28. February 2019 Samanta Rožánková

The student life

After the first six weeks I have finally settled in and started getting into the everyday routine. I had to get used to taking care of everything myself. My flat mates are really nice and it’s always great to run into them in the kitchen and catch up, but any possible collaboration on either cooking or food shopping is out of question, as our timetables are so different that we barely see each other.

My schedule of lectures and labs is quite messy, but luckily my hall is very close to campus, which makes it possible for me to pop back home during longer breaks. In the first and second trimesters we have 7 modules all together, these are mainly Chemistry, Chemistry and even more Chemistry (organic and physical) as well as Biochemistry, Cell Biology or Physiology, which is the only module that runs the entire year. For many of the lectures we are combined with students from other courses, so sometimes the lectures are as big as 350 people. However, there are not many large lecture theatres around UCL, so sometimes we have lectures in a conference room of a nearby hotel or a club. The disadvantage of having lectures with students from different courses is the fact that you always feel like you’re seeing new faces. That’s slightly better with labs, where the groups are significantly smaller, and you even have the chance to meet new people and make new friends.

Most of our lectures are being recorded and are then available on the university online system called Moodle, which is actually pretty great, as it gives you the chance to go over the lecture again in case you didn’t understand it the first time or possibly catch up in case you missed a lecture.

At the start of November, we took part in an interesting project as part of one of our modules. In small groups we measured the amount of air pollution in different parts of London and then analyzed the data and presented our data along with a presentation on air pollution in primary schools. Even though the measured values were not particularly positive it at least gave us a chance to explore London and take part in a research project as well as share our knowledge and educate about one of the world’s biggest problems. It wasn’t the only project we worked on during the first term. Group work is quite a regular thing at UCL, and I think we all appreciated it as the start of the year, since it gave us a great chance to get to know more people on our course.

One a week I also try to improve my German. Every Tuesday I attend a free language class by the German society, which is led by a fellow UCL student from Germany. There we talk about different topics, mainly those that are currently relevant, such as politics or climate change. In December the society organized a boat party which we attended, and it was a very nice opportunity to see London from a different point of view.

During the first term and at the start of the second I was attending ballroom and Latin-American dance classes every Sunday morning. I enjoyed it very much at the start and we even got to participate in a competition in Leicester, which was a day-long marathon of dance from complete beginners to almost professional dancers. Unfortunately, with time the attendance at practices decreased quite dramatically and now there is a very uneven ratio of girls to boys, which poses a real problem in a pair discipline such as dance.

So far, I had to let my beloved ice skating go. The closest good figure skating club is in Nottingham, where I even went to try and practice one weekend, but unfortunately it is too far to commute there every week. So, I at least try to go to the gym and keep myself in a good shape and maybe there will be a chance for me and my skating again next year.

During Christmas break I was very excited to go home. I found it very interesting how my room at home suddenly seemed much bigger than it used to. I really enjoyed the holidays and after a long time I even went skiing for a few days. At the beginning of the new year I had the opportunity to meet other scholarship holders of the Kellner Family Foundation, which was a great experience and a wonderful and inspiring evening. The holidays went by so fast and on the 6th of January I was headed back to London. Our timetable has changed, and we started new modules and had a few tests, but luckily (or unluckily) our only big exams are at the end of the year.

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