My second year at SOAS: Reflections and advice

Student sitting on steps at SOAS

Like many students, I didn’t know what to expect from my second year. My first year had all been online due to the pandemic. So although I was familiar with SOAS virtually, I felt like a fresher when I went to campus for in-person lessons and events. In this blog, I’ll be reflecting on my past year here, and will give you some advice if you’re embarking on your second year at SOAS soon!

Discovering more than just my chosen course

Academia-wise, this year was very enjoyable. As with many other courses at SOAS, BA Global Development offers a lot of choice and flexibility in terms of choosing your modules. I was able to tailor my degree to my specific interests, which included Forced Migration Studies as well as Human Rights Law. Thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of my course, the open option module that I picked from the Law department complemented my core development modules nicely, since Human Rights Law covers a plethora of issues at the core of major contemporary developments and debates.

Throughout the duration of my degree so far, I’ve always found that open options are a great way to not only hone your skills and knowledge in a different field of study but to also meet students and staff from other departments. SOAS also has arrangements in place to permit undergraduate students, on most programmes, to enrol on a module at another University of London college – this is a great opportunity for students who want to study a module that isn’t necessarily offered at SOAS.

Meeting people on campus

Socially, it’s been great to finally meet new friends in person! Joining societies and going to events has been one of the easiest ways of meeting people; the SOAS Students’ Union hosted many events throughout the whole year, including the Fresher’s Week & Fair at the start of the academic year and Refresher’s Week in Term 2. In comparison to other London universities, SOAS has a smaller and close-knit student population which means that you’re bound to bump into familiar faces on campus all time – this makes it much easier to initiate a conversation with someone at the JCR or when eating lunch outside!

Advice for going into your second year

In your second year, the focus moves from settling into university to applying and developing many of the skills you acquired in your first year. It’s important to be intentional with how you spend your time in your second year as you start to prepare for your final year and beyond. Second year requires you to take more responsibility for your academic work, too. A significant part of university is about gaining independence – and more so in your second year – but this should not equate to struggling in silence. My biggest advice would be to ask for help! Book office hours to consolidate the material covered in lectures and tutorials, visit the Student Hub if you require administrative advice, or reach out to your course mates to arrange study sessions altogether.

Also, as you’re one step closer to graduating, thinking about careers will naturally become an increasing priority. My top tip would be to reach out to the SOAS Careers Service as early as possible since internship and graduate role applications can be incredibly time-consuming. The Careers Service provides a range of services to assist you in developing your career or continuing your studies and to support you throughout the job hunting process while helping you to develop valuable employability skills along the way. It’s definitely worth taking a look at their newsletter sent directly to your inbox each week, or scrolling through their Instagram page or MySOAS Student for important resources and more information on services offered to students. If you want to learn more about SOAS Careers Service, I interviewed them for a blog back in March 2022. 

Above all: enjoy your second year! It’s the mid-point of your degree (if on a 3-year programme, of course) so try to make the most of all the academic, social and professional opportunities that come your way!

Sinem Ishlek is a SOAS Digital Ambassador, currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Global Development. Her main interests include Human Rights Law and Public Policy. 

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