Meet Eita from Japan, who studied our 9-week pre-sessional programme, and went on to study MSc Management at UCL.
What’s your background?
After studying data science at a university in Tokyo, I worked as a researcher in the Research & Development department of a textile manufacturer in Kyoto for about three years.
Why did you choose to study at UCL?
In choosing a university, I placed great importance on the quality of education. The fact that UCL alumni are achieving remarkable results year after year left me in no doubt about the quality of education at UCL.
Also, because I was looking for a flexible and cutting-edge education that was not too bound by tradition, UCL's culture of being open to new ideas was very appealing to me. I believe that this school culture will continue to be passed down from its inception, just as it is difficult to change individual human nature.
What course do you study now and what is it like?
I study a Management Master's degree programme at UCL. The backgrounds of the students are very diverse, some of my classmates have studied political science, while others have studied engineering. The classes also teach the psychological aspects of organisational behaviour, while accounting and technology management classes often require a mathematical approach, and the diverse backgrounds of the students help us to learn more from each other.
The School of Management campus is located on the top floor of an office building in Canary Wharf, the UK's financial district, and I think it is the perfect place for students who want to work in investment banking or consulting firms in the future. Although a bit far from Bloomsbury, where the main campus is located, the view of London from the 50th floor and the good free coffee are probably the most attractive features of this campus.
How has the Pre-sessional helped you in your Master’s degree?
I'd like to make a special mention of the note-taking skills I learned during the pre-sessional course. Different learning backgrounds have different ways of taking notes, and in the actual MSc Management class, some students type very fast, while others use electronic devices that allow them to write by hand. However, what they all had in common was that each of them had already established their own method of note-taking to make it convenient for review.
Pre-sessional students, on the other hand, have the opportunity to learn different note-taking methods optimised for UK classes through actual lecture videos. However, it is also true that note-taking in a live class requires speed, and I overcome this difficulty by preparing lecture materials before the class.
What was the biggest challenge you faced during your time on the Pre-sessional?
My biggest worry during the pre-sessional was whether I would be able to pass the final exam and be admitted to UCL successfully. Even my very fluent English-speaking friends were saying the same thing, so I felt that this was probably a concern that many students had.
At first, I was worried about whether I would be able to acquire the four English skills necessary to pass the course, especially since the pre-sessional classes focus on the skills required for the Master's programme on the assumption that you will pass. However, as I took the classes, I realised that the course is designed in such a way that if you do what is assigned carefully and well, you will naturally acquire the necessary English skills. This thoughtful course structure is one of the great things about it.
What advice would you give to a prospective Pre-sessional student?
Since I was enrolled in the course in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I participated in the pre-sessional course remotely. At first, I was concerned about the time difference between the UK and Japan, but the curriculum took into account the time zones of each country, so I was able to attend at a sensible time.
On the other hand, when it comes to online classes from home, it is easy to get distracted. To prevent this from happening, I kept my room neat and tidy to create an environment where I could concentrate, and made it a routine to wake up at a certain time every morning to prepare for the class.
What is it like to live and study in London?
What I was worried about when studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic was hate crimes. Before entering the school, I had heard a lot of news in Japan about hate crimes overseas, so I was a little afraid of the security in London.
However, I have not heard of any such incidents in my neighbourhood, and I have been able to spend my time here very safely. Rather, I was pleasantly surprised to receive warm hospitality from the people, such as coffee service at cafes.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?
I had already made up my mind to join the AI Society run by UCL students, as UCL is the university that produced the founder of DeepMind, the company famous for AlphaGo, and I was sure that the students studying in this field must also have great intelligence.
Indeed, the AI Society did meet my expectations and not only did I make friends outside of the classes, but I also had the opportunity to go to the main campus regularly, which was an unexpected benefit. There are so many other societies at UCL, and although I am not a registered member, I feel that many MSc Management students join Consulting and/or Management societies.
How is the UK education system different to your home country?
In the MSc Management, classes are usually three hours long on weekdays, with a few 10-minute breaks in between. I don't know if this differs from country to country, but for me, it was my first experience of concentrating on one subject for three hours a day.
Although it may seem like we have a lot of free time, in reality, we have a lot of required reading to do before class, and we need to find creative ways to set aside time for self-study. Therefore, the skimming and scanning skills that I have acquired in the pre-sessional have been a great help in saving my leisure time.
Which UCL residence did you live in and how was your experience?
I live in Stapleton House, one of UCL's accommodation buildings. Since the UCL School of Management students take classes at the Canary Wharf campus, there are almost no opportunities to interact with students from other faculties unless you are willing to take action. I didn't pay any attention to this when I was looking for a place to live, but now that I have made friends with many of my roommates from other faculties, I am really glad that I chose the UCL accommodation. I also happen to be living in the same accommodation with one of my pre-sessional classmates, and we are having a great time every day.