Hear from our final Instagrammer in Residence for term 2, 2019, Human-Computer Interaction Master's student Rebecca Zheng...
We're inviting UCL students to be a UCL Instagrammer in Residence for a week this term. They'll share their experiences of studying at UCL and living in London with their visual and written perspectives shared through our social media and digital channels.
Our final Instagrammer in Residence this term is Human-Computer Interaction Master's student Rebecca Zheng, who beautifully captures nightlife and sunsets in London and beyond through her Instagram feed (@thelastangels). Rebecca chatted to us about her experience studying both a bachelor’s and master’s at UCL, strong work ethic and favourite London haunts for pretty photos.
1. What made you decide to study at UCL?
I studied under the American high school system at the Shanghai American School. All the seniors there were planning on going to America after graduation because, why not, when you’re already going to a school with “America" in the name? Personally though, Europe called out to me, so I decided to be really ‘hipster’ and go where everyone else wasn’t going.
I searched for schools in England and London stood out. I loved how UCL was branding itself as a global university, since I had exposure to both Canadian and Chinese cultures at this point after growing up in Canada but living in Shanghai for high school. I wanted to continue learning more about different cultures and meeting people from various backgrounds, and it helped that UCL was high up on the rankings for Psychology [my chosen bachelor’s degree].
2. What are your three favourite things about studying at UCL?
- Being able to meet so many people from so many different backgrounds here. It's really awesome to be learning new languages and cultures through them. Everyone I've met at UCL has different perspectives, values and opinions, and that's amazing really.
- The opportunity I'm given to push my own boundaries in terms of studying and my personal development. I learnt to be an adult here, since I arrived at the age of 18 with no friends or family (my mum helped me move into my first year dorm but then she left; cue the song “All by Myself” by Céline Dion). I learnt at UCL that education isn’t about memorising facts that’ll just be regurgitated for the exam, only to be forgotten forever after. Instead, you develop a way of thinking that comes from active and self-guided learning, and that’s very important to me.
- The amount of class to self-study ratio is very nice. I did the International Baccalaureate in high school and the amount of work I had to do was overwhelming. During my UCL Psychology Bachelor’s though, we had a maximum of two classes a day which were quite spread out through the week, giving me the opportunity to really take studying into my own hands. The same applies to my Master’s right now as well.
3. What is it like living in London?
It’s absolutely amazing. There's so much to explore and do, plus people to meet. You can try food from across the world and marvel at Christmas lights in winter. I love aesthetics. I'm really active on Instagram for the reason that whenever I see a pretty building, natural scenery or something that catches my eye, I just snap, snap, snap away. London really feeds my obsession with photography and aesthetics since it’s so gorgeous. Words can’t describe it, you've just got to experience it yourself.
4. What is your most memorable experience at UCL so far?
The moment I realised at the start of my master’s that, wow, I’m so much more confident as a person now. I used to be super introverted, insecure, and unsure of myself, but I met the most amazing people here and gained so much more confidence in myself and my skills. It struck me that if I hadn’t come to UCL, I wouldn’t have met these people, learnt all these things and become the person I am today.
5. What do you love about photography?
How to describe it, just… when you see something, and your brain tingles from the aesthetic and the beauty, and you’re just standing there, like ‘wow, this is amazing’ and then you take a picture and look at it forever. I think it’s about showing people how I see the world. Being able to share what I see, the way I see it, capturing something I find incredibly beautiful, is probably what I like most… but also getting a lot of likes/followers on Instagram helps ;)
6. Best piece of advice for students who just started studying at UCL?
Manage your time. You’re not cool for doing work at 4am. It just hurts your sleep schedule, makes you gain weight, gives you eye bags, and plus you probably won’t get as good a grade compared to if you just started early. Trust me, learning how you work early on will save you so much pain, and it’s such a good transferable skill for when you’re looking for jobs.
7. You have a free day to spend at one place in London. Where do you spend it?
Oh man, that’s tough. I can’t choose, this is a mean question. Can I give you three? I’m giving you three: picnic in Regent’s Park, ogling the pretty buildings along Oxford/Regent Street, and spending the evening up The Shard staring at the view. If you haven’t been, my god, go. You’ll be amazed.