Surviving Fresher’s Week

With the academic year drawing to a close and exams coming to end, its time for me to write my final blog.  I hope that your exams have gone well and that you are starting to look forward to university in September. The ending of my blog also marks the end of my fourth year at King’s College London a place I will be very sad to say goodbye to!

I’m going to end my blog series with my best tips for surviving Fresher’s week.

Surviving the Fresher’s Fair

At the fair you are going to be surrounded by societies for pretty much anything you can think of, the standard subject based groups such as Maths Soc and Chemistry Society and then the slightly less conventional choices such as the Harry Potter and Tea Societies. Joining a society is a great way to meet new people at university so do sign up for as many as you can. However, don’t feel like you have to sign up for everything you see, you don’t want to be bombarded with emails for the next year!!  Also, do be sure to make the most of the freebies, as well as the student groups, there will be businesses there too. Nandos came to our fair and everyone got a free menu item.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 21.40.01

Last year’s fair

 

Making new friends 

A good thing to remember is that everyone starting university is in a similar position to you, they probably don’t know anyone, it’s their first time away from home and they feel a little unsettled. If you do feel a little homesick in the beginning, don’t worry, you will not be the only one! However, you’ll probably find it’s very easy to starting chatting to people and making new friends, during the first few weeks, everyone is especially talkative so don’t be afraid to start a few conversations, you never know, you could make a friend for life!

Surviving on a budget

With all of the events going on, fresher’s week can get quite expensive! Don’t feel like you have to go to every event, you’ll still make plenty of friends even just going to a couple. Remember than your student loan probably won’t have come in yet so try to have some money already saved. Don’t feel like you have to go to every alcohol centred event there is, they can get expensive and you may miss out on other activities. You could even invite your new flatmates out to explore the new area with you – its probably completely new to them too!

Well that’s it from me! I hope you have a fantastic time at university – I’m sure you will! You’re about to start an amazing new chapter in your life, try to make the most of the opportunities you’ll have and have lots of fun along the way!

I wish you the best of luck!

Sophie

 

Preparing for University

As a brief break from exams, this week I’ll be talking about how to prepare for uni:

1. Learn to cook

At least have a couple of go to dishes for when you start Uni, I had one go to dish which I could cook in bulk and then freeze. It was great after long days to come home and have something I could just quickly stick in the microwave. If you’re like me, you’ll probably also want to keep things quite cheap. People often joke that students live on pasta and rice, but actually they are very cheap and go with pretty much anything, always good to keep in the cupboard! Here’s a recipe I’ve been want to try, it’s making me hungry just watching!

2. Plan what you will need

It’s likely that whether you live in halls or a shared flat, you are not going to have endless amounts of space. Try to plan ahead for what you will and won’t need. I went on a shopping trip to IKEA before I started, I got everything I needed (and perhaps a few things I didn’t…) without spending a fortune! You also don’t want to be pulling endless amounts of luggage around for the whole year.

3. Student Bank Account

This is a pretty important choice, since you’re likely to keep this account for the next few years. Every year different banks offer different deals for students, when I got my account I got a free 16-25 railcard. This has made travelling home just that little bit cheaper and it didn’t cost me a penny! Other banks may also offer larger overdrafts or other incentives. Just be careful not to get drawn in by the offer of “free money”, unfortunately you will have to pay that overdraft off at some point…

4. Learn to do your own washing and ironing

Again, I now some people already knew these things before starting Uni, I, however, did not. It’s definitely a good idea to a have a basic idea of these things, you don’t want to dye your favourite white shirt, pink after all…

5. Does your university have any Facebook groups?

Before I started at KCL I found a Facebook group for my Halls of Residence. It was nice to already know some faces before I moved in. Your course might also have a group, so do have a look around.

Hope exams/revision are going well!

 

 

The Big Accommodation Question

This week I’ve been thinking back to some of the questions I had before starting university. Around this time four years ago, I was thinking a lot about which accommodation I would like to live in, did I want somewhere with my own bathroom, should I go catered or self catered and how much will this all cost?  With so many choices for accommodation, it can get a little daunting, in the end I learnt that actually it doesn’t really matter which halls you live in, be it in central London with an en suite or catered halls a bit further out, ultimately, it’s the people you live who you’ll remember not so much what the buildings were like!

In my first year I stayed in Great Dover Street Apartments, (a while go I talked a little about my time there, you can read about it here) I really loved living in halls for my first year, I made some great friends and got to live in an amazing area. Throughout my year there, I visited Borough market regularly, which (I think) has some of the best food in London. I watched the London Marathon at the halfway stage on Tower Bridge and generally had a great time! So much so, that I chose to stay living around London Bridge and Borough for my next two years at KCL.

great-dover-street-room

King’s has recently opened a few new halls of residence including the Stratford One and Angle Lane Residences in Stratford. As part of the University of London, KCL students can also live in halls of residences with students from other UoL universities, including UCL and QMUL. The good news is that all new undergraduate and international postgraduate applicants are guaranteed a place in accommodation for their first year as long as:

  • King’s College London is your firm choice for the 2016-17 academic year and be enrolled on a full-time course
  • submit your application by 13 June 2016

Applications for accommodation are now open, you can find out more about the halls (including prices) and apply here.

