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!