In this blog, we spoke to Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) student Foteini Bifsa. Foteini, from Greece, is entering her second year studying Biochemistry at the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, a subject is which she is also course representative. She discusses what students should expect in their first few weeks at the University and offers some pieces of advice.
What should new students expect in the first few weeks at QMUL?
Firstly, before new students start to have fun, they will enrol, get their student IDs and officially become part of Queen Mary. Between welcoming lectures and getting to know the way around campus, students will be able to enjoy the welcome fair. In the fair when I was a first-year I saw all the different societies that I could join and talk to many different people about their experiences. There are also multiple fresher’s events taking place during the first few weeks, so I would advise new students to grab a leaflet from the students’ union reception and make sure they don’t miss all the fun activities.
How did QMUL help you settle into life as a university student?
The welcoming lecture in the first week answered a lot of the questions I had on how the university operates, what is expected of me and what I should expect from my degree. We also had a session specifically aimed to show how to operate the online learning platform- QMplus. Each student is placed in advisor groups of 5-7 students and so I got to know people from my course quite fast. We were also separated in small groups and we were assigned “buddies”; these are older students that are part of the buddy scheme. It was great talking to them as they answered the rest of my questions and helped me understand the difference between secondary education and university.
What advice do you have for students starting university in September?
Firstly, don’t be afraid to talk to people! Everyone is as scared as you are and eager to find someone to sit next to in lectures. On my first day, I got to know so many amazing people that I am now friends with and will be for years to come.
Secondly, get involved. University isn’t only about studying; it’s about developing as a person and learning new skills. The only way to do that is to get involved by looking for opportunities.
Finally, in the beginning it’s quite common to get lost. Don’t panic, you can always look at the online map or ask for directions. If you are commuting, make sure you always check the status updates for trains. You don’t want to miss a very important assessment because of a delayed train or bus.
What are you looking forward to most next year?
I am very excited to start my second year and continue to develop as a biochemist. I am looking forward to learning more about the spectroscopic methods used to study macromolecules.
Information about enrolment, accommodation and first week activities can be found our our New Students website.