Elizabeth’s Guide To Britain

Elizabeth’s Completely Biased Guide to the Best Cities to Visit in Britain

In the five months or so I’ve spent in England, I’ve done my fair share of travelling around Britain. There’s not a place I didn’t enjoy going, but there are definitely cities I preferred over others. So if you ever find yourself in not-so-sunny Britain, I’ve compiled an extremely biased guide to the best places to visit and the best things to do there!

  1. Sheffield, England

Best things to do: Cathedral was lovely, if you’re an Arctic Monkeys fan (like my flatmate, hence the reason for our trip) there’s the pub they played their first gig, the town hall is pretty to look at, and the Winter Garden is great!

Why it’s number 14: it was perfect for a day trip, but there was nothing stand-out that we did while we were there, not helped by the grey weather that plagued us the whole day, it doesn’t have buildings as pretty as cities like York and fewer cute little shops to walk around

 

  1. Liverpool, England

Best things to do: World Museum (incl. a little aquarium and an exhibit on Māori in New Zealand!), walking around the Albert Dock and the lock gates, and the Beatles Museum (I actually didn’t go but obviously if you’re a big Beatles fan you should go!), I also loved walking by the ocean – for the first time since I’d arrived in England ocean (even in the hail that started while I was walking)!

Why it’s number 13: a rainy day puts a dampener even in the best of cities and it certainly did with Liverpool, while I really enjoyed the museum, I’m not a huge Beatles fan and most of the tourist stuff seemed to be geared towards that. I’m also pretty sure I was the only tourist in Liverpool on the day I was there start of January. I was busy taking pictures of the beautiful old buildings by the train station and got odd stares from everyone who walked past me.

  1. Nottingham, England

After four months in Nottingham, I’ve got a lot of recommendations on what to do if ever stumble across it.

Best things to do: Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (oldest pub in England!), walking around the lake at the University (definitely the prettiest part of the city), Wollaton Park (where they filmed Wayne Manor for the Dark Knight Rises and I only visited for the first time two days before I left even though it’s only a 15-minute walk from my flat, it’s also got deer!), Greenhood Coffee in Beeston (purely because it’s my favourite café), Nottingham castle is perhaps the least exciting castle I’ve been to but if you’ve got a couple of hours to kill you might as well!

 

Why it’s number 12: Nottingham will always be my favourite city in the UK. But the reasons I love it (the university, the people I met, the good cafes and bars we found) don’t scream for others to visit. Number one in my heart, number 12 on this list.

 

  1. Manchester, England

 Best things to do: People’s History Museum – an absolute gem! Full of political history and an exhibit on the Suffrage movement (which was unfortunately closed when I went there), Old Trafford if you’re a Manchester United fan obviously (but I didn’t go so I can’t tell you how good it was)

To be honest that was about the extent of my ‘things I did’ in Manchester despite going multiple times throughout my exchange. I’ve got family who live just outside of Manchester so I made lots of day drips into the city when I went to visit them in Oldham. But because I was with them I didn’t do a lot of sightseeing or touristy things (mostly just ate, drank, and was merry). I also don’t have any pictures at all of Manchester which is absolutely terrible!

 Why it’s number 11: first and foremost, Manchester is a big city, with lots of great shopping and incredible food, but I didn’t find there to be much great sights to see or tourist things to do (although there were several museums that I didn’t manage to get to that I’d go and see if I went back) – hit me up if you ever want food recs though!

  1. Lake District, England

Best things to do: going on walks and enjoying the views

Why it’s number 10: possibly the most surprising thing about moving out of New Zealand was how much NZ has ruined me for other countries. I take the beautiful landscapes for granted, when travelling around and going to places like the Lake District (and to some extent also Snowdonia and the Isle of Skye – both higher up on this list) I can’t help but feel like I’ve seen things just as beautiful (if not more so) in New Zealand, also the weather was not great which didn’t help matters at all. It was still absolutely beautiful though and I’d recommend a visit if you like nature!

  1. Glasgow, Scotland

Best things to do: god bless Glasgow: home of the best McDonalds of my life! (10/10 recommend McChicken Combo at the Argyle Street branch), visit the University (apparently wasn’t in Harry Potter, but it sure looks like it – it’s stunning!), The Stand Comedy Club (absolutely hilarious show that we saw and its reputation indicates it’s probably always this good), Gallery of Modern Art, apparently there’s another Art Museum as well which my friends went to before I arrived and adored, walking in Kelvingrove Park

 Why it’s number 9: looking back on the city there wasn’t a huge amount that stood out, I just really liked the vibe of Glasgow (and Scotland in general!), apparently the nightlife is incredible but we got unlucky and chose a rubbish club (this is one of the problems of going out while travelling)

  1. York, England

Best things to do: the Little Shambles market area (cute little cobbled streets and boutique shops), a walk around the city wall, York’s Chocolate Story (chocolate tour!!), lunch and a pint at any one of the cute pubs dotted around the city, York Minster (I didn’t have time to go inside because I was on the chocolate tour instead but my flatmate went and loved it!)

