Person standing in front of a very tall Buddhist statue

Studying in China: An unforseen tale of joy and despair

Scrolling through the deepest memories of the Eastern World.

After two years of intense and beloved study, that moment arrived, the Study Year Abroad.  

I said to myself: “The story will change, at least for a while, a few days, months or maybe a whole year, that red colour which will illuminate this intermittent experience, will be the same which will set my heart on fire.” And in that thought, I understood that travelling makes you discover the essence of life, it makes you understand that your freedom begins when that of another person ends. Every journey you live it three times: when you dream it, when you live it and when you remember it because travelling to discover new countries leads you to find the continent in yourself. 

During my time in China, I have experienced things I thought, in my life, I would never have. I remember an afternoon, walking on the Chinese Wall, shortly after finding a spot from where to capture unforgettable moments, and my partner approached me with a trivial question, inviting me to think about that magical place with an incredible view. I replied with happiness, stating we were on one of the Seven Wonders of the World. At that moment I looked down and saw a ring. That day I got engaged, that day was the Eighth Wonder of the World. 

During the winter vacations, a was travelling across multiple provinces and cities, to discover China’s culture, traditions, local foods and all those places, those things hidden by the thousands of tourists wandering in these eastern lands. But then, all of a sudden, things changed. And there I was, in the city of 西安 Xi’an, in Shaanxi Province, after having left Taiyuan, in Shanxi Province, approximately 7 hours by car away. I just had a Rou Jia Mo (肉夹馍), “meat in a bun”, for breakfast, and in the meantime, I was scrolling a few articles from the local newspaper. They were stating a severe flue was sickening people in one of the near provinces I intended to visit. I kept scrolling and refreshing the real-time news, and articles kept coming. The flue had a name, and details of the infection, and soon it became a virus.  

After having visited the Terracotta Army with a big smile on my face, a call came in. The Chinese University advised me not to visit crowded places, markets, supermarkets where meat made products and eggs are displayed. The University also told me the virus had already reached Beijing. The city was running out of protective masks, all of which quickly sold out. 

So I asked myself: wherein China can I ever find an empty place? Thousands of people everywhere, people who travel with dead chickens in empty paint buckets, those who sleep on the ground, those who spit and those who sniff. It is normal for them, maybe not for us. Different cultures, traditions and behaviours. Which places do not sell meat made products and eggs? When I ordered a vegetarian dish, it always came with a few pieces of meat, because as the Chinese chefs say: it ‘gives flavour’.  

Reluctantly I felt compelled to finish the trip earlier than expected. I picked up my phone and contacted my University in England to ask if I could continue my studies in Europe. Unfortunately at that stage, they refused: “The national health system has not yet reported enough cases to call students back”. 

I saw the situation degenerate in a few hours. I was about to take a train to go to Chengdu, the city of the Pandas when I was told to avoid contact with live animals. In the last ten minutes, I changed the ticket. Then I sat down waiting for the train back to Beijing, and I thought: “It is easy for the plans to change, but it is not easy for us to change what we have planned for so long”. The anxiety went up. Fear, together with sadness, anger, and joy, are fundamental emotions of living beings: it warns us of dangers and pushes us to survival. Sometimes these emotions push us to do something unimaginable, in other times they lead us to take the most obvious path. And in my case, it was the one to go back home.  

While I was on the train back to my University Campus, I bought two flight tickets for the day after. Beijing – Dubai, Dubai – Catania. In the airport, I have been subjected to thorough checks, from fever to stains of blood in the masks. At that time, the “coronavirus medical test” was just a theory. After 15 hours, I was back in Italy. 

At the beginning of February, the virus reached Europe already. The number of cases was not that high, and people were able to travel with no conditions. So, I decided to move to Lithuania with my partner. A few weeks there passed by, and half of the European countries were in lockdown, my studies cut off. But then the days and months went through, the online classes broadcasting from China started. And in those feelings of distance, I found that red colour I loved, coming from the Lithuanian summer sunset, giving me a sense of warm comfort and the bad feelings slowly fade away. Is it this a usual Study Year Abroad? An exceptional, unthought experience, which made real memories unforgettable.

Author: Simone Figura
Bagde saying "Join a Society" next to other badges with societies names on it

MDX University’s Societies

All work and no play, definitely makes Jack a dull boy. Therefore, joining a society might be a good option for you during your time at Middlesex! Societies bring people together to follow their passions aside from their studies. You can join in on fun activities they have whilst creating an amusing and enthusiastic atmosphere in our University. Societies are considered to be known as a student associations, which are operated by students at the University and are composed typically only of students and alumni. 

