Welcome Social Science & Public Policy Undergraduate Offer Holders 2017

A warm welcome to all Social Science & Public Policy undergraduate offer holders, to our Faculty Student Blog page.

Over the coming months, we’ll be updating this page with blogs from our Subject Ambassadors, who are current undergraduate students here at King’s. Our Subject Ambassadors are here to share their student experiences with you,  let you know more about life as a King’s student, and to answer any questions you may have about studying at King’s.

If you have a question you would like to ask, please email our Subject Ambassadors on sspp-student@kcl.ac.uk, and they’ll be happy to answer your query.

In the meantime, feel free to browse through our past posts, and keep an eye out on this page for new blog posts!

Getting ready to come to uni – what I wish I’d known before I started

Here is a little list of things I wish somebody told me, or at least repeated to me 10 times.

Accommodation:

  • Pack up some pictures to remind yourself of your friends during hard moments (because you will be homesick)
  • Some decoration to make your student room feel like is home? But it’s OK if you don’t because your flatmates will probably add some stuff too decorating with them can actually be a great way to bond!

Friends:

  • It’s alright not to stick with your flatmates
  • It’s alright to change group of friends if you realise they don’t correspond to you, even after 2 months! Don’t be scared!
  • People will be scary and try to impress during seminars, but they’re as frightened as you don’t worry. Everyone is playing the same game of act-the-least-lost-and-frightened at the beginning of the year.
  • Your friends will be your family, they will bring you meds when you’ll get freshers’ flu

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Money:

  • King’s as a major international university in the centre of London tends to have people who can definitely afford more than instant noodles every day, so don’t trust the Tab or 9gag too much
  • A lot of people have part-time jobs and it’s cool to take one to have something outside of uni, especially if it pays for all your fun
  • Opening a bank account is not hard at all, don’t stress, just go to a bank and tell them you want to open one. Easy.

Hobbies:

  • You will probably enrol in loads of clubs/societies and drop many during the year: that’s fine
  • You can even create your own club if it doesn’t exist yet
  • You’ll make amazing friends in it because you’ll share a passion

London:

  • Great multicultural place that will make you think again your: “I’m a third culture kid” self
  • Your English flatmate will love cooking chicken tikka and chilli con carne while your French flatmate will be all about that wine and cheese
  • Deals are everywhere, look out for them!
  • Slow walking is forbidden as well as standing on the left in the escalators (trust me you’ll totally agree once you’re a Londoner haha)
  • Wearing a cool-artsy jacket is a great conversation starter.

King’s

  • Go and see your personal tutor for advice about assignments even if you don’t have any questions or are pretty sure you’re doing well, because he can only make it better
  • Apply for study abroad if you can
  • You will never see all the rooms in the Maughan Library because it’s so big

Voilà, that was a little bit of before uni basics, and I know this won’t make a difference straight away, but as a final year student I assure you, they’re true, so please read them to yourself A LOT and don’t forget to relax and have fun, because the uni years are the years where you’re old enough to be independent and young enough to not care about important adult stuff (like tax).

Anysia, BA Politics

Preparations for my Final Year

An often repeated phrase at university is that ‘your final year is the decisive one’. As I begin my preparations for undertaking it in September, I am able to understand the undoubted truth of this – that this final year will be the toughest yet and hopefully the most fulfilling.

Looking ahead, the project which looms largest is my dissertation which should be the showpiece of a BA; an assignment requiring deep focus upon an area of profound personal interest. Working out precisely what this area will be has been an intense preoccupation of mine over the summer so far –  for the simple reason that my choice of topic now will very likely tip the balance of marks overall. The answer of course is to figure out precisely what you have been passionate about over the course of your studies and chase it; something which is easier said than done. For me personally, this has been the military culture of the Ottoman Empire – a subject which has caused many raised eyebrows among my friends. ‘It sounds interesting,’ said one, ‘but how are the Ottomans really relevant, today?’ I would be lying if I was not also worried that I was looking too far back into an area obscure even by the standards of War Studies.

