For Students

Advice for New SOAS Students: Tips for a Successful Start

Huzzle Author Charlie

Welcome to SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, one of the most vibrant and diverse universities in the heart of London. As a new student, you may be feeling excited and perhaps a little bit nervous about starting this exciting new chapter of your life. Don't worry, we've got you covered! In this article, we'll provide you with some valuable tips to ensure you have a successful start at SOAS and make the most of your time here in the UK.

Understanding SOAS: An Overview

Before diving into the heart of student life at SOAS, it's important to get a good grasp of what makes this university so unique. Known for its focus on the study of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, SOAS prides itself on its multicultural and interdisciplinary approach to education. This means that you'll be exposed to a diverse range of perspectives and have the opportunity to broaden your horizons beyond the traditional Western lens.

The Unique Culture of SOAS

One of the things that sets SOAS apart is its vibrant and inclusive community. With students and staff hailing from over 130 countries, you'll be surrounded by individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Embrace this cultural mosaic and take the time to learn from your fellow students. You never know what valuable insights you'll gain from engaging in meaningful conversations with people from different parts of the world.

Moreover, the unique culture of SOAS extends beyond the classroom. The university organizes various cultural events, festivals, and celebrations throughout the year, providing students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in different traditions and customs. From the vibrant Diwali celebrations to the colorful Chinese New Year festivities, there is always something exciting happening on campus. These events not only foster a sense of community but also allow students to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for different cultures.

The Academic Structure at SOAS

SOAS follows a unique academic structure, with most undergraduate degree programs consisting of three years of study. In addition to your major, you'll have the opportunity to explore other subjects through electives. Take advantage of this flexibility to broaden your academic horizons and delve into topics that interest you beyond your core area of study.

Furthermore, SOAS offers a wide range of interdisciplinary programs that allow students to combine different fields of study. For example, you can pursue a degree in International Relations and Economics, or Anthropology and Development Studies. This interdisciplinary approach not only enhances your academic experience but also equips you with a well-rounded skill set that is highly valued in today's global job market.

Additionally, SOAS has a strong emphasis on language learning. With over 40 languages offered, including less commonly taught languages such as Swahili, Persian, and Tibetan, you have the opportunity to develop valuable linguistic skills that can open doors to new cultures and career opportunities.

Preparing for Your Arrival at SOAS

Now that you have a better understanding of SOAS, let's talk about how to prepare for your arrival on campus. The key to a smooth transition is being well-prepared, so here are a few things to consider:

What to Pack for SOAS

When packing for your time at SOAS, it's important to consider the essentials that will make your experience comfortable and enjoyable. London is a city best explored on foot, so make sure you have a pair of sturdy and comfortable walking shoes. You'll be walking to classes, exploring the city, and immersing yourself in the vibrant culture, so having shoes that can keep up with your adventures is a must.

In addition to comfortable shoes, it's also important to pack all-weather clothing. The weather in the UK can be unpredictable, so be prepared for rain or shine. Don't forget to bring an umbrella to shield yourself from the occasional downpour. Having a versatile wardrobe that can adapt to different weather conditions will ensure that you're always prepared for whatever the British climate throws at you.

Bringing your electronic devices is also essential. Whether it's your laptop for studying, your phone for staying connected, or other gadgets that make your life easier, having your electronics with you will help you navigate your new environment. Just make sure to pack the appropriate adapters for UK sockets, as the plug shapes and voltages may differ from what you're used to.

Setting Up Your Accommodation

Securing accommodation is a top priority when moving to a new city, and SOAS offers a range of options to suit your needs. One popular choice is the halls of residence, which provide a convenient and immersive living experience. Living in student accommodation can be a great way to meet new people and make lifelong friends, as you'll be surrounded by fellow students who are also embarking on their SOAS journey.

When choosing your accommodation, it's important to consider factors such as location, proximity to campus, and your budget. Being close to campus can save you valuable time and energy, allowing you to easily attend lectures, access the library, and participate in extracurricular activities. Additionally, consider your budget and find accommodation that aligns with your financial plans. SOAS offers a variety of options to suit different budgets, so you can find a comfortable and affordable place to call home during your time at university.

