Student Life & Why You should Participate

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I believe I am paraphrasing Woody Allen when I am saying that 80 percent of life is just showing up.

Although I just had a discussion way too early in the morning in my kitchen regarding the exact extent to which this statement rings true, I am sure there is a lot of truth in it when you apply the sentiment to university life – especially the first few weeks!

The thought of studying in a big city can be daunting at times and I get that, possibly feeling lost in the anonymity of the crowds flooding the metropolis, and as strange as it might sound, the trick is to immerse yourself in it… the craze, the buzz, the pulse – hey, just dive right in. When you start your course you’re not all by yourself anyway! King’s in one way or another is an anchor, a community for you to make friends and even explore things outside of your field of study.

Find yourself in the heart of the city – make the most of your time at King’s!

King’s will throw a lot of event opportunities at you: department mixers, subject discussions, career workshops, sector insights talks, society events, you name it. Your social calendar (and I mean social in a very loose sense, after all social and academic / professional greatly overlap here) can be as full as you like and I really do encourage you to keep yourself busy! This is where Woody comes back in again: show up, that’s all I’m saying. Things will also calm down as term goes by, so it won’t always be as hectic as the first handful of weeks, but it’s a wonderful time window for you to meet lots and lots of new people and discover what uni life has to offer.

Even if socialising with people you have never met before isn’t your favourite thing to do, I still encourage you to give it a chance! Let’s say you attend a welcome drinks event hosted by your new department, these two scenarios are very likely to happen:

Option A: You are quite the extrovert and you spend the evening happily engaging with new peers, perfect!

Option B: You feel a bit alone in this unfamiliar situation, but guess what, you are definitely not the only person who feels this way, so spot your allies at the event. You can bond over mutual perceived awkwardness. Oh, and it’s always a smart move to congregate around the snacks table I’d say!

Keep an open mind and be curious!

Student societies in particular can be such a vital part of your time at King’s. I remember even going to a KCL Folk Society meet-up in my first year, which didn’t go that well, since I’m neither very familiar with lots of folk tunes, nor particularly good at side reading music. But hey, I found out that wasn’t the right fit for me. However, I had a fantastic time going to events organised by the Film Society, or the King’s Players Improv group. I even got to participate in open mic nights and other musical events organised by the King’s Record and those are genuinely some of my favourite memories! A lot of my friends also got to travel with the societies they’re in as well and not just sports based societies, as the Ukulele Society also went abroad too.

Bottom line line is, as time goes by you’ll find your people, you’ll figure out how you want to spend your time. But the best way to find out is to give it an honest shot. Like Woody said, 80 percent is just showing up, and that is really something very, very doable!

Food Glorious Food (Part 2)

Welcome back to the second part of this miniseries, where I once again attempt to unleash my inner food blogger by giving you some suggestions for eating in London. I’ve learnt from experience not to keep a flock of hungry readers waiting, so I’ll skip the chit chat and cut to the chase!

Anyone who has spent any amount of time with me knows better than to let me choose restaurants during group outings, as I’ve got an obsession with burgers that’s bordering on being mildly unhealthy. It also probably doesn’t help that many burger joints here are incredibly student friendly, such as Byron and GBK which are both close to the Waterloo Campus. The latter even has a dedicated app which rewards you with free milkshakes, burgers and sides if you complete their challenges like visiting different branches or trying out several milkshake flavours.

If you’re feeling a tad bit more adventurous, you could head over to Lord Nelson in Southwark to try out their award-winning burgers, complete with a generous helping of potato wedges and salads all at a student price. Speaking of your privileges as a student, don’t forget to flash your student ID/ UNiDAYS account at the till in McDonalds – you’ll get a complimentary cheeseburger or McFlurry with any purchase of a set meal. In fact, just flash your card anywhere you go as you’ll soon realise that the most unexpected places have special deals for students!

NUS & UNiDAYS

Moving on, I’ll shift the limelight to several Malaysian restaurants that do a great job at quenching my sporadic cravings for home food. Roti King near Euston dishes up the best Roti Canai that I have tasted in London, and their Teh Tarik is top notch as well. The former is a type of flatbread that’s typically dipped in curry, whereas the latter is our national tea with a characteristic frothy top. In my opinion, C&R in Chinatown serves the best Nasi Lemak here – this is fragrant rice, steamed with coconut milk and served with chili paste, anchovies, cucumbers and other ingredients.

