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)

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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)

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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!

What not to miss as a new student in London

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StrandcampusMap

King’s Senior International Officer, Stephanie Limuaco, wrote a blog contribution for Study London – the Mayor of London’s arm for promoting the city as a higher education destination!

We’re ready to welcome you to London with open arms, and universities like King’s College London make it possible for you to make the most of the city from the moment you arrive. In this article, learn how to navigate the city centre and instantly become a Londoner!

Read more here

5 Social Tips for International Students

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Your suitcase is crammed with everything from kitchen appliances to your favourite stuffed animal, your new shoes are polished and ready to trample the streets of London, and you’ve packed every local delicacy that has ever existed in your hometown for the pangs of homesickness that will inevitably strike you. “So, what’s next?”, you might ask yourself. Well, there really isn’t anything else you need to do at this stage, but if you want to be one step ahead of everyone else, here are some tips I’ve compiled that might help to give you a kick-start. The first chunk of this 2-part series will focus on the social aspects of being a student, whereas the next one will be slightly more general.

If you’re stepping foot onto foreign soil for the first time, it’ll be absolutely normal for you to experience some form of apprehension as you wander through the city looking for a familiar face. However, what’s important to keep in mind is that you’re far from being the only international student in the university, and that you’re actually part of a diverse group of individuals who hail from all corners of the world.

A great way to meet new acquaintances (and hopefully, besties) would be to attend the orientation parties held in student halls during the first move-in days. Get to know your housemates as well, and if any of them are locals they’ll be able to lend you a hand in familiarising yourself with the city. You’ll be staying with them for an entire year, so it’s certainly important to build a good rapport with them early on. Nevertheless, in the unlikely event that you don’t enjoy staying at your current residence, you can swap your room with someone else’s after a month – it’s as simple as filling in a form!

You might also want to partake in several Welcome Week events organised by KCLSU, such as pub quizzes, picnics and campus tours. One of the main thing I was worried of before coming here was that I would be excluded from social events since I don’t drink alcohol, but I found that to be entirely untrue! Pubs and bars were rather foreign to me, and I was genuinely afraid of entering them solely due to my fear of the unknown. However, I’ve realised that they’re essentially just more casual versions of restaurants, and non-drinkers can always order an alternative beverage such as fruit juices and nobody will disparage you for doing that. If they do, then they clearly aren’t worthy of being your friends, wouldn’t you agree?

I can’t emphasise my next tip more — attend the Welcome Fair at the Barbican! It was literally a life-changer for my university experience, as it led me to join numerous societies that have been a huge part of my life these two years. As its name suggests, the Welcome Fair puts all King’s societies on display in one massive venue, and the best part is that you’re free to browse through all of them at your own leisure. You might even encounter several societies that you had not previously been exposed to and who knows? You could end up uncovering a hidden talent that might take you all the way to the bright lights of the West End.

Whilst you’re at the fair, I would also recommend scouting and joining your country’s dedicated society at King’s (if there is one). When everything seems all too foreign, it can feel very comforting to know a group of your fellow countrymen who are in the exact predicament as you, and can understand exactly what you’re going through. Besides, one of them can probably whip up a convincingly authentic meal from back home, so that’s a plus! Also, don’t forget to pick up your very own NUS card which would typically be sold at the fair – it’ll get you many student discounts for a variety of essential items and services.

Lastly, attend your induction! King’s has designed a ‘Welcome to King’s Guide’ this year which you can download onto your device. I’ll leave you to peruse that while I put on the final touches for the sequel to this article. Make sure to check that out later!

5 General Tips for International Students

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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

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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!

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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Musings of a Pharmacy Student

boey and mpharm students

Author: Yik Ming Boey

Often unfairly perceived by the general public as being mindless vending machines or more unflatteringly, “drug dealers”, pharmacists are in actuality an integral part of the healthcare system.

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Making the city your own

hoxton hotel coffee pic

Author: Bea

There is this tote bag that took up residence in one of my old drawers – I think it was handed to me forever ago, throughout Freshers Week in my first year and the print on it says: LONDON IS MY CAMPUS. As cheesy as that may sound, it is also true! Sure, King’s is not a campus uni – it is located right in the heart centre of this buzzing and vibrant city, and honestly, I think that makes everything just so much more exciting! Let’s say you are on the look out for some good study spots, and of course the university offers you spaces like libraries and common rooms, but why not mix it up and really go out and explore London, find your new favourite café, for instance, that in one way or another you can call your own!

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