Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Hello From The Other Side!

How’s everybody doing? I hope everybody’s having a great time relaxing, or preparing in advance for many things ahead! Summer’s always the best time for everybody – personally for me, this is the first time I am experiencing summer that lasts for around 3 months and this explained fully why summer is said to be the best 104 days (according to Phineas and Ferb…anyone?). Why? Because this is not the case from where I come from, that is, Indonesia!

 

Coming from the other side of the world means that coming home after 9 months of living in London has made me miss home more than ever. Coming back to Indonesia allowed me to meet my family and friends, and also savour all of our dishes and street food and all the small things that I have always been craving for in London. Of course, happiness is meant to be shared and hence I will share my joy with all of you through some pictures to allow you to see through my eyes.

 

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Food as expected – and a bowl of chili!           Nighttime culinary market called Cibadak.

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Nature! Indonesia attracts tourists mostly for its natural scenes!

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A bowl of meatballs in soup would cost about 1.5 pounds and two or three bowls are enough to make you full! Definitely, the picture on the right is a restaurant that serves everyone’s (ehem) favourite instant noodle – Indomie – that is topped with Indonesian traditional spices and sauces!

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Being at home means being able to play with the cats again!

 

Even though summer is such a great time for all of us, let us not forget a few things! For many of you applying to Queen Mary, don’t forget to sort out your accommodation, tuition fees, or even your visas if you are coming from outside the UK. Get prepared for university life! It may be hard to settle and fit in in the beginning, but eventually ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ and you will meet the right group of people for you, and QMUL is even glad to help you out with their buddy scheme which allows you to feel more than welcome on campus. Most importantly, going to Queen Mary means that you are about to be surrounded by a diverse environment, and you will be able to see the beauty coming from the differences every one of us owns.

 

With that, have a fantastic summer and have a good time, and see you soon!

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!

London on a budget: A survival guide for students

Moving to the “Big City” for University? What could be more exciting! As much as I loved growing up in a small rural town, I could not wait to get involved in the buzz of City life and the world of opportunities. I have found one of the most enjoyable things and greatest benefits of the London experience is the cultural diversity the city has to offer; although I have never felt more multicultural, London will also embrace your differences and soon feel like home and a place you belong. As the capital City, London also offers thousands of opportunities which other Universities simply can’t provide, such as networking events at some of the world’s largest corporations (my advice: go for the free food, and the networking of course). Yet, people were constantly telling me “the cost of living in London is too expensive” or “student life in London is not fun because you will be poor all the time.” Sound familiar? Here how to prove them wrong and enjoy the ‘London experience’ on a student budget.

The golden rule of being a student in London: make the most of student discounts. In contrast to living in a rural location, London is full of chain restaurants, high street shops and entertainment venues; the majority of which accept student discounts or run promotions for students. Speaking from personal experience, never be afraid to ask if a business offers student discount and you’d be surprised how much you could save. Furthermore, sign up to promotional emails to receive notifications of the best deals across London; Myunidays, NUS and Timeout London are a great place to start, as they will send you weekly offers and exciting ideas.

Everyday Essentials I never realised quite how much that tub of Ben & Jerry’s or fillet of fish cost before moving to London and having to do my own grocery shopping. Surprisingly, it is however possible to do your weekly shop cheaper in London than in other cities across the UK. Firstly, London has countless street markets selling all kinds of food which is a fraction of the price of supermarket food and much fresher. The day I brought 10 avocadoes for £1 will forever be dear in my heart. Secondly, shop around. As you’re in London, there are so many shops within a small proximity which gives you the advantage of being able to visit different shops to get the best deals on products. Finally, London has thousands of opportunities to get bargain food at closing time. Whether you go to a supermarket or a restaurant (Itsu reduces all produce by 50% before closing time), shopping later in the day can save you a small fortune.

Travel One of the biggest contrasts between London and a smaller city or town is the expansive travel network London has to offer. Gone are the days of waiting for the bus which comes once every hour; in London, travel runs 24/7 and getting from A to B has never been easier. Yet convenience comes at a price, which quickly adds up. Certain ‘student hacks’ can however make your money go further and your journey go faster. A student rail card entitles you to 1/3 off rail journeys, and a student Oyster card can get you 30% off the standard price of Travelcards and Bus & Tram Pass season tickets. Also, avoid travelling in rush hour; not least to save your personal space, but it may also save your purse, as you could see the cost of your journey rise by at least 40p per journey during peak times.