Nasi lemak & Teh tarik

Malaysia’s national dish & beverage                    Nasi lemak & Teh tarik

Staying on the topic of Asian cuisine, EatTokyo near the Strand Campus is currently my go-to restaurant for great Japanese food. Their quick service and reasonable pricing make it a viable option for lunch if you’re based at Strand for the day. If your break duration permits, you could make your way to Dozo in Soho which offers a heavily discounted lunch menu on weekdays. Ramen lovers should definitely try out Shoryu and Kanada Ya – their broths are rather different so it’ll be up to you to determine which one appeals to you more!

Other notable student discounts include the ones offered by Leon throughout the day, and Itsu after 3pm. Some Itsu and Wasabi branches even feature a half-price offer near their closing times, so be sure to watch out for those! Furthermore, your NUS card will help you get more bang for your buck at Pizza Express and Pizza Hut, the former of which has whopping discounts of up to 40%. If you need a pick-me-up at the start of the week, head over to My Old Dutch for their aptly named “Monday Madness” offer. Their pancakes are positively delectable!

And that’s it! This is literally all I can write before my entire keyboard gets inundated by saliva, so you’ll have to do a bit of exploring on your own to scout for other great eateries. A helpful tip would be to use Yelp, TripAdvisor and other apps to narrow down places that have garnered good reviews by other patrons. Now go forth and fill your tummy, but just remember to use your good ol’ frying pan once in a while!

Food Glorious Food (Part 1)

Allow me to let you in on a little secret – I can’t cook to save my life. I’m not exaggerating when I say that whipping out a bowl of steamed rice last week was probably the peak of my culinary pursuits. Come to think of it, the recipe handbook that my mother lovingly crafted for me has regrettably not seen daylight since Fresher’s Week (sorry, mum). However, if you’re anything like me, fret not! London is probably the best city for eating out due to the myriad of eateries scattered throughout its busy streets. In these 2 blog posts, I’ll attempt to highlight some of my favourite food spots, as well as several nifty discounts that come with being a student (note that these may be subject to change in the future).

To kicks things off, I’ll start with the most accessible student option during lunchtime – King’s restaurants. Dining here will help you stay on your weekly budget, and you’ll be surprised by the assortment of options available on the ever-changing menu. Anyone who can’t live without their weekly fish and chips – yours truly included – will rejoice at their Friday special, which is usually battered haddock or cod served with chips and mushy peas.

King's Cafe in New Hunt's House, Guy's campus

King’s Cafe in New Hunt’s House, Guy’s campus

Furthermore, there are also on-site cafés for all the sleepy-heads who need a little extra help to stay awake between lectures. Get one of the colourful King’s mugs to save 10p on each purchase, and you’ll be doing both your wallet and the environment a huge favour in the long run! If you’re at Guy’s, you’re spoiled for more options as there’s a burger shack on the beach, a farmers’ market that’s held every Tuesday, and a vibrant student hub called “The Shed” which serves coffee at a very affordable price.

The Farmer's Market, Guy's Campus

The Farmer’s Market, Guy’s Campus

If you crave street food, you’ll be delighted to know that Borough Market is a mere stone’s throw away from Guys Campus. And if you like free things, you’ll most certainly appreciate the complementary samples that some of the stalls give out! My favourite stall there is Pieminister, which serves delectable pies that are the perfect panacea for a chilly London day.

Borough market

Borough market, near Guy’s Campus

Waterloo-based students shouldn’t feel left out either, as the Lower Marsh Market and Southbank Food Market are merely a swift stroll away from their campuses. These are open on weekdays and weekends respectively, so the former would be a feasible option for your weekday lunch. I personally recommend the pad Thai stalls in both markets, although that might just be due to me being a sucker for Thai cuisines!

Southbank Centre Food Market

Southbank Centre Food Market

Meal deals are a staple in most local supermarkets or food chains, and the one offered by Greggs is arguably the best option for students right now. With a mere brandish of your student ID, you’ll get a sausage roll or sweet completely free of charge with your sandwich deal. As if that weren’t enough, you can also collect stamps with your hot drinks which are already part of the deal anyway! You can find one of these branches adjacent to the Strand Campus and another in Lower Marsh. Go a step further by watching out for steeply discounted sandwiches near their expiry dates at your local Boots, Sainsbury’s or Tesco.