Exam season is coming…

With exams around the corner I don’t know about you, but I am definitely feeling the stress! I realised the other day that this will be my 8th year of Spring/Summer exams, quite a scary thought! Over the years, I have been given many different pieces of advice from many different people and I thought I would share with you the ones which helped me the most:

1. Make a Revision Plan:

Now I don’t mean, “spend the next two days making a revision plan worthy of exhibition in the Tate and do zero revision…” Only you can know what type of revision works best for you, perhaps like me you would rather spend a whole day focused on one topic, or perhaps even a week focused on that topic or maybe you prefer to break your day down and study a few topics. There’s no “right” way to revise, it’s all about knowing how you work best and planning your revision around that. If you don’t work well in the mornings but know that you will get a lot done in the evenings, don’t try and get yourself out of bed at 7:00am sharp, you’ll probably be tired, out of sync and not your most productive. Also, as much as you may think you need to, you can’t work 24/7, make sure you schedule in some non revision days too, taking breaks will make you more refreshed for the revision you have left.

2. Rest!

So as I said, you’re not a machine, you need to have breaks. I always try to use my breaks as a reward, I might watch a 30-minute TV show or chat to a friend or just eat, eating is always good! You could even, and don’t laugh… get a colouring book, it is surprising relaxing! Try to do get away from your revision when you have a break. It’s good to have separate work and rest areas, it can help your mind focus more when you try to revise as it knows ‘this’ area is for work.

Testing out my artistic skills

3. Be nice to yourself:

During exam season it’s very easy to think you’re not doing enough or to compare yourself to friends who seem to work non stop, when you get bored after half an hour. Everyone works in different ways, as they say, this is a marathon not a sprint, you have to focus on your own race. You also will probably have some days where you’re more productive than others, that’s okay too, sometimes we’re just not in the right mood for revision and there’s no print forcing it! Perhaps take that day as your rest day and do revision on the day you actually schedule your break instead

4. Try to make revision fun:

As fun as it can be anyway! Maybe you enjoy drawing, so depending on your subjects you can draw diagrams or other pictures to help you remember everything. Or may you like teaching other people, so perhaps you should get some friends together and work as a group, be careful not to get distracted though.

Revision 15.4.16

5. Stay Calm!

Of course this is easier said than done, but if you get stressed or upset then you won’t be able to revise properly anyway. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stop! Have a look at what you have planned for that day and break it down into smaller tasks that you can tick off the list more easily. This will make you feel like you are achieving something and keep your confidence up and stress down! Or if that doesn’t work then go do something else or a little while, if you like exercise, maybe go for a run or if like you me, you don’t like exercise, perhaps have a stash of extra nice cakes for when things get a bit much!

And last but by no means least, remember that exams are not forever and if you put the time in then you can do it!!

Good luck!

 

Hello Again!!

It’s been over a year since I last posted about my time here at King’s and it’s very true what they say, a lot can happen in a year! I’m now in my fourth (eek!) year, starting to wonder where the last four years have gone, I can still remember my first day here!!

So what can I tell you about fourth year… it’s been a lot of fun (and stress!), I’ve spent the last few months working on my final year research project where I’ve been developing a data analysis method for super resolution microscopy data. I’ve also had complete freedom with module choices this year, including being able to study at University College London, Queen Mary University of London and Royal Holloway. I chose one module at UCL, it’s been a really good to experience studying at another university, one which very few other universities and departments offer to their students.

This year I was also the President of the Physics Society called the Maxwell Society, over the year we have had many events, including monthly quiz nights, weekly lectures, using the KCL telescope to view Jupiter (at 6am…) and our annual weekend retreat to Cumberland Lodge. This year has been a lot of fun and it’s not quite over yet, alongside the other Natural and Mathematical Societies we will be hosting a Boat party, but before that we have some exams to take…

Maxwell outline with name

Over the next few months, I’ll be posting regular updates about my time here at KCL and also hopefully giving some useful insights into university, coping with exam stress and life in London. But for now I must head back to work… or perhaps watch that TED talk on procrastination…

Societies

Over the past few months I’ve talked a lot about the academic side to university and London life, however we shouldn’t neglect the social side , the things we as students get to do when we are not hard at work in the library writing essays studying. Societies form a huge part of university life, with a society for almost every and any interest you could possibly have, very much the ‘you name it, we’ve got it’ type of thing! For instance we have the societies associated with the various departments, such as the Maxwell Society for Physics, we organise events throughout the year, some are academic with talks from quest speakers and then some more relaxed events such as departmental quiz nights or Maths vs Physics Paintballing expeditions. There are also many career/networking centred events such as HackLondon, the largest collaborative hackathon, organised by the KCL Tech Society.

Then we of course have many sports societies, some of the more obscure ones include:

  • Fencing
  • Equestrian
  • Rollersports
  • Surfing

Then for those of you like me who, count going upstairs as their daily exercise, we have plenty of other groups to choose from:

  • Game of Thrones Society
  • Fashion Society
  • HennaArt Society
  • Magic and Hypnosis Society
  • DJ Society
  • KCL Baking Society

With over 260 societies on offer, these are just the tip of the iceberg! To see the rest of societies KCLSU has to offer click here.

