My First Exam in the UK

As I entered the registration hall in the first week, my heart pounded heavily. I did not know what to do, where to go. Was it too late to go back? Of course, it was. I was not only in a different country but also in a different continent. At that point in time, I was just following everyone because they seemed to know what they were doing and where they were going. We ultimately reached the final destination of the day, the Management School: The place that LUMS postgraduates absolutely worship. The Hub, the Lecture Theatres, the meeting rooms – I had never seen a place like that. I was sitting with a few of my classmates and they all were talking about Lancaster and the University as if they had known it for ages. As it turned out…they did. They had all done their undergraduates at Lancaster University and I had no idea what was happening around me anymore. I felt overwhelmed and anxious and I kept quiet, taking it all in.

As days passed by, we got busier with lectures and assignments but at the same time, we grew closer to each other. The journey had begun, and we spent the days learning and the nights exploring the University. Soon, the first module was over and so was the second and before we realised, it was exam time. With just a week left for the exam, the late-night excursions had taken a halt and the late-night coffees had replaced them to ensure that we were burning the midnight oil. There was chaos and confusion everywhere. This was a big thing. It was the first module and we all wanted to leave a mark. Being from different educational backgrounds, we all were facing challenges. Most of us had never studied business modules before and jumping right into Marketing and thinking like a Marketing Manager was difficult. The exam was case based. We were provided with a case and had to scrutinise it well before the exam. In the exam, we were asked questions based on the case and had to answer them in an essay style. This was very new, especially for someone like me. My last essay-based exam was in primary school and being from CBSE board (Central Board for Secondary Education, India), I was cut out for point to point answers. Luckily my lecturer was a sweetheart. She gave us precise directions of what she needed and also made us practice with a mini case in the class. On top of that, we were also provided with past paper questions. All these resources ensured that we were fully equipped to face the exam.

On the final day of the examination, I prayed to all the Gods and reminded myself that I would be fine because of all the group studying sessions I had with my classmates and the resources that were provided by my professor. I went for the exam and “answered the questions”, precisely as mentioned by my lecturer and as it turned out, I managed to get a distinction!



My graduate plan

‘‘So, what are your plans for after you graduate?’’I am sure that for many students, like myself, who have entered their final year at university, this question has become a regular occurrence in conversations. It seems that final year lights a spark and leads career plans, graduate schemes and interviews to become a part of your daily personal thoughts.

At the start of the academic year, my plan reflected that of many of my course mates. I planned to update my CV, apply for graduate schemes and enter into the graduate market…Studying a Masters degree was not an option I had even considered.

However, speaking to some of my friends in the graduate market and friends who are currently studying a Masters degree, they expressed that they recognised the enjoyment and positive attitude I have towards education and encouraged me to consider furthering my studies.

At first, the thought of studying a Masters degree was a little scary for myself. I worried that it would be too challenging and I was apprehensive about remaining in education whilst my friends and coursemates progressed into graduate jobs. However, I admit, I became intrigued about the option and started to have a look at what courses were available.

By exploring Masters courses and the modules that different courses offered, my interest in progressing my learning grew. I discovered that many universities were offering an International Business course and this was an appealing option because I am interested in learning about culture and have enjoyed the international perspectives I have been given so far on my course. Not only that, but with ambitions to work within an international firm, studying International Business would be in line with my career plans and provide me with greater depth and understanding about operating in international markets.

So… having been drawn in by the courses available, I decided to apply for some courses.

It’s 4 months on and having accepted a conditional offer, I can finally say I know what my plans are for after I complete my final year at Lancaster University! Having reached this point I thought it would be a chance to share some advice and tips for if you are considering applying for a Masters degree.