If you find that it might resonate with you, what are you waiting for? Indulge yourself in having a wonderful experience at MDX! You can give it a go during your spare time, it is a great way to meet new people and discover new things you might like. 

To join any of the societies available is quite simple. Go to this link: and find the one that you fancy the most!

Here is the list of societies you can currently join: 

3D Game Art Society 

Afghan Society 

African-Caribbean Society (ACS) 

AhlulBayt Islamic Society (AbSoc) 

Albanian Society 

Amnesty International Society Middlesex University 

Anime and Manga Society 

Arab Society 

Believers Loveworld (BLW) Society 

Burlesque Society 

Chess Society 

Chinese Christian Club Society (CCC) 

Christian Union Society 

Complementary And Alternative Medicine Academic Society (C.A.M.A.S.) 

Creative Technology Society  

Criminology And Sociology Academic Society 

Czech And Slovak Society 

Debating Society 

Dutch And Flemish Society 


Entrepreneurship Society 

Erasmus And Exchange Community 

Film Society 

First Love MDX 

Gig-Going Society 

Harry Potter Society 

Healthy Eating and Well-Being Society 

Heartfulness Meditation Society 

Hellenic/ Cypriot Society 

H.E.R.O Society 

Hive Potential Society 

Indian Society 

Iraqi Society 

Islamic Society (ISoc) 

Jewish Society (JSoc) 

Journalism Society 

Kharis On Campus 

Kpop & Culture Society 

Latin American Society 

League Of Legends Society 

Lithuanian Society 

Malayali Society 

Marketing Society 

Maths and Coding Society 

Mdx Bollywood Society 

MDX – CSSA Society 

MDX Dance Society 

MDX First Aid Society 


MDX Game Society 

MDX Malaysian Society 

MDXSU Activists 

MDXSU Black Students 

MDXSU Commuter Students 

MDXSU Disabled Students 

MDXSU Healthcare Community 

MDXSU International Students 

MDXSU LGBT Students 

MDXSU Mature Students 

MDXSU Parent And Carer Students 

MDXSU Postgrad Students 

MDXSU Women Students 

MDX Taiwanese Society  

MDX Tamil Society 

MDX Turkish Society 

Medical Society 

Middlesex Horse Riding Club 

Middlesex Raise And Give (RAG) 

Middlesex University Hack Team 

Middlesex University Law Society 

Modest Fashion 

Musical Theatre Society 

Natural Sciences Academic Society 

Painting Society 

Pakistan Society (PakSoc) 

Palestine Society 

Pinoy Society (Filipino) 

Polish Society 

Portuguese Society 

Psychology Society 

Public Health Society 

Rock Society 

Salem Campus Fellowship 

Salsa Society 

Science Fiction And Fantasy Society 

SHAREDIN (Student Healthcare Academics Race Equality Diversity Inclusivity Network) 

Singers And Musicians Society 

Somali Society 

Student Media (Radio, News, TV) 

Student Media TV 

Surf Society 

Sustainability & Plastic Reduction Society 

The Echo 

The European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) 

The MDX Glee Club 

OP-ED Article written by: @lilmissbarreto 22/09/2020


Melissa Nabre reports on the project started in 2017 architectural Technology BSc students, as it is finally finished as they make their mark on campus.

After two years of hard work, the new MDX Pavilion has finally been created. This was a major project to create a sustainably designed learning, event, community and wellbeing space on campus.

It presented a unique opportunity to take the construction theory and technical know-how that these students had learned and apply them in a real project. The project was developed for The Architectural Technology BSc students. They took the lead on designing this space on campus. In 2017, they launched this project in collaboration with industry professionals.

The Pavilion now stands proudly by the main path that runs from the Burroughs to Grove Park alongside Portakabins 6 and 7. The idea behind the Pavilion was to create a design that was intimately connected with nature, and that could be modified by future Architectural Technology students.

The project’s core centred around innovation, practice-based learning, and sustainability. The initial idea for a small construction project to be built on campus came from Tong YangSenior, a Lecturer in ConstructionArchitecture & BIM. Tong teamed up with HomeiraShayesteh, a fresh face to Middlesex, joining as a Senior Lecturer in the same field, to develop the plan further in spring 2017.

What was originally a design fora tree house later evolved into a Pavilion as Tong and Homeiraincorporated the ArchitecturalTechnology modules each of them lead. The pair managed to make the entire project fit within the University’s five-year strategy, through assessments based on the project deliverables from design to planning, preparing a business case and construction detailing.

