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.

Things To Do in Lancaster

Have you ever felt tired of all routines, assignments, never ending classes or group work? You feel like you need fresh air, yet you’re too lazy to go outside the city or do not want to spend too much money going out? Then… why don’t you explore our own city, Lancaster! Some of you might not realise that there are so many beautiful places that you can visit only 15 minutes from campus in 1 day!

Before you visit places around Lancaster, it might be good for you to know few facts about Lancaster. Some of you might probably know that Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire, England surrounding the River Lune. Lancaster, is a historic city in England with numerous buildings in Georgian architecture. You might realise when you’re going to the city center that there are many old buildings that you’ll never get tired of seeing!

Now, I will try to give you some ideas on what to do in Lancaster over the weekend. All you need to do is just to take a bus from campus and you’re good to go! 🙂

Lune Millennium Bridge

The first place that I would recommend is Lune Millennium Bridge. It is located near the Bus Station right behind Sainsbury’s. It spans the River Lune, Lancaster. The history of this bridge is that it was built to commemorate the millennium of 2000. It forms a “Y” shape and it is suitable for cyclists and pedestrians. Be ready for a surprise from this bridge as sometimes it will shake a bit when you’re walking on it 😀

Lancaster Castle

After you spend some time on Lune Millennium Bridge, you can take a walk to a hill right next to the bridge. 5-minutes-walk will bring you to one of the icons of our city, Lancaster Castle. You can see the stunning views of Lancaster from above. This castle may have been founded around the 11th century and it used to be a prison! Owned by The Duchy of Lancaster (Her Majesty the Queen is the Duke of Lancaster), the castle has witnessed significant historical and political impact in the thousand years of its existence. Until 2001 it was still functioning as prison, but now it is open for public and tourist activity. If you want to learn more about its history, you can join the guided tour that is available inside the castle. You can also enjoy a cup of tea in the café inside the castle.

Lancaster Canal

Another attraction that you can visit in Lancaster is the peaceful Lancaster Canal. You can walk 10 minutes from Lancaster Castle to this place. You can also grab your lunch in at the White Cross Restaurant by the river. You can enjoy a nice lunch with river and bridge view as well as seeing some cute ducks along the river 🙂

Ashton Memorial Park

This place might be my favorite place in Lancaster! It is reaaaalllllyyyyyyyy beautiful especially on a sunny day. You can take a walk here but it’s quite a distance from the canal or you can just take a bus whereas you still need to climb a bit to reach this place. Many people called Ashton Memorial Park “England’s grandest folly” and the “Taj Mahal of the North” because this iconic building was commissioned by Lord Ashton as a tribute to his late wife.

You will first be welcomed by Williamson Park, a pretty park with some small ponds and various kind of plants. After that, you will get this view.

When you are walking up to the building, you can see the city of Lancaster from above. It is breathtaking! This spot is also the highest point in Lancaster where you can see the whole city. There is a pretty dome that is also open to the public. Please note that the interior will be on renovation from November 21 2016 to April 2017 so you might not be able to go inside. But do not worry because the outdoor view of Ashton Memorial is already amazing!

So yeah, there are many things that we can do in Lancaster right? An important thing that you should note before going around the city is: CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST! It won’t be as fun if the rain is pouring hard. In my case, I tend to go out when the sun is up with a clear and bright sky.

Now… Are you ready to go? 🙂

P.S photos are from writer’s personal collection

A Weekend in Sheffield

At the beginning of the term, assignments that I (and we?) have might not be as much as when the end of the term is coming. For me, when I have some spare time to travel during the weekend to refresh my mind, I sometimes  travel to cities around Lancaster. Last week (1st week of February), I went to Sheffield! This city can be reached in 2 hours by train and you only need to pay around 20 pounds for return tickets if you buy it in advance. You need to change in Manchester as there is no direct train from Lancaster to Sheffield.

I have been wanting to visit this city since last term and my goal is to visit 2 places: Bamford Edge and Edensor! They are sooo beautiful and I didn’t regret my decision to visit them during my weekend.

