As I connected to more students at Queen Mary I began to explore the ways students combine sports and study abroad. Whether on a team or just for fun, balancing sports and their academic workload was important. Queen Mary can be rigorous at times, but there are many students who manage to balance it with many different commitments. Campus engagement is a good way to get involved with your London community. There shouldn’t be any reason your grades take a hit because you want to get involved and stay fit. I will break down the sports opportunities Queen Mary offers, the outdoor spaces that are good for working out, and how students balance sports commitments with their classes.
Queen Mary Sports Opportunities
Queen Mary has a range of club sports teams. Some examples include basketball, boxing, Ultimate Frisbee and American football. I talked to two members of the American football team, Reni and Jason. Reni is from North London while Jason is studying abroad in London for all of his college experience. For students who want to participate in a sporting event once in a while with low commitment, Queen Mary offers a program called “Get Active.” The catalogue of classes include self-defense, climbing, and tennis. This is ideal for students studying abroad for one semester and who think a team commitment may be overwhelming. Lastly, Queen Mary offers Community Sport opportunities. There are opportunities for student leadership and community engagement. Students who want a way to familiarize themselves with Mile End should look on QMplus for events and positions.
“As a team we train at Victoria Park and an astro turf near West Ham station,” said Reni. Victoria Park is a 10-minute walk from Queen Mary’s campus. Carrying equipment that far isn’t a hassle at all. Victoria Park also has a skatepark in addition to lakes and open fields. You can go to Victoria Park just to lounge as well as work out. Other spots that are good for skating is Mile End Concrete bowl which is a 15-minute walk from campus. Skate parks are a good place to meet people and get more acquainted with London culture. A legendary skatepark that has had a lot of controversy around it is the South Bank. It is a historic park in terms of skateboarding history, but a portion of it was suddenly replaced by the city. In response, skaters and activists protested the change. In turn, the city is now expanding the park. South Bank is closer to central London. It is about a 30-minute train ride away. Another thing to keep in mind is that there are many bike paths in parks and on the street. The city of London caters to cyclists. The Canal that borders one side of Queen Mary’s campus is a great place to run or cycle.
My friend Jason studies Business at Queen Mary and Reni studies History. They tell me that it is important for them to always look ahead at assignments. Often, courses have all of the assessments, questions included at times, posted on the online learning environment or Moodle called QMplus. Familiarize yourself with this program because it is the portal that allows you to join clubs as well as book rooms. Most assignments are submitted online so it’s no hassle having to go back and forth from campus to practice. The teams also offer a good group of people that can study with you. If you make friends on the field, be communicative about difficulties you’re having so they can offer advice. “Everyone is really cool and easy to talk to,” said Jason when I asked him what he enjoyed about the American football team.
If you choose to participate in sports on Queen Mary’s campus, then you will be pleased to find many opportunities. You can build strong relationships quickly through sports and can learn more about London. “Everyone who chose to be a part of the team is really committed and has love for the sport making it more enjoyable.” Be active in your commitment and use your love of sport to connect with your new environment.
Jahmir Duran is an African-American Studies major at Wesleyan University and studied abroad with IFSA at Queen Mary, University of London in England for the academic year 2018-2019. He is an International Correspondent for IFSA through the Work-To-Study program.