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My Interdisciplinary Journey as an Arts & Sciences Student

By UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, on 4 April 2024

UCL BASc (majors in culture) third year student Maxima Bachmaier shares their interdisciplinary journey.

Hello everyone! I’m Maxima, a final-year Arts & Sciences (BASc) student at UCL with major in Cultures.

With my diverse range of interests spanning languages, communications, business, marketing and psychology, the interdisciplinary BASc programme immediately appealed to me for its flexibility and breadth of opportunities.

The BASc course at UCL offers a unique framework where students can tailor their studies to their individual interests and strengths by taking modules across diverse disciplines and departments at UCL. As a BASc student, you will choose a major and a minor pathway for your studies from the four fields of Culture, Societies, Engineering and Health & Environment, within which you have a free choice of modules of your interest. This gives you the opportunity to dynamically explore your strengths and gain an insight into diverse academic fields, fostering a holistic approach to learning.

Personally, I chose Cultures as my major pathway in line with my personal interests and aspirations, allowing me to immerse myself in two foreign languages, Spanish at advanced and Mandarin at beginner level, while exploring modules in Linguistics, Communication Science, Media Studies, Journalism, and Creative Writing. For my minor, I chose to focus on Psychology as part of the Health & Environment pathway, engaging with subjects like Social Psychology, Individual Differences, and Organisational Psychology. Holistically, the multifaceted skillset I have acquired throughout my BASc journey will be of great value and benefit for my personal future career aspirations in the marketing and communications field.

Beyond acquiring knowledge in my areas of interest, the Arts & Sciences programme has nurtured my interdisciplinary thinking, providing me with many new perspectives, fresh insights and opportunities to broaden my horizons. Through our core modules in interdisciplinary research, including both quantitative and qualitative methods, I have developed a robust academic foundation and holistic problem-solving skills essential for navigating today’s dynamic educational and professional landscape.

During my BASc journey, I have become increasingly aware of the value and significance of interdisciplinary thinking in addressing the complex, interconnected global challenges of our time, from climate change to social inequality. As BASc students, we are encouraged to transcend academic boundaries, explore multidisciplinary perspectives, and bring together diverse insights to develop innovative, integrated solutions.

Overall, my BASc journey has truly shaped my personality and perspective of the world, equipping me not only with in-depth academic knowledge but also with the ability to connect the dots and grasp the interrelationships between diverse ideas and insights from across disciplines. As I prepare for postgraduate study and my future career, I’m highly grateful for the enriching experiences and lifelong skills this programme has provided me with.

Curious to broaden your horizons and gain new insights from a range of disciplines?

Then the BASc programme may be the perfect choice for you!

Feel free to get in touch with me if you are interested to learn more about my experiences.
Looking forward to connecting and perhaps crossing paths at UCL in the future!

Email: maxima.bachmaier.21@ucl.ac.uk 

Instagram: @maxima__b
 

Find out more about UCL Arts and Sciences department and the courses they offer. 

Engaging with every aspect of your course

By UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, on 7 March 2024

UCL ESPS second-year student Cecily Rowley shares how they engage with every aspect of university life. 

I remember applying to UCL and being excited for two things: my new classes and my new social life. I viewed these two as separate. In my mind, freshers’ week was my one big chance to make friends, and once classes started, socialising would be more challenging. How wrong I was! Whilst it is true that freshers’ week is an excellent opportunity to meet new people- everyone wants to chat, dance, be open and discover the area- it is far from the only chance you will get to do so. If you are not a huge fan of clubbing and drinking, there is still hope for you! I found that by fully engaging with my course, I was able to build meaningful and rewarding friendships that have lasted well into my second year.

Most courses have hundreds of students, which can be overwhelming and even slightly isolating at first. During freshers’ week, my department organised introductory talks and gatherings. Sitting in a lecture theatre for the first time was definitely nerve racking- but as I looked around, it became apparent that everyone was in the same boat as me. As we sat waiting for the presentation to start, or as we all crowded towards the exit, I found myself chatting to the people around me, and it was effortless. “What did you think of the lecturers?”, “When’s your first class?”, and more importantly, “Are you going to the ESPS mixer at the Portico?”, “Are you going to the talk about that new book?”.

Checking my emails later that evening, I found countless opportunities to meet people with similar interests on my course. On top of lectures and seminars, during the entire year, most departments offer places at guest talks and academic presentations. Whether you fancy learning more about geography, history, politics or urban planning, these talks not only allow you to expand your knowledge of your field of study, but also provide a great chance to socialise. I met some of my best friends at a guest talk on bioethics.

