The Key - BFA Student Magazine Issue 2 2014


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Foundation student magazine made for and by international students at the BFA, University of Birmingham

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WELCOME Welcome to the second edition of The Key – the BFA magazine created by and for international foundation students at the University of Birmingham’s Foundation Academy. We had great fun preparing this year’s magazine and we hope you will enjoy our articles. If you are reading the digital version on – Download the magazine as a Pdf file. You can then click on the links for some extra material! You can also access the magazine and all its links as a Glossi magazine at CONTENTS 2 4 Meet one of our BFA Ambassadors The BFA Foundation Trip to Liddington - Winner of the Photo Competition - Experiences of Liddington Winning Entry of Liddington Diary Competition An Interview with an EPS Module Tutor Culture and History – essential to get to know a place Air Pollution Book Reviews: The Mystery Girl, 50 Steps To Improving Your Academic Writing Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Far Out and East Popular sports and sporting events in the UK The Vinegar and Baking Soda Volcano Experiment Chinese New Year at the BFA Q & A with a BFA Student Representative Birmingham City Library: A Building Of Great Significance Charity Shops The Ten-Pound Cooking Challenge Prevention Is Better Than Cure … the dangers of alcohol My Trip to Paris Endangered Species And Wildlife Protection The Key editors interview Olivier (Former BFA student and Student Ambassador) Never Let me Go – a Film Review Famous Scientists of the University of Birmingham Jokes 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 24 28 30 31 33 35 36 38 Want more? Take a look at the 2013 edition of The Key:


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Meet one of our BFA Ambassadors! By Hsiang-Ni ‘Shirley’ Cheng (MDS), Fanny Chen Sze Yan (EPS), Ella Chan (EPS) Former EPS Foundation student, Abdulaziz Alkhalid, speaks to three of our Key reporters about his experience of the BFA and gives some advice! Ella: Good afternoon, welcome to our interview. Today, we would like to ask some questions about studying in the University of Birmingham. You are now a student studying chemical engineering. How’s your course different from the Foundation course that you were studying last year? Aziz: It not that different from foundation, because it’s obviously the same course … but foundation year, I believe there’s more support to it. There are more people to help you; there are more support centres … English… it’s a more basic level than first year. And first year, you’re more on your own. You’ve just got to depend on yourself more, I think, than foundation. Fanny: Any challenges or difficulties you've encountered during your course? How did you resolve them? Aziz: I remember I had a course in the first semester called DPS - Design and Professional skills. I had a struggle in that course because it is mostly about drawing and designing. And that’s the thing I am worst at. I can’t draw anything. Anyway, but I always make sure I have a good connection with friends, people that would help me if I needed help. My friends did give a lot of help to me on that course as they gave some information I needed as a head start, and the rest I just worked hard and focussed on that course and passed it. So I think my friends helped me most in that case. Shirley: What have you best gained from the foundation year course in regards to what you're studying now? Aziz: For the most of the courses that I studied in the foundation year are things that are in the past, so I’m kind of revisiting what I’m studying, except for English. I believe that English has improved my skills a lot in the way that it gave me key transferable skills like hedging, and the way you use your academic writing … in everything, not only in school. And I believe that has helped me a lot…that’s what I gained most in the foundation year. Ella: Apart from studying, we are also curious about your social life, you know… apart from studying. So we would like to ask, how do you balance your time between your study and social life? Do you have any? Aziz: Right… obviously that’s probably the hardest thing you can do if you’re a student, to balance your social life and your studies. But…as a strategy what I try to do is that …when I go back home, the first thing I do is just do the homework, 2