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Yet the consoling factor for me is that whenever I cast my mind over something to read or look back over my notes, it is always the Ottomans which I find myself returning to. Indeed, there is another factor to consider when choosing your topic – it isn’t so much whether the topic itself is linked directly to current events or career prospects but the skills you have demonstrated in completing it. To take an example, my elder sister recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MA in Social History, having completed a dissertation on early modern witchcraft. In her subsequent job interviews, however, the topic of witchcraft itself was not under discussion; rather her potential employers were concerned with the details of her project planning and research methodology. The message, then, is that there really isn’t much point in worrying about how obscure and narrow your topic is – completing a 10,000-word project on that subject is the challenge and your capacity to fulfil it will be respected.

This brings me on to another, and in some ways more worrying, aspect of my final year – what will I be doing afterwards? When asked about my career plans, my usual refrain had been that I was looking to enter journalism. Now, of course, it is the time for me to ensure these plans have more substance to them. With some volunteering experience with Amnesty International and the Remain Great, Remain In campaign behind me, I am aware of the possibilities of gaining work experience in London – as well as the limitations. The competition for internships and placements is naturally fierce but the only response is to simply keep applying with an optimistic stubbornness. The experience of my fellow KCL students demonstrates that it is not impossible, by any means, to gain exciting work experience at my level.

As September draws closer, however, I am acutely conscious that what awaits me is probably the largest workload I have yet experienced. Thankfully, I know that the advantage of doing a subject that you are genuinely passionate about is that you are able to wake up every day with a desire to learn more, cheesy as that sounds.

Henry, War Studies

What am I doing this summer?

After the summer festivals and the end of the year trips to some sunny places like Portugal with your friends, it is time to start your internship or work. A key step for students during the summer is to get work experience. Not only will it embellish your CV but it will help you realise whether or not you really want to work in that field later. For my part I am an undergraduate research fellow at King’s with one of my lecturers, a research assistant.

I must say it is really different from any other internship you would get in private firms or charities. It is a one-on-one internship where you will mostly only interact with your lecturer. You can imagine how awful it is for me not being able to socialise and talk to new people in my working place. Very different from big summer internship schemes where they organise all sorts of events like nights out. Nevertheless King’s is very lively during the summer thanks to the summer school and I have 3 friends who do the same thing as me with other lecturers so we still manage to grab lunch and coffee together! Plus just think how cool it is to take part in a research paper that during the year you might read but instead of just reading it you helped write it!?

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I suggest, if you have the opportunity, to do the same thing as me in your first or second year! Third year is alright but not as useful because the one and main perk you will get out of this internship is the bond you will create with your teacher. Mine took me out for lunch so we could share our passions in life and our plans! And trust me our lecturers are actually humans too and have other interests than what they work on… We tend to forget that don’t we?

For a French student who’s always known a rigid French school system where you never interact with teachers outside of class it is a big thing for me. My lecturer offered his help in choosing my Masters as it is the next big step in my education.  He also gave me advice for my future dissertation although he is not my supervisor. Getting to know someone who will be able to write you a superb letter of recommendation and guide you through the educational jungle is a plus you should not overlook.  As I said you should take this internship as an opportunity to obviously learn more about research and the field you will tackle but also you should make the most out of it to build a meaningful friendship with your teacher because having real academic support is very important.

That’s what I’ve taken from this internship, each person will probably have a different view, but all I can give as a general piece of advice is do look for work experience or internships during summer because as a King’s student you are not an ordinary person who might sit watching Netflix through the summer, you are a curious person who is capable of getting out of your comfort zone, and put yourself out there to be a better person on your CV and in real life.

Anysia, BA Politics

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting University

To start studying at university can feel like entering a completely new world, and suddenly there are a billion different things that you are supposed to deal with. But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be as hard as it might sound!

