Asian Correspondent » Southampton University http://asiancorrespondent.com Asian Correspondent Thu, 28 May 2015 01:43:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 How time flies http://asiancorrespondent.com/66254/how-time-flies/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/66254/how-time-flies/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2011 17:01:08 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/66254/how-time-flies/ It almost seems like yesterday that I walked into the International Office at the George Thomas Building to commence my internship which has seen me spend the past three months working in an office environment, having so many meetings and completing different projects.

Indeed, it has been a roller coaster ride of 55 working days spent on various activities and tasks which have not only enriched my working experience and skill set but also exposed me to a whole new environment and way of doing things.

This internship afforded me the great privilege of working with a very diverse and ‘international’ team which has improved my team working skills tremendously.  For example, my work on the Social networking campaign of the International Office which includes monitoring its Facebook page meant I had to work with all teams in the office to provide answers to queries asked by Fans which could be on just anything.  This also improved my communication skills.

The team members have been quite supportive and helpful in making this internship go smoothly and I am most grateful to them all.  Also, because I was “hotdesking”, this meant I ended up using so many officers’ desks while they were away.  I am therefore grateful to Rami, Ruth, Polly, Vicki, Carlene, Alison and Elisa for ‘letting’ me use their desks while they were away.

My Line Manager, Ines, went a great length to ensure I had a productive time here by making sure my calendar was busy most if not all the time and scheduling weekly meetings where I had to give regular updates on progress made on various projects/tasks and if there were any impediments to my meeting the deadline(s).  This for sure kept me on my toes!

My other boss, Jo gave me probably the most challenging experience as I had to build the Links Register from scratch following her specifications.  This was an eye-opening experience which made me fall back on my ECS knowledge base so as to deliver.  I am most grateful to both bosses – Jo and Ines for making sure I had a productive and enriching time here.  Of course, I always had to rely on other colleagues as well for clarification on issues I did not understand and all were quite helpful. My thanks go to all in the office for their support.

From next week, the only deadlines I would have to bother about would be course works and labs so there really isn’t time to rest and recharge.  Also, for any queries, I would now have to turn to my lecturers, tutor or course mates not office colleagues.  I wouldn’t’ also have to specify whether I am a staff or student when I go to SUSU café or the Staff Club for a meal as I most surely would be dressed as a proper student!  What changes these would be.  I am going to miss the ‘quiet’ and mature atmosphere, the cakes and goodies from international travels always left at “the usual place” and the occasional office banter.

I have been asked to keep in touch and I surely will.  In fact, there is an invitation from Jon and Richard for a drink and Rami for possibly football or ‘Shisha’ competition. Once again, many thanks to all at the International officers without exception; keep on with the good work!

Mountbatten building

Mountbatten building (Image courtsey the International Office)

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Bumpy ride http://asiancorrespondent.com/65356/bumpy-ride/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/65356/bumpy-ride/#comments Mon, 19 Sep 2011 17:01:20 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/65356/bumpy-ride/ As my internship gradually approaches its end, you would expect that things would get less busy.  (Un)fortunately, this was not the case last week as it saw me devoting more time to one of my major projects this summer – the Links Register.  Coincidentally, this project brought back memories of my design lab last semester – the Toon Generator ( or T1) – which is probably why I found it quite interesting and challenging.

The thing about design labs unlike others is that you are not given a set of lab instructions to follow so as to arrive at a pre-determined result.  Rather, you are given a set of modules or components, told what to build, given a deadline and then asked to come up with a design and build the device.   The T1 lab had us design and build a toon (or tune) generator which could play different notes depending on the user’s choice.  This we built from different components such as microcontrollers, loud speaker, resistors, PLDs, capacitors and a transistor among others.

Now, I am in no way saying I built an electronic device for the International Office.  The similarity between the T1 and Links Register mainly lay in the fact that both involved elements of design as the Links Register had me designing a new database based on the requirements of Jo, the Deputy Director who is also in charge of the Links Register.

But it’s not only been about the Links Register, as the new term approaches, the International Office is getting set to receive the new international students even as campus is already getting busier.  For three days this week we will be carrying out the Meet & Greet Service at Heathrow Airport and this will see many International Officers helping out, though the Admin Team Manager Vicki and summer intern Anton’s help are going to be running this.