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do the studying and finish everything, and then the rest of the day or the rest of the night, I just spend doing my social life, So I get my homework and study done, and then just do what I feel like. Ella: Did you join any clubs or societies or sports or anything? Aziz: Not a whole lot in the foundation year, but in the first year, yeah … I’ve joined Nijushiho, but I didn’t like that much, so I joined Karate. And Karate was good. I’m also part of the work society, and badminton. That’s it. Ella: But obviously I think study is the most important thing in the first year and in the foundation year, right? Aziz: Yeah… of course! Fanny: So I want to ask what are the things you enjoy most in Uni life? Aziz: What do I enjoy most in university life? I guess having freedom. I was comparing the university life with high school life, and it’s very different. In high school, you’re restricted to what you do and the people that you go out with and stuff. But in the university, there’re different coffee shops inside the Uni, different sports you might join, there’s rock society, there’s a society and a club for everything that you would want, really. And I believe that freedom is a really good thing to have. But, with freedom you need to dependent yourself more than ever. Because I believe that if you’re given a time to study, you have to know how much you have to study and how much you have to send in this time, so I believe the thing I most enjoy is freedom. Shirley: So, do you have any top tips for current BFA students now? Aziz: Any tips? My best tip is get involved. Whatever it is, if you find a club that you like, get involved in that club. Like, if you find any volunteering you might join, then do it! I can’t stress how important it is to get involved. ‘Cos university life is only a short period of time to have to go through, and after that you will regret not getting involved. So I believe the sports, volunteering, clubs – anything you can really get involved in. Ella: Finally I hope that all the BFA students will gain much more from this interview, so thank you very much! Click here to watch the whole interview! 3


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THE BFA FOUNDATION TRIP TO LIDDINGTON 2013 Winner of the Photo Competition Temitope Olaseinde (EPS) EXPERIENCES OF LIDDINGTON Runners up in the Liddington Diary Competition I had a great weekend in Liddington. There were so many amazing challenges. I think the kayaking was the most exciting. In addition, I learned some skills after those activities, such as Jacobs Ladder, where you needed to climb to the top with your team mates. We helped each other. For example, I gave a hand to the person next to me. Team spirit is so significant and willpower is important, too. If you meet lots of challenges, you may want to give up. When you have no willpower, you cannot control your body and mind in order to face the challenges. Lok Nok Hin (CoSS) After this trip, I will be a person who has willpower and never gives up. I will not be afraid of failure. 4


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We all went to Liddington for the weekend. The most exciting thing for me was staying with my friends without any lessons and having fun. On the second day, there was an activity named Raft Building. That meant my teammates had to design a raft which could bear 10 people on it. Then we fought with other teams on the water. I remembered our raft kept complete until the end and the most meaningful thing I learnt is the importance of teamwork and helping each other. The worst thing for me was Jacobs Ladder because at such a high position, I felt panic. I should have been brave. Luckily, on the last day, I got to the top during climbing. I was so happy that I climbed up twice. All in all, in the future, I know I can do nothing without my teammates and I should always have courage like a soldier to face different challenges. Fan ‘Hope’ Zhang (CAL) MY BFA LIDDINGTON CAMPING TRIP Ebele ‘Billy’ Ogbechie (CAL) Friday morning, on the 18th of October 2013, I woke up still unsure of how to go about my weekend at Liddington in Wiltshire. Do I pull on a brave face, act like I’m having fun and pretend like nothing’s wrong? Or do I just keep to myself and hope Monday comes soon enough? The bus was expected to leave by 1:00-1:30. Although we left a little bit behind schedule, we managed to get to Liddington on time. When we got to Liddington, we were encouraged to settle as quickly as possible. A lot of people were even more reserved than I had initially planned to be. I think as a result of this, the first night there didn’t really start a bang as some might have hoped. Everything was basically introductory and ‘’ice-breaking”. 5


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The next few days made a lot more sense though, despite the fact I had to wake up by 7:00 each morning! (I absolutely hated doing that!). The activities for the day were a bit weird, but fun nonetheless! Building the raft and going kayaking were by far my two favourite activities. Raft building was a really good physical workout for me, and apparently it was even more tactical than I thought. We were all grouped randomly and each group consisted of twelve people. Then we were given sticks, ropes and barrels and asked to make a raft that all 12 group members could conveniently. Every group had a different problem to deal with. My group’s biggest problem was the fact that, for some strange reason, our ropes were not holding well enough so some of the girls in our group had to sacrifice their elastic hair-bands and fix it (something they clearly weren’t too keen on doing). Through this activity I learned that sometimes you have to put the interests of others ahead of yourself just as the girls in my group did. Kayaking was also really fun and I was one of the few people who managed to not fall over. So that sort of taught me that I have good balance and body co-ordination. Everyone, me included, would agree that this was a very wet camping trip. It rained for the four days we were there. But as a whole, the trip helped me sort of relax and get my mind off things for a while, and I felt really happy and fulfilled about it. The Liddington Centre Photo by Manayr Boughaith (EPS) – Runner up in the Photo Competition Jacob’s Ladder Photo by Hsiang-Ni ‘Shirley’ Cheng (MDS) Runner up in the Photo Competition 6


