UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Day in the Life of a Politics and Sociology Student: Lola Johnson

4 March 2024

Lola Johnson, a second-year Politics and Sociology student at SSEES shares a snapshot of a 'Day in the life'.

SSEES library


I wake up around 7:15 to do some work in the morning before my lectures to give myself enough time to get ready before I have to leave the house. I make sure I have enough time to cook and have breakfast to prepare myself for a very busy Thursday. At 8:15, I leave the house to get on the overground to come into campus. In second year, it can be difficult to find somewhere to live in London but most people either live relatively close to campus (at a much higher cost) or live on one of the main tube lines that intersect with UCL. Lots of people in second or third year live in or around Wembley which allows you to get on the Metropolitan line pretty quickly into campus which takes around 20/25 minutes. Equally lots of people live in Camden or Kentish Town which provides either a scenic 30-minute walk to campus or 5 minutes on the tube! For me, living on an overground station means that I come straight into Euston in around 10 minutes which is perfect without living too close to central.

Having arrived at Euston at 8:40, I now find myself choosing where to go study for the first few hours of my day to finish up some readings and prep for a tutorial later. As always, I end up in the SSEES library which is the perfect place to study. The library has all you could ever need in terms of literature for essays and personal interests. Equally, the SSEES library is relatively unknown in wider UCL circles so doesn’t tend to be too busy and always has seats available. Some mornings the Archaeology library does tempt me with the exuberant plant life growing there which provides a very nice study environment. The library is very quiet and perfect for doing some solitary studying however if you want to do some group work or chat with friends, the Masaryk common room allows you to do so (and it's right next to the kitchen if you want snacks!).

From 9:00, I get some studying done for a tutorial later. These often will require your own participation in discussions, as opposed to lectures where you just listen to the lecturer talk. This means that being prepared and having done the readings required to understand the topic is very important and means that you get much more out of the tutorials as you can actually participate in discussion. Between 11:00-11:50, I attend my tutorial for 50 minutes for my module on post-Soviet politics. My tutorial is very interesting as the module aims to go beyond Russia and look at other post-Soviet states such as Armenia and Azerbaijan which I previously had little knowledge of. This is in the SSEES building which can be a bit of a maze in the first year but once you understand the system is very easy to navigate. Something that I wish someone had told me in the first year is that if you're looking for a room in a big building, nine times out of ten the first number in the room number is the floor the room is on, e.g. room 342 would be on the third floor!

Image of UCL


At 12:00, I have lunch with some friends following my tutorial. There are loads of food spots in and around campus and trying them all out in first year is a must if you are a foodie like me! The UCL-run cafes are often a lot cheaper than chains in the area such as Pret and Starbucks so I would highly recommend making use of that if you drink coffee/tea. Being so close to Tottenham Court Road and Soho means that beyond campus there are also many brilliant food places. Whilst some are rather expensive there are a few hidden gems.

My Russian language class runs from 3pm - 5pm on a Thursday which can be a struggle in the winter months when the sun is setting at 4 pm however my wonderful teacher and classmates make the trip worth it. Lots of people who study at SSEES learn a language alongside their degree as part of their optional modules and it’s a great way to learn something new. A huge advantage of being part of the SSEES department is that you are surrounded by people who speak many different SSEES region languages, so it is very easy to practice your speaking as you are learning.

Photo of Bloomsbury area


Currently I am doing a course that on Thursday evenings that teaches you how to ski in 6 weeks! It is supported by Project Active UCL which aims at encouraging students into sport. This means that after Russian I walk to Kings Cross to catch a train to the ski slope and ski for two hours. Having not grown up skiing I was really excited to learn how to ski from the very beginning and the instructors have been absolutely brilliant. When I get home around 21:00, I make myself some dinner usually some form of noodle-based dish which is quick to eat so that I can wind down for the evening. I will then usually chill out in the evening with my flatmate and watch a movie to relax. This takes me up until the end of the day!

Want to learn more about life at UCL SSEES? Chat with a current student.