  1. Starting university usually means moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone and most people are very eager to meet as many new friends as possible straight away. This can be quite nerve-wracking, even if it is also fun and enjoyable to get to know new people. However, there is no need to panic if you don’t meet your best friend the first day. There are so many ways to meet people at university: at lectures, halls, sport clubs, societies, and other events. Just try to be open and say yes to anything that sounds exciting. And remember, it’s okay to spend a night in bed with Netflix too!
  2. London is a massive city, which can be quite daunting and stressful. When I first arrived I tried to avoid the metro as much as I could, as everyone was moving so fast in such a compact space. However, I made sure to have extra time whenever I needed to use the metro, so that I could take it easy and didn’t need to run for a train. Soon enough I got used to it, and now I take the metro all the time.blog 2
  3. When it comes to your actual studies, one very useful thing to find out when you start are the rules regarding participation at lectures and seminars. Some lecturers take attendance whereas the majority don’t, and at some seminars you cannot miss more than one or two before it will start really affecting your grade. Several students from my year failed their modules because they had missed too many seminars, despite getting good grades on their coursework. Also, you wouldn’t want to miss seminars anyway as this is the place where everyone gets the chance to ask questions and share their views – really useful!
  4. I was absolutely lost among all the reading we had to do during my first few months at university. I felt like I didn’t follow what was going on, and that I couldn’t use what I just read. Eventually I learnt that with most readings, all the key ideas will be shared in the introduction and then repeated in the conclusion. So, if you have 10 books to get through in a week, my advice now is to read those bits first, and take your time to understand it, and then look through the rest of the text for more extended explanations. In addition, write down the name of the author when you take notes – this will come very handy when you write essays or prepare for your exams!
  5. As mentioned, I felt that London was way too big when I first moved here, and everything seemed to be extremely far away. I spent almost all my time either at university or at home, and couldn’t really absorb the rest of the city. First of all, that’s OK. When arriving in a new city, it is important to get to know the areas where you will live, work or study, as that’s a way to make yourself feel at home. Now, after almost a year of living here, I still think London is huge, but have learnt my way around a bit more through exploring new parts of the city, and that makes the city feel “smaller” and more homely.

Good luck with starting uni! It might be scary at first, but you will grow so much and won’t regret it!

Emelie, International Relations

5 Budget Tips for new Londoners

Anyone considering moving to London would have heard that “London is SO expensive”. Still, it is one of the most popular cities to study at university in. For students on a tight budget, there are still plenty of ways to get around and make the most of London. Here are some tips!

  1. You are likely to spend whole days in the library, at least during the exam period, and one of the best ways of saving money in this case is to bring packed lunches. Constantly buying lunch and others snacks can end up costing more money than expected, and therefore any homemade pasta salads, sandwiches and other treats will definitely save you valuable pounds. It might sound tricky, but all you need is a few extra minutes in the morning to prepare it, or make a big batch of your favourite dish and have one box already done for each day of the week!
  2. Despite London being expensive, there is actually a vast amount of free stuff going on around the city all the time. Time Out (http://www.timeout.com/london) is a great page to use in order to get to know all the latest events. In addition, King’s have guest lectures and other events several times a week, and many societies can get free or discounted access to try out different things. As soon as you start looking, you’ll notice that there are free activities everywhere!

blog pic 1To the left: Last year I went to a lecture with UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon, and only had to pay half price on the ticket as I am a King’s student.

To the right: a light show called Lumiere took place in London in January, and was free for everyone to enjoy.

  1. Your student card is your best friend when it comes to saving money. Just by showing it, you can get 10% off in most stores, entrance fees and even at restaurants. Remember to always ask, as some shops might not have any signs regarding the student discount. If you want to get even more discounts, you can get the NUS card (http://www.nus.org.uk/en/nus-extra/) which can make your Spotify subscription and Amazon purchases cheaper!
  2. Transport is one of the most expensive things in London, and it’s hard to avoid the costs. As a student, you will get a discount on any tickets, but it’s still not cheap. I usually try to take the bus in rush hour, as the Underground price increases at this time (if you use pay-as-you-go) whereas the bus costs the same any time of the day. Also, the bus is generally much more comfortable than the sweaty metro. However, I would also recommend to actually walk as much as you can. You might live too far away to walk to university every day, but walking is a great way to explore London, as well as get some exercise and save money!
  3. Last but not least, go to the Fresher’s Fair in the beginning of the year! Not only will you get information about all the societies at King’s, but the amount of free things you get will last a long time. I didn’t buy a single pen throughout my entire first year, as I managed to pick up so many during the fair. Besides that, I also got notebooks, coasters, lots of snacks and other various items that might come in useful when you’re living on a budget.