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Photos by Nabiha Numan (CoSS) Runner up in the Photo Competition 7


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WINNING ENTRY OF THE LIDDINGTON DIARY COMPETITION By Wilson Duzingizimana (LES) On 18th October evening 2013, students of University of Birmingham in the Foundation Year arrived in Liddington, which is a village in Wiltshire County. It was a trip. We were going to stay there for the whole weekend until Monday. All the activities for the weekend were timetabled and communicated to every student. Many timetable sheets were hung on the walls of a building for everyone to exactly know which activities were to be done, the time at which every activity would take place and how long it would be. The students were divided into ten teams each with around eleven members. All teams did the same activities but at different times. There were a lot of interesting activities and it was very difficult to keep all of them in mind! I can only remember the most enjoyable ones such as raft building, Jacob’s ladder, archery, climbing, initiative exercises, trapeze, open canoeing, orienting, vertical challenge and the evening entertainment. Though almost all activities were new for every student, the challenging and demanding task for everyone was to get to know and remember the names of one’s group mates. Many names were very difficult to catch, remember and say as well, such as Chinese, Arabic names and other complicated names from different languages since it was a community of almost all world nationalities. However, despite this challenge, all students had loads of fun and excitement doing the activities, which were well-organised. Of all the activities, Raft Building was the most exciting and funny activity for many students. This activity was a typical tricky teamwork with a lot of challenges. Every team had to build a water floating raft with power to support and keep all group members over the lake water. If badly built, they would all fall into water and get completely wet or probably drink some lake water. The fundamental materials to build the raft were only plastic barrels, ropes and wood logs. When building our rafts, we used logs as a frame and barrels tied to wood logs with ropes so that they wouldn’t slide apart. When it was my team’s turn, there were three teams. The other seven teams were busy doing other activities. Each team was supposed to build its own raft so that all team members could paddle and have fun in the lake there without falling into water. Every team started and built their raft as quickly as possible. As they built, students in the same team whispered to one another “let’s do it quickly and start first”. At the start, we were all confused and it appeared difficult. But, at last, all the teams finished at the same time. 8


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With a lot of curiosity mixed with fear for some students, life jackets were hurriedly put on. Then, everyone holding his paddle as if there were thousands of canoes for canoeing, each team drew its raft to the edges of the lake. Every team moved on its raft and two of the three teams luckily succeeded. As members of the successful teams shouted joy and screamed wows, the third team was struggling and trying to start like the others. But, obviously the third team’s raft was poorly built. It could not support all team members for even more than one minute. It was too narrow to float properly over the water supporting all group members. Besides, none of them wanted to stay on the lakeside. Everyone was ready with his paddle. The team tried its best until all the team members were seated on the raft. “Wow, wow, wow” shouted the poor team. It was really amazing. As they shouted, the raft silently lost its balance and finally turned upside down. “Mum! God!” screamed the unlucky team. Photo by Temitope Olaseinde (EPS) Luckily, the lake was not deep. The whole team fell into water and got completely wet. Two students who had willingly jumped off the successful teams’ rafts were already swimming in the lake. Some of the falling team members sipped the lake water, but not too much because the lake was not too deep. Then, the team shamefully moved through the water back to the shores and stayed there, speechless. A few minutes later, the other teams asked them to join their rafts. Of course, though it was shameful, they could not refuse. They happily joined others. The two remaining teams started splashing water with paddles as a fun fight. After a while, everyone got wet all over the body and then time interfered and stopped the fun. The teams paddled back to the edge of the lake and got off the rafts. Barrels and logs were quickly untied and put back. Despite the coldness of the water and the rain, everybody’s face was full of smiles. The raft building activity undoubtedly became a cornerstone for friendship between many BFA students in 2013-2014 academic year. In addition, many students got to know each other better and foster their friendship, too. I wish it could happen again. It was amazingly amazing! 9