My course has its own society, which organises plenty of events. Joining a society related to your course, as well as a sports’ society (or circus society, whatever floats your boat), will help you to connect with the people in your department, and feel more integrated within your academic community.

Uni life is not social life versus studies. Rather, it is a big, wonderful mix of both. Academia and friendships intersect in so many ways. I strongly encourage every student, current or prospective, to attend the optional talks and gatherings organised by their department. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn. That kind of mystery isn’t daunting, it’s exciting!

Discover more about UCL European & International Social & Political Studies Department

A Day in the Life of an Arts & Humanities Student

By UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, on 2 February 2024

UCL English student Aniella Ingram shares how to make the most out of your time at UCL on a programme with fewer contact hours.

Since coming to university, I was surprised to find myself with a lot more free time than I could have prepared for. While I know that there will be some STEM students scoffing to themselves about this, as a second year BA English student I have around nine contact hours per week. So, although there is certainly work to be done outside of this teaching time – an absolute mass of reading mostly – I still end up with a lot of spare time on my hands, time which if I don’t make an effort to fill seems to be consumed by doom scrolling. So, this is an example of one of my days at uni, with a couple of lectures as well as what I get up to in between.

8am: Wake-up and brekie. I try to wake up around the same time every day just so it keeps me in a good routine.

9am: Workout class. I am really lucky to live close to uni so I walked to my gym for a workout class before walking to my lecture.

10am: Lecture. A one-hour lecture on the influence of Ovid on Chaucer’s dream vision poetry (not everyone’s cup of tea but definitely interesting!)

11am: Coffee and study. I grabbed a coffee with one of my course friends before we headed to the student centre to get some work done.

1pm: Department meeting. I am on a student-staff committee for the English department and today we had one of our bi-termly meetings. I find that being involved in these discussions makes me feel like my voice can be heard in such a big university.

2pm: Seminar. A two-hour seminar for the Modern English Language module I am taking. Today we were focusing on applied linguistics and communication in healthcare contexts.

4pm: Library. I had an hour to kill after my seminar, so I took myself to the Science Library to get a bit of reading done for my American literature lecture tomorrow.

5pm: Salsa Society meeting. I met with some committee member to discuss upcoming projects for the spring and summer term. I find that being involved with a few societies is a great way to spend my time and feel more involved at uni.

6pm: Ballet class. I gave up ballet as a teenager but for ages had wanted to pick it back up. So, I have recently been going to Dance Society’s weekly beginner classes which are great!

7pm: Lidl shop. Quick trip to Lidl near campus to do my grocery shop (which I had been putting off for a week!) before walking home.

8pm: Dinner with my flatmates. We don’t always do this but when we are all around, we like to do little flat dinners together. Tonight, we had stir-fry noodles.

10pm: Chill + unwind. I face-timed a friend for a catch up and then just watched some Netflix before going to bed.

This was one of my busier days and by no means does every day look like this; it’s so important to have days where I just relax at home. But I find that spending time on campus and engaging in all the extracurricular activities UCL has to offer is extremely gratifying, especially as an Arts & Humanities student, as your course is merely one element of a fulfilling university experience.

 

Instagram: @aniella.ingram

5 Top Tips to Help You Find and Secure an Internship

By UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, on 6 November 2023

UCL student Gabija Barkute shares 5 tops tips to find and secure an internship.

A record number of young people are now attending university, which can make it more difficult for students to stand out in the job market. Securing an internship can be a great way to get around this, as it will not only provide you with some relevant experience but also give you industry insight and hone in on the skills required. That said, securing an internship can be tricky, so here are my top tips to help!

1. Nowadays, many job vacancies are filled before they are even advertised, which means that it is all the more important to connect and stay in the know with those in the industry. One of the best ways to do this is via LinkedIn, where you can find people working in the organisations you are interested in, reach out to them, and connect. In my experience, many people are more than happy to respond and may give you some very helpful advice! You can also network via events held by the platform. You should exercise some caution about what you sign up for as LinkedIn is an external platform. Nevertheless, there are many opportunities out there awaiting without you even needing to leave your home.

2. Utilise your university careers service. Similar to LinkedIn, UCL Careers hosts a variety of events which give you the chance to network, as well as providing access to job opportunities that you may not have seen elsewhere via the jobs board. Additionally, you can also book one-to-one appointments to have a practice interview or to get some feedback on your CV, which is invaluable when it comes to making an application.

3. Search for opportunities via industry-specific job boards. This may give you access to opportunities that you did not even know existed and may also be less competitive than those listed on the most popular platforms.

4. Try to get as much experience as you can beforehand so that you can demonstrate your enthusiasm for the field in your application. This doesn’t have to be paid work; it can include activities like volunteering or completing virtual internships/online courses.

