Welcome and Invest in Relationships

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Feeling nervous about building new social connections? Don’t stress, you won’t be the only one!  It’s daunting to find yourself in a new environment, potentially without the friends and family who’ve been your anchor points over the last years close by and this is something that many new students are experiencing.  It’s worth remembering at this point that you’re entering into a community of almost 30,000 students from over 150 countries and are perfectly poised to meet a new and diverse range of people who could become friends for life.  That’s pretty special.

Invest in Relationships Challenge: Accommodation

So, how can you start to build a social network?  If you’re in uni accommodation, that’s a good place to start. Even if you don’t end up being close friends, it’s still better to be on first name and friendly terms in a convivial atmosphere than passing ships in the corridor.  That said, have a look at some of these challenges below and don’t forget to buy and print your NUS card at the Welcome Fair to take advantages of student discounts while you socialise:

  • Knock and introduce. Take a deep breath and go and knock on the doors of everyone around you in halls.  Say ‘hi’, introduce yourself and, if you get a good vibe, see if they fancy meeting up for coffee/going to an event together such as our Welcome Marquee takeovers on the 21st at Strand (10am-7.30pm) and the 22nd at Guy’s (10am-3pm).

Wilmington DE © @timsavageYou just never know if the person behind the next door will turn out to be a great friend.  In any case, we bet it won’t be as scary as knocking on these doors!

  • The communal meal. Are you in accommodation with a shared kitchen?  Why not get everyone together for some chips and dips and drinks, or a meal if you’re feeling adventurous and get to know each other.  Don’t worry if your culinary skills aren’t up to much just yet; it’s all a learning process and many a uni friendship has been forged over experimental meals in the communal kitchen!

food small Lacking in the culinary skills department? No need to worry!  You won’t be alone!

  • Keep saying ‘hi’. Cut your flatmates a little slack if they don’t initially appear all that friendly.  They may just be taking a little while to acclimatise, so don’t write them off.  Keep being friendly and offer them the chance to come out of their shell when they’re ready.

Don’t forget that your Residence Associates (RA’s) will be putting on social and community-building events throughout the year in your halls – the perfect opportunity to get to know your new neighbours.

Trying new activities

Uni is the perfect time to try out new activities and from bhangra to Dr.  Who, tea drinking, to social justice, there is a KCLSU society for absolutely everyone. If you’re a bit nervous about going, just remember that this is the time of year when most new members join, so you’ll be in the same boat as a lot of other students.  You’ll come across societies recruiting at the Welcome Fair and around campus – they want you there!  And don’t be afraid to try something new.  If you find it’s not for you, you haven’t lost out, but you may just awaken a hitherto undiscovered passion or talent.

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Who’s to know what new passions and talents might be unleashed at the KCLSU Welcome Fair!

Aside from societies, don’t forget that there are other social events all year round within your academic departments, halls and Student Services.   Anyone staying in London over the winter holiday period can also make use of the Global Lounge provided by International Advice.

For a weekly get-together in an informal and friendly environment, why not check out the chaplaincy international lunch, running on each campus every week, aimed at bringing together international and home students of all faiths and none.  Whatever your faith background and nationality, you can be assured of a warm welcome.  Whoever said there was no such thing as a free lunch was very much mistaken!

Keep investing

Amidst the hubbub of freshers’ week and finding your feet with balancing academic work with social time, take some time out to reflect on your support network before KCL. Who in your life do you truly value; which relationships mean the world to you, are supportive and a force for positivity in your life?  Once you’ve reflected; whether this be friends, family, significant other, think about how you can continue to invest in these relationships even if there may be distance between you.

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9f84f38168542230d3d27c1e1b466bfdIt’s a common thing to worry about how a significant life change like going to uni might affect the dynamics of our relationships, but with Skype, WhatsApp, snapchat and student travel discounts, you needn’t feel far removed.  You can actually have the best of both worlds as you continue to nurture your prior relationships and broaden your social circle at King’s.

Keep Investing Challenge: Reach Out

So, why not reach out now?  Think of your super 5 supporters, who you know always have your back and write them down.  Send them all a card to let them know you’re thinking of them, drop them a text or a WhatsApp message and let them know how you’re getting on.

