SSA, great!

I had to look for rooms again when I came back from fieldwork and it was so exhausting, and even dangerous. Among all advertisements I paid to look at on spareroom.com (btw, I don’t think the membership fee is worthy), there were these: a landlord who arranged a viewing but didn’t show up, a fraud who asked me to transfer money to myself to demonstrate I could afford the rent, and a landlord who offered me the room but postponed the move in date three times before he finally said ‘due to unforeseen circumstances I can’t let you the room’. In this sense, I definitely think the ULHS website is more trustworthy, it is only that they have so few advertisements.

When I was desperate, King’s housing office offered me a room at the Stamford Street Apartments which happened to become available mid-session. Fussy as I am, I have to say SSA has the most efficient maintenance team I’ve ever met. Just write a note to report and they will fix things as soon as you can imagine. No excuses or perfunctory work.

Yet there is actually no soundproof in SSA, and my guess is that every other wall is a ‘fake wall’, so you can always hear one side of your neighbours in high definition. This is something to put up with, for the good location, friendly flatmates, convenient facilities and good maintenance!

IMG_0285

Big Screens in the Rain

Now I’m in China doing my fieldwork, I miss London so much. It is a city always with surprises.

During the summer, I went to the Big Screens at the Trafalgar Square with my friends. People gathered from different parts of London to watch operas shown on the big screen. There were seats in the middle of the audience area, for which I was not sure whether tickets were needed—it was definitely free if you chose to stand and enjoy the show as we did.

It was typical London weather, featured with light rains and winds. But that didn’t extinguish people’s enthusiasm. The voices of the actors and actresses were so passionate that the audiences were absorbed into the story. I was not paying full attention to the subtitles so it was somewhat difficult to understand what was happening, but the scenes alone were interesting and exciting. As in all love stories, they were filled with smiles and tears, sorrows and hopes.

光影魔术手拼图

I didn’t wait until the end because the rain was getting heavier and the wind stronger. When I left, I saw among the audiences a sweet couple holding each other, leaning on a pillar in front of the National Gallery. See, there was love within and outside the big screens.

Reading Picnic

News said that this was the hottest summer of the U.K. in 7 years. Well, I’m lucky. As sunshine was luxury for U.K. dwellers, I should enjoy it as much as I could. Unfortunately, there were chapters of my thesis that needed revision and blank pages waiting to be transformed into papers for conferences in September. To make a compromise, I decided to go on a reading picnic.

I thought the small park near my place would be an ideal choice. The park was populated as it was Sunday, but it was ok. The most astonishing thing was all those people who were bathing in the sun. It was not that I was too conservative and felt uncomfortable with people wearing bikinis, but that in my hometown, which was a seaside city, people only wore like this on beaches and it was almost a shock for me to see half-naked people lying on the grass! After my eyes got used to it, however, I could focus and read, with kids running, laughing and screaming as the “background music”.

Generally speaking, it was a pleasant experience to read and enjoy the nice weather at the same time. But I think this kind of reading picnic is suitable only for one person. A group of people might distract each other and finally forget about reading and focus on picnic.

“Events Bee” Buzzing around King’s

I recently went to an extremely inspiring lecture titled “Banker to the Poor: Lifting Millions Out of Poverty through Social Business”. The Nobel winner Muhammad Yunus shared stories about his legendary career. What impressed me most was he didn’t plan anything ambitious from the very beginning– everything started from his simple idea of helping people as he could. He emphasised that the society was not all fixed, and we should always have the courage to change.

King’s entitles its students the privilege to be an events bee, which I really appreciate. The Strand campus enjoys an ideal location, and holds many wonderful events itself—these are my first choice from the “events flora”. I also asked to be added to others departments’ mailing list, so I get information of events I’m interested in. Besides, I subscribed to various institutions including LSE, SOAS, and Daiwa Foundation, to get updates of their events. Though usually free, registration is essential. Sometimes luck plays an important role in getting tickets for popular events. Once I was refused entry, even though I got a ticket, because I was 10 minutes late.

