Welcome to the inside of my head.

Posts tagged ‘Mathematics’

132. Which side of your brain is more dominant?

Just a short fun quiz that ‘tests’ which side of your brain is more dominant. Quite interesting!

Click here to take it.

So people who are left-brained tend to be more rational, logical and pay attention to detail, and those who are right-brained are more creative, curious and imaginative. Seeing as I study Maths, I thought I would be left dominant. But according to this test I use my brain equally!

What did you guys get?


Over and Out!


131. My days are a blur

I know it has been a while but trust me when I say I have not been ignoring this blog because I wanted to or because I didn’t know what to talk about. The past week or two, my days have actually become a blur of waking up, taking the train, going to uni, coding and courseworking and then taking the train back home to do more coding and courseworking. I literally can’t tell my days apart. I feel like a zombie.

This has been the most exhausting and challenging academic terms of my life. Coupled with all the work I need to be doing for my fourth year project and the fact that it’s my final year, at times I have been feeling overwhelmed. I just never feel like I’m finished. Every time I hand some work in, I can’t even celebrate or take a break because I have another two to do. It has been relentless.

One of my modules has been particularly bad: Statistical Theory. Even the name is off-putting. Stats and theory. Someone hand me a bucket. I made the mistake of thinking that the course would be decent based on the past papers. To be fair for the first few weeks, it was quite good but after that it got worse at like… an exponential rate. We must have studied sufficient statistics for about 3 weeks- I still couldn’t explain to you what they are. The lecturer, bless him, is erm…oh I’ll just say it…ancient. He’s ancient. He has a tendency to call everything trivial and assumes we know a lot more than we actually do. Coupled with his muttering and frightening hysterical laughing at his own jokes, his lectures can feel torturous. However he always seems so pleased that people are attending his lectures and now I don’t have the heart to leave and disappoint him.

I don’t want it to all sound awful so I shall say this: while this term has definitely been stressful, it has felt oddly rewarding too. Coding is so frustrating- little things can completely mess it up- but when it works you feel like a superstar. Most of Mathematics is like that.

Still I am really looking forward to the end of term so I can hibernate, catch up on my tv shows and just have time to go through my notes thoroughly. More importantly I want to spend time with my family and with my cousins. I have really missed their annoying lovely faces.

Over and Out!

127. My 11+ Experience

Over the last few days, my mum has been receiving results about how well her tutees did in their 11+ exam. It makes me feel old when I realise I was one of those kids more than a decade ago. For those unfamiliar with this exam, it is an entrance test to get into a grammar school or an ability selective school. These schools are sort of like private schools (minus the poshness and manners) without paying the money thus making it extra popular with brown parents.

It’s hard to say for sure what have been the most important moments of my life but I can say with confidence that passing my 11+ exam was one of them. I am so grateful for the opportunities and teaching I received at my secondary school. If I hadn’t passed, I would have been going to a local girl’s school and I’m sure I would have turned out rather different:

  • (even) more chavvy
  • not as good (but hopefully not bad) academically
  • probably uncomfortable around guys.

I’m not sure I would have made it to Imperial. Who knows if I’d even be studying Mathematics?! I definitely wouldn’t have had James (ewww a boy) as a best friend.

My parents only realised you sit the 11+ when you’re 10 about 4 months before the exam (who came up with that?) so I had limited time to prepare for it. Four months sounds like ages but it’s not uncommon for parents to start years in advance. That’s how fierce the competition is. I had 3 papers to sit: verbal reasoning, non verbal reasoning and maths. Out of the three, my preference was for Mathematics. I remember actually enjoying the practice papers. On the flip side I had to work hardest for non verbal reasoning which tests how well you notice patterns and sequences through images eg.

(I’ll post the answer at the bottom)

Preparing for the 11+ was the first time I really committed myself to something. My parents claimed that it didn’t matter what the outcome was as long as I tried my best. Total bull of course. We were all totally invested in it. And attending the opening evening for my secondary school cemented it further. I walked through the doors of the green and blue school building and decided that it was the place for me.

I don’t remember much about the day except that I had orange juice and a Penguin chocolate bar in the break. But I remember being really nervous… right up till the moment I started the paper after which I just focused on the questions. As the exam was multiple choice, I had no idea how well or badly I had performed. Whenever my mum asked I told her that if I passed, it would be a scrape and if I didn’t, it would be by a small margin.

I was quite anxious about receiving the results but not nearly as much as my parents. I was at school when my results letter arrived. My mum doesn’t believe the whole ‘patience is a virtue’ stuff and tore it in. She then promptly drove to my school, stormed in, found me waiting in the queue for lunch, dragged me into an empty music room and swung me around. One of the happiest moments of my life.

Turns out I did pretty good too. In typical fashion I dropped one mark on the Maths paper. When my dad asked me what I wanted as a present, I wracked my brains for the best possible thing I could think of and said… A FISHBURGER FROM McDONALDS.

Not so clever after all.

Over and Out!

