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.

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!

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.

Learning Opportunities at Lancaster University

Lancaster University Management School provides opportunities to learn outside of the conventional classroom based learning, creating a learning environment well suited to various styles of learner.

One such learning experience that I have taken part in during my second year of study is a management module, which involves working with a live client, to aid in resolving a real-world problem from the organisation.

The module is competitive from the beginning, with each group competing for their organisation of choice from a list of business (local and some further afield) who have partnered with the University to work with Management School students. This involves producing a ‘project bid’, in which the team must illustrate their understanding of their chosen client’s issues, as well as the team strengths to create an argument demonstrating why they should be allowed to work with the particular client. Once the bids have been evaluated, those who presented the strongest arguments are awarded the clients they requested to work with, and all other teams are allocated the remaining organisations.

Luckily for me, our project bid was strong enough to be awarded the client that we most wanted to work with. This was a small, local charity which meant our experience was very intensive and our involvement was perceived as being particularly important to the client.

Working with a charity was particularly rewarding, and a personal highlight was visiting the charity at the start of the module to learn more about the client. This was a great opportunity to speak to stakeholders and staff members to find out first hand important information about the problems faced. It was also great to be in a learning environment outside of University, in a real working environment and facing real organisational issues.

The project did not come without its challenges, though. An important part of the process for my group was to collect primary research, which involved approaching local people in the town centre. This proved to be more difficult than we had ever imagined, and encouraging people to speak to us wasn’t exactly easy!

The module runs over two terms, and is an intensive, hands on, real life experience. Working outside of the classroom acts as an opportunity to fully understand and experience the discrepancies between theory and practice, and understand the subject (in my case, management consultancy) in a much more in depth way compared to simply learning through lectures and seminars. Not only this, but this experience is a great CV booster – you can demonstrate real life skills working in a professional manner with genuine clients who have sought your help.

The assessment for this module involves an individual essay, which acts as an opportunity to reflect on the learning experience and how your understanding of the subject has changed with exposure to a real world consultancy issue. There is also a group report and presentation to the client, allowing you to showcase your hard work. The presentation is primarily for the client but moderated by the module tutors and lecturers, and therefore it really requires you to integrate your theoretical knowledge and practical experience in order to appeal to the different audiences.

I chose to study this module because I wanted to gain hands on experience whilst learning, and that is exactly what it provided. It truly is a one of a kind learning experience which inarguably throws you in at the deep end. Nevertheless, the experience is invaluable, providing real work experience and aiding in your academic study. It is an excellent opportunity to develop your interpersonal skills, and be able to show your understanding of a University subject in the real world.

A place to work

Dmitry library

Unlike other institutions that might provide students only with an essential equipment, Lancaster University is happy to share plenty of facilities in order to make your studying experience comfortable and productive; in this post we will discuss their pluses and minuses.

Graduate College

Plus Minus
Regarding on-campus accommodation in Graduate College, your room will have a desk, shelves for books and papers, permanent fast internet connection. Sometimes you might need extra light and probably it will be worth buying a desk lamp either from charity shop on campus or from Wilko in downtown.
College has an area specially designed for PG students – the Social Hub. It has two rooms – one quite zone for studying, with desks and a small library, and another bigger room for chilling out and group work, where you can find pool table, darts, ping-pong table and many board games. In addition, it has a small kitchen area with sink, microwave oven and free-of-charge tea. There might be cold inside, especially in winter time. So you can either put on warm cloth or ask for a portable heater from the porters.

Apparently, if you plan to have a big event in the Social Hub like birthday celebration or international dinner you must book it at least one week in advance at college administration.

Apart from the Social Hub, there is a PC zone nearby also accessible only by PG students. It has two rooms as well – one quite zone with around 20 PCs, and a room for group work where you can find big tables and screens for practising presentations. This is a quite convenient replacement to the library since it’s nearby and is almost always free. The working space at each PC is a bit narrow because of cubicles.

Library

Plus Minus
There are plenty of computers, desks and group work spaces, so you can choose from various options where to sit and work. The library is extremely busy during exam periods (December/January, April/May), hence there are not enough free places.
There is a special zone in the library that only postgraduate students can access via their library card. It’s quite roomy and usually it is not busy. It’s much quieter than the common area which is good for concentration. Unfortunately, there are no PCs available in this area, hence you need either to bring your own laptop or move to the common area since all the PCs are located there.

Management School

Plus Minus
There is a big computer lab in LUMS with more than 30 PCs. All of them have Windows 10 and MS Office 2016 installed, so those machines are quite powerful and up-to-date. This room is good for group work that requires work on PC and discussion at the same time. Sometimes this lab is used for lectures and seminars, so check the timetable on its door to see whether it is booked or not.
There is a so-called Bloomberg lab designed for students who study finance and need to work with Bloomberg software. There are about 12 computers, each of which has 4 screens. In my personal opinion, the most powerful computers on campus are located in this lab. This lab was created by Lancaster University in partnership with Bloomberg mainly for students who study finance. Thus, although everyone can access this lab, a priority access is given to finance students.