Posts Tagged ‘University’

Welcome to Lent Term!

I’m sitting in Cafe 54 on campus, sipping some coffee (only one cup — one of my NY resolutions is to cut back on caffeine consumption) and watching the hordes of people that are back on campus… it was so nice being here just a week ago when the majority of people were sleeping their lives away in their homeland. Now, once again, it’s packed and I have to use physical force to find an outlet. In any case, my first seminar of this term is done and though my brain was only 60% on, it was good to get back into the groove of things! I have a busy week ahead: on campus today from 930A to around 6P, with Tuesday and Thursday shaping up to be very similar. I’m still trying to decide on my last class for this term, so I’m sitting in on three lectures, hoping one will really stand out (Public Management of Development, African Development and Globalization & Social Policy — if you have insight, leave me a comment)!

This term is going to be a rough one, but now that I’m back in an intellectually stimulating environment, I feel much more prepared to take on assessed essays, dissertation proposals, exams, job applications and the like. I’ve also made it my goal to go to at least one LSE public lecture or partake in some cultural experience each and every week. Also, exciting (for you LSEers out there), my lovely flatmate, Lindsay, has her own radio show (‘Brunch Buffet’ on Pulse Radio) this term! If you’re an LSEer and want to show a peer some support, you can join her facebook group here!

In other news, I have a load of guests coming to visit in the next few months: my cousins are coming for a jaunt over from Malta next week; my sister & dad are coming in April (yay!) and my cousin from San Diego is coming over for a couple of months in the summer! My (overly ambitious) goal is to have my dissertation mostly completed by the first week of July so that my cousin and I can do a bit of traveling while I put the final touches on my thesis. Here’s to hoping! Send some positive energy my way <3.

Now back to work!

California to London: My Personal Case Study

This could also be entitled, “Why moving away from my homeland has been the best decision of life and why all human beings should experience the same thing: a case study,” but I thought that would be entirely too long. Also, let me define: by case study, I mean my personal experience which, herein, will be used as a case study and the base for this discussion/monologue. I suppose it’s primarily intended for those who are looking to move away for graduate school, work or study abroad, but anyone with input, please comment away!

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I spoke with a friend of mine who, rather abruptly, gave up her life in Northern California to pursue a Marketing/PR internship opportunity that had arisen in LA. She had never lived away from her family and there was no pay attached to the internship period (although there were hopes of a future job opportunity), but working in public relations in the LA area had been her goal. About a month after her move (a couple of months before my move to London), I asked her about her feelings on moving away and starting an entirely new life. The verdict? Hard at first, but ultimately the most fulfilling adventure.

Now that I’ve been living in London for nearly four months, I would tend to agree with her perspective on the move. Although I miss my family, my friends and the relative normalcy (read: monotony) of life in Northern California, I can positively say that the path that I chose was undoubtedly the best personal decision of life, to date. The move has given me new perspective on relationships, on other cultures and on life.

Tiff & I <3.

Chris & I at The Lion King!

I have had the opportunity to look intently at my relationships and realize that the connections built in life don’t need to fade away just because the distance between two individuals grows; that physical proximity and emotional proximity are not linked, even in the slightest (although I’m sure the advent of social networking sites has helped make this much easier than it would have been 25 years ago)!

National Gallery

I have also been able to experience life in a foreign country and soak up all the nuances that come with it. Living life in a cosmopolitan city (London, Paris, New York, etc.) grants one the ability to marinate and grow in an undeniable melting pot. Daily, I find myself running into people from France, Germany, Belgium, Georgia, Canada, Nigeria, Ghana (and the list goes on and on). In one term of classes, my eyes have already been opened to the vast differences in culture and individual perspectives; issues that I had been dealing with at home seem ridiculous when compared to famine and $1.25 per day that my classmates are familiar with. Moreover, it’s not just reading about these far-off places (Malawi, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Uganda) and theorizing about how life is lived there; it’s a chance for me to talk with new friends about how their lives are and how their personal experiences have changed their personal paths.

Perhaps the best part about the move, though, is the fact that I now know that I am fully capable of being on my own in the world. Despite having lived away from my family for the past five years, I was close enough to know that I could call if ever there were an issue. Now, I am in a completely foreign country with an entirely new set of people surrounding me and amazing new experiences every day and I absolutely love every second of it. I know now that I am capable of keeping my options open after graduating, and living/working abroad without feeling detached. Instead of being scared of things, I feel as though now I have fully realized that every day brings something new: new people to meet, new things to learn, new mistakes to make and new ways to be a better, more fulfilled person.

So, for anyone wondering whether a move is a good decision: what is there to lose? Really? A small bit of income that can be regained? Leaving behind some friends that you can contact via Facebook and Skype? On the flip side, think of everything that you can gain from pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. I think in this case the reward is definitely worth the risk.

