QMUL is a University like no other. I am aware that this is an extremely biased opening, but it’s true. For example, how many other University’s do you know that have a Jewish Cemetery in the middle of their campus? Not only does Queen Mary have a reputation for excellence in research and teaching, it is also situated in a creative and culturally diverse area of East London. The fact the Mile End campus is also one of the largest self-contained residential campuses in the capital, creates the illusion that as soon as you step through the Queen Mary’s doors, you have arrived in a new country. There’s a diverse population of students from all different ethnicities, and the vast array of degree disciplines attracts students with all different tastes and interests, meaning that every student stands out. Aside from the curriculum and students and staff, the actual Uni and its facilities are worthy of recognition; there really is so much to do, and something that caters to everybody. So without further ado, this article provides you with a bucket list of things you should aim to do during your three (plus) years at Queen Mary.
1.Join (or create your own) society/group/outlet.
This is a MUST on the bucket list for Queen Mary University, and something that you should see through to the end of your degree, not just during Fresher’s Week. The Student Union boasts of over 300 societies and 60 sports club for students to try out, all of which throw different events throughout the year from live music sessions, movie nights, craft workshops and cultural celebrations – you will never be bored. Joining a society is also a great way of meeting new people outside your degree, with similar interests to you, and is a great way to stay connected with student life. As Editor-In-Chief of CUB, I can honestly say that getting involved with this media outlet has truly defined my University experience, and helped me to grow as a person throughout my time at QM.
2.Visit the top floor of the newly erected Graduate Centre.
Okay so technically you aren’t meant to enter this building unless you have a scheduled lecture or seminar on your timetable, or if you are a graduate student. But I am encouraging you to break the rules at least once to take the lift to the top floor of the seven-story building. For you will find yourself on a beautiful, open, and decked terrace that offers stunning views of the University campus, but also of London’s skyline. Noticeable landmarks to spot in the distance include: The Gherkin, The Shard, The Skygarden – how many more do you think you’ll be able to spot?
3.Go on an art trail.
As well as regular poster and art sales, Queen Mary campus itself literally breathes art. Start from any corner of the Mile End campus and note down the various statues you pass as you explore – my personal favourite is the baby elephant sleeping on the bench in Library Square, directly opposite the library. Titled ‘Elephant in the Room’, this statue was designed by Chierol Lai to: “achieve the normalisation of mental health and to remove the stigma”. Referring to this statue further, Lai states that: “[m]ost importantly, whether you are going through a hard time or not, the sleeping baby elephant is just there to keep you company and to help you feel more at peace”. Also in Library Square, is ‘The Knowledge Sculpture’, commissioned to celebrate the gaining and sharing of knowledge at QM. It is the work of Wendy Taylor, a Fellow of QM, originally from a family who have lived in the East End for six generations.
4.Visit the Canal.
Current students and prospective students who have visited the Mile End campus would have spotted the fact that the University is situated on the bank of the Regents Canal. The water itself is populated with several tied up boats and its perimeter is framed by nostalgic looking willow trees. This is the perfect spot to sit and reflect, unwind after a particularly challenging lecture or seminar, and even to go for a picnic with friends. In the winter months the water looks beautiful all frosted over, and there is nothing like a brisk walk along the water’s edge to get your blood flowing, and to stop you being a hermit in your room!
5.Experience a day and night at Drapers.
Drapers is always the venue on everybody’s lips around campus which means it has to be included in the bucket list of things to do at Queen Mary. By day it provides a relaxed and easy-going environment to work or socialise, and to gorge on food and drinks such as ‘freakshakes’ (Ground Café is another alternative day time place). But by night Drapers transforms into a club/bar and hosts some of the biggest and best on-campus events including the legendary Hail Mary nights, Mondays’ Calling, and Poundstretcher. If you haven’t experienced a night out in Drapers, then can you even call yourself a Queen Mary student?
6.Visit the cemetery.
Okay so I am aware this sounds really morbid but just hear me out. For those students that haven’t started QMUL yet, or those that haven’t stopped to pay it enough attention, Queen Mary is home to a striking 19th century Jewish cemetery with distinctive flat gravestones representing the equality of all people in death. Far from being haunting, this cemetery is peaceful and respectful and in the summer lavender blooms to flood the gravestones in a sea of purple. Visiting such a sight so enriched in history is definitely on the bucket list of things to do at Queen Mary University.
QMUL goes above and beyond in terms of its volunteering opportunities, particularly those that help people to engage with the local community and residencies. For example, one initiative that has always stood out to me, and that I want to become part of during my final year, is a cocktail night with local old peoples’ home. Students receive training and then spend a night with all the local residents talking to them and teaching them that you are never too old to have fun, or to feel valued and worthy. Volunteering not only makes you feel good, but also benefits those people you are trying to help, which should be all the motivation you need to volunteer.
8.Help kick-start your career with QMUL’s various initiatives.
QMUL offers a range of opportunities to help students meet employers on campus, to find out how organisations recruit, and to network and build contacts. Taking advantage of one of these initiatives is a definite MUST on the ultimate bucket list at Queen Mary. For example, there are various work placement schemes such as QRecruit – a portal for students and recent graduates; QProjects – a scheme which places students with local charities who need help planning activities; QConsult- which allows students to work in small teams in a business environment; QTemps- which helps students find paid short-term and/or part time work in the local area, and other noteworthy schemes include QInterns and QMentoring.
9.Visit QM’s petting farm (when its on campus)!
Who knew that spending time with animals could be a form of therapy? Each academic year, Queen Mary opens its doors to a variety of animals such as dogs and Guinea Pigs as part of their ‘Study Well’ initiative. The aim being to give students a break from their studies and to allow their brains to switch off and relax as they get up close and personal with a variety of friendly animals. Forget TLC, its all about Doggy de-stress at QM!
10.Stay overnight in the Library.
Okay so this doesn’t sound as hard-core as a night partying on campus, but I also feel like this had to be added to the bucket list of things to do at QMUL. Open 24 hours throughout the academic term, this is the ideal environment to get your head down and work – the two main things you are at University for (amongst other non-academic things of course). Take some snacks along and grab some study buddies, this is a much more productive and peaceful way to whittle a few nights away, and at least you won’t be feeling hung-over the next day!
So there you have it, the ultimate Queen Mary of London bucket list. I am sure there are many things that I have missed off of the list, but these were the top few that came to mind. Can you think of more? If so, add them to the comments section below.