Posts Tagged ‘student life’

Caffeine, Confidence and Careless Planning: A Personal Guide to Revision

Advice on how to get the most out of your revision, from information on visual aids to what foods you should be eating, is available everywhere.   As someone who is prone to stress, I often feel overwhelmed with everything that I am told I “should” be doing whilst revising.  After years of trial and error, I have found a few things that really work for me:

1.       Mathematics can be intense and overwhelming so I find it incredibly useful to take a few hours to remind myself why I’m doing the degree.  If I’m finding a module particularly wearing I’ll find an article, book or video loosely based on the subject to spark my interest again.  For example, after reading through my probability notes for a few hours yesterday and very almost losing the will to live, I decided to watch a video by Vsauce about the maths behind shuffling a deck of cards (which, by the way, is mind blowing).

2.       Finding a suitable place to revise was actually a bit issue for me.  At home I get too easily distracted but I can’t deal with the silence in the library.  Coffee shops were my saviour.   When I’m struggling to revise, I walk to a local coffee shop, order myself a drink and set out all my revision on a little table.  I enjoy working within a lightly bustling area; I can concentrate well but also when I need a break I can get some fresh air and take a stroll.  Obviously, the big upside to working in a café is the possibility of a constant supply of caffeine which is extremely alluring. 

3.       One major issue I used to have whilst studying for exams was confidence.  I would always compare my work and results to my friends’ and subsequently be far too hard on myself.  During exam season, I find it useful to remember that people work at different paces and revise in diverse ways.  It is for this reason I tend to steer clear of ‘group revision’ as I know I am more comfortable going through things at my own speed.

4.       Finally, I find it most useful to be ridiculously organised during exam season.  Revision timetables are my strength, however I must remind myself to be realistic.  If I had followed the first timetable I had made for myself this year I’d be clocking a solid ten hours of revision a day, and subsequently, probably would have died after about a week.  Setting myself unattainable goals is a bad habit; I am never going to be doing ten hours a day and that is completely fine.  I find it important to set myself reachable goals at the end of each week and if I was unable to finish everything one week I go back and assess what the issues are. 

There is roughly twenty-two days, one hour and 35 minutes until my first exam.  I am soon to be completely submerged in scrap notes, past papers and post-it notes.  My hands are decorated with black ink smudges.  I am simultaneously completely exhausted and also experiencing a caffeine-induced spark of motivation.  My brain seems to be completely incapable of completing any tasks that aren’t maths related; for instance, after making a cup of tea, I proceeded to put the milk in the cupboard, tea bags in the fridge and spoon in the bin. 

Revision sucks.  There is no point in sugar coating it.  However now that I have found my own little preferences, it sucks just a little bit less.

A Delicious Slice of Pie. Wait – I Meant π!

Happy belated π day! To start up, here are some amazing facts about and around π that you definitely need to know RIGHT NOW:

  • Chinese man Chao Lu memorised 67,890 digits of π in 2005. Seems like somebody’s got so much time in life!
  • Calculating π is used as a stress test in computers – I’d say it’s a stress test for all beings in the world don’t you agree with me?
  • “Wolf in the Fold”, the Star Trek episode, Spock spoils the evil computer by commanding it to, compute the last digit of π value. The geekiest way to defeat a bot.
  • π is defined as the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter.
  • You can type π (like me!) in a Macintosh simply by pressing the alt button simultaneously (yes, simultaneously because…maths.) with p. Now let the πππππ roll in!
  • π is considered to be the most significant and intriguing constant, as mentioned by numerous scholars.

However, why do we even care about the existence of pi, then? In simple words, not everything in this world, both stationary or moving, are geometrically straight. Any form of curvature, to be measured more accurately, needs this irrational number π. Even if we are unable to get the true value of anything that is related to π as it is an irrational number, we are able to get the closest value and calculation of things almost perfectly despite this inexact constant.

I personally found Archimedes’ way of calculating π as the most interesting of them all as it invokes to me so many thoughts. He calculated π but drawing a hexagon inside of a unit circle, and calculated the ratio of the perimeter of the hexagon to the diameter of the unit circle. Then, he did this until he got up to 96 sides – meaning that the number of sides for the polygons he used were the numbers in the sequence an= 2an-1 where a0 is 6, and 0 ≤ n ≤ ∞. This makes me think – is a circle really a shape with no sides, or perhaps a shape with infinite number of sides?

π is delicious useful in our daily lives even though it may seem totally irrelevant in such a capitalistic society. Nevertheless, underestimate not the power of such a simple constant and the beauty it brings to the world! Once again, have a belated happy pie π day everyone! *stomach grumbles*

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.

columbiaroad

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.

scimuseum

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.”

primhill

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!

 

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