Lots of love from London,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Boo on Reality. It’s Finally Setting In…

December is coming to a close which means January is right around the corner! Before January 11th rolls around and Lent Term begins, I have a dissertation proposal to write and a summative essay to conclude. Ideally, both will be done well (let’s all cross our fingers for distinction). On top of that, real life has begun to hit me: although last term was challenging, this term is going to be a real feat. Not only do we have to concern ourselves with normal coursework, but most of our graded coursework is due at the end of this term/beginning of Summer Term, plus we have to get a substantial start on our dissertations, plus there’s the whole job/internship situation if we actually want to put our education to use (I like to think that most of us do).

Knowing that we’ll be 100% done in 9 short months is a little daunting. Most people are leaving before then — off to law school, other professional programs or back to their homelands to send in their dissertations. Theoretically, we can all go back home in July and submit our dissertations via courier. For some of the direly homesick, this is a great option. I, on the other hand, have been wanting to drag out my European excursions for as long as humanly possible! I’m loving London life (aside from the occasional mild bout of homesickness) and have thoroughly enjoyed my ability to travel and meet some amazing people along the way. Thinking of all of this coming to an end is saddening (and an impetus to pursue a PhD). So, this term is going to be a full one: normal coursework, a trip to Cumberland Lodge with my program, a summative ‘project planning’ submission, a dissertation to begin, careers to investigate, jobs for which to apply, summative essays to submit and preparation for exams in May/June. On the bright side, I also get to look forward to some special visitors this term! My cousins are coming at the end of January for a visit, Chris is hitting up Londontown in February, and my dad and sister are coming during my break for a two-week, three to four-country mini tour (England, France, the Netherlands & maybe Scotland)! Hopefully seeing all of their bright, smiling faces will help in getting through the term and alleviating a bit of my homesickness (and hold me over until I return back to the US).

Also, I must wish my friend, Pooja, congratulations on getting her first acceptance to law school! She’s the perfect example of a girl who has her stuff together: finishing her Masters and off to start law school all before the tender age of 22 — talk about motivation! On that note, I’m off to look for jobs/PhD programs to feel like less of a delinquent.

Here’s to Lent Term and to facing reality!

On an amazingly bright note, Lent Term marks the welcoming of one Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid, and I am going to be 1st in line to see her! I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to take advantage of the university’s speakers and public lectures. We get some amazing visitors at our school (Presidents, Prime Ministers, Queens, Scholars, etc.) and now is the time to get to see them in person!

Goodnight, Moon.

London at Night

How is it that despite putting serious effort into getting to bed before 11P, I am still up at 1240A? Sadly, this is not a rarity. Having just gotten back from the Social Policy party and a concert that I attended with my flatmate, I’m finally getting ready to get some shut-eye and prepare for the very last day of term tomorrow. It’s a bit insane to think that ten weeks have already come and gone; a bit bitter-sweet, in fact. It’s actually amazing to look back on how much we’ve gained in such a short span of time and, at the same time, a bit sad to say goodbye to some friends as we go our separate ways for the holidays. That being said, I have a lot going on between now and Friday and I have some grandiose plans for the coming holiday. I tend to think that if I put all of my plans up on a public forum, I’ll be a little more inclined to follow through! Also, side note — Lindsay & I hit up Scala this evening to catch The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, a New York-based band that came into London for a show. Both the venue and the band are worth checking out!

My week is semi-jam-packed with mundane daily chores like cleaning my room, doing my laundry, packing, etc., but I’m aiming to hit the gym tomorrow, Thursday, Friday and Saturday before leaving for Malta on Sunday. Being there for five days, followed by Scotland for four days leaves me with very little time to get a proper workout in… I’m gonna bring tennis shoes on both trips to see if I can somehow get myself to go for morning runs! With tomorrow being my last official day of class (although I do have to be on campus both Thursday and Friday for other commitments), I plan on using my last few days in town to do some exploring before heading to Malta! Borough Market is on my schedule for Thursday, while Portobello Road is slated for Saturday morning! I haven’t been to either yet, but I’m hoping to find some fun gifts for the holidays… nothing makes me smile like spiced cider, vegan goodies and shopping.

I’ll share my plans for Edinburgh with you kids tomorrow — suffice it to say, I have a few things in mind and Edinburgh has some awesome Christmas markets to keep my busy! I’ve checked out a ridiculous amount of foreign aid-focused books from our library to take with my on my trips for a bit of easy reading in the evenings. I figure if I can give myself a few productive hours a day between readings, my dissertation proposal and essay-writing, I should be in good shape when Lent Term begins in January!

Catch up with you tomorrow — I’m going to leave you with this song that I can’t get out of my head.
Crooked Teeth by Death Cab for Cutie… an oldie, but a goodie.

Good night, friends!

Dick in a Box

PS. Chris asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I sent him this video… if you’re easily offended it might not be that funny, but if you think Justin Timberlake + SNL make for a funny musical duo, this one’s timeless.

Week 10 Update!

Hey kiddos,

Gotta catch up with everyone later, but a quick update on the fantasticness that is this week: Today marks day one of Week 10, the final week of Lent Term. After Wednesday, I am officially half way done with my taught Masters courses! Pretty exciting and a bit frightening to think that I’ve already been here for three months.

