Financial Benefits of Being a Student

Contrary to popular belief, there are many financial benefits to being a university student. The moment that your student card is placed in your hand, you become entitled to numerous student discounts. There are countless numbers of perks you can get in London while attending university. For one, students can go to many retail and food outlets and receive their purchases at reduced rates. So that hamburger and chips from your local area restaurant which would regularly cost seven pounds just became five pounds after showing the waiter your student card. Further discounts can be had if you obtain an NUS (National Union of Students) Extra Card. In addition, being a student entitles you to discounts at certain beauty and hair salons. This means that when you present your card to the hairdresser at the hair salon you can sometimes get a ten, twenty, or even greater discount from the total price of the treatment. However, finding a cheap place to get a haircut and blow dry can be hard. I would recommend going to the training salons around London as an inexpensive alternative to the high street salons. To the general public, they usually charge anywhere from three to thirty pounds for a haircut, colour, and blow dry. This rate can be much lower for students if you find the right hair training academy. These training salons are usually manned by hair students who are being trained by professional hair stylists, who assist the students in their work if necessary. These training academies are a great way to stay up to date with the latest hair styling trends.  They also allow you to indulge yourself, without spending a fortune, during the stresses of the academic year. So make sure to always have your student card on hand when you are out exploring the wonderful sights that London has to offer its university students!

I was able to go to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral by participating in an Unlocking London event and getting a discounted ticket with my student card.

Exploring World Heritage Sites Outside of London

When exam time hits, what better way is there to relieve some stress then taking a day trip via coach bus to explore the beautiful countryside outside the city limits. One can usually find great deals, usually around half off the original price of the ticket through various online sites. Being a student I am always looking for ways to save some money, while still being able to experience the cultural wonders that this country has to offer. With this in mind, my best friend and I decided to book a bus tour which included stops at Stonehenge, Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon and a ride through the area known as the Cotswolds.  Starting off from Victoria Coach Station in the early morning, we first visited Stonehenge. It was my first time at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and I was not disappointed. The natural beauty of the site is indescribable. The atmosphere has a calming effect and exudes a magical presence. After taking our time exploring the area and taken lots of photos, we got back on the bus and left for Bath. Going through the countryside and seeing the bright yellow rapeseed fields (also known as canola back in Canada) we arrived in the city of Bath. Famous for its Roman Baths, Bath Abbey, and Georgian architecture, the city is an exquisite place to explore the side streets, stores, and riverfront.  It even has a tree planted on July 4, 1776 to mark the separation of the United States from the United Kingdom. After having a tasty toasted Panini and a hot tea, we left for Stratford-upon-Avon. As a lover of William Shakespeare’s works, being able to visit the poet’s birthplace was a wish come true. Along with the others in our tour, we were able to enter the house that he was born and raised in. It was the perfect way to end the tour of the countryside before we had to head back into the city.  I would highly recommend this type of exploring as a way to unwind and relax after a long period of revision!

 

Springtime in London

After a long and grey winter, spring has finally arrived in London. The sun is shining more often than not, and the temperature hovers around twelve to twenty degrees Celsius. This is a beautiful time of the year in London, as the trees begin to bud, flowers bloom, and the city is rejuvenated with energy and vitality. One of the great things about living in the city during the months of spring is the free outdoor, and indoor, concerts that people can attend. For instance, a friend and I just went to a free classical music concert at a local church near our residence. It was a nice time out, we were able to listen to some great music, and were able take in the lovely atmosphere of the venue.

Spring is also the time that many university students have to write essays and exams. It is always a good idea to find a spot close to home where one can go over their work and soak up a bit of the much needed vitamin D. There are many green and open spaces in London that provide excellent places to relax for a few hours. You do not only have to go to the Royal Parks in order to experience the sights and sounds of London at this time of year. Sometimes it is better to find a small square, off a busy street, where you can take a bit of a breather. It is in these areas where one can usually learn new things about London’s past. Either way, walking around the city is a nice way to spend some downtime and enjoy springtime in London.

Adventures at the British Museum

The British Museum is a great place to explore the different histories and cultures of the world. The majority of the exhibits within the museum are free of charge to visit. However the temporary exhibits, which usually have rare and unique artefacts on display, are not. That does not mean that you should not visit these exhibits, on the contrary, I highly recommend seeing them. If you are planning on studying in London for your degree the trick is to become a member of The British Museum, which costs thirty-five pounds.  A regular price ticket for a one-time visit to one of these temporary exhibits can be anywhere between twelve and fifteen pounds.  Since the museum usually has more than one of these exhibits on display at any given time, it makes economic sense to become a member. After two visits you have already paid for your membership! Another perk of being a member is that you do not have to wait in line to enter the exhibit, just show your card, walk right in, and enjoy. They also have a members lounge in the museum where the public cannot enter, this is where you can purchase a light lunch and relax.  You can also attend member events like lectures and guest speaker series, where you can talk to the curators or professionals of a certain field of study. This provides students with a great opportunity to network with leading academics and professionals, who might be able to offer you some advice on your own studies.