5. Be proactive. It may well be that there are no opportunities listed online for organisations that you are interested in interning with, but this does not necessarily mean that there are no opportunities available. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, so don’t be afraid to reach out to companies first!

Getting an internship can be tricky, but the key is to keep at it and stay proactive. I hope these tips have been useful; we all wish you the best of luck!

How to make real friends in a university with more than 45,000 students

By UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, on 2 October 2023

UCL student Maria Eleni Rentzou shares advice on how to make real friends in a university with more than 45.000 students.

No one said that studying in a university with more than 45,000 would be the easiest place to make friendships. Trust me, it might sound scary and unrealistic, but this is not necessarily the case. Many students are scared to study in London because of this reason, but this should not scare you. In my opinion, you should see this as an opportunity to meet many different people where in the case of living and studying in a smaller environment that would be impossible.

Personally, as an international student, from a much smaller city where English is not my first language, I never saw the big and chaotic UCL environment as a barrier. Other than that, every day, I tried -and I still do- to treat it as a chance to expand my circle and meet people from various cultural backgrounds. If you do not try, you will not know, and that was what I thought every time I attempted to build a friendship. My advice is to talk to people. In most cases, your classmates are going to be the people that will be with you throughout your years as a student. Make an effort, get out of your comfort zone, and after your seminar, ask the person that sat next to you to go out for a coffee. What if you do not really like them in the end? Worst case, you just lost an hour of your life.

In my experience, people that study the same thing as you have similar passions and ambitions in life, and hence finding things in common is easy. That is the way I actually met one of my greatest friends at UCL. After my French Grammar class, I asked a classmate out for coffee, and now a year later, she is one of my closest friends.

Another way where you can make friends is through societies. UCL has more than 300 societies with various different activities. If you are an international student that misses home, you can always try the society from your country to engage in cultural activities from your country.

However, personally, I will recommend during your time at UCL to make the most out of it and try to socialize with people from all around the world. Do not stick with only people from your country because, in this way, you will miss the invaluable opportunity of intercultural relationships. Do not be shy or scared to try; get out of your comfort zone, say hi to people, say yes to invitations, and try new activities. UCL is full of wonderful opportunities and people that will make you happy. Maybe your real friends will not come in the first week of university, it did not happen to me either, but I tried, and I am still trying because having friends is a great gift that will brighten your life.

(Re)new Beginnings

By UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, on 25 September 2023

UCL student Sheryl Cheung shares how to readjust to the start of term after holidays. 

The start of a new term can be motivational or stressful, depending on how you look at it. Apart from being the perfect chance to finally reset your sleep schedule, it is also an opportunity for you to prepare for the busy weeks to come.

  1. From holidays to studying

It can be hard to readjust to university life. Instead of jumping straight into essays and exams, why not take the time to figure out where your priorities should lie? Take the time to set up your notions, buy notebooks and pens, rewatch your lectures – whatever you need! Having a clear to-do list can help you relieve some stress. Feeling ready to work is half the battle.

Going for a walk around campus might also help. You could visit the Main Library if you’ve got unfinished readings. Being around other students on their laptops might help you focus. Alternatively, head towards the Print Room Café if you want the sweet aroma of coffee to remind you of your unfortunate 9am class, or if you want some freshly prepared hot food like waffles or burgers as a pick-me-up.

If you still have downtime, why not find a couple of new spots for lunch along Tottenham Court Road? It might come in handy someday during exam season!

  1. Socialising in the new term

With each new term comes new friends, especially if you take elective modules! Being the one to reach out can feel intimidating, but most people welcome the conversation. Apart from “What course do you do?” and “What year are you in?”, why not try:

  • Have you gone to the Bartlett library yet?
  • You like Taylor Swift too? What’s your favourite song on Midnights?
  • I like your sweater, where did you get it?
  • Are you friends with [name]? You look familiar.

If you are shy, why not try out club and society activities instead? You’re more likely to find people with shared interests there and conversations can feel less stilted over board games or coffee. The student union website has a handy, comprehensive list of available activities. Some of them are free, some of them are paid, but there’s something for everyone with different levels of commitment! If you’re interested in a sport, UCL clubs are still offering taster memberships. Why not shoot them a message on Instagram if you’re interested in trying out a session or two? (Who knows, maybe you’ll find your people there!)

Tips on adjusting to shared accommodation

By UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, on 18 September 2023

UCL student Sharayah Munyi shares tips on adjusting to shared accommodation.