The Pavilion now acts as a flagship for collaboration between academics and students. The message has already spread to different departments, such as BA Photography, where students were able to document the construction of the project, and other collaborations which involved working together to promote and develop this new space on campus.

With possible uses including as a space for welcome events, exhibitions, student societies and outdoor films, speed meets, and more, the Pavilion provides a learning space close to nature. Keep your eyes peeled to see how it’s used during Welcome Month


On the 6th of July 2019, MiddlesexUniversity marched at the LGBT+Pride Parade in London to show their support for the cause. Inês Viola covers the event.

Middlesex University frequently celebrates its LGBT+ community, and the university has had active participation in London’sPride Parade since at least 2016. Natalie Rose, a student at MiddlesexUniversity and Editor in Chief of The Echo, talked of her experience on the day, saying that it was really “a chance to feel proud.”The “feeling of solidarity” that she felt between the students and staff that were there was “amazing”, and it was great to see all the organisations that are “helping to create a more inclusive and accepting community” by showing support for their LGBT+ staff, members and students.

Lisa Hunt, President of MDXSU’sLGBT Liberation Group, argued that it was important for MiddlesexUniversity to continue its tradition of participating in the PrideParade considering the “dynamic diversity” on campus. She hopes to re-establish “a prominent committee” as it was two years ago, including “frequent movie screenings and meetings”.The campus is “a place of love, friendship and safety for a lot of people.”

With her plans, she hopes to “create that space where people can feel themselves.”Regarding the future of the Pride Parade, Natalie Rose commented that “there’s been a small move towards‘showmanship’” with some corporate organisations trying to showboat themselves as “accepting” by spending large amounts on their floats.

Although she argued, it’s “a waste of our time” to worry about this when instead we must be “celebrating the positive direction we’re moving in.”There has been an extensive number of other events throughout the year which have been focused on inclusivity for these communities and sexual health education.

This includes the Night of Controversy, a night of performances and sexual education. This evening was an idea first started by EricaRamos, VP for Business and Law2017-2019, as part of her campaign to raise awareness of these issues. All the proceeds of these events were donated to various charities, including Coppafeel, a charity focusing on breast cancer awareness based in London. The performances of the evening included burlesque acts and sexual health quizzes. They also occasionally included performances from drag queens.

No confirmation has been given on whether the Night of Controversywill continues next year.


Our editorial team introduces us into a new academic year.

“I feel like a child who’s just learnt how to walk,” says Natalie Rose, the Editor in Chief. “Last year we were crawling along. This year, though, we’re going to use our feet and stamp our way through the university.”

When we first set out to create The Echo in early 2019, it was a distant and vague dream. We had no real aims or any idea of what we could become. All we knew is that there was an absence of the student voice on campus and that the lack of any form of publication at the university was disappointing. Since then, we’ve been on a rollercoaster of stress, hard work and emotional outbursts. It’s been a difficult ride to get from that starting point to this publication that you now hold in your hands, but the journey has taught us so much about ourselves and what we hope to become.

During the summer just gone, TheEcho began a massive restructuring project. Using information and advice from other student publications, including some award-winning newspapers, we made the executive decision to change pretty much everything about the way our paper is run. One of the biggest changes to happen was our rebrand. Our voice was a little lost before, and we resembled a mismatched,jumbled-up group of students from across the campus, with various writing styles and largely different opinions and voices. We had no ethical standpoint, aims or anything that really makes a newspaper.

The decision to become a red-top tabloid was not taken lightly. It involved several meetings and discussions, and a lot of convincing. Red-top tabloids have often been criticised for being too sensationalist, for being too intent on provoking the public to care about the facts. That’s not us. We care about the facts here at The Echo. But we know that there’s no point presenting the facts if no one will read them. We needed to find some way to capture the attention of the student body at Middlesex University and keep them. We want to test ourselves out this year, push boundaries, find out what we can do. If that involves pushing buttons, then that’s what we’ll do.

So, we’ve adopted a nice fresh new red-top on our newspapers, and a whole new design to go with it. We love hearing feedback from our readers and following their suggestions we have tried to adopt a more colourful and photo-centric layout. Looking back at our previous designs now, we’re pulling all kinds of cringe-faces. But with each attempt, we learnt a little bit more. Our new red-top is also significant as it represents our new message. The quote used above in the headline is by Oscar Wilde, an extremely witty author from the twentieth century who, in his later years, was imprisoned for homosexuality. The institutions that governed him would not allow his truth tobe pure or simple, but it was the truth, nonetheless. Being a new publication, there are things that we struggle with, especially breaking barriers, and printing the truth. We’re not making accusations of censorship. Rather, largely its been our own fault. Lack of knowledge,under-researched evidence, bold and ambitious statements.Not pure, not simple, and arguably truthful. But no longer! Our editorial team have been bunkered up educating themselves on everything to do with newspapers, publications and media law.

