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.

Beginning My First Year at Lancaster University (Again)

My first year at Lancaster University was one of the most exciting and challenging experiences of my life. From beginning my first term making new friends, starting modules, and learning how to do laundry (easier than it seems; still no fun); to ending my final term performing real-life consultancy work for a large company, participating in debates and campaigning for the General Election, and writing analyses of organisational theories. It’s a hectic, packed, brilliant time; and a journey on which I picked up a huge range of skills and experiences, and made friends for life from all kinds of backgrounds.

Despite the great time I had, I knew my course wasn’t quite for me. I was a BBA Management student, and while I thoroughly enjoyed learning management theories and applying them in incredibly fun and challenging group projects; I could never quite hack the more numbers-based side of the course – Maths and Statistics isn’t my forte, and while my grades hovered around firsts and two-ones for the more qualitative modules, I could never quite match that in, for example, the Accounting module I participated in.

Fortunately, the university couldn’t have been more helpful in aiding my transition onto a new course. After shooting an email to my academic adviser stressing my concerns, a meeting was quickly arranged, and we promptly sat down to talk through my thoughts. He was able to offer me a list of courses that would suit my needs and interests and the means by which I could transfer to them. I settled on Management, Politics & International Relations (MPIR), and now on my twelfth week of that course, I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

So, what is it like being a first-year again? Well, I didn’t need to waste any time trying to learn how to operate a washing machine for a start (NB: laundry still isn’t fun). Already knowing my way around the campus and the city, having an established group of friends and experience of living independently; a lot of the challenges that come with being a fresher didn’t present themselves this time round. However, being a second-time fresher presents challenges of its own: living off-campus with an established friend group (as most second-years at Lancaster do) does estrange you somewhat from your new coursemates who are mostly new freshers and living on campus. So making friends with people on my course has been somewhat more difficult – although thanks to regular meetings between us and our course director and departmental socials such as the Politics 100 quiz night, I have been able to get to know many of my fellow ‘MPIR’-ers.

Had I not come to the university doing BBA Management, I would have never known that MPIR was right for me – only through engaging in campus politics and making new friends doing other courses did I discover this. Additionally, although I’m no longer doing BBA Management, the experiences I had, the knowledge I gained, and the friends and contacts I made have been of huge value and will stay with me forever.

At the end of the day, you have to do what you’re passionate about doing – and LUMS is an excellent environment for guiding you towards what that is.

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!

Networking in London

I don’t know if the sound of networking is a daunting prospect for everyone, but it certainly was for me before the Capital Connections programme. Entering a room of CEO’s, managers and vice presidents, to name a few, was certainly something to be apprehensive about…But I was ready to embrace it.

Studying at Lancaster University Management School, the benefits of networking and the value that social capital can bring are topics commonly spoken of. However, actually building social capital? This was something new for me.

Attending a preparatory workshop with Jackie, Capital Connections Skills developer, I was provided the opportunity to practice and develop my networking skills. It was relieving to know that I was not the only one new to networking. Practicing with other students on the programme, I came away feeling confident and prepared to immerse myself at the networking events that awaited me.

The highlight of the programme was the networking event at Wallacespace in the vibrant district, Covent Garden. At the event, I had the chance to demonstrate my networking skills with professionals who had been in my shoes before – Lancaster University graduates.

I was amazed at how interested the alumni were to hear about myself and their willingness to share their knowledge and advice with me. It was particularly interesting that whilst exchanging experiences about Lancaster University, alumni recognised the value of the skills I am developing through membership in societies. Additionally, the suggestions alumni provided about societies and activities to get involved in has inspired and motivated me to discover even more of what Lancaster University has to offer me.

To finish the evening, it was a privilege to receive an invitation to dine with Liqiang Xu, a senior associate at Deloitte. This was the perfect opportunity to hear more about Liqiang Xu’s experience living in London, whilst capturing the atmosphere of living in the cultural capital of the world.

From visiting just a handful of the workplaces in London, from the BBC to EY, I’ve been awakened to the many exciting and interesting roles available for graduates in London. One thing I discovered is that many of the Lancaster University Alumni that I had the pleasure of meeting had pursued diverse career paths, with many unrelated to their degree subject. This so, I have taken the message to keep my career options open and to always pursue a career I will enjoy.

Looking back on the experience that Capital Connections have provided me, I have learnt that networking isn’t as daunting as I first thought and that with practice it is a skill that can eventually come naturally. Working in London indeed sounds an exciting prospect and I have certainly increased my interest in living and working in this vibrant business and leisure landscape. It is pleasing to hear that the Capital Connections programme is running again this year in April. I would highly recommend it to anyone who would like to learn more about career opportunities in London and to develop networking skills.