It’s fair to say that moving into shared accommodation can be a bit of a reality check for some of us, from having to share bathrooms to having to live in close proximity with people you’ve never met before. However, once you’re settled it can be really fun and you may even make great friends out of it so here are my tips on adjusting to shared accommodation.

1)           Understand that everyone lives differently

To avoid getting upset over situations you cannot control you first need to understand that everyone lives differently. While you may shower for X amount of minutes or cook with X spices, we are all different and do things differently. That’s not a bad thing and so long as you communicate with others everything should be fine.

2)           Get to know your flat mates

If you happen to live in a flat or generally just with other students try to get to know them. It’s always important to be friendly and cordial with the people you live with and getting to know them is a great start. Organising events to do as a flat or simply knocking onto your neighbor’s door when you first move in are all great ways to get to know the people you live with. You don’t have to be best friends but just knowing the people who live around you can instantly make you feel more comfortable in your new living environment.

3)           Be thoughtful

I feel like we all hear horror stories of nightmare flat mates who leave a stack of dirty dishes in the sink or are just inconsiderate. Don’t be that person and just be thoughtful. You don’t need to police people’s every move because, of course you’re at shared accommodation. However, you need to think about others and be mindful in certain situations, the same way you hope others would treat you. If you cook, clean your dishes or come to an agreement with your flat mates on a rota, keep the bathroom clean and above all just clean up after yourself.

4)           Pay rent on time if you can

I cannot provide direct financial advice but I would say try your best to pay rent on time. I understand that everyone’s financial situation is unique but having rent money hanging over your head isn’t ideal so if you can pay on time that’s great!

5)           Set boundaries

Setting boundaries is so important if you live in shared accommodation. If you don’t want people knocking on your door at 1am on a Wednesday night because you have a 9am the next day, then communicate that with them. If you expect people to not trash your room then speak to them. Communication is key when setting healthy boundaries and so long as you communicate in a friendly way you’re doing it right.

I hope these tips have helped and I’m sure shared accommodation will be a great experience for you!

Finding What Works: Academic study tips

By UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, on 11 September 2023

UCL student Dylan Ngan shares how you can find out what works for you when it comes to academic study.

One of the more common tendencies of university life is the feeling of being overwhelmed by what seems to be a significant amount of work, whether within the scope of academics or your personal affairs. In an increasingly hectic world, there are certainly many things to get in order. As a result, it is perfectly normal to feel a slight panic at certain points, when things feel like they are slipping out of hand. Given this, what was useful to me was ensuring I was especially organised.

This meant writing down a list, having a clear overview of everything, allowing for an easier time with planning, prioritising, scheduling and allocation of resources along with setting reminders. Clarity and organisation, being able to divide a seemingly large workload into achievable pieces, is a great step forward to regaining composure, focus and control. You’ll find that developing a system of getting your tasks done on time is good practice. Furthermore, this is an opportune moment to find what sort of organisation style best suits your habits; it’s not about doing the right things, it’s about finding what’s right for you. A schedule is only a guideline; don’t let it dictate your life, let your life dictate your schedule.

Being organised in my daily personal life was also invaluable. It’s important to manage our time in both aspects, as it is often the culmination of things we need to accomplish in one of these areas that end up affecting the other. A big part of immersing yourself in university life and managing your time is finding a sense of stability, establishing habits, getting comfortable and finding a rhythm. Doing chores, doing the shopping, cooking and cleaning are not just beneficial in the obvious practical way, but also grounds you in a state of clarity, giving you a part of your life that you can have a firm grasp on while things are constantly changing and moving about around you. Sometimes, it’s not just about maintenance of an environment, but it’s worth considering rearranging your desk, decorating, reorganising your wardrobe. Maybe you’ll find a more efficient way to do things, maybe it’s about building an atmosphere that expresses your identity.

It’s possible to get enough sleep, not have to go through all-nighters, not have to rush assignments, go to all your lectures, do all your readings and still have enough time to relax, have a social life and do well for your exams and papers. One of the key aspects of achieving this is time management. Rather than doing lots, it’s about efficiency and effectiveness. Most importantly, take care of yourself. If you support your mind and body, they will support you when it comes to your academics.

At the end of the day, we are all trying our best. We’ll be okay, good !

UCL 24/7 Student Support Line is a free, confidential wellbeing service available 24- hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can talk to an adviser by phone on +44 (0) 808 238 0077.

5 things I wish I knew before starting university

By UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, on 14 August 2023

UCL student Sharayah Munyi share 5 things to know before starting university.

Starting university can feel overwhelming in many ways. From finding accommodation to simply adjusting to the new lifestyle, it’s easy to feel bombarded even before the start of term.
However, it can also feel really exciting but it’s fair to say that there are some things I wish I’d known before starting university and I’d like to share them with you.

