13 September 2021
10 things I wish I'd known before starting at King's
Niharika Talwar, second year BA International Relations student
Here’s a quick crash course on everything you need to know before you start your actual degree!
1. Everyone is in the same boat
Meeting new people and putting yourself out there is as much a part of your university experience as the academics is. However, with making new friends, comes an unsaid fear of looking ‘stupid’, ’dumb’ or being ‘too much’. This is my reminder to you that everyone around you is feeling the same emotions, is equally as nervous, and has the same drive for meeting new people!
So, don’t be afraid of messaging that girl off the group chat to go out for a coffee. It is not embarrassing to direct message that person on Instagram and asking to meet up! In most cases, your text will brighten someone’s day and they will definitely be down to hang out.
Topping it all off, one unstated fact of university social life is that embarrassing instances occupy a lifespan of a maximum of one week in people’s brains, so in the bigger picture, you have nothing to lose!
2. Every passion can be fuelled at King's
The day you got into Kings, you automatically put yourself in a sea of opportunities. There is a student society for everything under the sun – be it Harry Potter, skiing, board games or the ukulele! If you cannot find something that interests you out of the 300 student groups, guess what, you can start your very own! The King’s College London Student Union is a great place to begin. Oh, and don’t forget, at King’s, you don’t necessarily have to be perfect at something to join it.
3. There is a solution for almost every problem
University life really isn’t all rainbows and sunshine, and you will probably figure this out a week into it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Remember that as first year students, you’re not meant to know how to figure everything out. You are not alone at all because there is ample support available. A quick browse through the Student Services webpages will signpost you to the relevant help, be it mental health support, disability support, housing advice or financial issues. If you are unsure of where to begin, get in contact with your personal tutor, peer mentor, or just call the Advice and Guidance Team at + 44 (0)20 7848 7001. All you need to do is reach out!
4. Not everyone is as smart as you think
It’s common to fall victim to Impostor Syndrome when you are constantly surrounded by students from the top of their class from all over the world. Especially as international students, the new system can seem a bit overwhelming, but do not forget that everyone really is in the same boat! You hold the honour of coming to one of the best universities in the world and just the fact that you made it to King’s shows your worth. Just because, everyone around you is having intelligent conversations that you don’t have much knowledge about, it doesn’t mean that you have to feel small or like any less of a person. Your sole purpose here is to learn more!
5. You are housed in one of the best cities of the world
Take it from someone who absolutely loathes overcast skies and rain – the charm of London really does make up for the outrageous weather. The thing about this city is, you can never be bored here, there is always something to do, even if you’re on a tight budget. Take a walk along South Bank, window shop at Oxford Street, consume the views as you cross Tower Bridge, go to the free exhibitions at Tate Modern or the National History Museum – the list is endless! My favourite activity to do in London is to just sit in the park (raincoat and all) and simply people watch. There really are some interesting characters here!
6. Be conscious about money
In the buzz of it all, it is easy to forget that London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. I cannot possibly count the number of times that looking at my Barclays app after a night out in the city, has made me skip a heartbeat. However, going that extra step and watching your spending habits can save you hundreds of pounds!
Always ask for student discounts wherever you go. From apps like Spotify to stores like Waterstones, student discounts are quite common. Walk everywhere as much as possible and make sure that you get a Student Oyster Card for when you do use public transport. Get a Tesco Clubcard for your weekly food shop and a Pret subscription to save up on all the money that you may spend on coffee. Maintain a weekly budget and note down your daily expenses.
7. Make use of office hours
Make your personal tutor your BFF. Need I say more! In War Studies, no questions are dumb so approach your seminar leaders, lecturers and module convenors. Everyone is here to help you and support you to make the most of your learning experience. So, chat to your teachers whether online or in-person.
8. Do you referencing as you go
Trust me, the best way to make your life easier is to just do your referencing as you’re writing your essay. Be it the Harvard style or Chicago style, don’t leave it for the end! Referencing can be a bit tricky sometimes so make sure you follow the specific guidelines for your course before you embark on the crazy journey that referencing is.
9. Eat well
It can be easy to forget to take care of yourself in the midst of all the wonderful new things that are happening to you, but it is very important to look after your body and your mind.
When they say ‘health is wealth’, they are not kidding. Listen to your mum when she says take your vitamins and eat your greens. Practising some basic self-care habits like drinking two litres of water a day, walking 10,000 steps a day and eating a balanced diet, can really go a long way.
10. Take a breather
Lastly but most importantly, give yourself credit and cut yourself some slack. You’re doing big things and you deserve to pat yourself on the back. Things can be overwhelming and tough, but remember that in the end it's all going to work out how it is meant to and there is ample support available if needed. Now go get ‘em tiger!