5 General Tips for International Students

If you’ve read my previous blog post, you would hopefully have become an absolute pro at socialising by now. In this article, I’ll divulge some general tips and life hacks that I’ve gathered at university so far, so read on if you’re curious to see what they are!

One of the first things that you should do after arriving is to set up a bank account if you don’t already have one. I would advise you to do this ASAP, as banks are typically very busy this time of the year and it might be trickier to get an early appointment. Furthermore, having your bank details at the ready is crucial when it comes to identity inspections, particularly for students pursuing healthcare courses who might need to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check later. It would be wise to consult with Student Services (formerly called ‘The Compass’) in the libraries prior to making a bank appointment, as they’ll be able print off any official documents required for this procedure.

Being such a huge and bustling city, London might seem slightly overwhelming to new inhabitants especially if you’re more accustomed to the tranquility of the countryside. Nevertheless, with the proliferation of smartphones in this age, one can navigate the city quite effortlessly with apps such as Google Maps and Citymapper. In fact, one of my favourite things about London is the ease at which you can roam the city, and with the assistance of such apps, literally nowhere is off bounds.

London also has one of the most well-connected and efficient public transport networks in the world, so whether you’re commuting from the city centre to the outskirts of London or just hopping between King’s campuses, travelling is an absolute breeze. I recommend linking your 18+ Student Oyster photocard to your 16-25 railcard if you have one, as that’ll give you a substantial discount during off-peak hours. If you travel frequently, you could set your card on auto-top which will then spare you the constant worry of your balance running out.

You’ll also be relieved to know that King’s has its own dedicated National Health Service (NHS) centre. In case you’re unsure of what the NHS is, it basically entitles you to free consultations with a registered GP and free primary care as well as emergency treatments. However, as there might be a short wait before an appointment can be made, it is advisable to visit one of the many pharmacies scattered around London for minor ailments such as cold and flu – as a Pharmacy student myself, I can attest to this! Having said that, you should definitely still make it your first priority to register with the NHS before it gets buried amongst your growing pile of chores later on.

Shopping on a budget can be rather tough, but with the help of your student ID and NUS card, everything will seem a lot more affordable! Eateries that currently offer such discounts include Leon, GBK, Itsu (after 3pm) and Pizza Express (on certain days), but just bear in mind that these are only accurate at the time of writing. If you happen to be at the Waterloo campus, I recommend trying out Lord Nelson (near Southwark station) which offers discounts for its award-winning burgers, as well as the Lower Marsh Market for a wide array of international street food. In terms of shopping, you can save some cash in the long run by opting for stores that reward you on your accumulated points such as Boots, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Most of my shopping is done at Co-Op as my NUS card gives me a nifty discount every single time!

There will undoubtedly be many other life hacks that you’ll discover along the way as you navigate through life at King’s. My parting advice to you would be to just go with whatever life throws at you, be open about accepting new cultures and ways of life, and most importantly, appreciate every moment that you spend here. A few years might seem like a lifetime for now, but before you know it, you’ll be sitting contentedly amongst your best mates in the graduation ceremony, reflecting back on what must have been some of the best years of your life.