  1. Apply on the university website: When I was researching courses and looking at university websites I found that, unlike applying for an undergraduate degree, you apply for a Masters course directly on the website of the university you want to apply to.
  2. Personal Statement: The personal statement is your chance to let the university know more about your interests in the course and your motivations for studying a Masters degree. One tip I can share is to make the personal statement specific to the university you are applying to. I did this by mentioning a module I was looking forward to or a facility at the university that I would like to make use of.
  3. Seek Advice: From my experience I highly recommend that you seek feedback from friends or a careers advisor once you have written your personal statement and CV. When completing my applications I went to a drop-in clinic and attended a one-to-one appointment with the careers advisors at Lancaster University Management School. These sessions were really helpful as the careers advisors shared their advice about how to make your personal statement stand out.

4 Reasons Why You Should Definitely Get a Part-Time Job

Attending university in the UK is expensive, there’s no getting around it. With tuition fees currently at £9250 a year (and that’s for UK students – international students can often find themselves paying more) and costs of living on the rise, it is no wonder that more students find themselves taking on part-time work alongside their studies. In fact, in a survey conducted by Endsleigh (2015), it was estimated that eight out of ten – around 77% of students – are currently working part-time to help fund their studies.

I am one of these students. I currently work most evenings for the university Alumni Office, which amounts to between 10 and 12 hours a week, and I am a strong advocate for being employed during your degree. Here’s why:

  1. It’s another opportunity to make new friends – University is all about meeting new people and having a part-time job is another way to make friends. Most people I work with are also students but they all have very different backgrounds and I would probably have never met them had it not been for this job.
  2. Financial independence – This one goes without saying. Knowing that you have money coming into your bank account at the end of the month is a great feeling, especially when you know that you worked hard to earn it.
  3. Gaining transferable skills for your CV – Even though the part-time job you get is unlikely to be directly related to your dream career, the skills you gain on the job will be very useful when you start applying for internships/jobs after graduating. Fundraising probably won’t be my long-term career path, but the skills I have gained from this job, such as negotiation and the ability to meet targets, are highly valued in whichever career I chose to pursue.
  4. Having less time actually forces you to get more done – This is a bit of a weird one but hear me out: because I know that 12 hours of my week will be spent at work and another 11 hours spent in lectures and seminars I have to manage my time very effectively, especially if I want to get in a good 7-8 hours sleep a night and spend some time with my friends. Ironically, the less I have to do, the less I get done.

Lancaster University is great for helping you find a part-time job, with regular updates about job opportunities on the iLancaster app and a great Careers Service that will help you with your application, either by having a look at your CV or doing mock interviews or sorting out any problems you might have with P45 forms (which are the opposite of fun).

Note: It is worth mentioning that international students may have some restrictions on the number of hours they are allowed to work, as per the terms of their visa. Make sure you double check this before applying to jobs. Also some degree courses (Medicine, Postgraduate etc.) are particularly intense, so it is also a good idea to consult your course adviser about whether you could feasibly commit to a part-time job during your studies.

10 New Words I Learnt at LUMS

As an international student, learning about new words stimulates my linguistic inclination. By learning I also mean experiencing words that I already know in a different way. New words mixed with experiences are synergic; I find them fascinating and sometimes amusing. In this blog post I will write about my top 10 new words that I learnt at LUMS, starting with those that any international student could come across and followed by those that a LUMS or a graduate student in particular would be very likely experience. I choose these words because my experience of them has been either exciting, practical or pleasantly homely. A small story for each word tells why I found it particularly fascinating.