Emelie, International Relations

Where should I live at King’s?

Andrej compares King’s residences, intercollegiate halls and private accommodation

Choosing where to live is a big decision and one of the most worrying for prospective students and their parents. I hope this post is  helpful and informative as you look at the choices.

Finding a place to stay in London may be daunting. This is not because there are not enough places to stay, just the opposite – there are so many options to choose from. Many students even find it difficult to start researching accommodation options simply because they do not know where to start. The reality is that it is not as difficult as it seems and I have tried to give you some tips below. I compare the three main accommodation options available for first year students: King’s residences, intercollegiate halls and private accommodation. It is necessary to say that the advice in this blog post is far from comprehensive and you should always try to get advice from as many sources as possible.

Firstly, there are a few major things I think you should consider when deciding where to stay. Some are more obvious than others:

Price: Think about your budget. Accommodation is likely going to consume the biggest chunk of it. It’s no secret that housing in London is quite expensive, especially in the city centre where most of King’s campuses are located. Location within London and size of the room are crucial determinants of the price. If you are looking for a single room, as most students are, a decent room in London’s zone 4 will cost you approximately £500 per month, while you will most likely not find a similar room in zone 1 for less than £750 per month. Usually first year students pay £ 650 – 850 per month for accommodation.

Distance from university: Another important thing to consider is how far you live from the campus and its facilities. The closer you live, the less time you spend travelling. Also, you are more flexible as you can, for example, return home in the middle of the day to get your gym bag or different study materials, instead of carrying them with you all day. The trade-off usually tends to be the price, as King’s campuses have a very central location. Living within walking distance is, of course, probably the most desirable. However, if you do not want to spend that much money, perhaps a good tip might be to find a place further away with good transport links to your campus. You can check the travel times through Google Maps or Citymapper app.

Neighbourhood: As in any other major city, some neighbourhoods are better than others in London. Different areas have various types of housing, more green space and parks, better transport and more local and cheaper shops. Also, you should generally think whether you like the atmosphere in the neighborhood or not as it will be your home for at least the duration of your first year at King’s.

Food: I do not know how about you, but I barely knew how to cook scrambled eggs before coming to university. Preparing food can be difficult and time-consuming for some. Luckily for some of us, there are catered halls that solve the problem. On the other hand, if you are a skilled cook and enjoy cooking, want to cook your own meal, or just do not want to be bound by the dinner times, catered halls may not be the best option. Do not underestimate this aspect when deciding where to stay!

Credibility of the accommodation provider: Problems may arise with your accommodation, whether it is a breakage, blocked drains or something else. Most landlords approach such problems fairly and try to resolve it as soon as possible. However, there may be some landlords who are less responsive, if you are having trouble speak to the King’s team.

Secondly, I will try to summarise what I see as some advantages and disadvantages of the three major accommodation options: King’s Residences, Intercollegiate Halls, and private accommodation.

King’s Residences are great because you get to meet other King’s students, not only from your programme of study, but from the whole university (only King’s students are allowed to live there). Another advantage is that many of the King’s halls are located within walking distance or a short bus ride from campus. Moreover, they usually are very safe and welcoming places. Some of the disadvantages are that there are currently no catered King’s halls.

In intercollegiate halls, as opposed to King’s halls, you live with other University of London students. Therefore, an advantage may be that you meet people outside of your university. Another advantage for some is that many of the intercollegiate halls are catered (breakfast and dinner). A disadvantage may be that they were built to be as close as possible to as many University of London colleges as possible. Therefore, not all intercollegiate halls are, for example, within a walking distance from King’s campuses (although some are).

