This week we meet third-year Economics and Geography student Megan, who volunteers as a drama school assistant with the Anna Fiorentini Film & Theatre School. Megan chats to us about making friends through volunteering and where to grab tiramisu in-between lectures.
What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?
I’m currently in my third and final year of reading Economics and Geography at UCL. I became interested in the two subjects when I studied them for my A-Levels. After coming to university, I developed a fonder appreciation for how the two disciplines are really beautifully intertwined. The combination of the two gives you a unique perspective into issues and I like that I’m better able to view situations from both the perspective of a geographer and an economist. It’s pretty geeky but that’s what I find particularly exciting about my degree!
Take for example an environmental issue like climate change. An economist may be interested in assessing the effectiveness and equity issues of imposing, say, a carbon tax. A geographer can assess the cost of a potential flood and develop flood mitigation strategies for vulnerable coastal cities. While challenging, it does mean you’re honestly seldom bored with your degree - you can take a break and study the other branch when you’re feeling tired of one of them, haha.
In the near(er) future I want to work as a part time florist or barista. In the more distant future, I’d like to work in a job that focuses on research/analysis for public policy. University has gotten me particularly interested in research and its methods particularly in GIScience. I want to continue learning and doing that for policy purposes.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?
Volunteering with UCL has given me many crazy experiences that I didn’t think was possible.
After discovering some amazing opportunities on the SU Volunteering page, I applied for the role of Drama School Assistant with the Anna Fiorentini Film & Theatre School - and was offered the place! I’ve been volunteering with them ever since. The School also does singing, dance and film classes on top of acting ones.
Along the way, I’ve also had the privilege of being roped in to help with the other classes and that has been an interesting experience too. Volunteering as a Drama School Assistant has helped me as an actress and, as someone who is interested in theatre/the arts, inspired me to keep dabbling in it on a regular basis - and that’s important to me.
When you commit to regular volunteering, you also start to form friendships with the people you work with. This includes the full-time staff at the School, but also with the children. The fact that I’ve been able to explore and handle these roles that are perhaps not directly related to my university degree but nonetheless part of my varied interests is really cool. I’ve also since been given further responsibilities by the School, including paid reception duties to help with their administrative work too.
Tree-planting was another exciting (albeit one-off) volunteering opportunity I’ve gotten involved in at UCL. It was with the charity Trees for Cities and was a lot of fun - tiring, but so fun too. It was my first time planting trees, and having been a city folk all my life, getting my hands dirty (in the rain as well!) with friends old and new was quite the memorable experience. Who knew digging and planting trees could be that challenging but alas!
Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?
All microwaves around UCL are hidden gems but my personal favourite and the item that tickles me till today - the strawberry toilet in the Maths building.
Oh, and the IOE Bar does a surprisingly satisfying tiramisu!
Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:
If you were Provost for the day what’s one thing you would do?
I would organise various tea sessions around different parts of UCL (each with a different theme, e.g. mental health, exam prep, tips, etc) and get everyone to mingle.
Who inspires you and why?
My mum. She’s a mother of three and is doing well holding a full time professional career in a (traditionally) male-dominated industry. I think that’s pretty cool.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I can break an apple in half with my bare hands.