Saturday – 4 February 2017

I arrived in Sheffield on Friday night and I started my trip on Saturday around 10 am because I have to wait for the bus which directly goes to Bamford Edge. I took Bus No. 273 from University of Sheffield Bus Stop and I alighted at Lydgate Lane. The journey took around 40 minutes and you can also take bus No. 272, 274 and 275. After I arrived, I followed the maps which directed me to Bamford Edge.

The sky was soooo bright and the weather was perfect. From the bus stop to the hill, I need 60 minutes to walk.  After that I have to walk to reach the Edge for another 30 minutes. It was quite tiring! I got exhausted but it was all gone when I see this magnificent view!

It was soooooo beautiful that I feel like crying! It was colorful eventhough it was windy up there. I can’t stop taking pictures from one side to another. I spent around 1.5 hour there and finished my trip with a delish sandwich at the restaurant near the bus stop.

Please note that you should be really aware of bus schedule as they don’t come that often 🙂

Sunday – 5 February 2017

I started my journey early in the morning this day. I went from my friend’s house at 8 am and took bus No. 251 to Edensor for about 1 hour. Some of you might wonder, what is Edensor?

Actually, Edensor is a small village from my favorite book. It is a book from an Indonesian writer, Andrea Hirata, titled “Edensor”. The book taught me about the meaning of family, friendship and dream.  One of my favorite part of the book is: “I wanted to go to faraway places and meet with endless varieties of foreign languages and peoples. I wished to rove, finding my direction through reading the stars of constellations. I wanted to cross fields and deserts, to be burned by the sun until I blistered, to be shook by the assaulting wind, and shrink from being gripped by cold. I wanted a life that was thrilling, filled with conquest. I wanted to live! To feel the essence of being!”. I can say that Edensor from Andrea Hirata is one of the reason why I chose to study in UK, to experience the world and be a better person.

In his book, Andrea Hirate described Edensor beautifully. It is a quite, peaceful and breathtaking small village… And I can be more agree to this. Edensor is a very small village with only 1 church and some little houses, yet you will find some peacefulness here as everyone is super friendly and always greet and smile to each other. After spent around 1.5 hours walking around the village (and took many pictures of course :p), I visited Edensor Tea Cottage with warm and homey feels.

For me, Edensor has special meaning but for those of you who haven’t read the book; I would still recommend Edensor for you! It is a beautiful village with beautiful and you won’t regret your decision to visit this tiny village.

I spent 2 amazing days in Sheffield. It is a very nice city and bigger than Lancaster with lots of food options. Living cost is cheaper as accommodation, food and transportation costs are slightly cheaper than here in Lancaster. I highly recommend Sheffield for those who want to experience a bit of city and countryside experience at the same time.

May be I’ll be back there again, someday! 🙂

SURVIVING THE TERM

Sometimes, all you need to do is take a break and have fun!

My name is Richlove Ampofowaa Frimpong, from Ghana and currently studying MSc. Operational Research and Management Science. Well, it has been five months since I came to Lancaster University and I can confidently say these months have some of my favourite memories yet in life. I have learnt so much within this short period of time, met some of the most amazing people in the world, had some pretty bad days and some amazing good days and tried new things like standing in the snow (yeah, that’s a big deal for a young African lady!).

Well, Term 1 passed by like a whirlwind. I still remember how enthusiastic we all were on the first day of class and then by the time we realised, voila, it was Week 10 and we could take a break. As a student, I have realised that it is so easy to get stressed and lost especially during the mid of the term when you start getting courseworks and deadlines and then have to manage it with your class schedule. After careful thinking and conversations with my friends and some of my lecturers and academic supervisors, in this blogpost, I will like to share a few tips on how to survive the term.

  1. Plan each day of the week

Just a few days ago, I realised that I hardly got any work done when I left my activities for the day to chance. Being able to allocate time for the activities in a day helps you stay organised and also forces you to make sure you get those things done. Most of us use smartphones and hence can use the planners on our phones as a medium for planning our days. You must also make room for surprises that might spring up in the course of the day. I usually plan my week during Sundays and what I do is I use the ilancaster app to get my timetable for the week into my S-planner (Samsung is clearly the best phone!) and then decide on the times when I want to get some work done after class and add it to my schedule. The feeling of crossing out your planned activities after you have accomplished them can be likened to winning a gold medal during the Olympics. It’s definitely worth the try.