  • Flatmate: Flatmate is the commonly used word for housemate in the UK. My flatmates are the students who I have met since my first day at Lancaster Uni. We shared not only the flat, but also food, nights out, pictures, laughs, hobbies and life contemplations. We looked out for each other. My flatmates made me feel like I belong.
  • The weather: This is one of the most common topics you’ll hear a British person talk about. It is often unexpected and sometimes rainy, cold, lovely, sunny or snowy. And sometimes it’s all of them in one day! As someone who likes hiking, my outdoors motto is that “there is no bad weather but there are only bad clothes.” That’s why my big puffer coat is an essential item of clothing and part of my outfit on most days. Even though it’s cold in the north west of England, people have their warmth in their hearts.
  • The steam train: During the summer term, I travelled by regular train to go to Carlisle where I was doing some training. The steam train runs during the spring and summer between Lancaster and Carlisle, and the other passengers and I would see it majestically arriving in the morning at the train station. A peak inside allowed me to see the impressive décor and was enough to take me a century back in time.
  • Marmite: Commonly known by its brand name, this product is also found under the yeast extract category. I heard people say that you either love it or hate it, and I happened to quite like it. I often venture with food combinations and I accidentally found out that it goes well with certain types of jam.
  • Quorn: I discovered Quorn in the UK while looking for vegetarian meat alternatives. It offers a wide variety of products and is a good source of proteins. I found it to be a practical food and it goes well in a curry.
  • Reflexivity: As a LUMS student, being reflexive not only got me high marks, but also made me aware of the way my learning affected my professional and personal development and my view of the world. I try to apply this process to both important events and daily incidents that became a part of my routine.
  • Critical thinking: Critical thinking is an expression that I frequently hear in my lessons at LUMS. It’s an essential yet challenging skill and we practice it when reading, writing and reflecting. I even use it outside of academic coursework, for example when choosing to watch a film.
  • Dispersed leadership: Even though it’s not the most common type of leadership that is found in academic and personal development books, it’s one that sparked my curiosity. This is because it made me realise the different aspects, people and places in which leadership exists, and so it helps me put myself in other people’s shoes and try to understand them, a skill that I find quite important when interacting with people at university and work.
  • Graduate social hub: The graduate social hub is another place that makes me feel at home. It is situated near the graduate students’ dorms. It contains a quiet room for studying and a social room that has games, books, a ping pong and a foosball table. It also has a kitchenette with an endless supply of tea and coffee. I would metaphorise it as the graduates’ living room.
  • Grad bar: The Grad bar is our meeting place in the evening. Pubs are an important part of community life in the UK, and Grad bar is our communal one. It’s a place where I made new friends and enjoyed live student bands and drinks.

Whether they relate to a place, food or thought, my experience of these words continues to be absorbing. Learning new words and experiences still happens to me now as much as it did when I first moved to Lancaster, and as I got more and more involved with the campus life, the studying, the shopping and meeting new people.

Going Frugal- It’s not just about managing finances, it is about managing yourself…

Frugality- the quality of being economical with money.

For all those who are living on their own for the first time, this too shall pass and when it does, you will emerge as a different person. I came to Lancaster University with the dream of becoming a Manager and landing a good job. Little did I know that the first step of the process would be to be a manager of myself. From studying to cooking to managing a budget, you are on your own. The degree teaches you far more than just the modules. This was the first time I was in-charge of myself. I’ve lived on my own during my undergraduate but there things are different, pocket-money was just a phone call away and moreover, there weren’t any currency conversions to be kept in mind. I came to the UK with 500 Pounds, thinking that it’ll last at least 4 months, after all, they were 40,000 Indian Rupees and how much could I spend?

After the first month and an expense of almost half the money that I possessed it became very clear to me that I’d have two options, either I can cut down on my expenses (which was usually spent on buying food and, being a Punjabi, that’s something you cannot compromise on) or I could earn more money by doing part-time job. I wasn’t thinking too much and I chose to go with the first option as with classes from 9-5, I wanted some time to explore as well, so getting a  job was postponed till the next semester. It was time to strategise my frugality plan and more or less it was simple for me.  I had to focus on where I spent the money most (except food, of course) and cut down those expenses to a minimum. However, I wasn’t as simple as I  thought. The pattern wasn’t consistent. With a month of struggle and just 90 pounds left, the third month began and that’s when I came across the Master Plan as I like to call it. I still follow it and it is an amazing way where you don’t even realise you are saving money. All you need to do is save 10 pence on day one and keep adding 10 pence to it the next day. It follows the laws of Arithmetic Progression (flaunting Mathematics-my dad will be so proud of me!!! ). By the end of the first month, I had already saved 15.5 pounds. It isn’t a large sum of money but considering I had 90 when I started and I managed to save 15 pounds, I went straight to Greggs and ate a cookie. After all, I deserved it! Treat yourself and be frugal!