Private accommodation is probably mostly good for a group of friends who want to live together or someone who does not want to be bound by rules in halls. An advantage is that one may probably find a cheaper private accommodation than halls in zones farther out of London as halls tend to be closer to the centre. Also, it is possible to invite guests m ore easily (there tend to be strict guest rules in halls – often for good reason). Some disadvantages are that you need to handle most of the household duties yourself (e.g. paying bills, reporting or solving problems, etc.). Most King’s students tend to enter private accommodation in their second year with friends.

Lastly, these are some useful links to look at if you are looking for:

King’s halls: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/accommodation/index.aspx

Intercollegiate halls: http://halls.london.ac.uk/

Private accommodation: King’s advice, Spare RoomZoopla; On The Market; Right Move or talk to lettings agents in the area you want to live.

Other useful resources: University of London Housing Services: http://housing.london.ac.uk/  – you caask them any questions about your university accommodation or seek help with finding private accommodation. They maintain a database of accommodation options as well. They can also check your tenancy agreement or help you if any problems with your accommodation arise.

Good luck with your decisions!

Pros and Cons of Living in Private Accommodation by Emelie

For anyone deciding between King’s halls and private accommodation, I am here to tell you a bit about what it is like to live in private accommodation as a university student. I live in a rented one-bedroom flat with my boyfriend and I chose to live in a private flat because we wanted to live together, and because I have already lived in halls and therefore felt I could benefit from a different experience. Here are my pros, cons, and best advice for living in private accommodation whilst at university!

Positive Aspects

At first I was really worried that I’d be the only student not living in halls, but that is definitely not the case. There are many other students living in either private flats or at home, and they all have the same eagerness to meet people at university. That means I haven’t had any problem meeting new friends even though I do not live in the halls. It is true that I have had to make a bit more effort as I am slightly further away, but I have made lots of lovely friends through talking to people in my course, going to events and joining different societies. If there’s a will, there’s a way!

The best thing about living in private accommodation is the flexibility; it’s great to be able to choose for myself where in London I want to live, what kind of place it is, the length of my tenancy, and with whom I’d like to live. I’ve heard some nightmare stories about people that don’t get on well with their flatmates, and how bad a lot of students are at keeping the kitchen clean, and personally I don’t think I’d enjoy living in that kind of atmosphere very much. Hence, I am really pleased with my choice of accommodation!

I always like to study at home, as it is really quiet and no one that interrupts me (and I can have candles!)

I always like to study at home, as it is really quiet and no one that interrupts me (and I can have candles!)

An additional advantage that might be a bit more personal is that I get to decorate my own home, which I absolutely love! This might not apply for everyone, but for those of you interested in decorating and creating your own personal space, this is a great opportunity when living in private accommodation. Of course, this is still possible to do in halls, but not to the same extent. Also, I’ve heard that candles are forbidden in most halls and since I am a candle lover, I’m lucky to be able to light as many candles as I want on a cosy movie night!

Negative Aspects

One of the hardest things for me has been to learn how to deal with bills and other practical things that come with living on your own. This was a first for me, and it has taken some time to get used to. Luckily, people in customer service tend to be very helpful, and have guided me through everything from installing a Wi-Fi box to understanding how to read the electricity meters… Even if this sound boring, it is a part of growing up and you will have to learn it at some point, so why not now?

However, I have to say that if you want the typical “uni life” with flat parties, students all over the place and so on, then living in private accommodation might not be your best choice. My neighbours are all much older than me, and sometimes I can miss having lots of students around me. If you have never lived away from home before, then I would recommend staying in halls during your first year, as it is a good transition when moving away from all the home comforts.

Practical Advice: Cost and Taxes

When it comes to cost, it really depends. King’s College London has several student accommodations in which the prices are substantially varied. The same can be said for private accommodation. Location, size, facilities, and other factors will all contribute to the price of the flat. In my case, I think my rent is cheaper compared to what my friends in halls are paying. However, the halls are usually located within walking distance from university, whereas my flat is located slightly further away and thus I tend to take the bus or the tube.

