Posts Tagged ‘student life’

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.

From ‘fresherhood’ to adulthood

Who could have thought that the transition from a first year to a second year would bring about such dramatic changes ? It’s true that leaving student accommodation to live with the people that have become your spiritual siblings during freshers’ week is a huge sign of evolution, but it’s something more than that- I actually grew up.

I got a hang of how to study…and kind of enjoy it now

Yes, I am not a lost sheep anymore. I am confident, the time management skills got unbelievably strong after the chaos of first year’s exams and I do not panic anymore when hearing the word mid-term; it’s more of a ‘bring it on’ attitude rather than a ‘how am I going to do this’ mentality. It could be that the amplitude and workload of first year got me one step closer to managing responsibilities like an adult- or I just can’t find the time to freak out.

No more parties every other day

It seems unbelievable, but it’s not. I gradually got tired of being tired. Spending the night with a couple of quality people turns out to be a lot more fun than going out in fancy clubs (from where it took 3 hours to get back home, because I wasn’t lucky enough to enjoy the perks of night tube in my first year) and realizing that this lifestyle is just too expensive and not as fun if it becomes a habit. I decided to go out when it’s really worth it and for the rest of the time treat myself with nice, chill evenings with the people that matter- and some Drapers from time to time.

I started to consider what I want to be when I grow up, besides happy

First year was incredibly fun, with all of its chaotic moments and constant freshers’ events, the only thing I had to stress about was how to make friends and how to get good grades at the same time. Now, however, life confronts me with the ultimate question “What do I want to be?”. The stress is off the charts with this one; it requires a thorough research, probably more than 3rd years do for their dissertation.
As an Economics student it’s really hard, since everyone expects us to become investment bankers (a.k.a to give up on our lives the moment we graduate). I want something else for myself, I want adventure, travel, human interaction, pressure and space to evolve- believe me, finding the job to give you all of this is hard. Internships are, apparently, the key to figuring yourself out, so now I’m in the crazy process of applying all over, in the hope that my path will be enlightened.

Friends come and even more friends go

I left home, came to uni, met many new people, found friends, everything went smoothly. That’s all first years want-lots of friends and lots of parties (completely fair). As the year went by I started to put things in balance and become aware of what is truly important: having someone to be there for you at 2 am when I am sick and not 20 ‘someones’ to go out with during the night and not talk to during the day. I understood that I need healthy relationships for me to be a healthy person.

First year has been so eventful and filled with memories, but one year is more than enough. It’s time to focus on myself and what makes me grow as a person, because, unfortunately, those late nights in Soho were no help in discovering what it is that makes me an accomplished person.

What are university timetables like for students?

As I begin to settle into my third year, as with the previous years, my weekly timetable begins to take shape. During the first week of term, I was provided with a timetable which includes when and where my lectures will be taking place. This timetable will be used throughout both semesters of my degree course – a semester is part of an “academic term period” which here at QMUL consists of 12 weeks of classes. In addition, QMUL categorize their semesters as “Semester 1”, “Semester 2” and “Semester 3”. Below I have given an example of what my timetable looks like for semester 1, and information on how to read timetables in general.

personal timetable

Image 1: My personal timetable for the subjects I study. (Note: Click on image for clearer view)

 

How to read timetable 1

Image 2: These are the official QMUL guidelines for how to read your timetable. (Note: Click on image for clearer view)

As you can see, my timetable includes a mixture of IT labs (labs based on specialist computer software) and lectures. I don’t have any seminars for my course, but for many students, this would typically involve getting into groups with your class mates, and discussing in detail, questions set by the lecturer about what was mentioned during lectures. It is also worth noting that in week 7 of each semester, there is a period known as reading week. This is where there is no teaching and it gives students the chance to catch up with their understanding of the course material so far. Finally from image 1, the blank spaces on the timetable indicates free time. Here it is expected students use this time for independent study around the course material.

Next semester I will be getting a new timetable which will have different modules from my first semester. If you want to check out the current general calendar for students at QMUL check out this link. It is also worth being aware that each student’s timetable will be different depending on the course they are studying. They will therefore have lectures at different times, as well as days where they have no lectures.

 

Welcome Week

Last week was Welcome Week at Queen Mary. Seeing loads of first year students, milling about the campus with a bewildered yet excited look on their face made me smile, and pause to reminisce about my first day as a fully-fledged university student.

