Undergraduate student, Nina Olshan from the Department of International Development shares her top tips for life at King’s.
"I’m an international student from Baltimore, Maryland, USA. I’ve learnt to navigate my way through the higher education system over the past two years – I’ve found that there is always a balancing and re-balancing of priorities as a student, and it can be hard to make space outside of your degree. However, we only have three, maybe four, rather short years here!
So here is my advice for getting the most out of your degree:
1. Take advantage of your resources
Getting to know my personal tutor well has been essential to my experience at university so far (I’ve been able to take a class with mine and do some research). It’s a real gift to feel like there's someone you can rely on – plus they write our recommendations. If you don’t get along with your personal tutor, see if you can switch, and continue to foster relationships with other staff members.
I encourage you to make the effort to visit professors during their office hours. I’ve tried to cultivate relationships with the people I find inspiring. It can be scary to just turn up at a professor’s door, but I go with a question or two (or an interesting idea) and that is usually enough to get a conversation going.
There are a lot of academic resources available to you on campus, like online journals (JSTOR has a very special place in my heart) and even the library itself. Librarians are great (A+), can help with research and are usually happy to talk about books. Plus, King’s libraries have a really amusing twitter account!
2. Use and explore campus facilities
There are all kinds of useful spaces on campus. I like the music practice rooms, which I got access to just by asking. I am sure there are other niche spaces depending on your interests. It is also pretty straight forward to book a room for a meeting or a study session. There are many desks and sofas in Bush House, where I’m based, that are great for some quick revision or even relaxing between classes. I’ve found knowing where to go very comforting and it makes me feel more connected to the university community.
3. Utilise student services and attend student events
King’s runs a ton of student learning and educational sessions. Through student services, you can arrange a research skills workshop, get maths help, or book a one-on-one writing session. There are also the career services, the visa advice service (for international students), and specific sessions like budgeting, stress management or renting advice. You have to sort through all of the offerings because there are loads of useful options.
4. Talk to other students
I don’t mean just the ones in your course or year. Older students are such a good source for advice – they have just done what you are doing (I asked two third-year students about their modules before choosing mine – it was really helpful). PhD students can also be an excellent resource, especially if you’ve had them as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) and want to build on that connection. This is something that I’m trying to do because I feel it helps me to do more original research.
King’s is a huge university, so it can take time and effort to bond with students outside of your course. Taking classes outside of my department, participating in King’s schemes and reaching out to relevant societies has helped me a lot.
5. Look out for King's Experience Awards and other schemes
A fair number of students participate in the King’s Experience Awards, but I think even more should. I’ve made really good friends (I might even do collaborative research with one of them in the future). It can also be a nice way to get recognition from the university on your initiatives outside of your studies, like volunteering work or King’s global experience. There are several different options and none of them are too demanding.
There’s also the King’s Legal Clinic, which provides free legal advice and King’s cultural programmes, like exhibitions. Again, it takes work to poke around and find what’s most relevant, but I think it’s worth it. There’s so much on offer at King’s, all it takes is some initiative to get involved and build community."