Adapting to the British education system

Author: LeeAnn

Transitioning to a new school system is difficult, especially in a foreign country. Luckily, your tutors and induction program will give you all of the information you need about grading, assignments, exams, and anything else relevant to the education system here in England. Some of the major challenges I personally faced when I first arrived in the UK included: getting used to the different grading scale and the assignment timeline. While I’m able to understand my grades quite easily when I get back papers or exams now, I still need to check the actual grading scale sometimes since it’s so drastically different than what I’m used to from home. In many cases, an assignment may be returned to you with a grading scale on it that breaks down why you earned a certain score. This is extremely useful for understanding your score and for future improvements. Additionally, the way grading works here was foreign to me when I first arrived. Each assignment must be turned in at an academic centre and is then graded by multiple individuals who must agree on a mark. I find this system very fair, however it is quite slow and you must wait a few weeks before an assignment or exam is returned to you.

studying

Furthermore, it also took a bit of time to get used to the assignment timeline in the UK. Before arriving at KCL, I was used to having assignments for every class each week. However, in my experience in the UK, there are fewer assignments per class. This means a bit more self-motivation is necessary in order to get the most out of every course you take. This self-directed learning can be very rewarding because it allows you to explore the material interesting to you in the most depth, while still garnering an overview of the material. Some ways to motivate yourself include setting up meetings with your tutors to further discuss the material or forming study groups. I prefer study groups to revising alone anyway, because it promotes positive socialization and helps you to get a much more well-rounded view on the topic at hand. Sometimes the unique perspectives of your friends or peers can deepen your understanding of a course on an unexpected new level.

Overall, I haven’t found it to be too hard to acclimate to the British education system, it just took an open mind and little bit of adjustment! However, I come from an English-speaking country, which made it much easier for me to adapt. If you are coming from a country where the primary language is not English or you are finding it especially challenging to succeed in your modules due to the language, I would suggest finding a group of students who are in the same situation as you so that you can all support each other. Additionally, the more time you spend with students who natively speak English, the more you will improve. It also never hurts to ask your friends questions about the language or to help you review your work for spelling and grammar – most people won’t mind a bit. Finally, remember that London is a very diverse city and that everyone finds their place here!

#MedicLife

Author: Rachel

The intense lifestyle of doctors is not an unknown fact. The unsociable hours, the emotional drain, and the constant pressure of handling a human life, is not a hidden secret, but one that separates those that are in it for the wealth, and those that have passion driving them for the long haul.

Whenever referring to certain missed social or extracurricular events due to assignments or full teaching weeks, the hashtag #mediclife is often dropped into instagram or snapchat photos of late-night studying sessions.

For this week, I thought that it would be a good idea to give a brief overview of what life as a pre-clinical medical student is like at King’s, and what an average week would consist of.

We receive approximately 10 lecture-teachings a week, with 3 to 4 sessions of focused teaching that can be based in the dissection lab, the clinical skills centres, or just a classroom-based tutorial.

                                                             On any average day, lectures usually start at 9am, averaging 3-4 hours of lecture Exerciseteachings a day, with one tutorial or dissection lab to complete. I am usually home around 6-7pm after a few hours in the library, and I then go off for a quick jog or attend one of the fitness sessions offered by many of the societies, and end with a nice dinner.

With 35 societies alone dedicated to students with degrees related to the health profession, events will come up at least once a week. I am currently the Publicity and Campaigns Officer for the King’s College London Friends of MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres – Doctors without Borders), meaning I would spent approximately 2-3 hours a week on average designing posters, creating Facebook events or updating social media accounts.

Certain weekends allow a day off to explore the city of London. Just this past Saturday, a friend and I managed to drop by the Natural History Museum, revising our human biology on the way. Otherwise, the library on a Sunday evening becomes busy again with people meeting Monday deadlines.

Natural History Museum

#MedicLife may be used to describe the days when timetabling has created exhaustive days, but life as a medical student is not as intense as the 4am study nights that some may exaggerate to be. Life as a university student alone, requires a lot more self-discipline and self-motivated independent learning, but with the right balance between work and play, good time management skills will allow anyone to make the most out of their studies here in London.

Budgeting & Accommodation

Author: LeeAnn

As an international student, there are a number of things you need to think about before even arriving in the UK. First, it is important to think about finances and funding. If you are from the USA and you need to take out loans, you might start with FAFSA and decide to apply for GradPLUS loans through the government. However, you may want to look elsewhere because GradPLUS loans tend to have relatively high interest rates. Therefore you might want to consider private banks, such as Sallie Mae, if you have someone who is willing to co-sign your loans for you. Just keep in mind that some US banks will only let you use their loans for schools within the US. If you are from another country, please research other relevant funding options. Make sure to create a budget for yourself that includes tuition (can be found for your course on the KCL website), accommodation and set up, food, transportation, and “fun money.” Fun money can include any club fees, travel, gym memberships, clothes shopping, etc. I would recommend budgeting for a little more than you think you will need since, more likely than not, you’ll spend more than you expect to.

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Next, you should consider accommodation. Living on campus is a good option because it is very simple. After applying, you wait a few weeks and then are told which accommodation you have been allocated. All relevant information, including cost for your budget, is online and relatively easy to locate (more info here) On campus housing takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation and provides you with a cost that includes everything so you won’t need to worry about additional bills. If you decide you want to live off campus, KCL has a number of advisors and links that can help you to get in touch with potential roommates and landlords.(more info here)

It can be overwhelming to deal with all of these things, especially when you are so far away from KCL. However, the information on budgeting and accommodation is all online and there is contact information for advisors if you ever feel lost. As long as you are diligent and take each piece step by step, you should feel confident that you will budget well and find housing suitable for you.