I recently attended the temporary exhibit entitled ‘Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum’. I was so excited about being able to see artefacts from these two famous ancient Roman cities, which were buried under the onslaught of ash and fire from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. I was able to see plaster casts of the poor victims, preserved food, fresco paintings, and daily-use objects. These were objects that I had studied in my undergraduate Classic courses and they were right before my eyes. Being a member of The British Museum, I could enter right away on the opening day. I will be returning very soon!

Exploring the Countryside by Train

Sometimes it is nice to get outside of London and go explore the towns and countryside. There are so many cultural, historical, and naturally significant sites that are worth a visit. One of the best ways to travel to these sites is by train. As an international student, I was not sure how I would find the train system here. It was only a few weeks ago that I had my first experience riding the train. I was pleasantly surprised to find that traveling by train is easy, efficient, and relatively fast. My first day trip was to Newcastle. It is one of the most northern cities in the UK and it is only a hop, skip, and jump away from Scotland. It is a beautiful place with rolling hills, bridges and a castle keep with a breathtaking view of the city below. On the ride back to London, the train took us by a different route which was slower but well worth the extra time, as I was able to view the vistas of the sea along the eastern coast.

It is easy to catch a train ride from any of the major stations within the city of London, particularly at the King’s Cross, Paddington, and Waterloo stations. You can purchase an advance ticket online to avoid any of the hassles associated with buying your train ticket on the day of your journey (mainly increased fees or the tickets being sold out). If you are between the ages of sixteen to twenty-five and are a registered student, you are eligible to receive the 16-25 Railcard. This national student railcard can save you up to one third of the cost of a regular-priced journey. For those students on a budget, it is a great way to save and travel! I am looking very forward to my next train adventure, I think that the Cotswolds will be my next destination.

The Importance of Forming Bonds with Your Roommates

Moving to a new country and not knowing anybody can be quite daunting, that is why I decided to apply for first year accommodation through King’s College London. I would have the chance to meet new people and hopefully explore new cultures in the process; all the while still trying to figure out how to navigate in and around London.  I was successfully placed with three other female students in September and have been having a wonderful time getting to know each one of them. I cannot stress enough the benefits of living with other students in your first year of studies.

It can be very isolating if you do not try and attempt to introduce yourself to the roommates who will be living in the same quarters as you for the next year. Planning social events like going to see a movie, exploring museums, cafes, or attending a theatre production gives you the opportunity to take a break from your studies and learn a bit more about the people that you are living with.  Roommates offer you encouragement during times of stress and provide opportunities for lots of laughs. It is during these moments that true friendships are formed between roommates. As students themselves, they can relate to many of the challenges that you can face when attending university (i.e. trying to find your way around campus, logging into the campus computer system, or where to find the best place to study in the library).

During your first year of residence I dare you to get to learn about the people living in your flat. You might be surprised about what you discover!

I was very excited to learn about the cultural traditions of the Chinese New Year. My first attempt at making Chinese dumplings was a great success, all thanks to the instructions I received from two of my roommates and new friends.

Trying to Decide on Where to Go to University? Location is Key!

The Tower of London can be reached within a thirty minute to forty minute walk from Strand campus. One usually does not find a rainbow in pictures of this iconic historical site!

When trying to figure out which university to attend always keep in mind the location of the institution. I decided to attend King’s College London not only because of the excellent reputation of its staff and academic departments, but due to where the college was located. Being that it is the most centrally located university in London, King’s College is in close proximity to many of the country’s leading libraries and museums, as well as markets and pubs. Right across the Thames from King’s College London’s Strand campus one can find the London Eye, The National Theatre, The British Film Institute Southbank, and the Oxo Tower. Beside the campus are Somerset House (the east wing of the building houses King’s College’s Dickson Poon School of Law) and The Courtland Institute of Art. After a lecture or seminar, you can walk about ten minutes through the West End Theatre district and arrive at Covent Garden Market. Here you can find delicious meat pies, sandwiches, teas, coffees, and sweets at fairly reasonable prices. Plus, you can get some shopping done if you want!  The campus is within a twenty to thirty minute walk, depending on how fast you are, to St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Tate Modern, The Globe Theatre, and The Tower of London in the east, and Trafalgar Square and The National Gallery to the west. About thirty minute walk north, you can find yourself at The British Museum and a little further down the road The British Library. These are just some of the sights and institutions that are within easy walking distance from Strand campus.  By showing your student identity card, you will gain access into attractions at a discounted price for students. London provides ample opportunities for students to learn more about the world around them. I hope that you can now see one of the many reasons why I decided to attend King’s College London!