It was my maiden voyage to London. It was also my first visit to the world-renowned university – London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The LSE Summer School, taught by professors with deep expertise, attracts knowledge seekers over to world. With frequent public lectures, talks and debates by distinguished guests on current issues ranging from globalisation, inequality and poverty, to international relations. It’s motto- to know the causes of things, challenges the mind to never settle for the status quo and encourages breakthrough for the betterment. It nurtured and housed many Nobel prize winners, brilliant policy makers and published revolutionary papers. The credentials of the LSE are unquestionable.
Some background information about me
My name is Allan Goh and I am studying for a BSc Economics in Singapore at SIM Global Education, an Affiliate Centre for the University of London International Programmes (UOLIP). My decision to study with UOLIP was primarily my interest in economics and that the syllabus is developed by the LSE – a world leading university well known for its economics expertise. The syllabus is challenging but satisfying.
Coming from a background with no formal economics training (except with a few leisure books), enrolling in SIM Global Education (SIMGE) was the wisest decision. The institution (SIMGE) provides lecturers with both industrial experience and knowledge in explaining difficult to grasp concepts into layman terms applied onto current context. In addition, tutorials and consultations are provided to aid students in their learning and clear their doubts. Assistance is also provided by the UOLIP. Upon enrolment, students are gain access to the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). In it are discussion forums – where students can interact with other student enrolled in similar modules across different countries, additional exercises of varying difficulties, past exam paper and solutions, and revision videos are provided. In preparing students for the annual examinations, professors from the LSE are flown in to SIMGE. The various avenues of learning assistance provided by both institution leaves questions rarely unanswered.
To have a taste of receiving education in the world-renowned LSE, it would not have been made possible had there not been a collaboration between SIMGE and the LSE (SIM-LSE Summer School Scholarship). Each year, three scholarships are awarded. This generous scholarship has enable myself in attending the summer school with little financial worry. I am extremely grateful for the enabling opportunity and enriching experience.
Why the LSE Summer School?
Through the summer school sharing session by the Global Learning Department of SIM, I was introduced to the LSE summer School. In these sessions, previous SIM-LSE Summer School scholars shared their experience. Having attended two sessions (one in each year), what was consistent was the strong positive and enriching experience they all shared. It was something not to be missed. Just after the first session, I was determined to do well in my first year to gain entrance for the summer school in the following year.
One other reason was my intention in pursuing a post-graduate education in the LSE. I have heard praises from peers of the supportive structure and the enriching environment. I was also well-aware of everyone’s learning environment suitability. Through the summer school, I would be able to have a taste of what it is like studying in the LSE and living in London.
University of London Reception
Prior to my departure for summer school, I received an email invitation from the LSE office for the UOL programme to attend a reception at the University of London’s headquarters at Senate House. I was initially hesitant but having attended, I would have regretted not doing so. The UOL reception included a historic tour in Senate house and a networking reception.
Mr Timothy Wade, director of student services, was gracious to be our guide for the day. Travelling through time, Tim shared the story of Senate house, from its birth post first world war to recently filming for movies (The Dark Knight Rises). Within the Senate house, the library houses large volumes of valuable books and manuscripts.
The networking reception was attended by Dr Mary Stiasny (Pro Vice-Chancellor – International), senior leadership staff, as well as students from the UOL programme. It was through this networking reception was I able to physically meet up with fellow classmates from abroad who happens to be here for summer school as well. Having met most of my classmate in Singapore through the SIM-Global Learning pre-departure briefing, I chanced upon a fellow economic enthusiast – Prasham (in red in the below picture) is a current UOLIP student in India. We first spoke on our papers (macroeconomics and microeconomics) taken earlier this year and subsequently on summer school. Before the session came to an end, we connected on Facebook and agreed to be a good host if ever one is visiting another’s country.
Bargaining and Negotiation: Interests, Information, Strategy and Power
The course that I was enrolled into was MG209: Bargaining and Negotiation: Interests, Information, Strategy and Power. The main attractiveness of this course was the development of a soft transferable skill, crucial in both professional and personal lives.
The course material was broken down into easily digestible bite-sized chunks. Three-hour lectures by Dr Tara Reich and Dr Connson Locke, and followed by classes (tutorials) by Dr Umar. In the lectures, concepts were explained in great clarity and industrial experiences were shared by the professors. Students were encouraged to voice their opinions and share their thoughts. Silence in class was a rarity.
Supplementing the theories, classes were mostly held on the same day. This was the part where students look forward to. Not because it was the end of the day after, but because of the real-world cases that students get to have their hands on. In the class, students were arranged into groups, assigned roles or interests, and put to the test with negotiation exercises. For most of the real cases, the company names were coded. While in occasional cases, they are carefully crafted by the professors with many ‘landmines’ that students can fall into. In the professor’s defence, they argued that it was to ‘enhance’ the learning process. After each negotiation exercise, feedback from peers was gather and self-reflection was done. For most of the negotiation exercises, students could still be found engaging in their discussion around the school despite having chased out of the classrooms. The discussion does not stop there. The lecture on the following day saw an overall compilation of the negotiation deal so that students can see where they stood. This triggers yet another discussion as well as students sharing their negotiation experience.