Guest Post: MSc Management Student Keira talks about her experiences of the course

While sitting in the backyard and enjoying Christmas time, I started to receive sweet greeting messages from my MSc Management cohort. When those beautiful words floated onto my screen, I had no words to describe how lucky I felt to be in this cohort.

Graduating with a first honours degree in BSc Marketing from Lancaster University marked the end of my Bachelor journey. Wanting to extend my knowledge of the business world, to enhance my professional network with incredible people and to keep receiving individually tailored career services, I stayed at Lancaster University and joined the MSc Management programme in September 2017.

Life on the MSc Management is never boring because the programme is fundamentally different from any ordinary Masters programmes in any UK Universities. It’s 9am-5pm intensive, weekly block teaching style makes it an MBA-like programme for candidates who have yet to gain extensive work experience in the industry. The programme is designed to foster future leaders with essential knowledge of a wide range of critical business areas.

Because of the one-module-per-week learning style, the entire learning process is so fun and dynamic. We could be analysing and creating marketing campaigns in week one, while composing and understanding accounting and financial reports a couple of weeks later. Or we could be designing and calculating the optimal inventory level and manufacturing capacity one week and change to be mastering the restructuring of organisational structure and human resource systems this week. Every day is full of new challenges and experiences – presentations, group work, business games, networking lunches and career fairs to name a few.

The quality of the cohort is incredible thanks to the rigorous selection process. Not only do we have a balanced mix of different races, ethnicities, religious beliefs, genders and academic backgrounds with no dominating nationalities, but as we spend about 40 hours together every week, we quickly became close friends and families. Christmas Dinner at the lovely Lancaster House Hotel, the International Foodie Picnic with breath-taking views at the Ashton Memorial, and Team-bonding day at the Lake District… we share a passion for the programme as a cohort. A passion that brings joy, friendship and love.

This course is the highlight of my 2017. It brings me friends who are mature, mindful and caring, it equips me with the knowledge that enables me to stand out from other Masters students, and more importantly, it strengthens my employability and helps me to secure a great graduate job at an international giant. Having been in this programme for more than three months, I have no single moment of regret.

Innovation Hackathon in Lancaster University

As an MSc student in Information Technology, Management and Organisational Change (ITMOC), I got to explore several modules which related to technology and business. I also have the opportunity to choose optional modules based on my interest. For me personally, I am really interested in online marketing and innovation in IT to create better solution in business, and the module which answered my question for this is E-Marketing module.

Though this module is optional for ITMOC student, it is a mandatory module for MSc E-Business and Innovation student. Some Marketing Analytics students also took this class as an optional module, thus it is an amazing opportunity for me to know various insights about E-Marketing from students from different background. One of the most interesting parts about the class was the opportunity for students to join Innovation Hackathon, an intensive 2-day program where we had to solve a real-life business case with the opportunity to consult with and present to experts in the industry! The hackathon was held in March, I know it is a bit late for me to share the story here. Yet, I believe that the experience was really worth it and I might say that I learned a lot during the program. Hackathon itself is a word created from hack and marathon, an event where people work together and use technology to transform ideas into reality. We tried to solve the problem with the use of technology and the teams consisted of students from various background (IT, business, marketing, etc.).

The theme of the hackathon was Smart Park, where we had to create an IoT solution for the Lake District National Park. IoT stands for Internet of Things, a technology which optimises connected devices with the use of sensors to collect and exchange data. One of example of IoT is Smart Cities with connected traffic signals that monitor utility use or smart bins that signal when they need to be emptied. Smartwatches or fitness bands to track steps or heartbeat while on a run for healthcare needs are also part of IoT technology.

During the hackathon, we had to propose the solution on how to make Lake District National Park… a Smart Park. Things that we need to remember was to create a simple, feasible and profitable solution while at the same time can give business values in a long run. All teams can explore the opportunity to solve the problem from various point-of-view. During the program, experts from IBM, Huawei and from Lake District will provide us with input throughout our brainstorming session. I might say that the program was superrrr intensive and stressful! We had to work with people from various background, listened to everyone’s opinion and we also need to satisfy business needs from the stakeholders in only 2 days!

