Student Showcase: Nancy Liu
With only a month until Freshers, we know that a lot of first-year students probably have a million and one questions! Nancy is one of our student ambassadors, so we spoke to her all about her experience with Hype, as well as getting her top tips for students starting university.
Hype: Hey Nancy! It’s great to chat with you, could you tell your readers a bit about yourself?
Nancy: Hey! My name is Nancy Liu; I was born and raised in Botswana (I’m also Chinese) and currently study BA Liberal Arts at King’s College London. I am passionate about dismantling oppressive structures through film and creative writing. I also love to swim, weightlift, travel and create content centered around my university experience.
Hype: How did you get involved with Hype and what campaigns have you worked on?
Nancy: I didn’t rely on my university to present opportunities to me and applied directly to internships/jobs that appealed to me which led me to Hype collective. I had always been passionate about content creation and documenting my university life on Instagram and Youtube. One of the members from Hype Collective messaged me on Instagram asking if I would be interested in collaborating with Co-Op for their summer campaign. This was one of my favourite experiences as each week entailed coming up with a creative reel or post that engaged viewers whilst meeting the brief. It was so fun trying new products whilst telling a captivating story. Another highlight was meeting students across the UK who were just as passionate about student marketing. I have since worked with brands such as Chi Chi London, Student Universe UK, ChoppaLuna and more.
Hype: A lot of freshers find the new prospect of societies super exciting. Which societies are you a part of and which ones would you recommend?
Nancy: Usually, there are hundreds of fascinating societies which can be overwhelming. I advise you to join career-orientated societies that help you explore certain sectors, work on your CV and offer interview tips. There are also a lot of diversity insight programmes and training schemes that mentor first-year students with the goal of recruiting them post-grad. If you’re an international student hoping to work in the UK after graduation, it’s essential that you gain work experience that will set you apart in the hiring process so the company will sponsor you.
Professional stuff aside, societies are one of the best places to meet new people through a shared curiosity, passion, or culture. I was a part of the film society that ran numerous filmmaking workshops, panels with creatives working in the industry, and competitions which I found incredibly fun and insightful. I also joined a bunch of sports societies such as the barbell, surf, and hiking but only dropped in when I was free.
Hype: As a student in London yourself, what are some of your top tips you can give to students moving to London to start their university experience?
- When you first move to London, monitor your spending for the first month and devise a
realistic budget for food, transport, weekends, etc. Sign-up for Student Beans and Unidays for student discounts and look out for shops and restaurants
that offer student discounts.
- Learn at least three of your favourite dishes from home since most ‘university meal’ videos focus on pasta and don’t cover your specific dietary needs and cultural cuisine. Meal prepping and packing your lunches saves so much money and is much healthier than surviving on meal deals every day.
- Familiarise yourself with your surrounding neighborhoods and practice using public transport. Coming from a small town, using the tube and bus by myself felt overwhelming but relying on Uber was extremely expensive and unrealistic.
- Don’t be afraid to be a tourist. Explore London as much as you can and visit all the landmarks. Tiktok and Pinterest always have amazing restaurant and activity suggestions. I highly recommend the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural history museum, and Tate Modern which are all free to visit. The royal parks such as Regent’s Park and Hyde Park are also great picnic spots. It’s also worth going to the theatre – I recently saw ‘The Seagull’ starring Emilia Clarke which was incredible. I also didn’t expect to run into so many famous people in London. I bumped into Helena Bonham Carter twice (once in Hampstead Heath and in Marylebone), met Ncuti Gatwa in a sushi restaurant, and saw Keira Knightly in the Wolsely and Courtney Cox in Claridge’s!
Hype: As an international student, what is one thing you’ve really enjoyed about being at University in the UK?
Nancy: I have loved being able to travel. Travel around the UK as much as you can. Going on trips as a society gives you cheaper hotel and transport rates. Many students travel during the reading week with their friends, so booking train or flight tickets ahead of time makes it so much cheaper. If you’re an international student who needs a Schengen visa, make sure to plan ahead of time since you need to book everything and secure a letter from your university stating you are a student. It can be frustrating if you can’t travel as easily as your UK/European friends but exploring the UK is also exciting.
Hype: What are your overall top 5 tips for students starting university in September?
Nancy: 1. Definitely make friends with older students and ask them which modules were their favourite and which modules to absolutely avoid. Modules make up the bulk of your academic experience so choosing a stimulating class with a helpful professor can make all the difference.
2. Never miss your lectures and seminars. Even if your lectures are recorded, it’s important to build the habit of attending and engaging in class. It helps your professor get to know you in case you need a reference later, and also forces you to stay on top of the curriculum. There’s nothing worse than cramming a bunch of unfamiliar material the night before your exam.
3. Avoid procrastination like the plague. Set personal deadlines ahead of the real deadline and find a friend to review your progress to keep you accountable.
4. Always leave at least an hour before the deadline to add in your references and proofread. It helps to keep track of your references whilst you read.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your professors are there to help you so make use of office hours or send them an email regarding anything you’re unsure of.
Hype: What university and career-related advice would you give to Freshers?
Nancy: The best advice is to create a LinkedIn profile in the first term and look at careers you’d be interested in and what skills they require and slowly master those skills over time. Definitely try to connect with alumni and politely ask them about how they secured their current role as most are happy to chat with you, but don’t take it personally if they are too busy. Studying abroad, volunteering, and leadership positions also count as valuable experiences in the eyes of employers so participate in enriching projects whilst boosting your CV.
Hype: One of the most exciting opportunities that university presents, is the possibility of meeting new people and making new friends. How did you make friends?
Nancy: I made my closest group of friends in my student accommodation but we technically met on Instagram just by responding to each others’ stories. Everyone will feel nervous whether they show it or not and as long as you are authentic and genuine you will easily find like-minded people. It also helps to start conversations and be the person who makes a plan and invites others to join.
People really appreciate you reaching out first especially if they are shy. Doing an activity together such as social pottery, going to a museum, or cycling around London is an easier way to bond that doesn’t require as much conversation. You’ll meet thousands of new people in the first few weeks and it’ll feel monotonous reciting the same facts about yourself but it’ll ultimately be worth it.
Hype: On reflection of your university experience thus far, what has been one important realisation you’ve had?
Nancy: Changing courses was one of the most difficult yet liberating decisions I made as I dreaded the idea of being ‘behind’ my peers until I fully accepted that everyone is on a different path and literally no one cares as much as you think they do. Say no to the rat-race!