Written by Michaela, International Business Management MSc, class of 2020
I cannot believe it’s been more than a year since I started my IBM programme.
In hindsight, I have to admit it has been a crazy ride! The first 7 months were amazing – I made great friends, enjoyed my lectures and successfully finished the first semester – then Covid-19 outbroke and everything changed.
I not only finished my second semester remotely but also my dissertation! (I wasn’t even in the UK at that time since I went back home like most of my classmates). Let me take you through my Master’s year and show you the IBM programme from my perspective.
When I started at Newcastle University, I felt like Alice in Wonderland. Since I didn’t study my undergrad in the UK, everything was new to me. I had never dealt with online learning systems, I didn’t know anything about marking, and I wasn’t used to writing essays that much.
At Master’s level, there is also a lot of reading for the lectures and seminars, so even though I didn’t have Uni every day, I used those “free” days to do independent study and prepare for my upcoming classes. I’ll admit I felt blue at the very beginning, and I couldn’t imagine how I was going to write any of the essays or pass my exams.
At this point, it is very important to take a step back, talk to your friends and family and look at the “problem” from a different perspective – as I found out, it was not as hard as it seemed at the very beginning.
A typical day
Before the global pandemic, my typical day at Uni looked like this:
My lectures usually started at 9.30. I usually had one or two lectures with a break in between and then finally had time to eat. Most of the time I prepared my lunch at home and brought it to Uni (so I saved some money and also knew exactly what I ate), but if I didn’t have time to do this, I went to the café in the Frederick Douglass Centre (another Uni building next door to the Business School) and had lunch there.
They usually offered two or three different dishes, and at least one is vegetarian and gluten-free (yay!). The whole lunch cost only £4 which is so cheap and the food is good 🙂 I treated myself to a great lunch from time to time, or went to the city centre or any nearby restaurant and had lunch there. If you want to know where to find the best places for a quick lunch, check out my blog post.
My afternoon schedule varied based on lectures. Sometimes I had more lectures or seminars in the afternoon. In that case, I stayed at Uni and if I had some free time before they started, I’d study and catch up on reading. If I didn’t have any other scheduled teaching in my timetable, I went home and studied there. I preferred staying on campus because I like silence when studying. If I needed to do some work where I didn’t need to concentrate that much, I usually went to the library or café.
Regarding the assignments, I liked how they were based on a case study. We worked on it pretty much from the beginning and, every time we moved further in our module, the case study became somewhat different and new questions arose. It was great that on some of the assignments we were working as a team. The team size varied but usually, it was 4-6 people of different nationalities and we were randomly allocated to those teams.
As I already mentioned, my second semester was different due to covid-19. I left Newcastle in March without knowing when I would be able to return. In the end, I returned in July, just to pick up my stuff and move everything back to Czechia. It was mentally challenging, but luckily, the lectures were moved online to MS Teams and some of the assessments were changed to meet the needs of the new online environment.
I continued working on my dissertation from my home country, which was not as easy as it used to be, especially since one of my teammates (I worked on a Practise-Based dissertation) moved back to China, while another went back to Germany, hence we were in different time zones and it was quite a challenge to manage the teamwork aspect – nevertheless, we made it work!
I spend my whole summer working on the dissertation as well – I was lucky enough to secure myself a position in Tesco CE so I did not have to stress about searching for a job when I had to focus on finishing my degree. This is something I would highly recommend to you – look for a job earlier rather than later, it will give you more confidence and energy to continue when you later find yourself in the process of writing your dissertation!
Despite the fact I could not meet my team members face to face, we managed to work online and discussed everything with our supervisor (who was very supportive and understanding). We had 4 team meetings with the supervisor where we discussed our ideas and progress and then we had 2 individual meetings with the supervisor as well.
It was up to us how we wanted to schedule them, but we had to keep in our minds the deadlines and work around them. Also, the supervisor provided us with feedback as we were progressing with our dissertation. The official deadline for submitting the dissertation was 01 of September but I managed to finish it a week earlier and enjoy some time off before starting my new job in September 🙂
I hope you’ll find this article helpful, and if you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact our current Master’s students via Unibuddy to learn more!
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