This is not a battle between us and the institutions. In fact, we hope to develop wonderful relationships, particularly with the university and the Students’ Union. We want to work side-by-side with the officers, academics and boards that dictate so much of our life hereat university. We hope to inform them as much as they inform us, to help them as much as they help us. But mostly, more than anything, we hope to continue to help the students. We are, after all, the student newspaper, and it is the students’voices that we represent.

Our main aim for the year ahead is to increase connectivity and bring more students together. We will do this in two ways: Firstly, by opening our doors to contributors from all over the university. Regardless of your experience level, we will find a spot for you.

Throughout the year we will be accepting applications for new reporters, designers and photographers. We will provide training in each of these areas, and hands-on support and guidance. During our restructuring, we also created several new roles within our editorial and business teams. These roles will be filled by students from all areas of expertise. We’re hoping to find individuals who are passionate about the newspaper and can dedicate themselves to their role, throwing their whole heart into it the way we have so far. With this influx of new members of The Echo team, we hope to grow into a little community, bringing a variety of students together who may normally have never met. But the other way in which we hope to improve connectivity is through information. Before us, students were largely unaware of anything that took place outside of their own courses, societies, student groups and friendship groups.

We aim to bring to you all the best and most important information concerning your university. But mostly, and always, we aim to bring to you the truth. Never pure, never simple, but always true.


Our Editor in Chief, Natalie Rose, examines the levels of student engagement and participation at Middlesex University over the last few years. This is according to figures revealed by the university and interviews with student group leaders.

Middlesex University has revealed statistics that show the levels of of student engagement and participation rising from 2018 to 2019. These figures are despite growing complaints from society leaders that the student body has grown more disconnected in recent years, leading to a decreased level of involvement in student groups, societies and Students’ Union events.

Katya Turikova, 21, Head of Student TV and in her 3rd year of BA Business, said that “there is no student body” due to a lack of connectivity between the students.“I would like to see a university where the student body is more united.” She argued. This included more collaborations between societies, a less “distant” Students’ Union, and a greater sense of excitement from students to be a “part of things” at the University. However, the statistics provided most recently by the university show that students are getting more involved lately, not less.

According to official information released by the university, figures show that 21% of students completed their Module Feedback Forms in 2019, compared to just 1% in2018. With a total of 14,805 students enrolling or re-enrolling at the start of the 2017/18 academic year, that 20% growth represents approximately 2,961 students becoming more actively engaged in their courses. Other figures show that the number of students attending their students feels “disconnected” from student body graduation ceremony has also increased.45% of students attended their graduation ceremony during the summer term in 2018, compared to the 55% who attended during winter term in 2019. Despite this, only 778 students were reported to attend 100% of their classes in 2018, meaning that around fourteen-thousand students did not attend all their classes that year. In fact, during the academic year 2017/18, the average student only attended 61.58% of their classes.

Dr Anna Charalambidou, BA EnglishProgramme Leader and senior lecturer in English Language, claimed that she was “very fortunate” to have students with a desire to engage in the University community outside of their classes. She explained that despite her good fortune, “not all students are able to afford that time” due to part-time jobs, long commutes and other family or caring responsibilities. The argument that Middlesex University students have a particularly difficult schedule to manage is one that is backed up by the current elected President of the Students’Union, Anas Badar, who in an interview with The Echo earlier this year explained that one of his main driving forces for running for the position was his own long commute and how that affected his ability to get involved in activities outside of his studies. International students were also a key factor highlighted by Anas. “I don’t really see them as much involved,” he said, pointing out that our Editor in Chief, Natalie Rose, examines the levels of student engagement and participation at Middlesex University over the last few years. This is according to figures revealed by the university and interviews with student group leaders.there are additional communication barriers and work commitments for students who have travelled to the UK for their studies.

The Students’ Union has responded to this claiming that society memberships have risen by over 2,000 in the last year. Despite this, although seeing an“increased number of student events”, the numbers in attendance have remained “level”. They also promised to be “committed to providing opportunities and services which are accessible and relevant”, particularly in working with students who have encountered“barriers”, such as commuters and carers.

These statistics contrasted with the student opinion begs the question: How can we get students to engage more outside of their courses?