Starting your search for accommodation early is highly recommended, as popular options tend to fill up quickly. By planning ahead, you'll have a better chance of securing your preferred choice and ensuring a smooth transition to your new home away from home.

Navigating Your First Few Weeks

As a new student at SOAS, your first few weeks will be filled with exciting opportunities to get involved in the campus community. Here are a few tips to help you navigate this important period:

Starting university can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. The anticipation of new experiences, meeting new people, and embarking on an academic journey can make your heart race with excitement. However, it's completely normal to feel a bit nervous too. Rest assured, the SOAS community is here to support you every step of the way.

One of the first things you'll encounter as a new student is the orientation program. This is your chance to familiarize yourself with the campus, learn about the various support services available, and meet your fellow students. Make sure to attend the orientation events as they are designed to help you settle in and get to know your new environment. Take advantage of these events to make connections and learn about all the resources available to you.

Making the Most of Orientation

  • Attend orientation events: These events are not only informative but also provide a great opportunity to meet other students who are in the same boat as you. From icebreaker activities to campus tours, these events will help you feel more at home.
  • Join student societies: SOAS has a wide range of student societies catering to various interests. Whether you're into sports, the arts, or social causes, there's bound to be a society that aligns with your passions. Joining a society is a fantastic way to meet like-minded individuals and engage in activities that you enjoy.
  • Utilize support services: During orientation, you'll be introduced to the various support services available on campus. From academic support to mental health services, make sure to familiarize yourself with these resources. They are there to assist you in navigating any challenges you may face during your time at SOAS.

Once you've settled into your new routine, it's important to strike a balance between academics and your social life. While academics are undoubtedly important, it's equally important to take the time to explore London and all it has to offer. The city is a treasure trove of cultural experiences, historical landmarks, and diverse communities.

Balancing Academics and Social Life

London is a city that never sleeps, and there is always something happening. Attend career events, visit museums and galleries, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the city. Take advantage of the numerous opportunities to expand your horizons beyond the classroom. Remember, a well-rounded experience is key to personal and professional growth.

Additionally, don't forget to take care of yourself. University life can be demanding, and it's important to prioritize self-care. Find activities that help you relax and recharge, whether it's going for a walk in one of London's beautiful parks, practicing yoga, or simply spending time with friends. Taking care of your mental and physical well-being will contribute to your overall success as a student.

As you embark on this exciting chapter of your life, remember that everyone's university experience is unique. Embrace the challenges and opportunities that come your way, and don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Your first few weeks at SOAS will lay the foundation for an incredible journey of self-discovery, learning, and growth.

Essential Resources for SOAS Students

As a student at SOAS, you'll have access to a wide range of resources to support your academic journey. Here are a few key ones to keep in mind:

Utilizing the SOAS Library

One of the most valuable resources available to SOAS students is the SOAS library. With its vast collection of books, journals, and other materials, the library is a treasure trove of knowledge on subjects related to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Whether you're studying history, politics, or anthropology, the library is sure to have resources that will deepen your understanding of your chosen field.

When utilizing the library, it's important to plan ahead, especially during peak times. Study spaces in the library can be in high demand, so it's a good idea to book a study room in advance. This way, you can ensure that you have a quiet and dedicated space to focus on your studies.

Making Use of Student Support Services

SOAS understands that university life can sometimes be challenging, and that's why they provide a range of support services to help you navigate any difficulties you may face. One of the key support services available to you is the Student Advice and Wellbeing team. This team is dedicated to providing guidance and support on a wide range of topics, including mental health support, study skills, and personal development.

Another valuable resource is the Careers Service. They can provide you with guidance and advice on career development, helping you to explore your options and make informed decisions about your future. Whether you're unsure about your career path or need help with job applications, the Careers Service is there to support you.

In addition to these services, SOAS also offers a variety of workshops and events throughout the year. These events cover a wide range of topics, from academic skills to personal development. Attending these workshops can not only enhance your knowledge and skills but also provide you with opportunities to connect with fellow students and expand your network.