Remember that if you live in private accommodation, you shouldn’t have to pay council tax – you can pick up the papers necessary to sort this out at the King’s campuses. Also, ALWAYS go on viewings for the flats you are interested in, as there are people who sometimes advertise fake listings to trick you out of your money. If you don’t live close enough to do so, ask a friend or a relative to go on your behalf.

For finding private accommodation, I recommend http://www.zoopla.co.uk/ . This site is very easy to use, and you can choose different criteria that match what you are looking for. Tons of new flats are put up every day, and be sure to get in touch with the agency/landlord as soon as you find one that you like, since the market is moving so quickly.

Please get in touch if you have any further questions!

Emelie
International Relations

 

International Relations Modules – Emelie’s Thoughts

I have noticed that prospective students at King’s offer holder events normally have the same questions about modules: How difficult are they? How can one prepare for them? What are they really like?

So, I thought it would be useful to reflect on my modules and give some useful advice about what they are like. Just remember that these are my personal opinions regarding the modules. Also, there is no guarantee that these modules will be exactly the same next year. Rather, see this as an overview of what your first year at King’s could offer.

The modules I have had are International Relations Theory, Introduction to International Economics, History of the International System, Conflict and Diplomacy, and Contemporary Security Issues.

International Relations Theory

In this module we learn about theoretical approaches to concepts such as human nature, the state, anarchy, war and peace. It teaches us to “see the world through different glasses” as my lecturer puts it. We also get to understand how theories have developed throughout history, and how they relate to each other.
Best part: My favourite thing about IR theory is that there is a vast amount that each reveal a very different way of understanding the world (some of which I agree, others not so much!)
Hardest part: As there are so many different theories, I find it quite difficult to remember which one is which. The good news is that it does get easier with time!
Advice: You might recognise some of the theorists if you have studied philosophy. If not, don’t worry! We go through each and every one thoroughly and with many recaps, so you will definitely get all the information you need. Try to apply the theories to real life cases to make them a bit more graspable.

Beautiful Maughan Library – where I do most of my readings for the different modules.

Beautiful Maughan Library – where I do most of my readings for the different modules.

Introduction to International Economics

This is the module that I get the most questions about – and for good reason. I had never studied any economics before starting at King’s, and was really worried about what it would be like. Luckily I found that I wasn’t the only one; a majority of students in my course haven’t studied any economics before. In Economics, we start Term 1 with a lot of theory. However it gets better in Term 2, as we study different models and approaches to international trade. Term 2 has more real life examples which makes it easier to grasp.
Best part: I have actually realised that economics is useful for understanding other parts of social sciences, such as globalisation, migration, and inequalities. These are topics that I am much more interested in, and I am happy that I have been able to use economics to learn more about these.
Hardest part: The module is fairly fast paced, and I have sometimes found it hard to understand each component before having to start a new topic.
Advice: If you are struggling, ask your tutor for help. They are there for you and want to make sure you understand as much as possible; so far, my tutor has been very helpful. A few weeks ago we sat down for 45 minutes to go through a couple of models, and I am so thankful for having that support! 

History of the International System

In this history module, we look at how the international system has changed from the 17th century to the present. We go through important historical figures, wars, moments that have changed history. The first half is quite focused on European history, whereas Term 2 is much more global.
Best part: The module is so much more engaging and challenging than I thought it would be, and has actually made me rethink several parts of history!
Hardest part: As expected, it is hard to remember all details (unless you have an exceptional memory when it comes to years and dates). Even if it is important to know when things happened, there is still a lot of focus on other aspects such as the relationship between states in the international society and how modern history now is connected with previous events.
Advice: I find mind maps pretty useful when it comes to history, as you can build upon each week to get a greater understanding of how all the different leaders, wars, and revolutions are connected to each other.