  1. Know what kind of student you are

A friend of mine told me during my undergrad that in uni, you must study smart not hard and I think I have come to agree with him. We just have 24 hours in a day, filled with classes, courseworks and also some personal activities and so in order to stay on top of our game as students, we need to figure out what works for us. Let’s see if my experiences can give you a clear idea of what I mean. I find it difficult studying for very long hours. So what I do is, I usually take walks when I get tired from studying or working on an assignment and then come back to it and get it done. I have a friend who works better at dawn and makes it a point to wake up very early to study. Another friend of mine happens to grasp things better when she makes her own notes in class. After all, “a short pencil is better than a long memory”. Being able to tell what works for you as a student will help you form the right strategy to handle your school work

  1. Ask for help if you are struggling

As I mentioned earlier on, I had some bad days and I was struggling with my schoolwork. There are so many wonderful people especially in LUMS that you can talk to if you are having a hard time. Being able to adjust to a new country, a different educational system or returning to school after working for a while can be challenging and demanding and sometimes advice from friends, colleagues, lecturers and the Effective Learning Team in LUMS could help save you a lot of trouble. If you do not understand a concept or topic from a class, ask your coursemate or go and see the lecturer for help. It is better to make an effort than to just give up.

  1. Be open-minded! Group work is not that bad.

The reaction we as students have when the lecturer tells us as part of our coursework, there will be a group work and the groups are not self-selected is always priceless: Students don’t like that at all. I must admit that groupwork can be challenging but also it’s a great avenue for learning from people. Being open-minded and willing to listen to other people’s opinions and finding a constructive way of having discussions could lessen the pain of group work. At the end of the day, all the members of the group want one thing: to get good grades in a course. Coming from different countries, with different mindsets and different ways of communicating, it is essential that you learn how to clearly communicate your thoughts and also try to understand people when they are communicating. However, if you do not find a structured ways of going about groupwork, you might end up using all the time discussing and arguing out points without necessarily achieving the objective of that particular assignment. That being said, as a group, you must find ways of making sure you do not spend all the hours you have arguing and discussing but try things like sharing the responsibilities of the work, identifying your strengths as members of a group and using these to help achieve the purpose of the assignment. I’ve made some very good friends through group works and it’s been amazing.

  1. Eat well, Rest well and HAVE FUN!!

In order to stay healthy for the term, we must make sure that we eat well and get enough rest. It is very easy for us to be caught up in our schoolwork such that we begin to neglect our bodies and forget to take good care of ourselves. Sometimes, all you need to do is take a break and have fun. Travel around, hang out with friends, play games, go for events. There are so many things you can do to help reduce the pressure from school and be re-energised and motivated to keep up with your schoolwork.

As Pele once said, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”, I think we should find ways to enjoy our courses, relate to them, build more interests in them and these can help us get our work done.

Have a wonderful term!!

 

Student Social Life In Lancaster

Hello! I am Begaim Muratbekova, postgraduate student at Lancaster University Management School, MSc in Project Management. I came from the heart of the Central Asia – Kyrgyz Republic. We are a tiny country with rich culture and very beautiful nature. This is the first time for me to live far away from my home, however, I would like to share with you one fascinating fact that will definitely help you to deal with home-seek and experience all the advantages of being in UK and studying in one of the best universities.

Lancaster is full of diversity. The source of the diversity is people. Here you can meet students from all around the world with different education, experience, cultural background and hobbies. Surely, it fascinatingly influences the social life in the university and it is considered to be one of the best things during your studies.

In my blog I would like to make an overview of main features of the student life in Lancaster.

Firstly, as a postgraduate student you will immediately feel the spirit and atmosphere that unites people in Graduate college. It has its own little life within the university as a whole. We have different events hold on a regular basis giving you the chance to have a break from your studies.  There is a postgraduate social hub that let you meet other students and share your ideas and thoughts. This will definitely enlarge your horizons and bring you new ideas and insights in a certain spheres. It will allow you to look on things from different prospective, because everybody is a unique individual and sharing opinion will be favorable for all of us.

