MPA student Sam Lane provides insights on studying at UCL STEaPP.
They say time flies when you’re having fun, so that must be what happened here? Right? It is with outright consensus, that my cohort and I believe we have been doing the course for a year now. We have had many assessments and so much reading that it cannot possibly be less than 2 months since our induction. Given that we spend almost 30 hours a week together, the students are more than just colleagues, but a 16-person-strong support network. We study, eat and study together and have become quite a solid unit. Our personal and professional backgrounds have been exposed further and we even discovered a published poet amongst us!
While these last 8 weeks have been challenging, perhaps an understatement, it is fair to say they have also been extremely enjoyable. This is most true when reflecting on the scenario week. The topic set for the week was Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) and the circular economy.
Everyone found something interesting about it and we all quickly fell into roles within our groups. Every team had challenges, from communication crises to pedantic procedures, yet we all made it through the week closer than before. We even had a surprisingly fun trip to a WEEE Recycling plant where the engineers of the group could indulge in donning a hard hat and hi-vis vest.
My personal experience has been great so far. I have found myself challenged by the programme. I am out of, what I thought was, my comfort zone and having to cope with the sheer volume of reading has been very tough. I am also working part time for a science communication company and balancing this, with the full-time programme has taken its toll. I am learning more about how to prioritise my tasks and make sure I am meeting all my deadlines but it is not sustainable and I am looking forward, to a hopefully slightly more relaxed second term. When reading week finally arrived it felt long overdue and I recall a conversation on our class Whatsapp that even by Monday everyone was still recuperating, which was nice to know we are all in the same boat. Coincidentally, I had the opportunity to go back to my undergraduate university during reading week to give a seminar to 40 students about science communication and policy. They latter part was based almost exclusively on the work from my time at STEaPP so it has already begun to be useful and we are only half way through the first term!
In summary, it has been great and I do not think it is possible to prepare for how intense yet thrilling it will be. The satisfaction of completing a mini-scenario and that first sip of cold beer on a Friday is truly rewarding.