Accommodation Missed out on student halls and living in private accommodation? I’m not going to pretend that renting in London isn’t more expensive than other cities in the UK, but it is certainly affordable on a student budget. Many of the misconceptions about how expensive London overlook the fact that you do receive a higher student loan to cover the price of accommodation. I would advise looking for accommodation with a set rent which includes bills, as they tend to work out more economical. However, if that is not possible, be a savvy student and do your homework; many utility providers, such as Virgin, offer great packages tailored towards student needs (think fast Wi-Fi) and student budgets.

Finally, plan a budget a try to stick to it. Remember that there’s always help out there. But by simply managing your money effectively, the London experience is affordable and fun.

From London to Jeju: a trip to South Korea

My name is Annabelle Wilkins and I’m a final-year PhD student here in the School of Geography. In September, I was invited to participate in the first academic conference to be held at North London Collegiate School on the island of Jeju, South Korea. Jeju is located off the southern coast of the mainland, around an hour’s flight from the capital, Seoul. The island is incredibly diverse, with volcanic peaks, idyllic beach resorts, hiking trails and a rapidly developing urban centre, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.

Views of the island from Sunrise Peak, at the top of one of its many volcanoes.

Views of the island from Sunrise Peak, at the top of one of its many volcanoes.

 

NLCS Jeju was established in 2011, and is one of a growing number of international schools on the island. The school offers a British curriculum including the IGCSE, A-Level and the International Baccalaureate. In addition to NLCS, the island has also supported schools affiliated with institutions in Canada and the US, all of which are located in the recently developed Global Education City. The majority of pupils at these schools are Korean students, many of whom are planning to study at some of the world’s leading universities.

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Contrasting architecture in Seoul, where visitors can stay in restored traditional houses looking out over the modern city.

 

I was one of seven visiting academics invited to take part in the conference, participating alongside a mathematician, a classicist, a composer and a poet. The theme of the conference was based around improving subject knowledge. We were encouraged to introduce the teachers to our research interests and to suggest ideas for how they might develop and enhance their lessons and teaching methods. Before the conference itself, I also spent two days working with Year 12 and 13 students who study Geography as part of the IB syllabus. I introduced them to geographies of home and my research on Vietnamese migrants in East London, as well as talking to them about globalisation, migration and identity.

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Presenting my research to Year 12 and 13 geography students in one of the school boarding houses.

 

During the three days of the conference, each academic gave a lecture about their research to an audience of teachers from different subjects. I gave talks to staff from Maths, Chemistry, Languages and PE departments, among others, which made for some fascinating question and discussion sessions as people contributed ideas from their own backgrounds. Once they discovered that the focus of my research is on home and migration, many teachers were keen to share their personal experiences of being an expatriate teacher living in South Korea, and the objects and practices that helped them to create a sense of home.

Statue of the Buddha at Sangbansan temple, Jeju.

Statue of the Buddha at Sangbansan temple, Jeju.

 

In addition to presenting my research, I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to meet the Geography teachers and share some ideas as to how they might be able to enhance their teaching on globalisation and migration. I introduced them to critical geographies of home and other research by academics here at QMUL, and they were keen to incorporate these perspectives into the syllabus. By the end of the three days, we were discussing how to devise projects about students’ bedrooms and their material culture, possible interviews with the school’s cleaners, who used to work on the land around the school building, and inter-generational interviews between students and older people on the island. I had a brilliant experience at NLCS and also had time for trips to some of the island’s amazing beaches, temples and museums.

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A woman diver selling her catch of seafood – women divers are famous within Jeju’s island heritage.

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Hyopjae, one of Jeju’s beautiful beaches.

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Sunset in Moseulpo, a fishing village close to the school on Jeju.

My penultimate year at QMUL Geography

From volunteering in North London to travelling in a helicopter in New Zealand, my penultimate year at Queen Mary has been exceptionally busy but nonetheless another great and exciting year.

I’ve travelled to the other side of the world, become the President of a volunteer group, achieved a Silver Green Impact Award, undertaken environmental audit training and even presented my dissertation project to prospective students. Just when I think there are no more things to be involved in, another springs up and at the end of my second year with the ‘what will I do next?’ question looming, this year has definitely provided me with countless options.

In March I travelled to New Zealand for a 10-day field trip around the South Island. The scenery was breathtaking and it was definitely a trip of a lifetime! We got to take a helicopter ride up to the Franz Josef Glacier which we walked across. We went on many walks through valleys, exploring the processes that shaped them and discussed how they might look in the future, which affirmed the knowledge we’d gained from lectures leading up to the trip. Skills developed on fieldtrips like this such as filling out field notebooks and documenting results outside of the lab have definitely prepared me for my dissertation.

