Joanna reminisces about her year abroad in Ireland and reflects on her time at UCL.
What are you studying and when do you graduate?
I’m studying History with a Year Abroad and I just ‘graduated’ (in a socially distanced way).
Why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?
I’ve always loved History in primary and secondary school, and I simply couldn’t imagine myself studying anything else at university. I think we have much to learn from our own history, and though many people may think it’s useless to look at the past to deal with modern problems, Mark Twain was right to say history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. In the future, I am hoping to pursue education qualifications and perhaps look into teaching (which, yes, is a history student cliché).
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?
The second I read this sentence, all of the cool things I’ve been involved with just disappeared from my head. Living in Ireland and frequenting open mic bars nearly every week while I was there is probably in the top tier list. Many drunken covers of songs were sung to a respectable degree. And by ‘respectable’ I mean I wasn’t heckled off of the stage, so I had to be doing something right.
What do you miss most about being away from UCL and what’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get back to London?
I stayed in London during isolation, but even then, I really miss actually being out in the city. Walking through the parks, going to the pub with friends, mostly I miss the mundane things that you never really notice too much until they’re kind of illegal.
Have you learned anything or tried anything new during the lockdown period?
I managed to finally dust off my sewing machine at the beginning of lockdown and since then my room has been constantly covered in loose thread and fabric scraps. I’ve made dresses, skirts, tops – literally anything and everything under the sun. Aside from trousers, tailoring is evil and I refuse to participate in it.
Who inspires you and why?
Another cliché answer, I’m sure, but my mum really inspires me. She has an incredible work ethic and is a key worker at a care home. Through the lockdown, through writing my dissertation, through many sewing machine related disasters, she’s been my rock. Even with her busy schedule, she’s always ready to drop anything to pick up a call from her very distressed, sleep-deprived daughter – and I really appreciate that.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
The classic ‘no, I’m not British, yes I know I don’t have an accent’ is always a fun moment.
What’s your top tip for new students?
Please, please, please get involved with societies! September 2020 is going to be a very strange time for everyone; there’s a lot of uncertainty about how universities will cope with online learning, but if there’s one thing I’ve seen is how excellent most societies have been in staying connected over lockdown, and I assure you all current members and committees are doing their best to make sure every society will continue to grow.
What does UCL mean to you?
From the day I sent off my UCAS application, UCL was my dream school – I went to the applicant open day and knew that it was the place for me to be. So it’s strange to say now that I’ve accomplished something I was gunning for years ago. Like, I’ve actually done it. I graduated from UCL with a degree I loved (though I think everyone has their I-have-two-hours-to-finish-this-essay-I-hate-this-degree moments). I guess UCL has always simply meant ‘accomplishment’.