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An Interview with an EPS Module Tutor By David Rusizana (EPS) Q. Could you please introduce a little bit about yourself and your job? A. Okay, my name is Dr Alessandro Mottura, I am originally Italian and I am the lecturer Birmingham fellow at school of Metallurgy and Materials. I received my PHD in Materials Sciences and Engineering from Imperial College London (2010), then after I become one of the lecturers at the University of Birmingham since June 2012. Q. Do you enjoy your job? A. Yes, I very much enjoy my job of teaching and research because I like to teach and it includes much more responsibility, more teaching. Actually, what I like most in my job is that there is lots more teaching than I used to do before. Q. What inspired you to teach and at what age did you know this was the right choice for you? A. I think it happened when I started university because it’s where I started to help some of my classmates who struggled on some of the topics which we covered in the class and then I attempted to help them through teaching them. And I realised that by teaching them I could understand more and more about the subject. So, I thought that teaching could be a career that I would like to do. 3. As a student, what was your favourite subject and why? A. My favourite subject as a university student was Crystallography, which is the study of how atoms form crystals and what types of crystals you can have and how these crystals are different from each other. 4. What do you enjoy most about teaching on the BFA programme? A. There are many things I enjoy for teaching on the BFA programme. What is like is that it’s a very diverse group of people…diverse in terms of where the students come from but also in terms of what people know about a subject. Some students do not know anything about the subject while others know more about it. It’s hard to teach on the BFA because of that diversity. So making a lecture course more interesting for everyone is a challenge and I enjoy challenges. 10


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5. Would you recommend studying in BFA programme to all international students? Why? A. I think it depends on the student’s background or origin in terms of education. If a student comes abroad from a country with different way of teaching compared to the UK, it is better to study in the BFA because it helps them to spend one year adjusting to the different world and to a new style of teaching. If instead you start the first year directly, you might find yourself struggling. 6. In your experience, what kind of problems do BFA students have in common? What can they do in order to fight against them? A. As you do a variety of subjects on the foundation course, the first challenge is doing subjects which might not be relevant to what you will do in the future. For example you might go on to study Civil Engineering but on the BFA you have to take Properties of Matter. So I think you have to try to get inspired by every single subject that you do and try to find something interesting or that you like in each subject and try to do your best. A second challenge is that some students come without the academic background knowledge required to study a particular subject at university level. These students have to work hard to catch up as much as possible and gain the knowledge that they lack. 7. Apart from the academic side of life…I’d like to ask you… What's the one thing you would not want to see on the lunch (or dinner) menu? A. It’s hard to find the one thing I would not want to see on the lunch menu because I tend to like everything. I’ve eaten sheep’s head and sheep’s eyes! But there is one thing I do not like to see on the table and that’s bugs. I’m not convinced about that! Actually, what I really like to see in my lunch menu is an Italian dessert called Tiramisu’! 8. What advice could you give the BFA students to make the most of their foundation year in and outside the classroom? British universities offer a lot apart from academic teaching. The advice I could give to all international students in their foundation year they should try to participate in different activities such as joining societies, doing some extra curricula activities, some sports and also trying to explore as much as possible at the University. I would also suggest trying to travel. Take a trip to different places like London, Cambridge, Scotland and all the other countries as well. And in the classroom, they should mainly concentrate on getting a first class result at the end of their year. Listen to the full interview here: 11


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“Culture and History – essential to get to know a place” Says our reporter, Jean Bosco Nsabimana (LES) Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery When you are new in Birmingham, you might ask yourself where to go and find interesting things to see and what might help you to familiarise yourself with the second city in the UK. When you ask people what to visit to get a glimpse of British culture, the answer you are likely to be given is to go into the City Centre. A few people will tell you specific places to visit and enjoy. Some may tell you, for example, to go and admire Birmingham’s beautiful buildings like The Cube, The New Library, The Mailbox, The ICC, or The Shopping Complex in the Bullring. Very few will tell you where to find cultural and historic objects. However, the finest place to go and visit if you are interested in culture and history is just as easy to find: the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has a collection of international importance covering fine art, ceramics, metalwork, jewellery, archaeology, ethnography, local history and industrial history. It is located in Chamberlain Square, Birmingham City Centre, near Victoria Square. This museum houses the largest public Pre-Raphaelite collection in the world. You can also see the Staffordshire Hoard, which is the largest AngloSaxon gold ever found. The museum gives us information about Birmingham its people, its history and the city’s global heritage. Don’t leave the museum unless you have also seen the current exhibitions, for example Photorealism and Qalam which is the art of beautiful writing showing historic Islamic manuscripts, and decorated objects. It is free to visit the museum, but some of the current exhibitions and events may charge so if you want to drop in, check this website to find out more: 12