As campus gets busier, with the freshers arriving, it also means some of my mates are returning too and getting set for the next academic year which is just few days away.  Oh yes, the days of coursework, deadlines and lectures are around the corner again. But for now, we don’t want to think so much about that as we rather make the most of the remaining days of the holiday.  This saw us play a game of football at the Indoor Sports hall over the weekend, then off to the Mitre pub on Portswood to watch the premier league game between Manchester United and Chelsea.  It was a shame though that my team lost but the game was a good one.

And by the way, one of the International Officers, Zoe, sent some pictures of her new baby, while we had a new member joining the International Office team – Debbie.  This means that during my internship, I have witnessed the arrival of two new members of the team – Debbie and Frances, who joined much earlier.  Thus far, it seems both have been having a good time working in the office.   It was also Andrew’s birthday and he got loads of good wishes from us. Andrew is one of the Regional Regional Managers in the office which is maybe why he brought sweets instead of the traditional birthday cake.  Frances, Jon, Jo F., Rami and Marcela also returned from their holidays which of course meant the gift shelves were filled with items.

The remaining two weeks of my internship would see me completing the Links Register, compiling some additional reports, assist with the International/EU welcome programme and undertake one more project under Ines.  Seems like it might just be a bumpy ride…

Links GUI

About Arinze Ekwosimba

I am studying Electronics Engineering with Wireless Communication (MEng) at the University of Southampton. I chose Southampton mainly because of its top ranking in my course and its international outlook. However, after arriving here, the amount of green space was quite amazing thus making the city a very nice place to live in. Of course, there are many other remarkable features of Soton as we call it. I would be in my second year of study in the 2011/2012 academic session.

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Interlude! http://asiancorrespondent.com/63890/interlude/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/63890/interlude/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2011 17:01:04 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/63890/interlude/ One of the benefits of working at the International Office is that I am entitled to a period of holiday which could be taken any time during my internship.   It was therefore not out of place that I decided to use this entitlement at the middle of my internship as an interlude so as to go to recharge and re-energise for the remainder of the internship.

I also saw this period as an opportunity to continue my exploration of Europe which partly led to my choice to travel to Spain.  But this was not the sole reason as I and a number of friends from the Catholic Society of the University had already planned to attend the 26th World Youth Day in Spain.  We were also joined by friends from other parts of the United Kingdom which meant we had a group of about 25 of us!

The World Youth Day is a youth-oriented event organised by the Catholic Church but with participation not restricted to Catholic youths which means even non-Catholics attend the event.  It is believed to be the largest youth event in the world and the edition just held in Spain had between 1.5 and 2 million youths in attendance.   The last edition was held in Sydney, Australia in 2008 while the next will be in Brazil in 2013.

We attended activities in different parts of Spain with our journey beginning in Siete Aguas, Valencia where we spent four days participating in different events lined up such as concerts, workshops, sight-seeing, sports, reflections, prayers and much more.  An interesting aspect was the fact that we had participants from all continents and so many countries.  This reminded me of the University of Southampton’s international outlook.

Our next port of call was Madrid which would host the climax of the event at the Cuatro Vientos Airfield but that would be after spending the week there.  The event was planned such that groups were assigned accommodation in different parts of the city or even in surrounding suburbs. Our group was posted to stay in Valdemoro, a district about one hour drive from Madrid where we were further split into smaller numbers to be hosted by different families.  On our first night in Valdemoro, all the host families gave us a massive welcome which of course included a huge dinner and for the first time I had fig fruits! Their hospitality was priceless.

The week saw us shuttling between Valdemoro and Madrid attending different events such as the Opening Mass, concerts, catechesis, sight-seeing, workshops, seminars, colloquia and very importantly making friends everywhere we went.   We also visited Getafe and El Escorial where we saw The Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.  Since participants were located all over Madrid, it was always easy to spot them which meant we found ourselves saying ‘Hola’ to people we never even knew wherever we went be it on the streets, the Metro, cafes, bars or parks.  I am not sure I have ever been in such a strange friendly atmosphere as I always saw myself blurting out ‘hola’ intermittently and getting a very warm response which at times led to long conversations.  I learnt to say ‘hello’ in Mandarin, German, Polish, French, Pidgin English, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and of course Spanish!

After Madrid, we headed to Toledo, a well-known World Heritage Site where we probably had the most captivating sight-seeing.  We were fortunate to have one of our group members who hails from Toledo and studying Archaeology at the University of Southampton.  He made it quite an experience. 

The WYD has left me with fond memories to always be cherished.  It has also made me appreciate unity in diversity.  With temperatures of up to 41 degrees Celsius, it was quite a warm period which reminded me of back home in Nigeria.   I also made friends from all continents and we have kept in touch.  As I return to complete my internship, this experience has no doubt recharged me for what lies ahead.