I remember the night before the start of the term last year. I was terrified. What if I don’t make any friends? What if I don’t fit in? What if I hate my course? What if I wear the wrong thing in lectures? These questions kept swarming in my head. I could hardly sleep. My anxieties, however, were mixed together with a sense of adventure and excitement. For me, getting into university was the culmination of years of preparing for exams (GCSEs and A Levels) and months of waiting for the results. This was it. As clichéd as it sounds, I was about to start a new chapter in my life – meet new people and study a subject that I really enjoy. My fears were balanced and calmed by a feeling of optimism.

Recently, I was talking to my friends about this and realised I wasn’t the only person who felt nervous. For a lot of students, this is the first time they are moving away from home, from family and friends, and it is quite daunting. But the important thing to remember is that everyone is in the same boat. The issue with ‘what ifs’ is that the complete opposite of your worst fears are also a possibility: what if you met a group of really interesting and friendly people? What if you absolutely loved your course? At school, I think, we spend a lot of time worrying about fitting in but it is completely different at university. It is ok to be different and to have a different opinion to other people. I can guarantee you that you will gravitate towards people who have similar interests to you. You will also make friends with people who are very different to you, and that is a brilliant thing because I think we should celebrate difference as it expands our outlook and introduces us to new ideas.

My friend, Dina, packing up the information point

My friend, Dina, packing up the information point

Universities have Welcome Weeks to ease the transition into Higher Education. During this week there are no lessons. There are induction talks by each academic school, welcoming the new students to university and their course. The School of English and Drama asked me to briefly talk to the new students about my experience of university so far. I was a bit nervous but I am happy to report that it went really well – people laughed at my jokes! My department also held a Welcome Party which was a great way for the students to meet members of the staff and other students in their course. There were, of course, countless events organised by our Student Union. This included events held during the day and night.

The fabulous Student Ambassadors from the UK Student Recruitment Team

The fabulous Student Ambassadors from the UK Student Recruitment Team at the Freshers’ Fair

One of the best events to attend is the Freshers’ Fair. This is when all the student-led societies congregate together and set up stalls. Both old and new students can visit each stall to find out more about what they do and sign up. Societies are a bit like extra-curricular clubs that you have at school – only so much better! At QM, we have hundreds of societies. There are academic societies, sports societies, political societies, Wine Society, Game of Thrones Society, Harry Potter Society, just to name a few. Societies are a great way to make friends, and to meet people from different years, and people outside your course. Last year, I have to say I went a bit overboard and joined quite a few societies but I didn’t end up going to a lot of them. So, I’d definitely recommend you try out as many societies as possible, but perhaps make sure you’re really going to go to them before committing long-term.

I hope you have found this insight into Welcome Week a little helpful. My advice about starting university would be to have an open mind and a positive attitude. Try out new things – you never know you might really end up liking it!

 

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/

PASS with Flying Colours

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I’ve been mentoring with SLLF PASS since I was in my second year and it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done while at QM, so I thought I’d PASS on some information about the scheme.

PASS stands for ‘Peer Assisted Study Support’ (and as you’ve seen, facilitates some highly amusing wordplay) and involves trained second year students and above helping first years with questions about assignments, exams, their course or university life in general. We have weekly mentoring sessions which are usually themed around the topics being covered in first year classes at that time. The nature of the sessions varies from one department to another, as do attendance figures.

Some PASS schemes attract scores of students, regularly having 50+ mentees (STEM subjects tend to be very popular), whereas the figures are much lower for the humanities. For Film, we recently held a special ‘Production Skills’ session with a panel of 2nd year students who screened some short films they’d worked on and offered advice on filmmaking – this attracted about 15 students, which I think is the most we’ve ever had. Still, there are advantages to having smaller groups – we can establish a friendly atmosphere and have more time to focus on individual students’ questions.

I think PASS is useful for first years while they’re still adjusting to being at university – it provides a less daunting place for them to come with questions and concerns that they might not want to raise with their personal advisor. It’s reassuring for them to speak to second and third years who’ve survived first year and bought the t-shirt, and it’s also a lot of fun – once the hard work is out of the way, we usually just end up chatting about movies.

It’s not just the mentees who benefit, the mentors get a lot out of it too: the chance to meet new people, gain confidence, attend the annual PASS conference and certificate ceremony, etc. It’s also very gratifying to feel that you’ve been able to help someone; my fellow-mentor Ethan told me that ‘I’ve enjoyed PASS because it gave me an opportunity to help students do better than I did’.

You get more information on PASS here:  http://www.qmul.ac.uk/undergraduate/schools/wp/qmul-students/index.html

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