Posts Tagged ‘studying’

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!

Good Grades, Social Life, Enough Sleep – How About All Of Them?

Exam time is here! That means a few things:

cramming, cramming, and cramming…and loads of coffee perhaps.

Is cramming necessary though? It is natural for university students like many of us to

stress everything into last minute but                                   of course, that is not wise at all. We all

talk about setting a neat time table and                              creating to-do lists but in the end do not

follow  them  at  all.  Then, how do we                                 prepare  well  for exams,  while getting

enough time to rest and relax? People                                 usually believe that you can only choose

two  out of  these  three:  good grades,                               sleep, and social life. Lucky enough, we

 can     do  the   simple   maths    here.                                 24 hours  for  three   aspects  of life we

        would like to indulge  in. That                                   sounds like 24/3 and that gives us 8.

Eight  hours  of sleep,  eight                                   hours of  studying, and eight

hours of relaxing. Eight hours of relaxing and eight hours of studying is a LOT

of time when you  come to  think  of  it. This simple  8-hour rule  for these

three aspects vital to the lives of university students who wish to obtain a first

in their degrees, get enough sleep for daily energy, and parrrrr-tay! Now, following

the   eight-hour   rule   isn’t  too                                      difficult. That just  means you only

need  a  little  bit of  discipline and                                    not following the timetable wouldn’t

be  much of an issue. What  comes                                     with this eight-hour rule is efficiency

with  this  time.  Be productive  and                                      be efficient – study hard, play hard, and

eventually this while exhaust you to                                     a  good  level where you can get into  a

deep  sleep.  Studying  for 2  hours                                     can  give  you so  much when  you are

focused,  imagine what 8  hours                                       can give you! Relaxing for the same

amount of time can bring you                                     so much  enjoyment  as well. Is

  this  rule difficult?  Definitely not, and it’s definitely worth a try.  Now,  to keep

 track of any  other things, you  can simply make notes on your phone

   and make sure you would not forget any other things, may

    that be giving your parents back home a phone call,

meeting a friend for brunch, and more.

I recommend you all to give this a try this – and hopefully the results would amaze you!

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*

Women and Space

“Science” is the term encompassing the study of our natural and physical world; its structures and behaviours.  A “scientist” is an intellectual with expert knowledge of a particular branch of science.  From the intense study of the human body we gain knowledge of disease and are then able to construct medicines.  By observing the nature of the stars in the sky we are able to assemble a broader perception of the universe in which we live.   Science is the foundation of our society; the knowledge, health, sources of entertainment and standard of living we have today has been built upon centuries of scientific study and discovery.  It is for this reason, I find it incredibly perplexing that science and scientists have not been immune to discrimination.   

In school, we discuss Newton, Einstein and Pythagoras.  At university, I have considered Fermat, Euler and Euclid.  With this education, it wouldn’t be outrageous to believe that female scientists accomplished very little.  However, this is definitely not the case.  The list of influential women within science is, actually, a rather extensive one; but I would like to focus on one in particular. 

Katherine Johnson, an African American physicist and mathematician, made substantial contributions to the US’ aeronautics and space programmes at NASA in the 1950s and 60s.  From a young age, Katherine was a gifted mathematician with a passion to succeed.  Her early career consisted of teaching jobs; as work within mathematics for an African American woman were few and far between.  In 1953, Katherine was offered a job at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, which she accepted and so started her career within the early NASA team. 

For five years, Katherine worked in an office labelled “Coloured Computers”.   The women who worked within that office were required to do all of their daily activities completely segregated from the white men.  Regardless of how important their work was, these women were unable to put their names on reports they had contributed to.  Katherine herself said that women needed to be “assertive and aggressive” in order to be recognised; which, she was.

When NASA disbanded the “computing pool” in 1958, Katherine worked as an Aerospace Technologist until her retirement.  A women, who was once unable to use the same bathroom as her scientist colleagues, was now a vital part of an important team.  She calculated the trajectory for the first American man in space, she calculated the launch window for the 1961 Mercury Mission, she plotted back up navigational charts and was asked personally to verify the numbers for John Glen’s orbit around the Earth.  Katherine helped calculate trajectories for the 1969 Apollo mission; as well as helping to establish confidence in new technologies with her work with digital computers.

Katherine Johnson is just one example of many under-appreciated women working in NASA at the time; and is just one of thousands of under-appreciated women contributors to science.  Despite increasing rates of women studying mathematics and science at universities; the percentage of women within STEM careers is still extremely low.  It is vital to celebrate and learn about women who were not only major contributors to science; but had to overcome all kinds of social barriers to do so.  