 

Pilgrims being sprayed water for cooling effect in preparation for the World Youth Day Closing Mass at Cuatro Vientos (Image culled from msnbc.com)

 

About Arinze Ekwosimba

I am studying Electronics Engineering with Wireless Communication (MEng) at the University of Southampton. I chose Southampton mainly because of its top ranking in my course and its international outlook. However, after arriving here, the amount of green space was quite amazing thus making the city a very nice place to live in. Of course, there are many other remarkable features of Soton as we call it. I would be in my second year of study in the 2011/2012 academic session.

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New Arrival http://asiancorrespondent.com/62301/new-arrival/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/62301/new-arrival/#comments Thu, 11 Aug 2011 17:01:05 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/62301/new-arrival/ One of the interesting angles of working in an office environment is that you find here a great mix of people at different stages of their lives.  Few weeks back, there was a “send forth” event in the office for one of our colleagues named Zoe who was proceeding on maternity leave.  I think she quite enjoyed it and appreciated the show of love and support from members of the IO and promised to let us know whenever the special guest finally ‘arrived’.

The good news is that this special and long-awaited guest finally arrived this week and as we have been told already has at least two names – in both Chinese and English! Mother and child are both well and we should be getting some pictorial evidence soon.  To add to the celebratory mood, another colleague, Donna of the CAMERA team had her birthday and brought in a cool cake which was well enjoyed.

It has also been a busy period at the office as I have had to complete certain aspects of the projects I handle before Ines’ annual leave.  This means I have attended quite a number of meetings, collected loads of data, submitted drafts and got them amended before compiling the final documents and also worked on several implementations. Work still continues on both the database and website while that on Social networking is ongoing as well.

Interestingly, I never knew I was putting myself into a corner by explaining what I actually do in the office in the last blog, as ever since, I have had Jon, a Team Leader, asking me the delivery date for the special recruitment device.  Apparently, he already has plans on deploying this tool to boost his team’s recruitment drive. The only caveat is that he seems to have forgotten the budget for this project but I hope he mentions it soon.

Another benefit of ‘hotdesking’ is that you don’t get too familiar with your desk (really not sure if this counts as a benefit though).  This clearly played out some days back when Karen, also a Team Leader, came in early and placed some flowers from her garden on some desks including mine.  Despite her gracious act, I surprisingly sat at my desk for almost half an hour without noticing the flowers until Karen came up and asked me what I thought about them. Contrast that with Yvonne of the Admin Team who noticed them right away when she arrived! I probably have to start working on a new project – Floral recognition!

Sadly, this week I have come to see parts of my host country that I have never before imagined possible. Few days ago have seen parts of England witness a string of violence and riots which were sparked off by a peaceful protest.  Fortunately, Southampton was not affected and has remained calm.  However, I have spoken with friends in different cities and followed updates on the media.  No one I have spoken with agrees these riots are justifiable. I feel for those directly affected and can only hope for a quick resolution to this strange situation, already things are calming down.  However, the police response to the situation has struck me.  Their ability to exercise restraint and use only necessary force despite the temptation to do otherwise is quite commendable. Communities have also come together to show solidarity by cleaning up the mess of these past days. To me, these positives go a long way to send the message that in the end, good always prevails over evil.

Southampton Water front (Image courtsey International Office)

Southampton Waterfront (Image courtesy International Office)

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What really do I do? http://asiancorrespondent.com/61819/what-really-do-i-do/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61819/what-really-do-i-do/#comments Fri, 05 Aug 2011 14:22:42 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/61819/what-really-do-i-do/ This is the fourth week of my internship and as you would imagine, things no longer seem as odd or strange as they were when I resumed as I have gotten much more familiar with the people and the office environment.  There has also been an addition to the team while many International Officers have returned from their trips which means I have been meeting at least one or two new faces every week.

Interestingly, because I am “hotdesking”, it means I do not have a permanent desk but have to move around the office using different systems as they become available.  The availability of a desk depends on whether an officer is away maybe on holiday or an official trip.  However, owing to the nature of the International Office (IO), there are always available desks.

I am sure by now you are wondering what exactly is an Electronic Engineering student doing at the IO?  Well, no need to get alarmed, and no, I am not building any electronic circuits for them here (oh how I wish) or developing a new cutting edge device they can use to recruit more international students for the university, unfortunately. So, what do I do?

