house mate assuming our Co-President roles at our booth.

It was personally very important for me to make sure our booth was as good and welcoming as it possibly could be, because when I first came to the Fair, two years ago, I was very nervous. I had been too shy to go to any events before the fair, and my flat mates were all very private people so I didn’t know many people, apart from two I’d already met from my course. I mainly shuffled around the fair with my head down, only looking up occasionally and not talking to many people. I finally caught the eyes of two guys at the Film Society booth, who had a very modest stall, and they told me about their society. It was very causal and you just had to come along on a Thursday evening, and they would just watch a film and then go and socialise afterwards. It sounded perfect and incredibly low commitment, in case my studies got in the way, so I pinned their flyer to my pin board and waited until the following week.

It wasn’t the only society I joined, as each year I join new ones, and new societies are made. However, it was Film Society that became my favourite part about university, the two guys running the stall turned into two of my best friends and I met so many more people and friends through the society. When I made a couple of other friends through my course and other events, friends who I am now living with, I introduced them to the society and I soon had a big, very close-knit group of friends. In my second year I was the society Secretary, meaning I was in charge of all the emailing and then this year me and my house mate decided to split the Presidency role.

The best part about the Fair is that everyone is always very welcoming, they even have a quieter hour at the start of the Fair for those uncomfortable with large crowds, and there is always a lot to get involved in.

Harry Potter Society, one of the most popular societies on campus.

Harry Potter Society, one of the most popular societies on campus.

One example of this are the social societies. Film Society comes under this title, but others include the Harry Potter Society, as pictured above. I joined this society last year and they run events like a Sorting Ceremony at the start of the year and a Slug Club once a month. They also have Quidditch tournaments between the houses which are so much fun! Other social societies include: Lego Society, Game of Thrones Society and Baking Society, among many, many others.

There are also faith societies and academic societies. These include a very wide range of faiths who also organise their own events, and the academic societies have groups for all the courses taught at the university. There are so many societies, you’d never be able to join them all, or even hear about them all! There are also recreational societies which tend to either do more specific activities or use their time to make or create things. Pictured below is the Knitting Society, but there is also a Medieval Re-enactment Society and Games and Video Gaming Society and a Parkour Society.

The Knitting Society making their own table blanket.

The Knitting Society making their own table blanket.

There are so many types of societies, I could go on all day about them. And the best part is that if, even among all these societies, you can’t find the one for you then you can set up your own! The Student’s Union, who work with the students at uni to improve our experience will help you out and it’s so easy. Some new societies this year include the previously mentioned Game of Thrones Society and also a Disco Society who kept us all energised through the fair with their non-stop music and dancing.

The Disco Society dancing their way through the fair.

The Disco Society dancing their way through the fair.

In addition to societies there are also sports to join, and these are so varied you will undoubtedly find the sport you enjoy or love. I got involved with Archery a bit last year, but have decided that this year I’m going to become a full member and turn up to practice a lot more often. There are also ways to do sports without joining a club which is more casual, or ways to sign up to clubs and leagues and compete and train a lot – it’s entirely up to the individual. Outside classes and studying, the freedom university gives you allows you to choose which ways you want to spend your time.

Overall the Fair is chaotic and overwhelming but undoubtedly one of the most important things I attended when I joined university. Inevitably I signed up to way more societies than I could have ever possibly attend but that doesn’t matter. You get to meet a massive range of people of different ages, cultures and courses and, like me, these people can end up being some of your best friends.

QM Citizens Road Safety Campaign – #SaveMe

More than 400 people including QMUL students, staff, members of the public and community leaders from the Salvation Army, the local mosque, CitizensUK and other organisations are getting involved in the #SAVEME Campaign.

They all joined in solidarity in March to make a real change to road safety in the Mile End and surrounding area. Research, audits and interviews have been taking place with local residents and businesses to see what their concerns about road safety are. All their ideas have come together and have been taken to Transport for London (TfL) and Tower Hamlets Council in order to bring about change to our roads.

QMCitizens – a student-led organisation that work with local communities in the East End to tackle issues affecting their daily lives – will be working with Citizens UK to make sure the Council and TfL’s promises to improve road safety are followed through.

As a geographer, my involvement with Citizens UK and QMcitizens has allowed me to witness community cohesion as people from different backgrounds came together to strive for social change through political actions. Community organising was once something i had only learnt in a ‘Environment, nature and society’ module within a classroom but my involvement with QMcitizens has taken it into a wider context and in a real life situation with our  #SaveMe campaign. 

photo 5

Students showing their support from the front row

SAVEME banner

Queen Mary Students supporting the #SaveMe Campaign







In preparation for the campaign before the walk to Queen Mary


laying down flowers

Laying down flowers to show respect for those who have fallen from the poor road safety.

400 people turned up to show their support, the numbers speak for themselves.

Placards made by students

Students placard posters, with illustrations such as “Kill your speed” outside the Queen Mary campus

Speeches and stories being shared by students, staff, family members and leaders at the library square.