Moving into Uni Halls

A warm welcome to all of our new King’s students!  And greetings to our returnees; it’s great to see you  back for the new academic year.  We hope this blog post finds you well and settling into your new lodgings.  One of the big adjustments you’re probably making is communal living; it can be nerve-racking to move in with new people!  But just remember, it’s OK to be nervous and everyone’s in the same boat.  Be sure to introduce yourself to your flatmates and neighbours in halls, try and organise something social early on to break the ice and take advantage of any events organised by your RA’s. 

Fortunately for us, Claire, one of our Student Money Mentors and prolific blog writer, is back this academic year with her top tips for making the most of uni, written in her own inimitable style.  First on the list is her take on life in halls and she’ll be back again shortly with some advice for cooking on a budget, so check back again soon!

Not everyone will move into Halls at university. My parents called it ‘digs’, which made me laugh as it made me think I would be living in a literal hole. Luckily, although some apartments may be small, none of them are buried in the ground. There are a few things you ought to do when you first move in though, and a few things to be prepared for.

  1. Someone will steal your food

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Whether it is because they are desperate and have run out of everything in their cupboard, or (more likely) when they have come back late from a night out and are peckish, one day you will wake up and your packet of biscuits you keep as a treat will be finished.

Do not panic.

Yes it is annoying and yes you will hate your flatmates for a bit while you mourn your bourbons, but in the end, it is only biscuits. If they are true friends, they will buy you a pack in compensation afterwards, if not, forgive and forget – save your grudges for bigger things

2. Label your Saucepans

It may seem childish to think that this is ‘mine’ and this is ‘yours’ but it is very easy to get mixed up, and if you bought an expensive non stick Tefal pan, then you don’t want someone burning their sausages and eggs on it and not washing it up. Especially if you are a vegan and can’t eat eggs nor sausages.

The same goes if you have allergies. You don’t want someone storing their walnuts in your plastic container when you have a nut allergy – that is nut cool (get it? XP Okay I will stop). When you move in, make sure you let your flatmates know about anything like that so they can be considerate.

3. Be Fair

Loo roll and washing up liquid can start a lot of arguments. Be honest, and if you haven’t chipped in for a while, take the initiative and buy the next set. Make a rota if you have to, but don’t be the person everyone hates because you always take and never give back. You want your parents to be proud of the person they brought up.

  1. Stay Positive

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Don’t make snap judgements. When you got to university, you are going to meet so many new people so keep an open mind. You will click with some people and less with others, but make sure you approach everyone with an open mind. Try going to Football Try-Outs even if you haven’t played for half a decade, or join the Board Games Night because it may be a lot of fun. The welcome period is when you can dip your toe into so many new experiences, so grasp that opportunity

  1. Invest in an eye mask and ear plug

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If you are a light sleeper, it is worth investing in these. The curtains and walls in Halls can often be quite thin. You may think you can survive a few nights on less than 4 hours sleep but they stack up very quickly and coffee can only do so much.

Trust me, you will enjoy uni a lot more with a decent night’s sleep. If that means having a cuddly teddy from childhood, do it!

Student Support Spotlight: Disability Advisory Service

In this month’s Student Support Spotlight, Assistant Disability Advisor Shaalinie Sivalingham outlines her own role within the Disability Advisory Service and how the team can support students with disabilities during their time at King’s. Shaalinie also fills us in on some of the special events and projects the team has been working on this year, in particular two events which aimed to ease the transition process for new students and help them make the most of their time at KCL.

I am one of three Assistant Disability Advisers (ADA) based in the Disability Advisory Service (DAS).  To find out more about DAS, please do check out our service introduction video on King’s College London YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z_WedxQRwo.

As an ADA,  my priorities as are to be as easily accessible as possible to assist with quick queries such as disability funding and applying for Personal Examination Provisions, to promoting the range of internal support available such as on line resources and group study skills workshops.  In addition, I am here to meet with students who may wish to have a chat about study-related difficulties.  Starting in the New Year, we will be offering drop-in services across the four main campuses to help answer immediate concerns.  These will mainly take place in the library Pod spaces and more information can be found at:

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/disability/howwecanhelp/appointmentsdropins.aspx

I also work on transition and engagement projects.  During August and September, our service delivered two transition events for incoming disabled students.  The first event took place at the end of August and supported students who had declared a mental health condition or autistic spectrum condition.  Seventeen students came along during the day and took part in taster sessions delivered by King’s Sport, Wellbeing, mentoring services, with around ten experiencing a night in student accommodation and enjoyed an evening social event.   This gave students the opportunity to reflect on living away from home.