Ines, my Line Manager who by the way prefers I call her by name (remember my question to her in the previous blog?), in addition to other responsibilities is in charge of Web and Marketing at the IO and therefore (and logically), I assist with the design and editorial content of the IO website. This I do using a web content management software called TeamSite which I had to be trained on.  My duties also entail working on the Social Networking Campaign of the IO which means I monitor and administer the Facebook Page, twitter account and YouTube channel of the IO.

I also work with the Deputy Director of the IO on something called the International Links Register which involves me managing a special database and ensuring the right information is available to concerned parties.  This involves some interesting challenges as there are some innovations we are working on implementing this summer.  But it is not only about just working on these projects as I have to produce periodic reports on specific issues as well such as web analysis of traffic on our website and competitive analysis reports for the web and social networking.  Some of these of course veer into marketing.

But it is not all about work. Last week, all staff of the IO went on a fun day trip away from the office and guess where to? We went to the GoApe venue atMoorsValleywhere we engaged in different tree-top adventures aimed at encouraging team building. It was interesting and at times hilarious seeing the various ways we tackled the different challenges encountered.  After the adventure we went over to a colleague’s house for barbeque, drinks and football!  We blokes got Andrew’s kids teaching us how to play real football and sweating it out. Indeed, it was a fun day!

Since I work Mondays to Fridays, I have the weekends off which means I can hang out with friends.  Some of my mates are doing internships as well and so also around.  Some others are Masters/PhD students so working on their dissertations/research. Among us we have quite a number still here in town and so we never run out of what to do.  Activities range from barbeques and meals at any of our homes or going to the cinema, pub or club.  We try to ensure that even though majority of the students are away,Southamptonremains fun for us!

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And so the journey begins… http://asiancorrespondent.com/61818/and-so-the-journey-begins/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61818/and-so-the-journey-begins/#comments Fri, 05 Aug 2011 14:22:11 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/61818/and-so-the-journey-begins/ It was July 4, 2011 and the first working day of the week.  I can vividly remember walking into Building 37 as it is named and finding my way to the third floor where the International Office is located.  Time was 9.24 am when I walked into the open desk office and met Vicki Woods, the Manager of the Administration Team.  She welcomed me with that smile I have come to be familiar with in the past one week or so and offered me a seat in the waiting area.  By 9.27 am, enters Anton my co-intern at the International office this summer who had arrived earlier but stepped out to kill time.

By 9.40 am, it was time for the fun to begin with Vicki coming over to commence the induction activities.  Up to this stage I still was not exactly sure what to expect.  I mean, you know the kind of feeling you get when you are new somewhere; be it a school, football club, class, church, etc.  For example, I wondered what kind of people I was going to have to work with – were they nice, approachable, social and friendly?  Or would they be the troublesome, unhelpful and difficult type?  Would I have my own desk with my own computer or would I have to share?  And what operating system would I have installed on my PC? These and many more questions streamed through my mind at random.

Good enough, the entire induction had been well planned and outlined so that most if not all these questions streaming through my mind were answered and even other things I had not thought of had been taken care of as well.   Anton and I were introduced to all staff present at the office.  Surprisingly, only about half the members of the team were present but we were made to understand that this was due to international travel.  Of course, this makes sense as that is why it is called the International Office!  Everyone we met was quite welcoming and helpful.

The induction very importantly included such necessary items as familiarization with workstations, using phones, logging into workstations, setting up the printer, access to office documents and resources and access to the International Office website and University portal.   We also discovered that we would be “hot desking”.

Part of our induction required us going over to Building 85 which houses the Human Resource Department where we had to sign our internship contracts and sort out other issues like issuance of ID cards and access to all online facilities.  Indeed, it was impressive that by the afternoon, I had my staff ID card issued and had my staff profile registered on the University’s portal called SUSSED which meant I could actually start working!  How excited and delighted I was.  This probably was when it dawned on me that I was truly an intern.

But you know what they say – with power comes responsibility.  I am not sure but it seems Vicki very much had this in mind as the next item on the induction itinerary was my meeting with my Line Manager to appraise and outline my tasks during this internship.  I left the meeting with a clearer picture of my duties and responsibilities.  At the end of the meeting, I jokingly asked the Line Manager whether she preferred me addressing her as boss or by name.  I spent the rest of the day getting familiar with my work space and resources; indeed the journey had just begun.

The George Thomas Building (Building 37). (All images courtesy the International Office, University of Southampton)

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