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!

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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?