(The answer is B)


123. The Annual Student Pledge

Like every other student I promise myself year on year that I will do better, that I will work harder and be more organised. Every year I end up short of my expectations. Nonetheless today I make my annual student pledge to improve on last year (and trust me there’s a lot to improve on).

To really drill it home I’ve decided to publish my pledge here on my blog, immortalised on the internet so that I can look back in shame when if I fail.

I Aliya, hereby promise the following:

  • To read over lecture notes throughout the term rather than in a blind panic before exams
  • To tackle problem sheets with the same perseverance I usually reserve for coursework
  • To really think about problem sheet questions rather than jumping for the solutions
  • To make good revision notes and not get bored of the module after the second chapter
  • To not assume something won’t turn up in the exam… because it usually does (just to spite me!)

I really want to do well and leave university on a good note. Hopefully the fact that this is my final year might be the kick up the arse I need. 

Over and Out!


106. My Internship

I’ve just finished my third week at Towers Watson as an intern (working in Retirement). This means I’ve actually reached half way! The time has seriously flown by, probably because I’ve been kept so busy.


Enjoying the sunshine

Settling Down

There are 8 of us altogether in the Westminster office in Retirement. One is me, the other is Shakira and one of the dudes actually went to my secondary school (though he was in the year below me). So that’s 2 more people than most people usually know at the start of their internship. On top of that it’s 6 girls and 2 boys which is pretty unusual but all of this combined has just made it easier for me to settle down.

The Work

There’s no point me detailing the kind of stuff I do because it won’t make much sense. All I can say is that to work in this area, you need to learn so many new words and acronyms that it might as well be a Rosetta Stone course. Also because of government rule changes over the years, doing simple tasks becomes hella annoying because you have to look at each time period separately, there’s Pre 88, Post 88, Pre 97, Post 97, and the occasional Post 06.  Why you make this so hard?!

Initially I was a bit annoyed about doing things I didn’t actually understand. For example I use a very clever spreadsheet called Caps and Floors which works out the right interest rate for stuff. Essentially all I do is input a few values and it spits out a number. I have no idea how it’s doing this and from the viewpoint of a mathematician, I find it wholly unsatisfying but I have grudgingly come to accept that I don’t have time to work through the Black Scholes equation. Additionally I had very little financial knowledge coming into this. I didn’t know how gilts work (I do now..sort of) or stuff about bond yields which was a hindrance.

I haven’t done much Maths besides basic arithmetic (I miss it) but the numerical judgement I’ve picked up during my degree (eg. does this figure look right?) has been invaluable. It means I’m efficient when sifting through documents trying to find the right information and also when reviewing calculations on Excel.

I have a buddy who’s supposed to make sure I always have work to do but he’s a bit slow and this week he’s gone on holiday. Basically I’ve been pestering the people around me and they’ve been happy (a little too happy on occasion) to oblige. In contrast, Shakira’s buddy Timone gives her annoying technical tasks with incomplete instructions but he’s very nice so we forgive him.

IT Skills

I thought I was decent using Microsoft Office. I’m not. I have learnt so many little tricks in my time here.  Many of them are specific to the the TW Toolbar but just small things like the ‘track changes’ features in Word and ‘record transitions’ feature in Powerpoint has been… life changing. However, the biggest shock was Microsoft Outlook. I had NO IDEA how powerful it was. I’d never given it much attention before but seriously it puts Hotmail and even Gmail to shame. Its capacity to book meetings, check out other people’s schedules and track tasks has been invaluable. I will never dismiss it again.


Towers Watson is a very friendly place. The office is open plan so you literally can walk up to anyone and just say hi. As the new interns, everyone was really eager to meet us and find out our capacity to do some work for them 😛 There is always some kind of social event on the horizon whether it’s Friday drinks, a lunch or a boat party like we had this week. The inconvenient thing about them is that they all involve drinking. It’s like they can’t do anything if there is no alcohol. Every time I tell someone that I don’t drink, they give me a confused look. I guess I didn’t realise how important a pint was in British culture. I do now. And my god, it’s not just one pint they have, it is several. Where is all this liquid going? How are they constantly not peeing?! It’s a mystery to me.

However I’ve still been going to as many of the socials as I can. A highlight was the boat party. Great fun! I’m sure it was supposed to be used as an opportunity for (more) networking but there was a roulette table and I pretty much spent the whole evening there (no real money was involved before someone starts shouting at me for gambling during Ramadan- talking of Ramadan… Ramadan Mubarak!).


I’m feeling lucky….

Intern Project

Alongside all the work we do in the office, we also have an intern project. I’m in a group of 8 across three different offices and we have to co-ordinate making new videos for graduate recruitment. Other groups are making games to help prospective applicants decide what line of business they should go for and another is setting up TW’s Facebook and Twitter page. The project has been really fun so far and I really like my group, particularly a dude called Robert who is our project leader and also happens to have beautiful chiselled cheekbones 😛 Now originally we thought that we’d be interviewing people in the office… turns out we’re starring in them. That’s right we’re going to be immortalised on the TW website, saying cringey things like ‘open the door to your career at Towers Watson!’ *fistpump*.