Adjusting to degree-level study

As both a mature student and somebody who’d never studied business before, I was naturally more than just slightly apprehensive about starting a Marketing degree at a university as prestigious and well regarded as Lancaster.  What if I failed to understand any of the lecture content? What if I found the work too challenging? What if everyone else was 1000 times more knowledgeable than me?

I’m relieved to say – up to now at least! – that my fears have gone completely unfounded. Although the Marketing course is indeed challenging, it’s challenging in a good way. I’m really enjoying the fact that it gives me the opportunity to think critically and broaden my horizons.

Right from the very first assignment, we’re encouraged to challenge the formulaic approach to Marketing that is often presented at A Level – or in my case, in traditional Marketing textbooks. Instead, we’re encouraged to see Marketing as a continually evolving process, where creativity, flexibility and innovation are key. In my view, this is something that is becoming increasingly important in today’s corporate environment, where both consumer tastes and technology are changing rapidly.

As well as questioning traditional schools of thought, the degree is also allowing me to challenge my own beliefs. As part of a recent topic on marketing regulation, in our seminars, we’ve been preparing for a debate around the introduction of the sugar tax.

Now, as someone who identifies very much on the left side of the political spectrum, I’d expected to be very much in favour of the sugar tax – after all, anything that encourages people to live healthily can only be a good thing, right? However, after my group were assigned the role of Coca Cola in the debate, I’ve found my views continuously evolving. I’ve been able to appreciate not only the idea of consumer choice and the efforts made by corporations to increase the variety of sugar-free options available, but also to see the limitations of the policy in regards to consumer education.

The interactive nature of the Marketing seminars is something that I’m really enjoying too. Although the idea of sharing your thoughts with the group can be a daunting prospect at first, I’m finding that listening to the ideas of other students is really helping to consolidate my learning. Taking part in group projects – such as the Coca Cola debate – not only helps us to develop skills relevant to the workplace, but also allows us to get to better get to know our coursemates.   Sometimes, seminars can even be, dare I say it, fun!

I’m really looking forward to finding out what the next term has in store – and seeing which of my pre-conceived ideas will be challenged next!

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.

Free MASH for all!

The best thing about being a student here at Lancaster University Management School is the free mash, without a doubt. Perhaps even better is that it is exclusive to LUMS students, meaning that your flatmates studying English or Politics cannot diminish the chunk of mash available to us Management School students.

Now, those of you reading this who are not currently studying at Lancaster University (this will be most of you), must be finding this quite complexing. “I can’t remember them telling us about free mash potato at that last applicant visit day, mum?”. And no, unfortunately this information won’t have been shared the last time you attended an event for prospective students. For the most part because LUMS of course do not offer free mash. Sorry guys.

Well, strictly speaking, they do! ‘MASH’ stands for ‘Maths and Stats help’, and it is a service designed to improve Management School students’ numerical skills. The likelihood is that if you come and study any LUMS degree, it will have some mathematical component. Since we’re not all the future John Nash, or that Maths teacher in high school who thought they could number crunch anything, we all may need a little help, from time to time.

The staff at LUMS understand this too, which is why you can book free one-to-one sessions with people who want to help you improve where possible, and help you achieve the best possible degree outcome. It doesn’t end there either, there are so many different services which LUMS students can utilise at their will, ranging from careers support to improving your writing skills.

Personally speaking, I did not have a particularly strong mathematical background before coming to university, but used all the help I had available to greatly improve my Maths skills during my first year. I know a lot of people who are sceptical about applying for certain Management School degrees as they do not believe they will be able to cope with the inherent mathematical components of certain subjects. If you are one of these, then I would encourage you not to be put off from studying a degree which you feel you will really enjoy, only because you don’t think you will be able to do the Maths.

I hope by reading this short piece, you now know a bit more about the variety of support available to LUMS students, and my positive experiences with them thus far. I hope that this blog also reflects how greatly your success at university is down to you. The help is there, you just need to adopt the mindset that you will look for it, you will find it, and you will use it.

The Great Indian Breakfast

“What should I have for breakfast?” I don’t know about the last thoughts people have before going to bed, but this is fairly commonly the one that I tend to sleep on. You might think as a PhD student I would have far more serious thoughts whirling in my mind as I finally lay it to rest after a long day, but… no, this one overrides them all.

Breakfasts in India, where I come from, tend to be elaborate. I love the simplicity and lack of fuss demanded by bread, butter, jam, eggs—I can quite see why it’s so popular everywhere and I won’t deny that I fall back on this option time and again when I wake up not having made any clear decisions. But being away from home, there is nothing that offers the soothing comfort and smell and feel of home as a warm breakfast made as it would be made at home.

