Michelle Theresa Thio Li Fong graduated in July 2018 with a First Class Honours degree in Law. Among here many achievements during her time at Queen Mary was obtaining the Principal’s Prize for Outstanding Achievement in 2018. She is now working towards being legally qualified as a Legal Trainee back home in Singapore. Here she reflects on how the IFP laid the foundations which helped her achieve her academic goals.
The International Foundation Programme (IFP) has been one of the most enriching and enjoyable experiences over my past 4 years in London. Ranging from academic, social and holistic development, I truly believe that the IFP is indeed a comprehensive programme that prepares individuals for their undergraduate studies.
First, the structure of the IFP allows individuals from all academic backgrounds to acclimatise to the pace of British Higher Education. Personally, I appreciated the cumulative mode of assessment, which is highly relevant to undergraduate studies. Moreover, I found that electing essay-based modules – International Relations & Politics, English & American Literature and Human Geography, improved my ability to write discursively, factoring in well for the Law undergraduate programme.
Secondly, the IFP is indeed an international platform hosting a plethora of nationalities. With such a combination of cultures, I felt that my perspectives on world issues were enhanced and enlightened. Some of my closest friends during my LLB undergraduate studies were in fact the people who journeyed with me during the IFP, and they continue to be my dear friends even after Graduation.
Lastly, the holistic aspect of the IFP comes through the support offered by the IFP team. Be it Personal Development, Teaching Office Hours or Peer Support, there is no shortage of student support services available. I was deeply motivated by the dedication of Dr Fenton, who constantly guided us through the Human Geography module. Over the course of my undergraduate studies, I had the privilege of working as a member of the Peer Support Team, aiding and advising current students on both academic and social of the IFP.
The three aspects of development have assisted me greatly throughout my undergraduate studies, and I believe that these aspects will continue to do so as I embark on my journey as a Law Professional.
Daniela MacArena Alvarez Baringo completed the IFP in 2015 and went on to Queen Mary’s School of Politics and International Relations, graduating with a 2:1 in International Relations in July 2018. As part of her undergraduate degree at Queen Mary she had the opportunity to spend a year aboard at Boston College in the United States. Daniela reflects for us on her time at Queen Mary.
The IFP was crucial to succeed on my undergraduate studies at QMUL. After IFP my English and academic skills improved significantly and I was more than confident to achieve my goals. All four years at QMUL were incredible but I remember IFP and my Exchange year at Boston College as the best years of my life. I would recommend IFP to everyone who comes from another country. Moving abroad is never easy and it is a year of adaptation and of getting to know new people with the same circumstances. Every year I did internships during the summer. I went to NGOs to help in anything which was needed, which later inspired me to write my dissertation on this topic and my experience with these NGOs. Now, one month after graduation I will start working in NYC for the Spanish Mission at the United Nations. I still cannot believe it!! I am the happiest person in the world! Thank you QMUL for everything!
Bozidar Bogosavljev from Serbia completed the IFP in 2015 and went on to obtain a First Class Honours degree in LLB Law and Politics from Queen Mary’s School of Law in July 2018. He is currently completing an LLM in Corporation Law at New York University. Here he looks back on his experience at Queen Mary on the IFP and as an undergraduate.
When I first came to the UK, I was little more than a confused 18-year old unsure of what I wanted to pursue in my career. Of course, at the time, it didn’t seem so to myself – although I was still not fully decided on what I would pursue after my undergraduate degree, I mostly felt as though I had university all figured out, being as I had been very successful in high school as well. As it turned out, however – and this is something I would only later realise upon some serious self-reflection – I was dead wrong.
As I would come to understand during my time at Queen Mary, studying at university level in a foreign country is something entirely different to what most of us will have been used to up until that point. It involves becoming familiar with and actively using a specific style of academic jargon; being entirely self-sufficient when it comes to preparing for essays and exams; regulating your own sleeping schedule; cleaning; cooking; and a myriad of other things which might never have crossed your mind back home. The amazing thing is, however, that I barely noticed this inherently difficult transition, which I can largely attribute to my time on the IFP. The best way I could describe it would be a “unique, tangible, pre-university experience” which teaches you the ins and outs of university life, from the mundane to the truly challenging. During the IFP, I learned how to write academic essays, how to reference them properly, how to search the library, how to use Westlaw and QMPlus, how to compose a professional email, and much, much more. I made friends who stayed with me throughout my LLB, always there to help me when I needed it and to share insights which few other students could as they had started their undergraduate education straight out of high school.
Now, 4 years later, I hold a First Class Honours degree in LLB Law and Politics, and will be continuing my education with the LLM Corporation Law at New York University. I can safely say that a very important contributing factor to my success has been that 1 year of IFP; it taught me what to expect of university in an equally rigorous, yet slightly more familiar setting, and I truly wonder if I would be where I am today had I not opted to do it.
It was great to welcome seven Queen Mary IFP alumni who have since graduated and are now working in London back to campus on Thursday the 4th of December for a panel discussion and networking event. Now working in a wide variety of sectors, the alumni shared happy memories of their time on the IFP and insights into the careers they have chosen to pursue with current IFP students and IFP alumni who are now undergraduates at Queen Mary. It was wonderful to see such a great turnout on a wet December evening at a busy time of year.
From left to right the panel consisted of Feyi Adegbohun, (EY -formerly Ernst and Young) Ervig Hysaj (Bline Group) Billy Ng (Carters), Tornike Liparteliani (Insignia), Thevinth Sivagnanam (Statpro), Sarah Bhuiyan (UCL) and Ibrahim Altayeb (Longulf).
Topics covered in the wide-ranging discussion included how to network, obtaining your first professional position, developing your transferable skills while at university and the differences and similarities between student life and working life.