A Personal View of Mathematics

Mathematics is a scientific language whose nature is theorised by people like us to produce a system made from mathematical elements that act as useful items that describe everyday objects that bring the idea of this language to reality. Many of its components are correlated to the universe and can explain its constituents, such as the idea of finite quantities, and some that cannot be fully understood, such as the idea of infinity. It is, I believe, independent of human logic and intuition, but through them it is defined and further developed into enterprises that may be beneficial in helping us to understand the universe.

Findings that arise from mathematical elements may sometimes be judged as invalid if proof is absent (as one of my lecturers said!), but majority of them have in fact displayed validity and illustrate more thoroughly the universe, such as transverse waves having similar shape as the sine or cosine graph, potential wells of planets similar to the function of x2, and even projectile motions. Equations created as a consequence of mathematical notations and numbers have even made researches easier, for example, the equation found in chi-square tests and the equation of the normal distribution graph in order to find to find approximate probabilities of large-sized populations. Some other simpler instances include Fibonacci’s rabbits, parabolic movement of a basketball shoot, snowflakes having six-fold radial symmetry, and numerous more. Imagine what else we can find if we continue to immerse ourselves in the world of maths and further develop it – who knows you might be the Nobel Prize winner one day!

Mathematics grants us access to universal truth despite its man-made essence because of its theories being backed by powerful evidence that is so persuading that minor contradictions may be abandoned. Mathematics is indeed a scientific language that plays a significant role not only in sciences and businesses and other developing areas of study, but also in other aspects of our lives.

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

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.

 

Choosing to go to university

Last week I watched a video starring some of my student ambassador friends, talking about their decision to go to university, and I realised I had never shared mine. There are lots of different choices that go into making that big decision, because generally, you’ll be spending three years or more studying just one subject, so you really need to make the right decision. Other factors include whether or not you want to stay at home, move away, live in a city, live on campus…there’s so much to think about. Just by watching the video, you’ll see what sort of different decisions everyone has to make – each story is different.

No one in my family had ever gone to university, so I was what you call ‘first generation’. However it meant that I didn’t have anyone close to ask what university was like for them. No one could tell me what the university experience really was, and so I had to find out for myself. I had always been interested in English – I loved reading from a young age and it was easily my favourite subject at school. I decided from quite early on that I wanted to go to university, it was just the getting there that seemed to be the hard part.

I did detailed research on UCAS, by searching ‘English’ and looking through each of the universities that offered it. I then made an Excel spreadsheet, (embarrassing but practical!) categorising them first into whether the grades were achievable and then whether I wanted to go there. My mum then took me to look around all the campuses – on ‘Open Days’. It was at this point that I had decided I wanted to be in London, having grown up in fairly rural areas – Cornwall and the Isle of Wight, the city seemed interesting, exciting and had buses that ran more than once an hour!

I decided on my universities of choice and took these to my form tutor to check through, but I hit an issue. She wanted me to apply for places with much lower grade boundaries. Although I tended to do reasonably well in exams, she thought I was putting too much pressure on myself. I had to discuss her and my parents what she thought, but felt sure I could handle the pressure. I knew that I wanted to go to university, but not for the sake of it. I was going to go to one I actually wanted to or not at all. Although it was quite a stressful time, I’m glad I had faith in myself.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, I got offered conditional places at all of my choices. I attended my interview at Queen Mary and though it was scary, I loved the campus and the location. It was exactly what I had been looking for – somewhere exciting and interesting, plus the course involved a lot of choice, and wasn’t as traditionally strict as other universities. Queen Mary had the highest entry requirements of my choices so yet again my form tutor had her concerns. She didn’t seem to understand that I didn’t just want to go to any uni, I wanted to go to one I had really set my heart on. So I had to meet with her and let her know that it was Queen Mary or nothing. If I didn’t get in, I’d come back and re-take. And I was genuinely prepared to do this. I wouldn’t let my mum buy me anything for university until I knew for sure because I was also nervous I wouldn’t get the grades required.

All my stuff packed for university. I only finished packing ten minutes before we left!

All my stuff packed for university. I only finished packing ten minutes before we left!

After this, my form tutor was very supportive, as was my mum and all of the other teachers at my school. They really helped me in trying to get the best grades I could. When it came round to results day I got up as early as possible to check whether I had got into university, and after UCAS crashed about a million times, I found out that I had. I was incredibly relieved, as was my whole family because they knew how much I wanted it. I rushed into school as quickly as possible to find my teachers and thank them. I found out that they had been just as anxious as me and had already looked at my results!

After that it was a rather panicked time of buying pots and pans and bedding, and the first year flew by. At Christmas I went back to my high school for our sixth form award ceremony, and was awarded the prize for English and also for perseverance. I’m so glad I stuck to the choice I genuinely wanted and didn’t back down. At the end of the day, the choice can only be yours, and as long as you do the research, you’ll know you’re making the right choice.

My first day in student accommodation, all unpacked.

My first day in student accommodation, all unpacked.

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