Before I divulge the rest of my eating-out habits (there are a lot of them in case you couldn’t tell), I think it’s apt for me to stop here for now. Go grab some snacks and maybe a cup of hot chocolate from our trusty King’s Café, and I’ll catch you in the next instalment of my gastronomic adventure!

A Guide to Packing

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Shopping for practically anything is a breeze in London – if you know where to look, that is. Finding out which establishments have the best deals will take some trial and error, and you’ll be a seasoned consumer in no time. However, in your first week of arriving here, the last thing you should do is wander blindly in the streets of London searching for a shop that sells shampoo because it had completely slipped your mind to pack it! To avoid such a hairy catastrophe (and other similar disasters) from occurring, take a look at the following check-list:

1. Things you can’t live without
I know this sounds fairly obvious, but some items have fused so seamlessly into our lives that it doesn’t even cross our minds to pack them. Try going through your daily routine at home, whilst compiling a list of things that you used along the way – your medicines, toiletries, phone charger etc. It’s amazing how many things we take for granted!

2. Documents
Nobody likes going through the identification check at the customs, but it’s not exactly legal to bolt past the security gates either. To speed things up, have your passport, visa and confirmation of studies letter ready in your hand luggage. If you’re a pursuing a healthcare-related course, you would be required to take your immunity records as well to facilitate your immunisation process later in the year.

3. Clothing
If you’re from a tropical country like me, chances are you’ve only been accustomed to the sweltering heat and torrential downpours. However, don’t fret if you’re completely lacking any winter attire. September is usually not the chilliest time of the year, so there’s still plenty of time to purchase some after you’ve settled down. Besides, your local retail outlets might not have the most appropriate winter attire for the chilly and damp London atmosphere. As a side note, pack a set of formal-wear for official ceremonies and a pair of gloves for protection against the harsh winds.

4. Books & stationery
We all know that one guy who has perused the entire semester’s textbooks before classes have even commenced, but is it really advisable to purchase them in advance? The answer to that would be a resounding “no”. During your induction, your lecturers will outline the few mandatory core books, and the libraries at King’s should provide you with sufficient further reading material. Also, there are numerous second-hand book sales in September that you should absolutely watch out for. Stationery doesn’t weigh much anyway so go ahead and buy all the pens you’ll never need.

5. Cooking
Nothing conjures stronger feelings of nostalgia like eating your favourite food from home. However, if you’re currently stuffing your luggage with bottles of soy sauce and curry paste, you might want to think twice about that. London is a multicultural city and as such, is populated by international merchants who stock up on many imported food items. The best example to illustrate this would be Chinatown, where you’ll be able to find a slew of exotic condiments and ingredients. Kitchen appliances are fairly affordable as well, so there’s absolutely no need to pack your heavy frying pan. That being said, I wouldn’t imagine that many Asian mothers (mine included) would permit their children to leave home without a rice cooker, so just be an obedient child and do so. Soon enough, you’ll realise how versatile it actually is!

chinatown london

6. Bedding
Most student accommodation will not come with blankets or duvets, so I would recommend compacting these in a vacuum bag and cramming them into your luggage. Pillows take way too much space, so don’t even attempt to squeeze one in.

7. Miscellaneous
Do check if your devices are compatible with UK’s plugs; if they’re not, it would be wise to purchase a few adapters. While it is extremely useful to own a personal printer, it would be unfeasible to fit one into your luggage considering its sheer bulk. Hence, I would suggest just purchasing one here.

8. Personal items
Being in a foreign land with hardly any familiar faces around you, there will inevitably be times when you’ll feel rather miserable. Nevertheless, you’ll be surprised by how much a few tokens from home can cheer you up and provide the motivation you need to keep going. Be it a birthday card or simply your stinky stuffed animal, take whatever it is that will evoke some poignant memories of home. Just remember – whatever it is you are going through will come to pass eventually, and things will get better if you persevere and march on.

With all that said, I hope you don’t get overwhelmed by the whole packing process and I bid you a safe journey to London! You don’t know it yet, but your best life chapter is just about to begin.