Tips for Academic Success at SOAS

Academic success is important, and with the right approach, you can make the most of your time at SOAS. Here are a few tips to help you excel academically:

Effective Study Techniques

  • Create a study schedule: Plan your study sessions in advance and stick to a schedule. This will help you stay organized and make the most of your study time.
  • Take advantage of resources: SOAS offers various academic support resources, such as workshops and one-on-one tutoring sessions. Make use of these resources to enhance your learning.

Studying effectively is a skill that can greatly impact your academic success. In addition to creating a study schedule and utilizing available resources, there are other techniques you can employ to optimize your learning experience at SOAS.

One such technique is active reading. Instead of passively scanning through your textbooks, actively engage with the material. Take notes, highlight important points, and ask yourself questions as you read. This not only helps you retain information better but also encourages critical thinking.

Another effective study technique is to form study groups. Collaborating with fellow students can provide different perspectives and insights on the subject matter. By discussing and explaining concepts to each other, you reinforce your own understanding and identify any gaps in your knowledge.

Furthermore, it is crucial to find a study environment that suits your learning style. Some students prefer complete silence, while others thrive in a bustling coffee shop. Experiment with different settings to discover where you can concentrate best and absorb information most effectively.

Participating in Class Discussions

Classroom discussions are an integral part of the learning experience at SOAS. Engage actively in discussions, ask questions, and share your perspective. This will not only enhance your understanding of the subject matter but also help you develop critical thinking and communication skills.

Participating in class discussions allows you to interact with your peers and learn from their unique perspectives. It encourages you to think critically about the topics being discussed and challenges you to articulate your thoughts clearly and concisely.

When engaging in class discussions, it is important to listen actively to your classmates' contributions. By actively listening, you demonstrate respect for others' opinions and gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Additionally, active listening can inspire new ideas and insights that you may not have considered before.

Furthermore, don't be afraid to ask questions. If something is unclear or you need further clarification, seek clarification from your professor or classmates. Remember, asking questions is a sign of curiosity and a desire to learn.

Lastly, be open to different perspectives and be respectful of others' opinions, even if they differ from your own. Engaging in respectful and constructive debates can broaden your horizons and deepen your understanding of complex issues.

Getting Involved in the SOAS Community

Your experience at SOAS goes beyond the classroom. Getting involved in the campus community will not only help you make new friends but also provide valuable opportunities for personal growth. Here's how you can do it:

Joining Clubs and Societies

  • Explore your interests: SOAS has a wide range of student clubs and societies catering to various interests. Whether you're interested in sports, music, or activism, there's bound to be a club that aligns with your passions.
  • Attend events and socials: Societies often organize events and socials where you can meet fellow students who share similar interests. Attend these events to expand your network and make new friends.

Volunteering Opportunities at SOAS

Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and gain practical experience. SOAS has partnerships with various organizations that offer volunteering opportunities. Get involved in projects that align with your values and interests, and make a positive impact both on and off campus.

Planning for Your Future at SOAS

As a SOAS student, it's never too early to start thinking about your future career. Here are a few things to consider as you plan for your future:

Internship and Work Opportunities

  • Stay up to date with career events: SOAS hosts various career events throughout the year, including fairs and networking opportunities. Attend these events to connect with employers and explore internship and work opportunities.
  • Build a professional network: Networking is key to career success. Make use of events and initiatives organized by the Careers Service to meet professionals in your field of interest and learn from their experiences.

Preparing for Life After Graduation

While it may seem far off, it's never too early to start thinking about your career after graduation. Take advantage of SOAS' career services, which offer guidance on resume writing, interview preparation, and job search strategies. Remember to also leverage your network and tap into the alumni community for support and opportunities.

As you embark on your journey at SOAS, remember to stay open-minded, embrace the diverse community, and make the most of the opportunities that come your way. With these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to a successful start at SOAS and a rewarding academic career in the vibrant city of London.

Charlie Mart
Aspiring business leader driven to change the world through tech⚡️ The late Steve Jobs once said 'the only way to do great work is to love what you do'. Following these wise words, I am currently focused on growing Huzzle so every student can find their dream graduate job 💚
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