The Bartlett


Studying during a pandemic

I recently moved to London to start my degree MEng Engineering and Architectural Design (EAD) at UCL. The first year of it is already gone, and although it was mostly exciting, it is no secret that the pandemic made it much harder for incoming students to adapt to this new environment. If you are preparing to move to London and study at UCL, keep on reading to find out my experience and some tips on integrating, despite the effects of Covid. 


James Lighthill House

First year students have a guaranteed place in accommodation, which is also a guaranteed chance to meet your future best friends. You might think that living with people you know nothing about is not a great idea, but it is actually the easiest way to make friends. When I arrived to my accommodation (James Lighthill House), I realized that all the students were in the same situation. Everyone was looking to make friends and doing everyday things together (like making dinner or buying groceries) made it very easy. Everyone had a different background, so we had loads of topics to talk about, and the best part in my opinion, many different cuisines to try. Some of my closest friends are the people I was in the same flat with, even though we were assigned rooms randomly. Each hall also has a hall rep, who organises events throughout the year. We had a candy cane delivery, afternoon tea call and quiz night, which were a great opportunity to meet residents from other flats. 

Picture of afternoon tea invite

The Bartlett 

In normal times it would be easiest to meet other students on your course while attending lectures, but since we had our lectures online, that was a bit harder. Despite Covid we still managed to connect, which is very important, as those are the people I will spend the next 3-4 years with. We made a group chat and arranged to meet each other safely on multiple occasions. Since we couldn’t gather indoors, we held the first EAD mini Olympics in a park, which was a really exciting event and I think will become a great tradition for our course.

Since courses at The Bartlett have many students, an easier way to meet in a smaller group was during the weekly transition mentor meetings. Those were held throughout the first term and consisted of all students being divided in groups of about 10 and assigned a transition mentor who is in their 2nd or 3rd year. We got lots of advice from our mentor, but also a chance to talk to the others in the group and get to know them.

Clubs and societies 

Another great thing at UCL is the Students’ Union and in particular the hundreds of Clubs and Societies it is home to. You can join one (or more) based on you background (Spanish club), studies (Bartlett School of Architecture Society), beliefs (Jewish Society), or interest (Football club). I joined the Badminton club and made many friends both during practice and at online socials. The best part is that members are from different years and degrees, and are brought together by the ideas or practice of this particular club or society. The clubs are all student led and organize many social events (in person and online) where you can meet the other members. 

Moving to a big city like London is already scary as it is, without thinking of how the pandemic has affected it. Adapting required some more effort, but trust me, it was worth it. Take a leap of faith, prepare to jump on every opportunity and make the best out of your time at UCL! 

About the author

My name is Ina Natseva and I just turned 18. I am from Bulgaria, but lived most of my life in Brussels, Belgium. I graduated from European School of Brussels IV. I speak 5 languages and love writing and painting. I study Engineering and Architectural Design at The Bartlett School of Architecture

Student blogger: Ina