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Winter Wonderland in the capital

Oxford street 2Author: Edith

About a week ago, I was still in my ripped jeans and t-shirts and could pass without a warm coat but now, as it’s the 8th of December, it seems London has put a spin on things. If you, like me, can’t wait a full 24 days to finish your advent calendar, will eat all of the chocolate provided in an advent calendar with your friend late at night as soon as it hits the first of December. Apart from the endless chocolate, whether it be in a mug warmed up in the microwave or just an entire block to yourself, you’ll give yourself the excuse that “Well, it’s basically Christmas”.  Continue reading

My Summer Bucket List

Author: Maria

So my previous post was about my internship in London during the summer. Yes, obviously I have to work during day time, but that doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy London’s beauty during the summer.

I am going to make this post quick because during my internship in London I told myself that I would do 10 things (although I did more of them) in London during the summer, and I thought it would be amazing to share these spots/ideas with you so you can actually think about doing it as well. Some of these are no brainers, but trust me, sometimes living in the city and studying makes you forget about certain fun things that you can do at any time!

So here is my list:

1. Bike around Hyde Park and end up in the Serpentine Galleries – check the pavilion every year there’s a new sculpture or ‘huge architecture thing there’. This year this man actually asked me what I thought of it, the question caught me so off-guard that I said: ‘if we lived in an imaginary world this would probably be my home’… I literally have no idea why I said that.

Maria - Serpentine - My Summer Bucket list

2.  ROOFTOPS!! There are so many (From the famous Sky-Garden, to Queen of Hoxton and to the new place I went with my friends the other day: Pergola On the Roof (Quick its open from May to August 29th! So if you have time GO THERE) and you can drink, eat, drink, and see the beautiful sight! And art on the walls. – Also, time out offers a few ‘cheaper tickets’ for people to go watch movies on rooftops – it is QUITE AWESOME, and actually a really cool thing to do!)

3. This one is not in London, but still, it was on my list: Travel to Cambridge or Oxford. It’s cheap nearby and you can always spend the day in a smaller town and enjoy the perks of less expensive food, beautiful sight-seeing and just a day out of the city.

maria & friend Cambridge - My Summer Bucket list

4. Want to go Clubbing? CARGO is pretty cool – from its terrace to the two dancefloor spaces inside. I think the terrace is worth everything, you get to hear the music but still be able to talk to your friends if you are not that into clubbing. Two spots in one place.

5. Summer Exhibitions in London – yes, some are expensive, but have you seen the one in the Royal Academy? If you are a student you get a discount, and it is definitely worth it! You get to see some modern contemporary art that you have not seen before.

6. The typical Brick Lane Sunday market, Camden Lock Market, Broadway Market, Borough Market, – Spitafields. I think I covered almost all of them – oh yes, Portobello Market and if you haven’t watched the movie Notting Hill watch it, aside from Hugh Grant being a total bae, the movie definitely shows the blue door of his book store which YOU can totally see when you go to Notting Hill.

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7. Theatre: I am a fan of theatre so I went to watch my old time fav – Les Miserables – indeed I was miserable afterwards of how good it was, and how I wish I could sing/act like that. WORTH IT. Of course you don’t have to go see this one, but there are plenty of shows worth seeing, and London is the place for theatre, music, art.

8. Breakfast Club. Woke up twice at 6:00 am, to make sure I could be first and have my beautiful breakfast as soon as the restaurant opened at 8:00 am in Soho. Call me crazy, but that avocado on toast is delicious, and those blueberry pancakes were definitely worth my beauty sleep.

9. Almost done with the list. Do you like Jazz? Comedy? I live literally next to Camden, so when me and my flat-mates are bored and have nothing to do, we just go to Camden and either go watch the comedy club there, or go to the Jazz Café. Plus, sometimes we get lost in between those restaurants and the market…

10. Here is my last thing and definitely worth it – Aside from my internship I also work as waitress and sometimes my shift ends up really late. However, there are some perks to it, walking and riding the bus in the Center of London at night is the best. You see the city lights, without the people and the stress of the day. It is only you and your music, the breeze and those city lights that make London such a beautiful city to live in.

So here are my tips for you and I hope you enjoy them! Do you have any for me?