What exactly do you remember from Freshers, or Welcome Week, apart from meeting people, fairs, treasure hunts, health, safety and other inductions? The most exciting bit – Freebies! You still might get discounts, vouchers and other free stuff, but you’ll see how much they’ve calmed down after the first week. Well, this is my third year at Queen Mary, and I’ve still kept the Freebie Starter Pack I got in my first year. Not only have I kept them as souvenirs, but I still use them! Some included a tiny flashlight and keychain, a memory stick (a saviour for my coursework) and some gummy bears. Starter packs have all the memorabilia to keep, but unfortunately, no ‘extra’ guidance or tips for university, which undoubtedly take time to learn and experience. I’m still learning about the facilities QMUL has, even as a third-year student! It’s never too late to learn, but I often felt, ‘Dang! I wish I had known about this earlier!’ or ‘I wish I made use of that in my first year!’ Not to worry folks, I’ll have you all set through this Starter Pack! This is an updating topic, as you may see writers writing more versions of this in the future. For now, I will try to cover most of the stuff I know. Time to unbox!
Why should I be attending lectures?
All returning students know how useful Qreview (recorded lectures) has been to us, saving us from getting into rush hour packed trains, missing/entering late into those 9ams from oversleeping to being able to catch up on the recorded lectures when sick, etc. But in time, some of us do take advantage of this tool, using it as a reliable source for exams. Nonetheless, I cannot emphasize the drastic differences between the learning environment in a lecture theatre and at home: a live lecture can promote an interactive Q&A session and give you a clarity of the topic, alongside helpful quick-notes written on the whiteboard by the lecturer which may not be clearly seen in the recorded version. That way, you can keep on top of lectures without having to worry about instant notes.
Get your queries solved ASAP and don’t be shy! QM offers academic help outside of lecture hours!
Don’t leave your questions pending till the last minute! As every topic is somewhat interrelated, try keeping all concepts crystal clear as possible. Remember, no question is a silly question! QM offers all the academic help you need, so keep an eye on your lecturer’s office hours (he might have already briefed you about this in the first lecture presentation), as one-to-one support always benefits. In case you have a lecture clashing with your lecturer’s office hours, you can go to PASS (Peer Assisted Study Support) sessions. This scheme is catered to first-year/foundation students who want quick guidance in coursework/concepts based in an informal setting. Academic help is offered by students from Year 2, 3 and 4 and they will aid you to tackle toughies you may have in the course. To know more about their timings, contact your respective school or keep a watch for posters in hallways. I’ve made use of this scheme myself and, trust me, my seniors were so warm and welcoming to answer even the silliest questions I’ve had!
The two types of students, ‘It’s only the first year,’ and ‘OMG IT’S THE FIRST YEAR!!’
My suggestion: don’t be either of the two. Overly relaxed attitude, watching episodes for many hours at a stretch, not checking the time when scrolling up and down on social media, missing deadlines, doing poorly in every coursework to convince yourself that you’ll compensate for it during the exams and thinking, ‘It’s only first year, so just 10% of my course, how much would it count?’ That is a red flag! Believe me, binge-watching may sound like fun now, but not when you’ll be ‘binge-watching’ Qreview during exam period!
A Quick Job Hunt isn’t much of a hunt anymore
If you’re looking for a job to meet expenses and can’t find anything available, have you checked on campus? You could work in Ground Café/ The Village Shop to earn a little extra. You might get discounts too! You could also work as a Student Ambassador, which is open to students from all years (keep your eyes out for emails from them). If you remember from Open Day/ Freshers, you might have seen some students in different coloured hoodies, each representing their respective schools and showing prospective students and their guardians around campus. I have been a Student Ambassador for quite a long time now, and it’s amazing how I met lots of new people while boosting my communication skills in turn!
Volunteering adds glitter to your CV and is easy to find!
As students, our primary aim is to do well in uni, excel in our hobbies and build our CV! Volunteering is a great platform to do so; enabling you to establish contacts that will definitely prove helpful in the future. QM has several volunteering opportunities on campus as well; the Buddy Scheme (which you could start doing in your second year), PASS (Peer-Assisted Study Support), society volunteering, etc. Make sure to keep an eye out for emails!
How to feel at home when away from home
I’ve seen some of my friends, especially international students, missing home often. If you are someone living away from home, you can definitely differentiate between the comfort of living with family and the busy life of living independently. Responsibilities + studying + missing home + missing family & friends can be quite challenging. QM does try its best to make students away from home feel more comfortable through the Student’s Union. Here, you can join societies representing your home countries/culture, sports clubs, dance societies, gaming clubs and lots more! It not only creates a great space to make new friends, but you can join as many societies as you want for a low-priced membership that lasts a whole year! For this year, I’ve joined the CUB Magazine, and if you love reading or writing, feel free to join!