I’m on campus right now getting started with an early morning study sesh before my AM seminar which will be followed by a lecture and an intense mini-review before tonight’s mock exam! After today’s hectic schedule, it’s fairly downhill. I have a class and seminar tomorrow afternoon followed by the Social Policy Department party tomorrow evening. Wednesday will be my last class and then I have Thursday and Friday to enjoy some Christmas spirit in Londontown before heading off to Malta this Sunday!

Too much excitement — catch up with you guys later!

xoxo,

Time to Revise!

Hello fellow grad students!

In light of next week’s mock exams and the revising that’s currently taking place, I found some really awesome tips on a study skills-focused website to help with revisions. Although some of it seems pretty common sensical, I still think it may be useful to some. In addition to some basic tips, the website outlines how  to leverage your learning style when studying!

Tips for Visual Learners

-Rewrite your notes as mind-maps
-Use colour to highlight important things
-Draw diagrams and sketches to help you remember points.

Tips for Auditory Learners

– Read your notes aloud
-Record yourself on cassette reading key points of your notes aloud, then listen to the tape afterwards
– Revise with other students if you can

Tips for learners who are readers and writers

– Copy out your notes
– Read your notes silently
– Rewrite the key points using different words
– Write down key points from memory.

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Tips for Active Learners

– Move around the room
-Revise while working out
– Mentally review what you’ve been revising while you’re swimming or jogging

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Also, I’ve found that looking through old exam papers has been incredibly useful! It’s always nice to see what questions typically arise on exams and how questions are phrased to know what you’re dealing with. Click here to check out old exam papers held in the LSE Archives.

Also (since I happen to be an auditory & visual learner), I find that revising in groups is much more effective than sitting alone in one’s room, staring at a PC and old exams. In addition to hearing other’s opinions and input on a particular topic (and being able to ask questions and expand upon topics that are confusing), working in a group tends to keep relative focus. I find that when I’m working with others for five hours, I can be pretty focused for most of it. If I’m at home by myself for five hours, half of that time will surely be dedicated to facebooking, blogging and the like. It’s always nice to have others to keep you in check!

Happy revising and good luck to everyone <3.
Hello, last week of Michaelmas term!

xoxo,

Goodbye November, Hello December.

November is coming to a close, which means that December is now on the horizon. Although December is normally one of my favorite months of the year (Christmastime is second to none!), this year December also comes with the promise of mock exams and a family-less holiday. I’ve been working to deck my flat out in holiday spirit, complete with twinkle lights, an advent calendar, clove and cinnamon scented room spray and an overt Merry Christmas sign hanging on my door. Additionally, I have done the service of annoying my flatmates with the looping of Christina Aguilera’s, Mariah Carey’s and Nat King Cole’s Christmas albums. Christmas is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. For me, it’s the one thing that justifies the cold weather. I deal with frostbitten ear lobes and fingertips because I know that it’s an indicator of holidays approaching, and I love holidays: gift giving, the scent of Christmas in the air and roasting marshmallows by the fireplace. Sadly, the reality has hit me pretty hard today now that I’ve realized that Christmas without my family is not much of a Christmas at all. If I’m being intellectually honest with myself, staying in Europe for the holidays is a bittersweet decision: the chance to experience Christmas on my own and learn to construct my own version of the holidays will inevitably be a new an interesting experience. In contrast, family is ultimately what makes Christmas for me. Though I may be fortunate enough to wake up in London or Paris on Christmas morning, nothing is quite the same as waking up in your home and having Christmas breakfast with the clan.

Despite the bit of sadness I’m feeling on that front, there’s something else that’s looming as December gets closer: mock exams. I’ve already finishing my formative essays for my classes which is quite a relief, but a couple of my classes also offer mock exams during the last week of Michaelmas Term. We are given one question and one hour in which to write an essay response, a task that is intended to simulate the actual three-hour, three-question exam at the end of Summer Term in 2010. I’ve found myself looking through seven years of old exams in an effort to find trends in question topics and create a better understanding of the questions that might be on the exam. The idea that my entire grade for a course can be based on three hours  and three questions is a bit insane to me. Additionally, LSE doesn’t offer re-sits on exams, so if you’re a bad test-taker or things don’t go your way during those three hours of your life, you are effectively screwed. Fortunately, I’m a pretty good test-taker, but I think I may have forgotten the physical pain involved in writing for three straight hours. Even if I come prepared, I can foresee my handwriting fading into oblivion as the two-hour mark approaches. That being said, this mock exam will be a good indicator of how quickly I can get my thoughts down on paper and will be part one of my exam prep process. I’m planning to set aside a few hours a couple of times a month to pull three random questions out of a hat in a timed situation. I think understanding the length (in terms of having to keep your hand physically moving) as we well as the relative brevity (three hours to write three substantial essays) will be a good concept to grasp to prepare myself for Summer Term.

That being said, I’m off to get a start on my day and my school week.

Here’s to Week 9, penultimate week of Michaelmas!