 

 

“Where will I live?”

By now, many of you will be approaching the end of your exams, some of you lucky people may even have finished. When I was waiting for my results, after the first question of “where will I be studying?”, I often thought about where I would live, would it be in a halls or a house share? Who would I live with? How much was this going to cost?

First Year:

In my first year accommodation was fairly simple as King’s organised halls for me and most other freshers. I’ve mentioned before how scary the whole experience was but once I realised that everyone felt the same way I did, it soon started to feel more like home. Halls are a great way of meeting people on different courses to you and even different campuses.

not many people can say they live just ten minutes away from here...

not many people can say they live just ten minutes away from here…

 

Second Year:

Now here came the really scary part, having to find somewhere to rent in London…  Actually, it turned out to be easier than I thought, London has a very fast housing market and places are constantly popping up. In the end myself and some friends from halls chose a house managed by the University of London. It was only let to KCL students and took about 50 minutes or 25 minutes by bus to get to campus.

Second year room

Second year room

 

Third Year:

For this year since I liked the area so much I decided to stay around London Bridge, I shared again with some friends from Halls, this time in a flat slightly closer to uni. I lived on a street filled with independent coffee shops and boutiques. We have two parks close by too, especially nice given the lovely weather we have been having lately!

I don’t have the biggest budget when it comes to rent and whilst I did need to shop around a little, I still managed to find three very nice places without bursting the bank! I have had some amazing experiences living in London for these last three years, it’s a city like no other!

If you would like to find out more information about accommodation at King’s, click here.

Solar Eclipse Part 2

Hopefully, you got to see some of the eclipse last week!

Unfortunately, the clouds were putting up quite a fight for us!  However, we did get to see something… some of our PhD students made a pinhole camera just using some bin liners, foil and a lens! In the end some amazing images of the Southbank were projected onto a white screen.

Incredible image of the Southbank.

Incredible image of the Southbank.

This week we have another exciting event within the department, the Annual General Meeting of our Physics society where we will be electing the new representatives for next year. The Maxwell society organise many events throughout the year, from lectures delivered by guest speakers to paint-balling with the Maths Society. Once a year the society also organises a weekend visit to Cumberland Lodge, where several guest speakers give talks, this year the theme was ‘The Year of Light’. The weekend is also a great opportunity to socialise with coursemates, especially with the much anticipated pub quiz night, it’s amazing how competitive some people are!

 

Solar Eclipse

There’s excitement in the air within the KCL Physics department this week and of course it’s all thanks to the imminent solar eclipse! Really, what kind of a Physics department would we be if we didn’t find someway to make an event out of it?! One of our lecturers, Dr Malcolm Fairbairn recently installed a new telescope on the roof of the Strand campus, this is currently being used as part of a third year research project. You can read all about the exploits of Dr Fairbairn and his team of undergraduates on his blog:

http://darklondonskies.com

In honour of the solar eclipse, the department will be setting up various optical devices to view the event, everyone will be welcome and this promises to be a great opportunity for students to experience this rare event first-hand. I will also be on-hand to hopefully (providing my camera skills are up to scratch) get some lovely photos and videos from the day to share will you all, wish me luck!

International Women’s Day

I’m sure you’re all aware that last Sunday was International Woman’s Day. Now, it may not surprise you to know that I took a particular interest in the contributions women have made to Science. Women in Science is a key initiative within the NMS faculty at King’s, with the departments often devising new plans, centred around equal opportunities, in particular the Women in Science Scholarship scheme, details of which can be found below. Bearing all of this in mind, lets have a look at arguably some of the most influential females in Science:

1. Rosalind Franklin

rosalindfranklin

Of course, this list would not be complete with king’s very own Rosalind Franklin, whist at the college, Franklin took the very famous photo 51. Using this image, Francis Crick and James Watson were able to develop the first accurate nodel of DNA.

2. Henrietta Lacks

Now you may not have heard of Lacks, however, you will most likely have heard of the treatmets and research she faciliatated. In particular Cancer research. Henrietta Lacks had cervical cancer and doctors removed some of these cancerous cells. These were then used to make an immortalised cell line, known as HeLa cells. Whilst Lacks may no longer be here, her legacy lives on in the invaluable research her cells have enabled.

3. Marie Curie

Curie to this day remains not only the only women but in fact the only person to have ever been awarded two Nobel prizes in two separate Scientific Fields. In a time when women were often not even allowed to go to university (Curie was in fact denied admission based on her gender), this was and still is a truly exceptional achievement! I think Curie is an inspirational character, who was able to overcome great prejudice to become one of the most prominent and influential Scientists of all time.

Details of the King’s Women in Science Scholarships Scheme can be found here:

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/nms/WomeninScience/Women-in-Science-Scholarships.aspx

The scholarship is worth £3000 and to apply, you will need to write an essay on a woman from the field of Science or Engineering, detailing their life and work.