Conflict and Diplomacy

We had this module during Term 1, and Contemporary Security Issues (see below) in Term 2. To be honest, I would have loved to have had this module all year as it is my favourite so far! We study contemporary conflicts and the diplomatic struggles therein. All the topics are very relevant, and you will probably know a bit about them already.
Best part: We had a roleplay where all students represented different countries involved in the Syria conflict. I enjoyed it as it was really interesting to try and understand why each country is making certain decisions, and then to have more perspective on the issue (I represented Turkey!)
Hardest part: Diplomacy requires so much knowledge about the relationships between countries, and sometimes it is hard to remember all the details. However, it is really useful to learn why countries act towards each other the way they do.
Advice: Read the news! This is useful for every module; the more you know about the real issues and discussions in the world, the more you will be able to apply what you have learnt in the different modules.

Contemporary Security Issues

In this module, we discuss and examine various security issues such as terrorism, nuclear weapons, migration, climate change, and so on. All the topics are really pertinent to what is happening in the world at the moment.
Best part: My seminar group is really diverse, and accordingly everyone has different opinions regarding what is a threat and how it should be dealt with.
Hardest part: We always try to see each problem from as many angles as possible, which can be hard but really interesting!
Advice: Use your personal experiences when discussing a certain topic – and (again) read the news!

For King’s description of the modules and more information about the International Relations BA, click here http://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/international-relations-ba.aspx

 

By Emelie, International Relations

University Tourist – First week, First shock

After one week of being an exchange student at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), let me tell you something: studying abroad is worth it. If you choose to study in a country that has a totally different culture from where you were raised then the second you put a foot in that country you will find everything different – even if you’re a third culture kid, I swear.

HK1Mad Taxi driver?
I flew with my friends to Hong Kong (HK), and our first challenge was to get a taxi to our residence. Taxi drivers do not speak English, we only had our address in Chinese on a piece of paper. Our suitcases did not fit properly in the boot so he could not close it. We didn’t freak out because we saw many people in the same situation and everyone acted like it was normal. All we thought was WELCOME TO HONG KONG. You really feel like you’re in a different world. That is what’s great about it!

Stairs, Stairs, STAIRS EVERYWHERE
No matter how much you’ve researched the city you are heading to, internet does not tell you everything. It does not tell you for instance how actually few people can speak English, it does not tell you either that nothing is flat in Hong Kong. The moment you step out of your flat, you will encounter hills and stairs, and some are quite steep indeed. Of course there are escalators but not everywhere. My friends and I took it as THE occasion to work out. We also discovered a natural infinity pool when we went hiking, which wasn’t mentioned in our travel guide and the surprise definitely gave more charm to that place. In fact no matter what happens during your study abroad, as you’re constantly eager to discover and as you’re going crazy about every little thing that’s different from home, you’ll never be disappointed!

Jet lag
For nearly 4 days we were constantly jet lagged, when it’s 4pm in HK it’s 8am in Londonhk2 so my friends and I would just suddenly veg out for two hours because it was as if we didn’t sleep at night at all. But do not worry you’ll be able to sleep even the first night, because every day you’ll do a new thing. You’ll cram in some hiking, shopping, visits, or even IKEA bargain haunting with your friends! So at the end of the day you will feel like you’ve lived three weeks already and that is really what is best about studying abroad. It is the fact that you will do more than you’ve ever done in your life, you get a sense of fulfilment, a feeling that you’ve spent your day well!

My best advice
Never stay alone. There is always an opportunity to make friends, whether you are in a society (where you will have the best chance to mingle with locals), in the common room of your accommodation, in class, at the cafeteria, anywhere is a great opportunity to make friends and everyone is even more open to making friends than in freshers ;). It’s been a week and a half that I’ve been in Hong Kong, I’ve been out a lot, I’ve tried a lot of local restaurants where we had unlimited drinks and food for £6! All my days are so filled up with study and visit that I haven’t had the time yet to feel homesick at all, if I ever will.

Studying abroad is really one of the best opportunities of your life. If you have the chance, take it because it really is the occasion to mix studies and travel! Learning about Asian’s point of view on politics is fascinating! But that topic is for another time!

Stay tuned!

Anysia