Tupperware & paperwork, some pre-departure tips

Author: Bea

I recall having quite a few friendly arguments with my mother when I left my hometown
(Düsseldorf, Germany) to come and study at King’s back in 2014. The subject of our disagreement: what to pack. Which brings me to my first pre-departure tip – listen to your mama! I know, I know, some strange advice coming from a twenty-something… but hear me out! It is all rather hilarious looking back. If I remember it correctly I wanted to bring a little stack of books, classics, my favourites that truly represented who I was (or wanted to be) at the time. That and other things to create the right decor and feel to my new dorm room – knick-knack and sentimentals galore! And whilst I still do agree with the idea of bringing things that will make you feel at home in a new space, I don’t think they should weigh down your luggage significantly.
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This is the stuff that my mum believed I should focus my Tetris-like packing skills on: tupperware. Yes, tupperware. I wasn’t that thrilled about her suggestions and tried to ignore them best I could, but little did I know that she had stuffed lots of kitchen supplies that I had rendered unnecessary into my second suitcase – including tupperware. And boy, was I thankful for that later! Turns out a lunch box and that extra frying pan are way more useful than having a copy of The Catcher in The Rye on your shelf, and yes, I am rolling my eyes at past-me too, it’s okay!
Long story short, rethink your packing priorities and do listen to your parents when it comes to this, they tend to be right such matters! Essentials should be at the top of your list, like a warm winter coat (even if it isn’t your most stylish possession), because you will most definitely need it in London. And of course, tupperware! :)

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Another little thing I would recommend paying some attention to before leaving for university is sorting out all the paperwork you might need.This includes writing down important information like your student number, some phone numbers perhaps, and dates for induction sessions etc. I’d say it’s better to have it all in one place than having to look through your email inbox frantically when you are unsure about something. Next to writing some things down, make a folder for the documents you want to bring (high school certificate, student loan letter, medical paperwork, you name it) – have it all nice and neat, and as I said, in one place. Additionally, I reckon it can’t hurt to back up some of your documents digitally, like a scanned in copy of your passport on a USB, for
example. You never know, you might need it.
What it basically comes down to is playing personal assistant for yourself for a day or so to organise everything. I am aware it sounds like a pretty dry task to tackle, but it will put your mind at ease and you will be able to fully enjoy all the new and exciting experiences that will come flooding in! Trust me, there’s better things to worry about than struggling to remember your King’s email password!

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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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Facebook / Weibo Live Streaming of the Strand Campus Open Day on Saturday 24th June

Author: International Team at King’s

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Unable to make it to our upcoming open days? Not to worry! Our #Kingslive livestreams will transport you there!

Starting Saturday 24th June at the Strand Campus, subjects taught by the faculties of Arts & Humanities, Law, Natural & Mathematical Sciences, Social Science & Public Policy and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience will be covered in talks, as well as the opportunity to talk with our academics, admissions, careers, residences & student life teams and have a tour of the campus.

Follow us from 9.30 am via:

Facebook Live https://www.facebook.com/kingscollegelondon/

 Weibo King's College London Weibo QR Code

 

 

The Finale

Author: Maria

The final days are here. Today I finished and submitted my dissertation. How happy am I? I am ecstatic, but in need of sleep, sleep, and sleep. These past three months have been hectic with work, stress and getting into the idea that I will graduate. How was I able to cope with this semester? Here are my tricks to help you with.

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Firstly, it is important to make yourself a timetable. A kind of daily routine in order to get you going (especially if you only happen to have 6 hours of class per week). Therefore, every day I told myself I would spend 4 hours min at the library, either from 9:00 am until 13:00pm, or during the evenings (And what better place to study than good, beautiful old Maughan?). I seriously think I have never adored a library more than this one, and trust me I visited several: from Senate House, to UCLs, to Waterloo’s and Guy’s. Continue reading

Adapting to my new life

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Author: Diana

Recuerdo lo emocionada que estaba al saber que iba a estudiar en King’s College London y que iba a vivir en Londres. Wao! Simplemente estaba sin palabras, y es que pensar en lo maravilloso que es esta ciudad, me llena de muchísima alegría. El proceso de adaptación a una nueva vida es como una aventura. Te tienes que adaptar a todo, y todo es nuevo, desde el lugar en donde vives y con quien vives, a tu escuela, incluyendo clases y compañeros, a tu nuevo lugar de trabajo, al medio de transporte y hasta a la diferente zona horaria. Parece mucho, y la realidad es que es mucho, pero el proceso no tiene que ser todo al mismo tiempo.