Secondly, social life in Lancaster could be devoted to participation in different societies and clubs. It is one of the very interesting and helpful things that will prove that you had made the right choice. There are more than 200 societies in our university. So, everybody will find his/her favorite activity. There are plenty of the professional societies that offer real world experience in a certain field. It maybe be beneficial for your future career opportunities and CV. For instance, we have societies related to spheres of consulting, project management, marketing, advertisement and others. Here you can practice all theory that you get during classes. This will add value to your skills and it will allow you to start your networking as it is one of the most important things in consideration of the professional and personal development.  Of course, there are clubs and societies that are aimed at fun and joy. You can watch films, cartoons, listen to music, or read books collectively. In this case, you will have an opportunity just to relax and spend some time in order to support your motivation and focus on studies.

Other than that, there are some sport clubs that will let you exercise and keep yourself fit. Even sport is different here, it is not only yoga, football, volleyball or some other traditional sports, but also it could be Latin dances, shaping, different kinds of fighting techniques ( aikido, karate). In overall, you will never get bored if you will choose one of the previously mentioned societies or clubs.

Moreover, being socially active you will be able to be develop some professional skills. One of them is time management. As studies will require you to spend on them the biggest amount of your time, you will definitely need to devote certain periods for activities other than studies. So, finding the right balance between the extracurricular activities and studies will require and stress your time management skills.

Remember, social life in Lancaster will definitely be one of the best memorable moments of your life!

Plan Your Trip for School Break, Now!

During a long campus break, many of us have already planned something to do. Some of us planned to go home, while others decided to stay in Lancaster to do all assignments and prepare for exams. For international students, especially for those who have 15+ hour flights to go home, going back home might not be the first priority. Thinking about how exhausting a long flight would be, jet lag and so on and so forth is just…. (SIGH) But do not worry, you are not alone because now we are in the UK and there are so many things to do around here! 🙂

For an international student like me whom spent 24 years of my life in my country, Indonesia, going abroad to study is a very exciting experience since I get to see many new places that I have never visited before. Thanks to the education system in UK which gives opportunity for us to have a break between the terms, we can use this opportunity to explore the world! From my country, Indonesia, to travel from there to let’s say… Amsterdam, I need at least 700-1000 pounds just for the airplane ticket. But here from UK, I only need to pay merely 40 pounds for a return tickets 😀 As I will only spend 1 year for my Master degree here in UK, I will definitely make the most of my time by travelling around!

During my winter break, I spent half of it to travel around UK and Europe. I went to some cities in UK such as London, Liverpool, Oxford and Manchester. After that I traveled to 6 countries in Europe (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and The Netherlands). And it’s been exciting! If any of you are planning to take some trip during Easter break, maybe you can check out some tips and tricks from my previous trips 🙂

 

For those of you who plan to travel during Easter break and still have no idea how to start, you may check some tips and tricks here:

Plan Your Trip Early

If you’re going to go on Easter break, plan it now! Think about the countries that you want to visit, budget that you have, places that you want to see, etc. By planning early, there’s a high possibility to get cheaper ticket. Once, I got a one-way flight ticket to Eindhoven as cheap as 11 pounds! You will also have the opportunity to get cheaper accommodation, more time to plan when to apply for visa (if you need one) and more time to save money 😉 Also make sure that you’re visiting countries by order of which country is the closest to another, this will help you to save cost because closer distance means cheaper ticket 🙂

Book Your Ticket, Now!

Before you book your ticket, make sure that you have checked all assignments and exams deadline so you won’t miss anything. As student with limited budget, I always try to find as cheap ticket as possible. I tend to check to website like skyscanner.com or kayak.com to compare airplane tickets price. Don’t hesitate for too long because if you check the tickets several times without buying it, then the price will definitely increase! (that’s how it works). If you’re going on more than 1 country, don’t forget to book your bus/train ticket as well to get even cheaper price.

Hmmmm… How About Staying in Hostel?

If we are going on holiday with family, it is most likely that we will stay in the hotel. But what if you’re going all by yourself or just with your friend? Hostel might be a good deal for you! For me, staying in the hostel means 2 things: I get to know new people and I can save more budget. Most of the people staying in hostel are young people, so they are open-minded and fun to talk to. When I was in Budapest, I stayed in a nice hostel for only 6 pounds/night, got to know new friends from another country and even went to some places with them. But don’t forget to always be safe and make sure that you place your valuable belongings in the safe place.