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Session on healthy snacking delivered by the Nutrition and Dietetics Society at our transition event

The later transition event invited incoming mobility or sight-impaired students to settle into their halls of residence up to a week ahead of the main enrolment period.  The two day programme included a student ambassador-led alternative campus tour, a library induction from the disability lead, interactive activities introduced by Ben Hunt, President of KCLSU and led by three societies; Dietetics and Nutrition, Magic and Hypnosis and Drama Improvisation!  Representatives from Transport for London Mentoring Service accompanied students to Blackfriars Station and shared the accessible features available and their top tips for navigating around London. The Royal London Society for Blind People gave a talk on using access technology and shared details of their London based social groups.  The option to access early enrolment was offered to both groups.

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A wet alternative campus tour led by the Student Ambassadors. We were warmed up by complementary coffee provided by Fleet Street Press!

At King’s we have approximately 2,745 students who identify as having a disability.  Just to clarify, disability for us includes students with long term medical or mental health             conditions and specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia.  If you have a diagnosed condition and are experiencing difficulties but have yet to engage with the team, please do contact us to discuss possible support options to help with your engagement with your course.  Similarly, if you are experiencing difficulties with your studies, come and discuss the barriers to your engagement to see if there may be support solutions that will help.  I like to think that we are a friendly team and we offer confidential appointments in person, by telephone and Skype!

If you have questions about anything covered in this blog or you would like to share your experience of accessing support with us, please contact me through phone 020 78488571, email, disability@kcl.ac.uk.   Alternatively, if you happen to be near to the Strand Campus, pop into our office which is located within Student Services, floor minus 1, Macadam Building or come along to a drop in.

Healthy Eating on the Go

Sometimes, when we’re in the middle of a busy period at university or work, it can seem difficult to make room for the things we need to do to look after our well-being.  However, with a little forethought and planning, there are steps that we can take to practise self-care even when things get hectic.  In this post, student dietitians Harriet, Elisabeth and Caroline aka Fight The Fads share some of their top tips for eating healthily (and fitting in some all-important exercise) on the go.

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 Top tips for healthy eating for busy people and busy lives:

We’ve just finished our first clinical placement shadowing dietitians in busy London hospitals.

This got us thinking about how hard it is to stick to a healthy schedule if you work nights, regularly do shift work or are just generally a very busy student. Often time restraints mean fitting in exercise is hard and less healthy convenience foods are the easiest choice.

So we’ve put together some tips on how to stay healthy when you work long shifts:

Healthy Snack Ideas

When you’re tired you’re more likely to reach for junk food because it’s easier. This is why it’s really important to have healthy snacks on hand.

-Celery, carrots, cucumber sticks with dip (hummus, salsa, raita)

-Walnuts and radishes – sounds weird but actually a good combination!

-Chunks of apple and cheese – we prefer plain cheddar, but feta or brie is also great

-Yogurt with fresh fruit

-Oatcakes and peanut butter

– Cereal bars: choose carefully!

Stick to bars that have a sugar and fat content of less than 5g / 100g

Stay hydrated

-Thirst is often confused for hunger so can be a cause of over eating

-Take a refillable bottle of water to work with you

– If you find water boring try adding red berries or mint and cucumber to jazz it up a bit

Exercise when you can

– It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you do, just making a small effort will make all the difference

-If you have a job that means you sit for long periods of time- try standing up at your desk while you’re on the phone or writing emails – it all makes a difference!

-Find stairs at work and walk up and down them a few times during your shift.

-You could even bust out a few lunges while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil!

Night Shifts

-If you can roughly stick to the ‘regular’ meal times then even better!

-If you are working the night shift try eating breakfast as soon as you get home, lunch when you wake up and dinner before you start work.

-You can then pack healthy snacks to take to work and incorporate protein into these so you stay feeling full.

-Eating large meals during the night can cause heartburn, gas, or constipation. It can also make you feel sleepy and sluggish. Be careful not to overeat on the job.

-Implementing a schedule and sticking to it day by day will help your body get into a routine and your metabolism will be running smoothly if it has regular feeding times.

-It can be hard at first but try not to skip meals, this will only slow down your metabolism and leave you feeling tired and grumpy.