Continue reading

Making your dreams come true in 2017!

notebook-1194456_960_720Author: Andreea

As the year has come to an end, everyone gets overexcited to dash all that happened in 2016, forget about it, bury it and pretend it never happened. Now people start talking about their new year resolutions, that normally sound something like, “I’ll start that diet, go to the gym every day and really focus on my studies.” Continue reading

Advice for International students joining King’s College London

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Scarlett and Elena did their work experience at King’s and as young Londoners, they shared some valuable advice for prospective students! Read on!

Moving to a different country for University can be daunting. Although you may be nervous, rest assured that basically all British University students are feeling the same way about this new chapter in their life. But there’s no need to worry as there are so many resources which help international students to settle into life at King’s. Here are our top six tips to help you as you move to London.

Tip 1- Get to know the language

Although your English may be good enough to communicate with other students, it is a good idea to attend an English language writing class which will help you to improve your essay skills and become fluent in English. King’s offers English language classes for international students, and these come at no extra cost. This will come across as impressive to potential employers as it displays your keen attitudes towards learning. It may also boost your grades, especially the quality of your written work. Also, although this may seem quite obvious it always helps to spend more time around fluent English speakers as this helps you to naturally pick up the language.

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Tip 2- Explore the city

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London has something for everyone – there are a wide range of attractions and experiences which cater for all tastes: a walking tour or hop-on hop-off bus tour of London is a cheap and fun way to explore the city’s many attractions. There are also plenty of free attractions across London (ideal for a limited student budget)! The Natural History Museum is a must-see if you’re new to London – but beware, the queues are always long, so you might have to skip your lie-in. For the lovers of modern art, the Saatchi Gallery in Sloane Square, Kensington and the New Port Street Gallery in Vauxhall are sleek and sophisticated galleries which we regularly visit. They never fail to entertain us!

Tip 3- Make full use of London’s transport system

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A key part to exploring the city is understanding how the transport system works. You may be shocked to know that after 16 years of living in UK’s capital we still get lost from time to time, so don’t worry if you find yourself lost and unsure of how to get home because it happens to us all. Nevertheless, we’re sure that after you have used the trains a few times you’ll get the hang of it. We’ve found that free apps like the ‘The Train Line’ are lifesavers when you have a busy journey to plan and google maps has always been our go-to when we don’t know to get somewhere.

Tip 4- Join clubs and societies

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Student clubs and societies are a great way to make friends outside of your lectures who have similar interests to you. You’ll be pleased to know that most clubs and societies are free. There’s no excuse not to join a society unrelated to your degree as you can do almost anything from sports, music, drama and science to volunteering and campaigning.  There are so many different people to meet at uni- who knows you might meet your best friend for life at one of our King’s societies.

Tip 5- Visit the international students advice department here at King’s

You probably have a lot of worries about moving to the UK, which is understandable. However, the international students department will support and help you with your move from before you’ve left until you graduate from King’s- they’re parent figures to many international students here at King’s. They cover everything from healthcare, finance and police registration to working in the UK, and handling your visa. Campus maps can also be picked up here which you can use to find your way around your new home for the next few years.

Tip 6- Pack appropriately for the British weather!

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The British weather is notorious for being cold and wet and having grown up here, we can safely say that this is no lie or exaggeration. Even in the ‘summer’ it tends to rain a lot so make sure you always carry a ‘pac-a-mac’ or portable rain jacket with you. You might see your phone as your most important possession at home but here Umbrellas are equally as important! You’ll probably be doing a lot of walking from campus to campus as you explore the city and so comfortable shoes are a must have; say goodbye to your precious heels and hello to sturdy warm boots for the winter and supportive sandals for the summer. Don’t worry too much though if you are unable to get your hands on these items as there are many shops in London which offer them.

We’re sure that you will feel at home at King’s in no time and we wish you the best of luck as you join us at the university. If you still feel unsure about your move, you can look at the KCL website where you’ll find everything you need to know. Make sure to check out King’s International Facebook and Twitter pages too!