At the end of the 2-days session, all 6 teams which participated in the hackathon needs to present the solution in front of the stakeholders. My team offered a solution to prevent and monitor erosion in Lake District National Park, we named it Smart Path.  This solution came up after we realised that Lake District needs to spent a lot of budget to maintain eroded path and it also can lead to damage and habitat loss. We offered a solution of IoT implementation to monitor and detect activities on the footpath and analytics will provide data about preventative steps to maintain footpath/recommendation on maintenance. After the presentation, we got some inputs from the experts and we believe it was really helpful.

To close the hackathon, the experts chose the winner. My team did not win the competition but the most important thing is that we learned a lot and got the opportunity to work in a challenging case 🙂 The team who won offered Smart Bicycle Path, a B2B solution which track bicycle movements around the park and then analyse the data to be sold to another business (i.e restaurants, insurance, etc.). On the other hand, the data also can be used by Lake District National Park to maintain and improve customers experience in the park.

Congrats for the winner!

The 2-days session was full of pressure and stress, but with the help from teammate and the experts we can delivered the result on time. Special thanks for Professor Juliana Sutanto (E-Marketing Course Convenor and MSc E-Business and Innovation) and Professor Edward Truch for the support. And of course thank you Lancaster University for the opportunity!

All Participants for Smart Park Hackathon





What is MSc Money, Banking and Finance?

Before the Easter, the taught modules in LUMS were almost finished. Therefore, I would like to share some experience and thoughts about the Money, Banking and Finance programme.

The first time I saw MBF, I was quite confused since I had no idea about what I would study in this programme. Besides, in other business schools, I normally found the programme call Banking and Finance. After two semesters studying, I would like to describe MBF as a comprehensive programme which includes the knowledge from the economic part and also the financial field.

MBF is a jointly taught programme since it has the modules from both accounting and finance department and economic department. In the past two semesters, there are 5 modules in each term, and the curriculum is well-organised. During the first term (Michaelmas Term), we only have compulsory modules, which are more like preparation courses. After that, you would know which direction you were good at and you could have a better choice of the optional modules in the second term. To be more specific about the modules, the two main things about all modules is Central Bank and other commercial banks. So in MBF, you would learn how do central bank and commercial banks work and what is the relationship between these two; finally how to control the risks during the working process. As I say, it is the combination of finance and economics. Firstly, the central bank needs to be responsible for the whole economic environment. Therefore, we learned the DSGE in Macroeconomics and know how the central bank set up the interest rate. Secondly, under the fierce competition of capital market, increasingly commercial banks expand their business to stock market. So we learned the operations of financial derivatives in order to control the risk of commercial banks. Thirdly, we would learn some corporate finance as well. It because the commercial banks would issue debt to firms, we need to know the risk of firms to distinguish whether finance this company. I would recommend the people who would like to work in banks and have finance and economic background to learn MBF as a master study.

Lastly, lets talk about the exams in MBF. Most of the modules in MBF are marked by the final big exams. So that sometimes you need to review 4 modules in one week and take 4 exams in the next week, which can be challenging if you are not prepared. In this case, here are some suggestions from my personal experience:

  • Firstly, before the revision, you should clearly know the range and the way of exams. Some exams may have 5 questions and you only need to choose 3 of them: in this situation, if your revision time was limited, you could only revise the lectures which you are familiar with (although it is definitely better to revise all of them).
  • Secondly, it is better to revise all modules in each day. If you focus on one module for few days, after that you may forget some of them.
  • Thirdly, it was suggested to us to take time at the beginning of each exam to just read the questions – this reading time is crucial, do not waste it! I still remember the first time when I was taking the exam, I tried to answer  questions during the reading time, although I was not writing anything. During the exam, I did so bad since I did not recognise which question was hard. I ended up missing the questions that I would have found easier, as I wasted too much time in the hard one! My experience is that the reading time is really important for you to make a whole plan of your exams.