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Air pollution by Wilson Duzingizimana (LES) A ir pollution is roughly known as the uncontrolled emission of gases and other harmful materials that are suspected to be harmful to human health and wildlife into the earth’s atmosphere. Before the industrial revolution and the emergence of advanced technology, the only polluting agents were natural phenomena -mostly volcanic eruptions that spilt gases into the atmosphere, and the natural decay of uraniumrich minerals that produces a dangerous gas, radon. However, today with a number of different polluting agents, air pollution has become a serious problem. In addition to the problem of volcanic gases, industries and countless vehicles and aircrafts all over the world continue to emit tons of harmful gases into our atmosphere. These gases are mainly carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides produced from burning fossil fuel, and sulphur dioxide from volcanic eruptions and coal burning. The dangers caused by these gas emissions are worsened by human activities such as growing crops, building, searching for firewood and rearing animals that over time devastate the natural environment which would ordinarily alleviate the severity of pollution by recycling the emitted carbon dioxide. The air pollution problem can be well understood and felt as you travel in many developed cities where blue sky is hardly seen and many people feel stressed owing to the polluted irritants in the air which, in gravely affected regions, force people to put on protective gasmasks. BBC News in January this year reported that people in Beijing were not allowed to leave their houses without wearing the protective masks on certain days. This exemplifies the harsh conditions that people in developed cities will soon be exposed to if things go on. In addition to the respiratory irritants in the air, a couple of decades ago, scientists reported that most of the volcanic, industrial and household gases that have been produced are greenhouse gases which play a significant role in causing global warming leading to climate change. Additionally, it is said that our world has been witnessing unusual weather dominated by deadly disasters such as tsunami and storms which have taken thousands of human lives and destroyed properties across the globe due to the resultant global warming. Again, due to the high concentration of these gases in the atmosphere, much acid rain falls resulting in killing wildlife and fauna and demolishing historical buildings and monuments across the world. Seeing what is happening, everybody asks what is being put forward to rescue endangered places and human lives as well. Different initiatives intended to cut down the amount of the toxic gases emitted in the atmosphere have been taken. These include trying to minimise the use of fossil fuel and developing the new technology of converting the toxic gases into less toxic ones. This, however, cannot be achieved without everyone’s effort - from young people who own the future, to important men such as heads of states and company and industry owners, who should first feel the severity of the problem before taking decisions based on short-lasting power and money. 13


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Book Reviews By Vestine Musabyimana (LES) THE MYSTERY GIRL, by Alexis KAGAME, is my favourite book of all time. It is a fiction book which tells the story of a young boy Ben who travels far away from home without letting his parents know. On his way he finds himself lost in a big forest. He is with his dog, which is his best friend. The book’s story continues by describing Ben’s parents’ worries about their lovely only son because they do not know where he is. Ben is his parents’ only child and he is not allowed to travel far from where they live because their parents want to make sure that he is safe. One day when he is out playing with his dog, he goes to the forest to see other places. After a long time, he falls asleep in the middle of a dense forest where he is alone with his dog. A girl called Jane comes and wakes him up, and then takes him to a cave, which is her home. When they arrive there, Jane’s family is happy to see Ben. The following day, they give him a bird’s feather to help him find his way home and see his parents again. This book is among Kagame’s popular fiction books and was published in 2007. The author’s story is inspiring because it is interesting, funny and makes readers feel relaxed. I would recommend it to those who like fiction stories. It could be one of the most memorable books they have ever read. By Chi Kit Tam (MDS) 50 STEPS to Improving your Academic Writing, by Chris Sowton, is a study book which provides useful skills and knowledge to write an essay in the context of the university system. It is written for students who are inexperienced in academic writing. This is a self-study book for students to develop writing skills themselves. The book is divided into 10 different units. The order of these units is according to the procedure of writing an essay. For example, the first two units are ‘Understanding academic conventions’ and ‘Researching your essay’. On the other hand, ‘Finalizing your writing’ is the end of the book. This sequence is convenient for readers to follow the procedure of writing essays. Some of the skills are useful for me, such as application of phrases and linking words which are commonly used in academic writing. These kinds of phrases and words can improve my writing structure which can become logical and clear. This book is extremely appropriate for students because of its relevance. The writer of the book, Chris Sowton, taught English for academic purposes at Cambridge University previously. Thus I would recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their academic writing. 14



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