Patiently waiting

Laying flowers by Bancroft rd

To find out more, search #SaveMe on Twitter, check out this Facebook clip showing peaceful protest

And/or see this awareness video on YouTube

Room for an extra New Year’s resolution?

St Paul's Cathedral, London

Don’t let the Christmas spirit of giving fade throughout the year

Every year, before we know it, New Year’s day arrives and its time once again to make those promises to make a fresh start. We have just had Christmas when we opened our presents, in front of a warm fire and watched Christmas television slumped on the sofa full of the Christmas dinner that we shared with our families. Whatever your New Year’s resolution is, have you spared a thought this year for those who aren’t as privileged as ourselves?

I attended a series of lectures within the second year module Society, Culture and Space, with Professor Jon May, a human geography lecturer at QMUL who has undertaken considerable research concerning the geographies of homelessness. I realised and became extremely passionate about the immoral way that homeless people are treated. I believe that it is appalling that those with power are able to authorise the removal of a whole group of  people from places of investment and tourist attraction based solely on property ownership. At a time of hope and change I think now is the time that we need to think of those who don’t experience ‘fun’ at New Year and ask ourselves how can we use New Year’s resolutions to create a change for others and not just ourselves.

As well as studying my degree in BSc Geography, I am a Girl Guiding Leader at both a Rainbow and Brownie group.  During their Christmas sleepover the 296th St. Michael’s Brownie Pack in Birmingham decided to pack and decorate shoe boxes and doggy bags and give them to a local charity that provides shelter and festivities for those who are homeless or less fortunate. With help from the 1st Bartley Green Rainbows, warm accessories, toiletries, sweets and dog treats and accessories were donated, placed in shoe boxes and given as Christmas presents.

Streetlink is a website through which anyone can alert authorities in England to a rough sleeper in their area. It acts as the middle man passing on your information to those who can help. It is extremely simple and free to report a rough sleeper online and they keep in contact with you to ask for more information and keeping you informed about what they did to help the person you reported. Streetlink is a really easy way for you to make a homeless person a bit more comfortable this winter.

Make this your New Year’s resolution for 2015.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, lets make 2015 a good one!


Letters from Nepal…PhD Geographer reports back

Enjoying the festival of Holi with my good friend Arya

Enjoying the festival of Holi with my good friend Arya (right)

My name’s Suzy and I’m a PhD student in the School of Geography at Queen Mary University of London. Here’s a little glimpse into some of the work I’ve been doing in Nepal and a few pictures too!

I count myself very lucky to be doing a PhD. I get to study a subject that I am very passionate about and I get paid for it too; I couldn’t really ask for more. On top of that I get to live in Nepal for eight months. I am half way through my research now and it is has certainly been interesting. My research involves talking to women from various backgrounds around Kathmandu and the wider valley.

My boyfriend and a view of Langtang range

My boyfriend and a view of Langtang range

So doing a PhD is much more than spending three years with your nose in a book. My time in Nepal has meant I have had a chance to learn about new and exciting culture and I have picked up a fair amount of the Nepali language. I have met all sorts of characters and enjoyed laughing, crying and sharing stories with them. Living in a developing country like Nepal has its challenges and difficulties, but there is never a dull moment.

My research topic is on ‘Widowhood and Well-being in Nepal’. When I first started this research in 2009 I soon realised there was no research on widowhood in Nepal and little research generally worldwide. I wanted to do something to help, but once I started the master’s, however, I realised I would really need to take this to PhD level to bring it to the attention of academics and policy makers.

A typical day in Nepal starts early with the morning Hindu prayers and a run around the temple a few times that I live next to. I have breakfast on the porch in the sunshine and then I go to meet my participants. Sometimes that can be right in the centre of Kathmandu amongst the beeping traffic, the roaming cattle, the market stalls and the spicy and fragrant aromas. Other days that can involve sitting amongst paddy fields and having a relaxing cup of tea whilst chatting to my participants. When I return home I enjoy going to yoga and listening to the crows settling down for the evening.

Doing a PhD is not without its difficulties. I think the hardest thing is maintaining a balance and stepping away from your work. As my research is so personal to me it is sometimes hard to take time away from it. Since starting the PhD I have got better at this and realised it is definitely a marathon not a sprint. I would say a PhD is hard, but if it is not hard it is not worth it. The satisfaction you get from it is definitely worth the theoretical and practical blood, sweat and tears. I would never consider myself to be very academic and if you asked me if I wanted to do a PhD five years ago I would say “never”. Yet, here I am now.

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Suzy 🙂



View from Kyanjin Ri 4773m

View from Kyanjin Ri 4,773m

Two widows at a single women meeting Kaski

Two widows at a single women meeting Kaski

Lady making clay pots in Timi

Lady making clay pots in Timi

Paddy fields in Chitwan

Paddy fields in Chitwan

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