The big festival of Exams @ KCL

Exams!! A word which sends a shiver to many of our spines depending on the context it is used in. Pre exam sure is a nightmare to many people but of course the post exam infuses that excitement, that feeling of happiness in everyone. I am sure into that phase at the moment. The last month has been an awfully stressful for the students of King’s College as it had been the preparatory month and there’s been nothing else on the mind other than the final exams.


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People spend a whole year studying and preparing for this big moment, which decides the fate of many of us students. Those lectures, assignments and coursework and hours spent in the library and I am sure that each of the students had prepared and given in their 100 percent of the efforts to prepare for these final exams which take place at the Excel Exhibition centre.

Kcl Exams

Well, I would like to go into the details and give you some insight about the whole process (Yes! I would definitely call it a well planned process because these exams are planned right at the beginning of the year). I have personally been used to giving exams here in India and I would say that there certainly is a big difference.  In India, first of all I haven’t seen almost 2000 people sitting in the same room and writing exam for 3 hours. This is sure going to sound very surprising to many of you because, yeah that’s the reality 2000 people sitting in the same big hall and writing exam simultaneously.

When, I first heard that the exams were going to be conducted at the Excel exhibition centre I was very happy as it is situated right besides where I live. But, it sure did make a lot of people frown because they had to commute a bit longer than they did at the college. A lot of efforts were taken by the student union to change the venue of our exams but they were unfruitful in their attempts. Personally I was delighted (though it may sound selfish on my part, but then again I do understand that it is quite feasible for the college to manage such a huge number of students writing exams at the same time in a big venue such as the Excel).

Excel exhibition centre

When I first appeared for the exams I was literally taken aback after looking at the number of students who had come to write the exam with me and I was like What! 2k people at the same time. I mean I did anticipate that there’s going to be a huge number as Excel was chosen to be the venue but never imagined such a huge number. It did give me chills and was quite scared as the number in itself made me overwhelmed. The whole of the hall is divided into 4 zones and there are 500 students in each of those zones. Each zone is monitored by almost I would say around 5 to 6 supervisors (though I am not sure) but they are really helpful and quick in helping out students with stationary or any other help. Well, what I found a bit annoying is the instructions which are given out at the start of each paper through the PA system. But, then I do understand that these are necessary as there is a possibility that there might be a new student everyday who might not know what to do in a particular situation. And, yes of course no one can forget the ticking clock which is displayed on a huge screen on the front side of the hall which does make many hearts skip a beat; especially during those last 15 minutes.


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But, I must say I came out relaxed at the end as it was not that bad as I must have imagined at the start of the paper. In fact, after writing papers for two consecutive semesters has made me quite comfortable with the fact that I have these many people with me giving their exams with me at the same time. The whole scenario is one of its kinds and certainly quite different than I have had experienced before. I soon became quite used to it and now it doesn’t seem strange at all. Rather, I would say it has become so familiar that it seems I’ve been used to writing papers in this way since quite long now.

Anyways, now that it’s over now i am quite certain that many students are quite relaxed now and must be preparing for the next phase. For Master’s students it’s the time for dissertation and for many others it’s just an year which has passed and are waiting for the next one to come. And yet for many others, they might have started with job hunting and others are simply relaxing and having a merry time at home or at some other place. I give in my best wishes to all of them and wish them good luck for the upcoming days.


Cycling your way

London’s Underground network is the lifeline of the people staying in and around London. Never had I wondered before, that what would happen if the whole thing came to a halt? Well, it seemed to be a nightmare and unfortunately (well not completely though) a similar situation was faced by Londoners a few days back. Though it was not completely stopped but almost 80 percent train network was shut down for a strike which many of you might be surprised to know that it cost the government almost a loss of £200 million. Whoa! That’s a lot of money one might wonder. Well, that is not the thing which I am about to describe in detail but wanted to share a fact.

I would say I got to explore London like never before. A two day strike was announced mid week which is like the peak days of the week. People say that London literally comes to a halt when the so called lifeline stops working as people have very limited choices to travel. Of course, there are buses but one cannot rely wholly on them partly because it takes like ‘ages’ (not literally!) to travel by a bus as compared to the London’s very own underground ‘Tube’.


So, I decided to plan ahead because of the planned strikes and I couldn’t afford to miss college a single day. As, we receive email newsletters from the TFL (Transport for London) regarding the alternate routes we can plan our journey for, TFL encouraged to make use of the famous ‘Boris Bikes’. Well, for many of you who might not be aware of the Boris bikes, these are the bicycle systems introduced by the Mayor Boris Johnson in the year 2010 which was modeled on a similar system implemented in Paris. It’s also called as Barclays Cycle Hire as it is the main sponsor for the system. A quick fact about the bicycle hire: A record, 47,105 cycles were hired on a single day during the Olympics of 2012 in London.


Well, anyways this system was specifically quite new for me and I was pretty amazed by the system. Well, the system works as follows: We can hire the bicycle at a mere cost of £2 (I would say mere because it’s relatively still cheaper than the other modes of transport in London!) for a period of 24 hours and you can use debit card to make the payment. You can use the bicycle for free up to 30 minutes and if you happen to cross the limit of 30 minutes, its £1 additional. Though, after my experience you can reach any destination in less than 30 minutes if it is located in Central London.


So, I decided that I’ll do part of my journey by bus and part by the bicycle. I was reluctant initially, as first of all, I wasn’t used to the roads in London and riding a bicycle after so many years made me nervous. But, I decided to stick to my plan and go for it. I had planned to that after the college hours as I didn’t wanted to be late for the class and as I said, I was not that accustomed to the London roads. So, after the class, I walked up to the nearest cycle dock at Victoria Embankment and hired a bicycle with the help of a kiosk which is again pretty easy to use.

With a lot of hesitation and reluctance I put headphones and tuned it to my favorite playlist. I rode upon the bike and forgot everything else. The initial reluctance was soon forgotten and I lost into the beautiful weather and the ambience of the beautiful Victorian architecture. I decided to go via the Waterloo Bridge which is one of the many bridges across river Thames in Central London. I had to stop here to get the beautiful view. The free flowing Thames and the boats on one side and London eye and Westminster Abbey on the other side…the view was scintillating. This made me feel that I was indeed in London. I saw the city from a complete different perspective. This was the first time when I actually could appreciate the beauty of this city.


As quoted by Dr. Samuel Johnson, a famous writer

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”

I could really feel the meaning of these lines when I had one of such an unusual yet a beautiful journey through the streets of London. It was then I realized that people at times really don’t appreciate the beautiful and small things in life they have around themselves and meanwhile running after other irrelevant things in life. Though, that would be quite philosophical on my part but it was only after I experienced this I could realize. It had been almost 5 months and I have travelled the same old path since then travelling via the underground. Of course, that made my journey comfortable and convenient but although the path I had treaded that day may not have been of such a convenience but I must say that it was worthwhile and a treat to my heart.