Seeing as A-Level results’ day has now passed, and a whole new cohort of students will be eagerly waiting to start at Imperial in October, I thought now would be a pertinent time to offer some advice on what you DON’T need to bring with you to university. Most freshers have the basics covered pretty well, but often end up grossly overestimating what they’ll need to survive university life. For what it’s worth, here’s my take on five things you can probably just leave at home.
- Excessive kitchenware You may think you’ll need a pizza cutter, toastie maker and corkscrew when you’re at uni, and you may well not be wrong.
London is an amazing city, with vibrant events happening on a day to day basis. But sometimes… this might be overwhelming as well. As someone who isn’t used to living in the city central, being in London might be exhilarating, but can often be terrifying as well. Summer is finally here and with that, I have just completed my third year of studies here as well. After being cooped up at home watching online lectures for a whole year, a few of my friends decided to take this opportunity to try something unfamiliar for all of us. With that, we packed up our bags and went for a short hiking trip in Snowdonia, Wales.
As I finished up my last Design Project Exhibition through Microsoft Teams, the sun greeted me with its warm embrace as I finally let my laptop go to rest. This signifies the start of the summer break, and this is an especially exciting year for me because it will be the first summer break that I will be spending in London instead of in Malaysia! Even though I miss my family and my friends back home tremendously, I decided to not travel back home this summer after careful discussion with my family. Travelling back home this summer proved to be quite risky as Malaysia is still struggling with its fight against the pandemic.
I might be a little early with this article since we are still ages away from the start of a new academic year, though I reckon it might be something worth talking about since I’ve been receiving a lot of questions on my UniBuddy account asking me this exact question. So, here are three things that I would have loved if my 18-year-old self to have understood prior to attending Imperial for my undergraduate degree.
It’s really not that difficult
There may have been a chance where movies, TV series, social media, memes, or “dramatic” people have given you the impression that a typical university student is one who is constantly overworked, stressed out, and struggling to understand the course material.
The pandemic has greatly shifted the way we learn and the way we are assessed. GCSEs have been cancelled to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and classes have been shifted to an online setting for most of the year too. With the limited amount of physical interaction, we have had with our peers and our teachers, students all around the world have found themselves with an extra task of adapting to the new learning setting on top of keeping up with their studies.
University life has been greatly shifted as well. The Imperial campus has been closed for most of the year apart from the central library.
After a year of remote learning, it feels weird that the first time I am conducting any physical activities in college is during the summer break. Earlier in the year, I decided that for this summer break, I want to venture into research and development, to be able to gain more technical knowledge while ensuring that my summer break remains fruitful while I stay in London. Therefore, I have decided to sign up for a UROP.
A UROP stands for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme. Through this programme, undergraduates get to work on different research projects with different professors focusing on different areas of research.
As summer is approaching, this is the time of the year where students are all panicking about finding a summer internship to ensure that they have a fruitful summer. Students often search for summer internships for a few reasons. Some students would like to use summer internships to gain more exposure to the different industries they are hoping to land a graduate job in, as experiences in industry allows them to apply the knowledge they have learned throughout the year and to enhance their passion for the course too. Employees love to see students who go an extra mile to learn something, and it increases your chances of getting hired significantly.
It is that time of year again. Student finance applications just opened for next year and that got me thinking about money. I am back at it again with more financial tips and tricks that have helped me at university so far. This part has more tangible things you can do about working, saving and investing your hard-earned cash.
One of the first things I did as soon as I was eligible was sign up for a student bank account. These often come with good discounts and offers. Who doesn’t like free money? Santander has 1/3 off 16-25 railcards and 15% cashback with retailer offers (something I have used when at Costa, ordering of Just Eats or buying shoes from JD).
It is widely known across the world that Asians tend to put a lot of emphasis on their children’s grades, as if the straight As on the report card act as tickets to a good future. After all, we are called ‘A’-sians and not ‘B’-sians. Being brought up in an Asian culture, I was constantly sent for plenty of extra classes out of school. These classes range from academic tuition classes to extracurricular classes such as piano lessons, art classes, etc. Looking back now, I find it quite crazy that a child like me was trained to learn every hour of the day, and trained to think that the grades on my report card are the only things that I can be proud of.
With exam season creeping around the corner once again, I was reminded of the situation we were in this time last year. When the national lockdown was implemented in March, I had to pack my bags and return home abruptly a week before the Easter break was due to start. Rather naively, at that point in time I expected the situation to blow over soon enough and that we’d be back at the end of April to sit our exams. Obviously, I was horrifically wrong but thankfully the college had better foresight. Within a week or so we were emailed to say that all of our exams would be conducted remotely, on an online platform, and were to be open book.