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Tasman Proglacial Lake, New Zealand

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The obligatory task of measuring rocks for clast shape analysis (a must for any Geography student)

Since my first year I have been involved in the QMUL Canal Clean Up Volunteer group who are affiliated with Thames 21 who kindly provide equipment, training and most importantly extra pairs of hands on events! From simply volunteering at an event on campus got to know more about Thames 21, the work they do and the opportunities of leadership training. By undertaking the training, I am now the President of the group as well as an Event Support Team Member for Thames 21 outside of university. I recently helped lead an event in Edmonton, North London, where a buried river is being resurfaced to create a wetland. I’ve developed my team work skills, organisation capabilities and learnt to work to a schedule as on events you can be working with 20 or so people. These skills are going to be transferable into the workplace but primarily I really enjoy helping out and using what I learn at university to teach others the science and reasoning behind such projects like the one in Edmonton.

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All the volunteers getting ready for a canal clean up!

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The 2015 Green Impact Awards

In my first year, I also got involved with Green Impact which aims to make the university more sustainable and environmentally aware. Having achieved Bronze last year, my team has completed the Silver Award. Again, being organised, able to achieve on a deadline as well as working and communicating with a team are all skills I’ve gained from the experience here at QMUL, but still it’s being able to put what you study and understand into practice while working with like-minded people that I enjoy most about Green Impact. Through being a Green Impact Project Assistant, I was able to undertake an IEMA approved audit training. It was an insightful day where I got to see what other Green Impact Teams were doing as well as developing experience and skills that will set me in good stead after I graduate.

Now…to get ready for my final year… 🙂

It’s summer! Now what…

It’s here; the long anticipated 4 months off! With university exams over and freedom from your daily study routine, you are free to spend the next few months the way you like. Whether that’s waking up at 1pm everyday, watching a movie marathon every night, becoming a tourist or getting a summer job.

 

But many of us realise after 1 week of doing nothing and “chilling”, what was fun for a while, soon becomes boring. And we think, “now what?”

 

But making the most of summer is easier than you think. Instead of lazing around at home, think about travelling and exploring London everyday. Many beautiful parts of London are left unexplored by Londoner’s because they think they’ve seen it all, for example Shoreditch and Brick Lane. London has much more to it than, Leicester Square and Oxford Street.

 

Shaun the Sheep "Liverpool Street"

Shaun the Sheep “Liverpool Street”

 

But when we talk about travelling, sky’s the limit. You don’t have to limit yourself to London. A weekend in Paris or a week in Barcelona, whatever it is, I suggest you do it now. Going abroad with friends is the best experience ever. You can go abroad for as little as £200, so trust me its not expensive.

You're never too young for DisneyLand Paris

You’re never too young for DisneyLand Paris

 

If travelling’s not for you, get a summer job. Not only is it great experience helping build your employability, but also if you pick the right job, it can be fun, not to mention it helps you earn a bit of extra cash. Companies are always looking for summer temps, and university students are the perfect fit. Queen Mary itself, hires many students to work on campus. Queen Mary has a great “Qtemps” service, which lists all jobs currently available for qmul students. If you are interested in any vacancy, it is super easy to apply using your qmul id. I’ve actually used this service and secured a few jobs in the past.

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London “Bank Station”

 

But most of all, summer is a time to just have fun! Take a few days out now and then, to just go out, party, eat, shop or do whatever makes you happy. For most of us, this will be one of the last few summers we have before we enter the working world, where we will get just a few weeks off. So make everyday count and have a great summer!

Don't forget the ice-cream

Don’t forget the ice cream

Much Love,

Kajal

Durham and beyond: geographers head North East!

Hi everyone! Below is a glimpse into my recent field trip to the North East as part of the first year of my BA Geography course – enjoy!

Sunday 29th March 2015, Day 1:

Here comes a Queen Mary Geography cohort! A six-hour journey leads us to the North East. This evening, we have a lecture from economic geographer Dr Stuart Dawley, from the University of Newcastle. Dr Dawley provides us with a historical view on the North East’s development challenges. The opportunity to questions is taken and concludes the day.

The street of our student accommodation at St Chad's College, North Bailey

The street of our student accommodation at St Chad’s College, North Bailey

 

Monday 30th March 2015, Day 2: 

Economics and society. We experience stories of the North East at Beamish Open Air Museum, situated in years 1825 and 1913, by talking to actors and touring the area. Our class then splits into smaller groups and my group travels to Newcastle to explore science-led regeneration in Newcastle Science City and the Centre for Life.

Many groups from the community are brought together for science in Newcastle's Centre for Life

Many community groups are brought together for science in Newcastle’s Centre for Life

 

Tuesday 31st March 2015, Day 3:

Politics and austerity. My group attends a talk from Simon Magorian (Newcastle Unites) regarding austerity’s effects on racism in Newcastle. We then carry out street surveys, establishing local thoughts on Newcastle. Our class also gets to question Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council on city-wide political issues. Before returning to Durham, we visit to the magnificent Angel of The North.