1) Take care of your mental health

While starting university can be one of the most exciting times of your life, the transition can be difficult. Often, we feel like we have to balance academics, social life, and student living which can leave us feeling pretty helpless at times. But amidst this chaos remember one thing: your mental health should always be a priority. Whether that means saying no to going out one night or emailing your lecturer or even reminding yourself to eat something other than indomie and pot noodles. Please do it for your sake. You’ll thank yourself later.

Most importantly, remember to do more of the things that make you feel good and don’t forget that those things are not defined by anyone but yourself. If going home on the weekends makes you feel good then go or if you feel like you need to speak to a professional then do that. Don’t conform to conventions at the expense of your mental health and do what works best for you.

2) Freshers’ flu is real

Don’t get me wrong, you could be really special and just happen to not catch Freshers’ flu but the chances are if you’re at accommodation or just interacting with other people during fresher’s week, you may get Freshers’ flu. It doesn’t feel great and I can swear mine lasted a month but taking proper care of yourself will definitely help . Don’t forget to register at your local GP!

3) Make use of the perks that come with being a student

There are many perks of being a student which we often overlook. If you don’t have UNIDAYS then download it to get student discounts on loads of shops. The plethora of UCL and University of London libraries like Senate House are also pretty impressive so if you ever need a change of scenery you know where to go 😉

4) Your Student loan isn’t free money

We all get a bit carried away when that student finance money alert gets sent out and the money drops into our accounts. However, do try to set yourself boundaries when it comes to your spending. Of course, don’t stop yourself from buying memberships to societies or events during freshers but just be mindful.

5) There is no universal university experience

Finally, don’t compare your university experience with anyone else’s. There is no preponderant guide on how university should be and the things you should do or number of friends you should make. That’s why I won’t say too much other than trust yourself, don’t do anything with the intention of pleasing people (you will never win) and most importantly have fun.

Surviving and Thriving on your Year Abroad

By UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities, on 24 July 2023

UCL student Catrin Manning shares advice for a Year Abroad.

You’ve completed two years of university and now you’re off in search of a new challenge; A Year Abroad! You may have already planned out every detail, or maybe you’re wondering where to start. Fear not, here are my top tips for surviving and thriving on your year abroad.

Plan. Plan. Plan.

Give yourself the best possible start to your year abroad and do your planning and research thoroughly.

Firstly, you need to decide where you want to go. This decision might be influenced by a language you study, a link to a particular area, or perhaps you just want to move as far away as you can! I study Spanish and Russian, so for my first semester I decided to go to Granada, since I had heard good things about the Russian department there, and it was close to the Sierra Nevada ski resort. This was quite important for me since I’m a competitive snowboard racer. When deciding where you want to go, decide what your priorities are. Do you want to be in a big city, or a rural area? Is the university’s reputation important? Will you want to continue any hobbies or sports whilst abroad, can you find these in your chosen destination?

Once you’ve chosen your destination, make sure to also research the logistics. Will you need a visa, what is the process? How will you get there, can you fly or take a train? What are the average living costs, will you have enough to cover rent and expenses? How will you manage if you don’t speak the language, do they offer classes?

Improvise. Adapt.

It’s no secret that moving to a new country can be different to life at home, and it probably won’t always be smooth sailing. Part of the experience is learning to adapt to a new culture and finding solutions to problems.

In my experience, the best way to adapt to Spanish culture was to go out and explore the city of Granada. I learnt a lot about the traditional habits, such as what times people eat or how they greet each other simply by being out and about. I also learnt about the Spanish university system and the way things are taught by attending my classes and engaging with the work. You may find that things are completely different somewhere else.

Overcome

You may have a lot of different emotions whilst on your year abroad, and homesickness could be one of them. It can be hard to move to a completely new place, but it’s important to get stuck in and make the most of your time somewhere new. A lot of cities will have a student network, and organisation that put on trips for foreign students, which is a great way to explore and make friends. I took one of these trips to Morocco and made some great friends along the way. It was nice to be able to share experiences and advice with one another, since we were all foreign students studying in Granada.

It can also be useful to speak with friends and family back home, be it a phone call or Facetime perhaps. It can be reassuring to see a familiar face and catch up about what’s going on back home. I decided to take a weekend trip back to London to catch up with some friends and have some of that familiarity back for a few days.

You can’t plan for every single detail; things might go wrong and that’s ok. At times you’ll need to improvise and adapt, but in my experience, it’ll make you a stronger, more resilient person. There’s no one right way to do a year abroad, so just enjoy the experience!