Our second Instagrammer in Residence, affiliate Biomedical Sciences student Michelle Shen tells us her remedy for homesickness and favourite spots around UCL.
Our second Instagrammer in Residence for the 2019/20 academic year is affiliate Biomedical Sciences student Michelle Shen, whose Instagram feed (@mishishen) features countless stunning snapshots taken from all around the world. Here, Michelle tells us about her top remedy for homesickness and favourite cultural spots to frequent around UCL.
1. What made you decide to study at UCL?
UCL is always a popular destination amongst students wanting to study abroad at my home school, so it naturally popped up on my radar as I applied to go on exchange. I had also visited London the year before with my family, and thought it would be a super cool city to study in. There are so many museums, libraries, it's also a huge academic hub – there are so many academics and top researchers who have been, or are currently, based here.
2. What are your three favourite things about studying at UCL?
- First, the classrooms. I had to say something about the classroom facilities here. Folding tables with electrical outlets underneath them? Revolutionary. Multiple screens around the room so that students sitting in the back and at the sides can also see clearly? Yes please.
- Second, the student population! I was super surprised by how many students at UCL come from outside of the UK. I love that UCL is able to attract such an internationally diverse student population, because it says something about the reach and influence that they have (and will have in the future), and in turn, how dynamic the school is, because the students really are the heart of the school.
- Third, I love that there are exhibits and art displays scattered throughout the school buildings. I love that the stairs leading up to the main library are painted with the titles of books which celebrate such a diversity of stories. I love that the Grant Museum of Zoology, the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, the Wellcome Collection are all right there. These are fun to browse when you have a spot of time, but also a delight to appreciate, because it can tell you a lot about what UCL values.
3. What is it like living in London?
Very busy – but not because I'm the one who is busy. Instead it feels busy because everyone around me always seems to be busy. Everyone is constantly on the move.
4. What is your most memorable experience at UCL so far?
My most memorable experience at UCL so far, perhaps, is feeling flustered at the beginning of the school year because of how new everything was. It's been awhile since I've moved to a new city, and I had completely forgotten what it was like adjusting to a new system, settling in and getting to know the people around you all over again. It was challenging, but in hindsight, very memorable and I definitely learned a lot through the experience.
5. What do you love about photography?
I love using photography as a way to document my experiences. It helps me remember what I did on a particular day, and it reminds me of that particular moment in time: how I felt, what caught my attention, what I was thinking about.
6. Best piece of advice for students who just started studying at UCL?
I would recommend finding something that reminds you of home – it definitely helps with the homesickness. I would also recommend exploring all the new spaces that UCL and London have to offer, because you'll definitely discover new things that you'll love too.
7. You have a free day to spend at one place in London. Where do you spend it?
I would definitely spend my free day at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew! I adore green spaces, and the Kew Gardens are so expansive that I could definitely spend hours wandering through the arboretum, admiring the flowers, or reading a book on a bench.