To conclude, it’s more fun for me to go to quasi-academic events or exotic academic events out of my “research territory”.

King’s events    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/newsevents/events/index.aspx

LSE public events    http://www2.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/eventsHome.aspx

Things to do in London    http://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do

Fundraising for Earthquake Relief

On April 20, 2013, Sichuan province of China was struck by a severe earthquake, taking away hundreds of lives and billions of properties. The Chinese society and the international community were sympathetic and keen to help as usual, but situations have changed subtly since the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. It seemed that the Red Cross Society of China had been worn out by criticism and doubts since the appalling corruption scandal. Debates got increasing heated concerning how to do charity more efficiently.

It was against this background that the CSSA-Kings organised an earthquake relief taskforce to spread news about the earthquake and raise fund to help. Though most people were busy preparing for exams, many came to the fundraising event. A song specially composed for the earthquake relief was played, and all attendants stood in silent tribute for those who died in the earthquake before the jumble sale started. Items on sale include a sleeping bag, an umbrella, a memory stick, wifi routers, bookmarks, Chinese knots, books, etc. £558 was raised and donated to China Education Development Foundation later.

Posters I designed for the event.

Flyer for the event and the bank receipt for the donation.

Hope the best for those who suffer. Regarding charity, one should not give up eating for fear of choking, and the progress of reform needs patience as well as efforts.

CSSA-Kings    http://www.cssakings.org.uk/

Accommodating with Accommodation

I recently moved, after weeks of exhausting online searching, telephone appointments, room viewing, and several times of contract signing, into a lovely house with adorable housemates, who waited together with me for the upcoming internet connection. The landlord is responsive and responsible, yet doesn’t help at all in accelerating the installation of internet or increasing the water pressure of the shower.

Here I have some tips for those who’re looking for accommodation.

1. Moving is troublesome, so try to stay as long as you can.

2. Room searching is time consuming, so don’t start too early. 1 month beforehand is enough. Sometimes people say 2 weeks.

3. There’s rare chance you find ideal rooms, so prioritise one thing at a time: location, rent, facilities, or housemates. If everything seems perfect, investigate if the landlord has fallen in love with you.

4. Agencies charge admin fees and don’t actually include all bills even though they say so.

5. Figure out how to order internet and order it as soon as possible, or you’ll have to commute to Strand campus for the wifi every day in the March snows.

6. Diversify your information sources by using several websites including ULHS and spareroom.

7. Don’t forget to report to the nearest police station after moving, if you’re overseas students.

Finally, we all have to accommodate with our accommodation once we settle down, because it’s not a one-day contract. Good luck with accommodation, you and me.

University of London Housing Service    http://housing.london.ac.uk/cms/

 

If Spring Festival Comes, Can Spring Be Far Behind?

Here came the Chinese New Year, with little flowers already in blossom in parks in London. According to schedule, a group of Chinese students held an informal workshop titled “Methodology of Making and Eating Dumplings” on the eve of the Year of Snake. In spite of lack of experience, all participants contributed to the empirical section and produced delicious food. During the following entertainment section, they sang songs hilariously and enjoyed themselves very much.

Symposium of the workshop

On the first day of the New Year, people were attracted to the Trafalgar Square for the various performances that lasted from morning to evening. At the end of the show, beautiful fireworks drew hurrah from the crowd. It felt kind of weird to celebrate the Spring Festival in rain instead of in snow, though.

Evening of the Trafalgar Square

Then there was the gala jointly held by seven branches of Chinese Students and Scholars Association across London, including CSSA-King’s. Songs, dances, talk shows, and stage plays were designed to fit in the theme “Memory”, and did remind the audience of adolescent years. Thus, the festival atmosphere was decorated with both melancholy and laughter, which extended into a serene night and a happy new year.

New Year Gala

CSSA-King’s  http://www.cssakings.org.uk/