Overall, the course was fun and engaging. It fuses both the theoretical and practical aspects of negotiation. Most students went on furthering their negotiation skills in their second session. Given the chance, I would have done the same.
Aside from the ‘main course’, the LSE runs several social programmes for all 3 sessions. Of the 17 programmes offered, most were in high demand and can be completely sold out within an hour or two. Luckily, I was able to attend 8 of them: Welcome reception, Learn to code, Postgraduate study at LSE, How to reduce interview anxiety, CV workshop, Sunset Cruise on the Thames, Summer School Public Lectures, and the Farewell Party.
1. Learn to Code
The one that I enjoyed the most was ‘Learn to code’. LSE engaged its alumnus who strongly believed in equipping students of today with basic coding skills. In a short span of less than 2-hours, students learnt just 4 codes allowing them to be able to write their own websites. Fascinated by what just 4 codes can do, eager students asked for more tools to beautify their websites. Tailored to each demand, the alumnus patiently addresses them.
2. Public Lectures
In a short period of three weeks, five public lectures were held in the school. Apart from academics, distinguish guest speakers ranges from CEOs from MNCs, Government Ambassadors and Nobel Laureate. Topics discussed include market designs, corporate culture, international law, international relations (between Britain and France) and global inequalities.
One interesting public lecture that I attended was by Dr Jamie Woodcock who went undercover in a call centre. While I was unable to attend some of the lectures during my preparation for the exam, the public lectures were made available online to the public a few days after.
3. How to reduce interview anxiety and the CV workshop
Two other social programmes that I attended was the workshop on reducing interview anxiety as well as on curriculum vitae(CV). Both the workshops were helpful where professionals were engaged by the school to provide their valuable advice.
While the workshop was more suited for the UK job market, it shares close similarity to Singapore’s market. It was a coincidence that I was reached out for an internship interview. While physically in London, it was not possible to have a face to face interview as the firm is in Singapore. A chance to apply my negotiation, I politely proposed an alternative of having a skype interview. Little did I expect, the firm agreed and we managed to work out a common schedule. It was my first skype interview and I was extremely nervous. During the workshop, I asked for some kind advice in what to expect and what additional preparation I needed. Within a few days after the interview, I heard great news and was offered a role. Looking back, the advices from the workshops as well as the negotiation module were part of better preparation.
4. Sunset Cruise on the Thames
The Sunset Cruise is one of the hottest social programme. In less than 2 hours, tickets were completely sold out. Multiple post in the closed Facebook group for LSE Summer School can be found asking if any students had bought a ticket but is unable to attend. Words from my seniors was that this cruise is not to be missed. As the ticket commenced sales in the late morning 11am, my classmate, Krish, nudged me and reminded to join him.
On the day, we gathered at Tower Millennium Pier at 6.15pm where the sun was still out. From approximately 7pm to 10pm, we cruised along River Thames. All traffic on the Tower Bridge came to a halt and the bridge was lifted allowing the vessel to pass. Commuter by the side of bridge stopped to wave as the vessel made two loud long horns as if to exchange greetings.
Some days in London
Think 2017 Conference by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA)
Having a keen interest in economics and social policies, I came to know about the Think 2017 conference organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). Held at the Royal Geographical Society, the conference was attended by prominent economist, professions in sectors such as media and government as well as students across London. The conference this year focused on topics such as ‘Bad stats and Fake News; The truth behind the headlines’, ‘The Economics of Free Stuff’, ‘The future of the professions’, ‘Owners and Renters Paradise: What is wrong with the UK housing market’, ‘Education Policies’, ‘The Economics of Trade’ and ‘Ensuring the Best Healthcare for All- A look at the NHS and other systems around the world’.
Well aware that the IEA advocates free markets and the limitations, a trip to the conference allowed me to approach some of these economic and social issues from a different angle.
Wandering about and chancing upon street art again and again
Catching up with a friend, senior, mentor
I came to be acquainted with Shradha during one of the Global Learning Summer School Sharing Session. A previous SIM-LSE Summer School Scholar, Shradha shared her wonderful experience in the LSE summer school. I recalled going up to her after her presentation with numerous question and expressing my interest in the summer school.
As SIMGE Scholar enrolled in the UOLIP programme, Shradha was generous with her advice on learning and doing well for the exams. Equally enthusiastic about economics, I saw Shradha again in the SIM Economics Society. Patient as she was, the then-vice president provided guidance to younger members of the society and ran monthly economics review that aims to encourages members of the society to developed soft and technical skills by presenting current affairs through the lens of economics as well as working on some of the case studies that she had prepared.
Towards the end of her undergraduate studies and her stint of vice presidency, she gained acceptance for her post graduate studies at the LSE. We remained connected on social media thereafter.
As I was visiting London for summer school, I decided to drop her a message to catch up over coffee. Instead of coffee, we decided to do what Londoner do – afternoon tea. Over some pastries and coffee, we chatted on post graduate application tips as well as her experience in LSE. Over the conversation, I came to learn that it was one day before her exam result release date and that she had accepted one of a few job offers to work in a MNC bank. I wished her well and hoped to catch up soon in the event that we happen to be in the same country again.