Meet Oshana at Queen Mary University of London & University College London!
Name: Oshana Brigitte Benotmane
University: Queen Mary University of London & University College London
Degree: Law LLB; Corporate Law LLM
Year of Study: Masters
How did you choose your university destination and course of study?
London is one of the most powerful business hubs in the world, thus I knew studying law here would enhance my career prospects in the future. As a law student, studying in London means studying at the epicentre of the Common Law system, providing me with incredible legal opportunities not just in the UK, but also globally. Aside from the career aspects, London is a beautiful city, it is very diverse, friendly and all around a great place for young students.
I have always been interested in the corporate side of working – dreaming of working hard in high rise offices and doing meaningful work. Law ticked all those boxes for me and having graduated the LLB I can confidently say I am very happy with my course. Law is exciting, and always evolving and I think it is a career that integrates itself into many other interests. For example, you could do corporate, tech, security, intellectual property or media to name a few. Alternatively you could go in house and work for Channel, Bloomberg, Google or Facebook. The point is, law does not have to be boring and can work well with any other hobbies.
What have been the highlights of your academic programme so far?
Studying law in general has been very exciting. My course was taught by leading academics and researchers which made the classes that much more interesting. There are also a lot of activities outside the classroom – for example I joined the mooting society and got to experience mooting at Oxford and networking with amazing legal professionals like Lady Hale. Studying in London I also had access to see Parliament, the Supreme court and follow world changing cases in person. For example, a few friends and I were able to go spend an afternoon in court during the Miller case (the big Brexit controversy).
What do you enjoy most about living in London?
The people I have met in London have made the experience truly amazing, but London is also a beautiful city with millions of things to do all the time. There are so many exhibitions, museums, pop ups that are constantly changing throughout the year so my year never felt ‘boring’. There is always so much to do outside of classes to refresh yourself when needed. Really all you need is a great group of friends and everything else in London comes easy.
How supportive is your university to international students?
Both QMUL and UCL have been excellent in this aspect. There are many chances to connect with other international students from the beginning. For example, during induction there are often socials for international students, talks led by students and lecturers about living in London, how to get around etc. London is also a very diverse area, and especially at university, hence you are bound to make friends with people from your background, and others from around the world. There are also many Londoners who will happily show you around!
There are also societies by the Student Union of almost all nationalities and this is a great way to meet people with your background that are not necessarily in your course. And you get the opportunity to host events that remind you of home such as an Indonesian food picnic at Primrose Hill.
What have been 3 of the main challenges you have faced during your time at university?
One of the challenges I faced was the changing weather. During the winter it tends to get dark very early (sometimes 3pm) which disoriented me. In turn I struggled to keep up with my studies as I wasn’t maximising my time – night time meant I could get away with not doing work but unfortunately this didn’t work. However, you adjust quite quickly.
Another challenge I faced was COVID but luckily everything is back to in-person and you should not have any trouble meeting people, going to in person classes and everything else.
Don’t forget you can get support from your friends at university, your friends and family back home (they are only a phone call away), and the university always provides counselling or is here to support you if you ever feel lonely or are struggling with university.
What activities are you involved in outside of your academic programme?
I joined the gym outside of classes which was always a good way for me to get my mind off my studies and take a productive break.
I also joined the Law Society and Commercial Awareness Society. Societies are great because you meet people outside your classes, or your course (they are open to all students at the university). This allows you to diversify your friend group and meet lots of new people. Societies also always run socials such as sports nights on Wednesdays and Pub Crawls which are always a fun way to end the week.
How easy is it to find accommodation? Can you describe your living arrangements?
First year students in London are usually guaranteed accommodation so long as you apply within the deadline. I would recommend this option when starting at university as it is a great way to connect with students also starting out in London.
There are also lots of student accommodation buildings (privately owned, meaning separate from university dorms but still only for London university students) for the following years. However, these tend to be very expensive and can honestly be very hit or miss in terms of flatmates and experiences.
Instead, in my second and third year I chose to rent a house and move in with some of my closest friends. Rent in London is very competitive and very expensive but then again, it is all proportionate to quality and location. My only tip would be to look well in advance and have lots of flexibility in terms of location, price, room size etc.
Do you think your university experience is preparing you well for the working world and do they offer support with finding jobs and internships?
100%. Going to university in London is probably the best thing you could do for your career if you are interested in a finance, business or corporate career. As all the main offices for very big companies are based in London, they often liaise with universities to host events at their offices and join law fairs, connect with societies etc.
Universities also run workshops throughout the year and are very experienced in releasing their students into the working world. They have an amazing network with employers and are always available to help you with applications, mock interviews, career guidance etc.
What opportunities have you had to travel and explore during weekends and vacations?
Luckily I have been able to travel a fair bit to Europe. I’ve been to France, Vienna, Portugal and Spain. Flights during the year are VERY cheap. I paid 10 pounds for a round trip to Vienna last March. Of course this all depends on your studies but it is definitely possible to go away for the weekend and travel.
However, be mindful that due to Brexit there are now new visa requirements that definitely make travelling a little less accessible but not impossible.
What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would offer an international student thinking of coming to London and the UK to study?
- Join societies
- Put yourself out there
- Have fun!