IFP alumna Adhishree Adulkar, who hails from Pune in India , is currently completing her BA in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary. As part of Queen Mary’s Study Abroad Programme she had the opportunity to spend the first semester of her second year at the University of Toronto in Canada, one of many top ranked universities around the globe which are possible Study Abroad destinations for Queen Mary students. Here she reflects on her experience.
The melting pot culture of Toronto can be experienced to its fullest at the University of Toronto. The university of Toronto provides a world class quality of academics. With its exceptional faculty, the experience of learning is highly stimulating. What I found most interesting, especially in relation to my course, was how the modules pushed conventional boundaries. An example of this, was a module called ‘Canons and Canonicity’ that I studied during my time there. Being a student of Comparative Literature, I have always been used to thinking of Literature within the boundaries of texts, such as, novels, short stories, poems. But in that particular module, we looked at how these boundaries can be pushed and how canon formation in art, sculpture, music, pop culture, can be studied alongside literature, how there can be a distinct spillover between the two, and the symbiotic relationship of how the two influence each other.
While it is undeniable that the experience of a foreign country and a new university is enriching, it can also be intimidating and difficult at first. Nevertheless, I do earnestly believe that the benefits outweigh the initial discomfort. The university of Toronto also has an exceptional student union body that conducts a variety of activities that one can get involved in. During my time there, I was involved in writing and directing a modernised adaptation of Pirandello’s play ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’, which was an opportunity that I greatly appreciate.
The experience of studying abroad therefore, has made me more confident. It has also taught me to be able to think more deeply about some elements of my modules. And lastly, it has also given me exciting stories and memories surviving the extreme Canadian cold!
You can find out more about the varied opportunities offered by the Study Abroad Programme at Queen Mary here.
Alexander Kristallis completed the IFP in July 2014 and then went on to read Law and Politics at Queen Mary, graduating with a 2:1 in July 2017. After four years in the UK, Alexander is now based in Washington DC, where he has just started a master’s degree at Georgetown University (pictured). Alexander found the IFP academically stimulating and personally rewarding and is still very much in touch with a wide range of friends from all over the world whom he first met on the IFP.
He is enjoying his studies at Georgtown although he has to admit ‘they have me very busy.’
You can read more about Alexander’s experiences on the IFP here.
The International Foundation programme was by far one of the best decisions I have made, for both academic and personal reasons.
[W]hen the short year is finished and you move on to further academic education, you begin to truly realise how valuable the programme was in shaping your career, interests, and friendships.
Joel Tan from Malaysia did the IFP in academic year 2012 to 2013 and has very fond memories of his time at Queen Mary. After the IFP, Joel completed an LLB at the University of Leeds, graduating with a 2:1 in July 2016. While an undergraduate at the University of Leeds, Joel also found time to work as a reading volunteer at a local primary school with Learning Partnerships. He then did his Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) – a postgraduate course for law graduates for aspiring barristers – at City, University of London. Joel is now halfway through his first semester on an LLM at London School of Economics.
I’m enjoying LSE so far! The course is intellectually stimulating and the lecturers are very passionate and helpful.
I must say the demographics of the course is extremely diverse. For e.g, one of my class had 14 students and all 14 came from different countries!
Joel is clear that Queen Mary’s IFP helped him develop the skills and confidence to achieve his goals. You can read more about his experience on the IFP here.
Twenty-nine IFP Alumni graduated from Queen Mary in July 2017 with four students achieving first class degrees and eighteen achieving a 2:1. These students completed the IFP in 2013-2014 and a number have taken the time to look back on their IFP experience here. Thevinth Sivagnanam from Italy recalls his time on the IFP as ‘one of the most crucial experiences of my life’ which gave him ‘the confidence and the skills to succeed.’
The thing that I liked the most is how friendly and helpful the whole IFP environment was, small classes where everyone was a friend with everyone and willing to help the others like a big multicultural family.
I still remember when I moved from Milan to London, I could barely speak and understand English. I used to nod to everyone who was speaking to me even if I could barely understand them, that’s how bad my English was.
Thevinth plans to find a job in the banking sector or with a hedge fund or in consultancy.
Bogdana Kurylo has recently been awarded a BA (1st class ) in History and Politics by Queen Mary University of London. Bogdana recalls arriving in London to start the IFP as an ‘unforgettable experience’ that gave her the confidence to aim high with her ambitions. The IFP helped Bogdana to adjust to studying at university in the UK and is ‘especially grateful to all the tutors who truly inspired me in my studies.’ Looking to the future, Bogdana is planning to continue her studies in the UK and is currently applying for postgraduate studies in political philosophy.
Political philosophy is the study of the fundamental questions about the state, government, politics, liberty, justice and the enforcement of a legal code by authority. The illustration here shows the frontpiece of Thomas Hobbes’ (1588–1679) book Leviathan which is one of the cornerstones of western political philosophy.
Find out more about Bogdana’s experience here.
Congratulations to Bartosz Slota (IFP class of 2011 to 2012) who, after graduating with a first class honours degree in Economics from Queen Mary University of London, has just started an MSc in Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment at University College London (UCL). This MSc is unique in the UK in focusing on five core areas which have risen rapidly up the public agenda – environment, climate and energy economics, modelling and policy and it equips students to become leaders and entrepreneurs in areas such as policy-making, the business management of sustainable issues, energy system modelling and the understanding and application of innovative systems. Bartosz describes his time at Queen Mary as ‘an amazing journey’ that helped him to become ‘a more confident and better organised student’. Bartosz also points out that while on the IFP he made lifelong friends from all over the world. Find out more about Bartosz’s experience here.