For many of you wondering what these breakfast options might look like, here is a sample:

  1. Idli Chutney/Sambar: This counts as a number 1 on my list and it also probably takes the most time and effort. Steamed rice cakes with a flavourful and spicy coconut chutney and something like a tangy lentil gravy to go along. (recipe: https://indianhealthyrecipes.com/idli-sambar-recipe-tiffin-sambar/)
  2. Poha: Beaten or flattened rice mixed with potatoes, peanuts, and some spices (recipe: http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/kanda-poha-or-onion-poha/)
  3. Upma: Much simpler and quicker to make. Semolina cooked almost like porridge with or without vegetables such as peas, carrots, and so on. (recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/05/sooji-upma-indian-semolina-breakfast-recipe.html)
  4. Aloo Paratha: May be enjoyed for lunch as well as dinner but it makes for a rather scrumptious breakfast option in my opinion. Spicy mashed potatoes stuffed inside a whole wheat flat bread best had with curd or pickle (recipe: http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/aloo-paratha-indian-bread-stuffed-with-potato-filling/)

These are just the tip of the Indian breakfast menu iceberg, if I may use the expression. The one thing that is needed to make the effort of making these delicacies worth it would be some good company. I can’t say I have that on most days unless I count my articles and books in that category, but there is always the second best thing that never fails me: a hot cup of tea!

Volunteering in schools with Lancaster University Student Union

Lancaster University Student Union (LUSU) offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities and school volunteering is one of them. I chose to attend an introductory session on this project because, not only did I want to be engaged with the local community, but also I was interested in knowing more about the education system in the UK and in helping people achieve their potential. What unfolded during the session made this opportunity evermore compelling.

The session started with the reasons that inspired LUSU to develop the schools volunteering project. The project aims at bringing to pupils the opportunity to engage with university students and at helping them to consider going to university as a future option. The focus is on children coming from disadvantaged backgrounds or vulnerable pupils. Then the project’s development manager shared his experience with us on how children have different thoughts and impressions about going to university: while it could be a very possible option for some, for others, it was a path that they have never heard of.

The volunteering coordinator explained how LUSU will support us through this journey and how the different opportunities can be flexible, accessible and suitable to the volunteers’ passion and experience. The students who express an interest in school volunteering would be matched with a primary or secondary school, depending on the type of work they prefer. The aim is to get the best possible experience for both the volunteers and the pupils.

I am looking forward to starting my school volunteering placement in January. This opportunity will allow me to reinforce the positive impact that the project has on the community while engaging in a rewarding activity. I will have the chance to share with the pupils their classroom environment, as well as discuss with them my experience as a university student to increase their awareness of the option to continue their education in the future.

I am also looking forward to the impact that this experience will have on me. Through this project, I will have the chance to know more about the local culture as well as broaden my own future career aspirations. As an international student at LUMS, I am hoping to gain more international exposure and flexibility to discuss various issues with pupils, teachers and other students who are engaged in this project. Also, the activities will influence my communication and rapport-building skills, which have important and transferable aspects that I can use in a variety of situations. Last but not least, I am looking forward to this rewarding opportunity that will allow me to give back to the community and make a difference in other people’s lives.

Women in Economics

I still remember my first A Level Economics lesson: I was the only girl in a class of fifteen boys. Obviously, the problem here wasn’t that the economics faculty in my school didn’t accept girls onto their course (I mean, they let me in) but the problem was that girls weren’t applying to study this subject.

I can think of a few other examples of where certain subject areas seem to attract more men/discourage women from applying such as perhaps computing or engineering and it honestly baffles me. In a world where issues of gender equality and feminism are so current and openly discussed we still have girls being put off applying for traditionally “male-dominated” subjects.

Last term, the Lancaster Economics Society, together with LUMS, organised a talk by Manika Premsingh – an entrepreneur and economist. It was fascinating to hear about her journey to where she is today; and about the obstacles of being a woman in a “man’s world”. It really made me reflect on my own experiences of being a woman in economics and realise how important gender discussions are to the profession as a whole.

I am currently studying an Economics and International Relations degree and I can definitely say that the ratio of males to females in this subject has improved at university level, but it still isn’t where it should be. If we look at the below graph, taken from the Royal Economic Society website, we can clearly see how the number of male full-time undergraduate economics students has consistently been almost two times higher than the number of female students and I refuse to believe that this has anything to do with girls being less able or talented when it comes to this discipline.

 

 

Some of you may ask – well why does this matter? Maybe girls just want to do other things? Gender stereotyping aside, this view is very problematic simply because if research is only done by men, then the results are likely to fail at least half of the population – there are things that simply won’t be on male agendas. We need women to bring that perspective to the table.

Perhaps the issue is with our perception of economists. As the Financial Times so quaintly puts it: “To most people, an economist is the chap interviewed in newspapers or on the television uttering acronym-laced incantations about 0.3 per cent this or 10 per cent that. He is usually a man, rarely stylish, mysteriously confident, and a bit dull.” It’s hard to conjure up an image of a female role model in economics but that just means we need to become our own role models. I, for one, would love to see more women on the cover of the Economist and the Financial Times.