You often hear from older peers or professional guidance about how different university is from school but it’s never really addressed or emphasised strongly enough what exactly is different. Learning the difference early on can make a big positive impact on your overall university experience. University life, in general, takes time to get used to even when it is positive so preparing more beforehand will make the transition from school to university much smoother.
When you hear students talk about how broke they are, I can 100% say they are probably not over exaggerating. For those of us who live in London, this statement is especially true.
Growing up, most of my friends’ older brothers and sisters worked part-time at the local McDonald’s or Subway to make that extra cash during their uni days. Naturally, I also thought I’d follow the tradition and began stressing over whether or not being a cashier at KFC was a respectable job. When I got to year 12 I started thinking bigger.
I was smitten with myself. None of my other friends had come up with that idea.
When you’re a student at Imperial, you don’t have to stick just to classes and coursework. You can do many extracurricular activities by joining one of over 300 clubs and societies. As a space enthusiast, I’ve decided to get involved in the Space Society this year.
More specifically, I’ve joined the CubeSat team which meets every Monday evening. Our aim is to make a satellite (for the UKSEDS Satellite Design Competition) which studies a hostile lunar-like environment. I’m currently in the Sensors & Data Handling group responsible for choosing, programming and obtaining meaningful data from sensors.
Huxley Building is on the South Kensington campus and is the main building for computing students. Having been coming to Huxley every day for over a year now, I know by heart how to navigate through the most important points there. However, there are some rooms in the restricted lab area (which I should be most familiar with!) I haven’t really noticed or used until recently and are very useful, either for working or well-being. These are my subjective hidden gems in Huxley.
In heart of Imperial’s recent campaign for Student Money Week I thought I would add a few of my own tips that help me manage and budget my money effectively. The #FindTheBalance campaign run by the university gave some really helpful tips and advice from Student Finance Services and from current students. Here I have compiled some of the most helpful and achievable ideas in one place, so you can come back and reflect should you need to throughout the year.
Keep a Spending Log
It doesn’t have to be pretty and artsy like the ones you see people spend their life designing in bullet journals, but I find it really helps to make a note of everything you spend each week and calculate your weekly outgoings.
Too often people dissociate Art from Science and Technology almost as if it were a field only accessible to the white blouses, natural scientists and engineers. In fact what people tend to forget is that Art is a major driving force of advances in both Science and Social Sciences. Not only is it a mean of communication, education (figures, graphic designs) but it very much impacts how we understand and tackle modern problems. The emergence of biodesigns to promote sustainable fashion through the use of bacterial strains or adaptive building material reflect this. When exposed to the same environment daily, we often tend to forget what actually precisely constitutes it out of habitude.
I’ve never really been much of a “library revision” kind of person. Something about how silent libraries are gives a chatterbox like me so much anxiety. To top it off, I’m also that annoying friend who constantly disturbs everyone else’s revision to show them memes because clearly quality memes are most appreciated when you’re nose deep in a textbook (to all my sixth form friends, I’m sorry guys!).
However, university has hit me differently. I might as well not be paying for accommodation at this point considering how I spend the majority of my time on the fourth floor of the library – and yes, for all those aunties out there, I swear I’m actually working!
IC Hack is an annual hackathon held at the South Kensington campus. It is the biggest student-run event of this type in the UK. I had a chance to take part in the ‘19 edition and I felt very lucky then. Getting a ticket to go there is insanely difficult as they always sell out in a few seconds!
You may wonder “What is a hackathon?”. Usually, it is a 24-hour non-stop event (yes, non-stop, meaning hardly any sleep at night) when you team up with other people to create something innovative from scratch, using new technology and possibly other knowledge.
In October 2018, DoCSoc (Department of Computing Society) looked for someone who could be a Beit Hall guide for people coming for undergraduate interview days in my department. I quickly became interested in the role because it was a nicely-paid job and a good opportunity to strengthen my social skills. Having been selected very soon after applying, I worked from November 2018 to February 2019 (excluding the Christmas break of course).
My task was simple: on every interview day (always a Wednesday) between 2 and 5 PM, I had to conduct a hall tour for groups of candidates and their parents, showing them a common room, a kitchen and my own room (an en-suite single) and answering any questions they might have.
Cramming is inefficient but sometimes continuous studying is not gonna happen. There’s no denying it, Imperial like any other research-intensive university requires the utmost diligence to time management, you have coursework, social club activities for downtime which means you need to learn how to prioritise your independent studying – which is the most important part of your course, often worth at least 50% of your degree if not more (for Life Sciences it is 75%). In a way, it’s great because it gives you more time to prep and to give your all after the holidays but because of how vibrant life is at Imperial it also means you don’t have time to study!