Plan your meals

-Planning and pre-preparing all your meals is key to eating healthy on a busy schedule- this can also help you save money as you only buy the foods you know you will use from the supermarket.

-The last thing you want to be doing is cooking when you are tired and hungry, so it’s easy to go for less healthy ready meals or snacks when you get home.

-Cook as much as you can beforehand so that all you have to do is heat up your food when you get home (or wake up if you’re working night shifts)

-This can be doing things such as grilling chicken breast, steaming vegetables, boiling rice/ pasta. It helps to do this for a few days in advance so you aren’t spending time each day doing it. We normally do one cooking day on Sunday and another on Wednesday when we are at university.

 

 

Student Support Spotlight: Private Accommodation, House Hunting and Flatmate Finding

Finding private accommodation in London can feel daunting as you move from either living at home, university halls or even from renting outside of London or the UK. The Student Advice Team Housing Advisors are here to help you to understand how to find somewhere to rent, what your options are and to provide you with information about what you should look out for. We are also here to support you if things go wrong.

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This is a busy time for students looking for somewhere to live, so we have a lot going on over the next few weeks to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Further information about what is on offer is detailed below:

Private Housing Helpdesk now open! – 24 August-6 September

Trained Student Services Ambassadors and Housing Advisors are available to speak to you about private accommodation. We can offer general information and guidance about searching plus more specialist support and advice can be requested, so please feel free to get in touch with any questions you may have.

Contract checking is available as part of the Helpdesk Service – please contact us to check availability.

You can drop-in and see us between 12.30-16.30 on Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Thursdays* at G05 Henriette Raphael House, Guy’s Campus.

You can also call us on: 020 7848 6860 or email us at housing@kcl.ac.uk


Private Accommodation Live Chats:

Offered as part of the Helpdesk service we will be available to speak to you online from 2pm-4pm on Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Thursdays*

*there is some variation of opening times throughout Welcome Week (19-24 Sep) so please check http://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/student-advice-support/how/housing/helpdesk.aspx for full details.

Flatmate Finder events:

Join us for a chance to meet fellow King’s students looking for somewhere to live or who have spare rooms available. Chat house-hunting and get to know each other over refreshments.

Thursday 1 September – 15.00-17.00 (Strand Campus – Registration at KCLSU lobby, Level -2 Macadam Building)
This event includes a private housing talk by a University of London Housing Advisor.

Click here to book a place at this event

Thursday 8 September – 15.00-17.00 (Strand Campus – Registration at KCLSU lobby, Level -2 Macadam Building)
This event includes a private housing talk by a University of London Housing Advisor.

Click here to book a place at this event

Monday 19 September – 17.00-18.00 (Strand Campus – Registration at S-2.23)
This event will be running as part of the weeks Welcome activities. It will follow the private accommodation talk.

Click here to book a place at this event

Tuesday 20 September – 18.00-19.30 (Guy’s Campus – Registration at Henriette Raphael House, Function Room)
This event will be running as part of the weeks Welcome activities. It will follow the private accommodation talk.

Click here to book a place at this event

Unable to attend a Flatmate Finder event?

You can join our KCL Flatmate Finder Facebook group which is open to current and prospective King’s students. The Flatmate Finder group is in place to provide a forum for students to find other students looking for accommodation and flatmates.

(Note that we do not endorse any property or room so you need to exercise the same caution as you would if you found an ad on another website/group).

To join the group please complete this form and then send a request through Facebook by clicking the link at the bottom of the form.

ULHS House Hunting Days

The University of London Housing Services are also hosting two house-hunting days in September which are open to University of London Students. Full details here: http://housing.london.ac.uk/events

Term time support:

We are still available to support you during term time when the helpdesk closes.

Private accommodation information is available on our website: www.kcl.ac.uk/housing

We also have weekly drop-ins across campus where you can come and speak to an advisor without an appointment. Times and locations are listed here – the updated timetable will be available shortly:
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/student-advice-support/StudentAdvicedrop-ins.aspx

Alternatively, you can complete an Online Enquiry Form: www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/student-advice-support/contact.aspx

A member of the Advice team will then assist you with your enquiry based on your preferences. We offer appointments face to face, over the phone and even via Skype!

If you have a housing-related enquiry you can email housing@kcl.ac.uk and we will be happy to answer any questions you might have.