This is where we’re going to be filming… the Reigate office (not my usual Westminster one)

Dress Code

I’m going to be honest- half the reason I was excited about this internship was because I’d get to dress up in nice formal wear. However that gets old real quick. First of all dresses and skirts are really annoying when you’re climbing stairs. Mine don’t have huge slits so my pace length is restricted and unless I hike the hem up, I definitely can’t run for my train. Trousers for the win! Furthermore, if I’m not wearing trousers I wear opaque tights and in this weather it is DISGUSTING. I can feel my legs continuously getting sweaty and drying. Actually gross. Oh and shoes! Both my flats and my heels hurt my feet if I wear them for too long. University has spoiled me- the only shoes that don’t hurt are trainers.

Thankfully we have dress down Fridays where I can chillax and wear my jeans and converses to work. Hoorah!

Okay this is getting really long now. I’ll leave it at that- don’t want to bore all of you!

Over and Out!


103. Back to life, back to reality

After the insane weekend I had in Paris, returning back to London felt surreal. I had been awake for 26 hours straight, my feet were aching from wearing heels for two days and I was exhausted right down to my bones. As soon as I got home, I ate some Coco Pops and promptly fell asleep for 9 hours straight. When I woke up I was so disorientated; I had no idea where I was or what time it was because my body clock was so messed. The first thing I did was check out what I had missed while I was gone and it was then that I found out that third year results were released.

To be honest I didn’t want to open them but I had to assess the damage. I knew beforehand that it wouldn’t be as good as last year and the ‘I don’t give a shit’ feeling that I had after the exams had faded by now so I was anxious.

I was… disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t do badly but I was so far off what I aspired. My New Year’s resolution was to try and get a First in every non-maths module (there are 7) and I got 3 (though one was only off by 1) and they weren’t good Firsts either. They were scrapes to the extreme but I’ll take what I can get.

My lowest mark was in Managerial Economics which is supposed to be an ‘easy’ option and to be fair my friends did really well in it but I thoroughly lack economic sense and I have a long standing history of hating multiple choice exams. I should have known better than to listen to other people. No more non-maths modules for me.

There was one module that I was particularly disappointed with; Games, Risks and Decisions. I really enjoyed the module and I felt like I had a good grasp on the content but I got a very average mark. It’s not unfair because I know I didn’t perform well in the exam but it’s definitely not representative of my understanding. Oh well…I guess it evens out. Last year I got higher marks in modules that I knew very little about.

I don’t want to be completely negative so I’ll share a positive too. I got a First in M3T: Communicating Mathematics which is the project I wrote after my exams. It’s one of those modules where it’s usual to get a 2:1, rare to get a 2:2 but difficult to get a First so I guess I should be pleased.

I might sound obnoxious complaining about a high 2:1 but I wanted to do better and I’m pretty bummed. I’ve never not got the highest grades and I really don’t want my university degree to be where I mess up. I don’t give a shit about how it’s good to fail sometimes and how it’s a learning curve. It’s going to be challenging to get a First overall but it’s still within my grasp (just about). I just need to pull out something special next year but it’s going to be seriously tight. I don’t think I can outrightly get a First but I can get in the grey area between a 2:1 and First forcing them to discuss my case and I’ll have to pray it goes in my favour. But that’s the thing, I’m now reliant on other people rather than my own merit.

I’m such a mix of emotions right now. I’m ecstatic for my friends who are graduating with amazing marks and I’m still on a high from my action packed weekend (which I will share more about with lots of pics later) but I’m kicking myself about my results. I haven’t told my parents yet because they’re still asleep. In a way I’m glad because I’m scared I’ve disappointed them but at the same time I really need some comforting words from my mum because I can’t ‘forgive’ myself until she does… though I’m not sure that’s the right word to use here.

But there you go. I was in Paris living the good life where my biggest worry was what necklace I should wear for the wedding and now I’m back in London smacked back to reality and I need to focus on my internship and university. Don’t things change quickly!

Over and Out!


95. Mission Accomplished

The last few days have been super stressful but I’m really pleased to announce that I’m finally done with third year! HELLO SUMMER!

I handed in my projects (yup plural) yesterday and I also gave my oral presentation. Considering how little time I had to prepare for it, I think it went decently. I rehearsed as much as I could in the few hours beforehand, so much so that I think I strained my voice. The time limit was 15 mins so I wanted to be talking for at least 12 minutes but when rehearsing, I couldn’t get it over 10 mins 20 secs. Miraculously I made it last over 13 minutes for the real thing. I swear it doesn’t matter how much public speaking you’ve done, it doesn’t get much easier. I always feel like I’ve got my foot in my mouth and can’t get the words out.

I took a few pics because our projects looked soo beautiful when binded. I almost didn’t want to hand it in!


Such Beauty

Shakira didn’t even want to let them go!

Can you feel the loovee tonight?

Can you feel the loovee tonight?

I was just in a state of delirium that it was all finished.

I don't even...

I don’t even…

Over and Out!