End of Lent Term and Hey! It’s My First Spring!

As a postgraduate student, I really can’t describe how fast the time went by. It feels like yesterday I was excitingly starting my first day of the Masters orientation, but now 6 months has passed and it’s already the end of Lent term. During 6 months of study, I might say that I have learned a lot from the classes that I took. As I have a background in Information Technology and Management, I took the MSc in Information Technology, Management and Organisational Change (ITMOC) at the Organisation, Work and Technology Department.

During my studies, I have learned many things including how IT can help organisations/businesses to reach their optimum competitive advantages and current trends in technology development. One of the most interesting courses that I took is IT and Digital Strategy where I learned about how IT can also bring harm to people if it is not being used properly: this effect is called the dark side of IT. One of the dark sides of IT is the stress which people can get if they get too much information from overflowing information from the internet or what we call technostress. Sometimes we feel that we can’t live without IT and work during the weekend or our leisure time! I can relate to this course a lot because somehow I feel that “yeahhhh, that’s totally happened to me all this time!” 😀 This course made me realise that we still have to use technology wisely even though it helps our life significantly.

After we ended the Lent Term, I believe that many of you will have numerous deadlines and exams after the Easter break. Me as well! It must be super stressful for many of us. To relieve this stress, I recommend that you look around our beautiful campus and see that spring has finally sprung!

As a student who comes from a tropical country with only 2 seasons (rainy season and not-so-rainy season :p), it’s really exciting for me to see how the flowers started to bloom beautifully after a long winter. I took many pictures because it’s also my first time to see cherry blossoms! Around Lancaster, you might see some cherry blossom trees and for me this kind of healed my stress.

During the spring, another difference that I feel is in terms of clothes because finally I can get rid of the fluffy and thick winter coats! The weather is also getting warmer as the sun shines more often, yet we also have to be ready for sudden rain because hey! It’s Lancaster 😀 Make sure to always check the weather forecast app on your phone to prepare for what clothes are suitable that day.

If you have some spare time, you might also try to travel somewhere outside Lancaster to refresh yourself after finishing the term and getting ready for assignments and exams. As for me, I write this post while I am on holiday in Greece. After I get back to the UK, I’ll be ready for all the deadlines! ;D

Don’t forget to relax and, to my fellow Postgraduate students, get ready for your dissertation. This too shall pass! 🙂 Stay healthy and happy during the break!

Guest post:Putting theory into practice

Nadeem Khan, a current student on the MA Human Resources and Consulting,  has already started putting the theory from the programme into practice, working with a bank in Pakistan. Here, he talks about how he applied what he has learnt so far on the programme.

Nadeem (far right) delivering the session for SBP in Pakistan.

Nadeem (far right) delivering the session for SBP in Pakistan.

As an HRD Consultant I had worked for several years prior to starting the programme. Before leaving Pakistan I had informed clients of my schedule during the programme and that I would be open for assignments during my winter break. The National Institute of Banking and Finance (NIBF), a subsidiary of The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) wanted me to deliver a two-day learning intervention in December 2016 on ‘Building Dynamic Teams’. I believe this proved to be a great opportunity for me to put the theoretical frameworks and skills that I had learned from the programme into practice.

The design and dynamics module had prepared me early on to outline the structure and activities that were to be incorporated in the two-day learning intervention. I picked up lots of ideas and activities drawing from the coursework. As there were 18 individual contributors from teams from all branches of SBP, I also had to keep in mind learning from difference. The careers module played a significant role when it came to selecting the relevant content for the SBP intervention through its focus on communication and effective team dynamics.

The MA HRC is set in a way that I had the opportunity to both study and experience firsthand group structures and processes, feel the power dynamics and struggles in teams, live the communication patterns and decision making and experience team leadership on the programme. Therefore, when I was delivering the workshop I was able to share my experience of being in similar shoes to the participants, making my examples more credible and worthwhile.

Overall, the improved design, theoretical framework and quality content enabled me to score higher feedback than previous interventions I had facilitated at SBP.