The Angel of the North

The Angel of the North

Sculpture of swans taking flight at the Civic Centre, where offices of Newcastle City Council are located

Sculpture of swans taking flight at the Civic Centre, where offices of Newcastle City Council are located

 

Wednesday 1st April 2015, Day 4:

Health and austerity. We attend a lecture on regional health inequalities by Professor Clare Bambra, an academic at the University of Durham. After this, the class fragments into groups again and my group meet Elouise Robinson (Sunderland City Council). Elouise shares various health schemes introduced by the city. In the evening, we perform role-plays, testing our knowledge of health inequalities in the region!

One of the buildings on Durham University's campus where Professor Bambra's lecture was held

A building on the Durham University campus where Professor Bambra’s lecture was held

 

Thursday 2nd April 2015, Day 5:

Saying goodbye! We have breakfast and return our room keys; the end of the trip is here. I feel grateful for this extremely beneficial field trip and I recommend it to every first year human geographer. If you join QMUL Geography, I hope you thoroughly enjoy your academic experience in the North East!

The historic Durham Cathedral overlooks the River Wear, basking in the afternoon sun

The historic Durham Cathedral overlooks the River Wear, basking in the afternoon sun

 

Some more photos:

Beamish Open Air Museum-

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Newcastle City Centre-

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Mumbai Unbound – geographers explore two worlds in India

When applying for university, it did not occur to me that I would be spending a week outside of England as part of my course, let alone spending a week in India! It didn’t even sink in until I checked in at Heathrow airport! My trip to Mumbai was a part of my third year module, Mumbai Unbound: Development Futures. The main purpose for the trip was to explore places and themes we had studied over the past few months, and to carry out a group project in the latter part of the week.

Everyday in Mumbai was very eventful and exciting! On our first day we were taken on a tour of the city and went to see famous attractions such as the Gateway of India and The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. There were many highlights of the trip, including the visit to the Gandhi Museum, participating in a group interview with the manager of a telecommunications company, Dhobi Ghat which is the largest open air laundromat, and Colaba Market (a fun place to get cheap souvenirs). We also visited Dharavi – known as ‘Asia’s biggest slum’- twice during our stay in Mumbai. Although we all had presumptions before entering the slum, we were all pleasantly surprised. While the residential areas were very claustrophobic, there was a nice atmosphere and a large community there. My group project was about the leather industry in Dharavi, which I will be writing an article on in the near future!

Gateway of India

Gateway of India

 

Dhobi Ghat

Dhobi Ghat

 

Most evenings, we went to different restaurants, exploring the different tastes of Indian (and Chinese!) cuisine. The food was very cheap in comparison to London. For example, on our first day, we went to an Indian restaurant and ordered bread, a curry with rice and a drink, and the bill was only 2,000 rupees (£2)!  All in all, the trip was definitely one of the most educational and enjoyable weeks and it is somewhere I will never forget. I am so fortunate that I was able to go on this trip and explore somewhere completely different. One of the main things I realised is that there are two extremes in Mumbai: there are derelict buildings and poverty, but it is also a city that is home Antilia – the second most expensive house in the world!

Apart from the loud noise (I don’t recall one moment when you couldn’t hear a car beeping) and the chaotic traffic, Mumbai was a real eye-opener and an experience I would recommend to anyone.

 

Antilia, the second most expensive house in the world!

Antilia, the second most expensive house in the world!

Two worlds: a slum with Mumbai's skyline in the background

Two worlds: a slum with Mumbai’s skyline in the background

 

 

 

A Balancing Act

As an American, there is a unique aspect of being in Europe that appeals to me: I can be in another country in less time than it would take me to get from my house to my university in the States (a 20 hour drive… you’d be in the ocean if you tried to drive for that long in the UK). There is this pressure and excitement to travel Europe while studying in London that comes along with that ease of travel. I don’t want to go home in December and feel like I missed out on anything.

I’ve already been to Brussels and Bath, and I have plans to travel to Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, and Rome. But it’s easy to forget the main reason I’m here – they call it study abroad for a reason. Traveling so much makes it hard to figure out when and how to fit in all the studying, along with time to see new friends made in London. I tend to be better at time management and less likely to procrastinate than a lot of people, but even my time management skills are being tested here.

The key is knowing what you want. If you want to travel, you can make it happen. You just have to know that binge-watching on Netflix will have to wait until the semester is over. If you plan well and get your studying done so that you can enjoy your travel time, you’ll end up with much better stories than anything on Netflix could give you anyway.

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Visiting a friend in Brussels

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Tea with my parents in Bath

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