Make Your Itinerary

When you are settled with your tickets and accommodation, it is time for you to make a detailed itinerary about places that you’re going to visit each day, how long you’re going to stay there, etc. For me personally, I don’t always make this kind of plan and simply just browse on internet “What to do in xxx” or “Best view in xxx”. This is all up to you! If you’re more a person with high attention-to-details, making a detailed itinerary might be a safe bet! 🙂

Enjoy Your Trip!

When the day of your trip comes, don’t forget to enjoy it! Take many pictures but make sure you enjoy the moment and learn something.

Traveling for me is one way to refresh my mind and open my eyes of another culture. From traveling, I get to see many places, taste new foods that I have never tried before, meet many new people, listen and learn new languages and many more! I believe that traveling will bring us nothing but fruitful experience and of course after that we will be ready to do all the assignments and prepare for exams! 😀 So now, plan your trip!

Cultural Food Night, What’s There Other Than Food?

“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.”

– Wendell Berry

Hi! My name is Nila Sukmawati, and I am a postgraduate student at LUMS, studying MSc Information Technology, Management and Organisational change (ITMOC). As an International student who is going abroad for the first time to study, everything about Lancaster, UK and any places that I have visited are all exciting for me. I had so many firsts during my 4 months experience of living abroad. First long-haul flight (yeah, I took 18 hours flight from Indonesia to Manchester, and another 1.5 train ride to Lancaster), first time being away from home for such a long time, first time visiting Europe and my most fascinating “first” would be my first time of having 21 classmates from 15 different Nationalities!

As I have classmates who is coming from different culture and background, it is really interesting to see how we speak in different English accent, how we talk and share to each other about how we missed home or about how much we are craving for foods from our hometown. Fun fact about my class is that we regularly held social events so that we get to know each other better and of course to get away for a while from tons of reading lists and assignments 😀 . One of the most exciting and unforgettable event for me (and maybe for the rest of the class) would be…. CULTURAL FOOD NIGHT!

Can you imagine when 22 people from 15 Nationalities had to bring foods from their country to be shared together? Food overload! 😀 I tried various kind of foods that I have never tasted or seen before. Blinis from Russia, Special pancake from The Netherlands, beef meatball and potato salad from Germany, egg frittata from Italy… and these were all yummy. Our friend from Taiwan also made delicious sushi and I made corn fritter, Indonesia special noodle and… fire noodles from Korea (it is not from Indonesia, but it is still from Asia though hehe). I was thinking about cooking fire noodles because I know that my classmates from Western countries might not be able to handle its spiciness. It is super spicy that your whole mouth would feel like it is burning. So, I want to challenge them!

Without any bias, I might say that this fire noodle was the “most wanted” food during our food night. Some of us can handle it, some can’t handle it and some did not have any courage to try it. But at least, I was really happy to get to introduce this food to my lovely classmates.

After filling in our tummy with various kind of foods, we started to play games and shared the story about our life. My friend from Russia brought a special drink from his country and introducing the way to drink with “Russian Style”. We also played “Guess the Movie” game together where someone had to describe a movie title with body gestures or drawing some pictures and the rest of us will guess the movie title. We can’t stop laughing and we felt happy together even though we are all far far away from our home.

Throughout this event, I really feel like I can get closer to my classmates. Sometimes, we are too busy working on our assignments or doing something else outside class that we forgot to socialise with people whom we met every day in class. For me, homesick attack is coming to me quite often and I can’t help myself to not complain about life. But on event like this where you can play, share and listen to the stories from your classmates, you will somehow feel like “Hey, chill! You are not alone here. You are here to discover yourselves and get to know others better. Be strong and you will be a better YOU!”.

I highly recommend this cultural food night event to be held in another class in Lancaster University. Not only we get the experience of tasting the whole new savory from another part of the world, but we would also be able to get to know about interesting culture and stories about another country. Additionally, this kind of event makes us realise that we are struggling here in Lancaster together and you don’t have to feel alone, because you are not! 🙂