 

 Why it’s number 8: I thought York was adorable, the Old Town where we spent the day was what I’d always imagined an archetypal British town to look like: brick buildings, cobbled streets, grey skies, etc. It was also the city in the UK where all the chocolate families lived (not like Willy Wonka but ones like Terry’s and Rowntree) and there’s not much better on a town that prides itself on chocolate. There’s not tons to do there, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as more than a day trip, but the day we did have was super fun!

  1. Durham, England

Best things to do: Durham castle is really pretty and the tour is super informative and only £4 for students, Durham Cathedral is beautiful and where they filmed some of the scenes from Harry Potter (Snape walking down a corridor, Ron vomiting up slugs), and it has really cute little streets to walk around.

 Why it’s number 7: I was absolutely charmed by Durham! Really similar to York in the cobbled streets, old town England kind of vibe. The reason it beats York is because I loved the tour of the castle so much and the cathedral was really cool too! The only thing I don’t recommend is taking the 7pm train home on a Saturday night – it will be full of English people drinking, which is not very conducive when you’re trying to get your head around international child relocation law.

  1. Isle of Skye, Scotland

Best things to do: I can’t remember the exact spots but just driving around and taking in the stunning scenery that the North of Scotland has to offer! My friends and I went on a tour because public transport doesn’t really work up there, but I’d recommend taking a car if you have one/want to hire one – it would make everything so much easier.

 

Why it’s number 6: even though I just talked about how NZ has spoiled me for a lot of the nature the rest of the world has to offer, the Isle of Skye really was stunning. Just lots of really beautiful scenery meant that it had to be high up the list.

  1. Conwy and Snowdonia, Wales

 Best things to do: Conwy castle (the only thing we did besides eat lunch in Conwy but it’s awesome!) and a walk up Snowdonia

 

Why it’s number 5: I’ll be the first to admit that nature and I do not have the best track record, but goddamn it was worth my eternal suffering to see Snowdonia. It was an absolutely stunning mountain and we hiked to and up part of it on an absolutely stunning day at the end of March. Good weather + fantastic scenery = A+. Conwy castle was awesome too! It’s mostly ruins and not in use, but a fun stop on the way to Snowdonia.

  1. St Andrew’s, Scotland

Best things to do: walk around the University, visit the ruins of the Cathedral, St Andrew’s Pier, the café where Will and Kate had their first date!

 

 Why it’s number 4: I adored St Andrew’s! We went on New Year’s Eve during the day and my friend’s friend who lives there acted as a tour guide taking us around the best spots and telling us all about St Andrew’s Traditions. It was incredible because the town was nearly empty (all the students were away for the holidays) and having someone who knew where all the good spots were was amazing. I’m also in love with the Royals and so seeing all the spots Will and Kate were supposed to have hung out was definitely a highlight (the café they had their first date Northpoint also has really good food and a beyond incredible Malteasers hot chocolate)

  1. London, England

Best things to do: go to a West End show (Les Mis was the best musical I have ever seen in my life), British Museum (I only managed to do a quarter of it on my first visit and never made it back because there is so much to do in London!!), Tate Modern, Tower of London, Hyde Park – esp. Winter Wonderland if you’re there over Christmas!, the Harry Potter Studio Tour (although it’s a bit outside London), brunch anywhere in Soho (recommendation: The Breakfast Club – they have four branches around London), brunch in Notting Hill (recommendation: Farm Girl) Camden Markets, Portobello Road markets, Houses of Parliament tour if you’re into politics (I adored it), Buckingham Palace – I realise pretty much all of these are the standard tourist things to do in London but I loved them all (and London is so big that four visits still wasn’t enough to get through even the touristy stuff!)

 

Why it’s number 3: London has been my number 1 ‘To Visit’ holiday destination for as long as I can remember, and it did not disappoint. I went there four times in the five months I spent in the UK and each time there were more new and exciting things to discover. To be honest the only reason it’s not higher up on my list is because I expected London to be amazing – and it was, but I feel like my top two destinations stood out more to me because I didn’t have all these incredible expectations going in.

  1. Brighton, England

Best things to do: brunch anywhere (recommendation: New Club and Bill’s), do a day trip to the Seven Sisters and the surrounding area to go for a fantastic walk, relaxing on the beach, eating the best doughnuts of your life at Brighton Pier, Brighton Pier in general (although not the Haunted Mansion ride – the biggest waste of £4), the Royal Pavilion, wandering around the shops in the lanes

Why it’s number 2: Brighton stole my heart from the moment we checked into our amazing hostel and it has kept it ever since, there was nothing I didn’t like about this city and if a job popped up I would move there in a heartbeat. It had a relaxed and slightly hipster vibe about it that reminded me a bit of Wellington and I adored it. There was something incredibly relaxing about wandering around boutique shops all day, eating fantastic food, and then sitting on the beach enjoying the sun. (Controversial opinion: I loved the pebble beach – it would suck for swimming but is so much easier to sit on because you don’t sand everywhere)

  1. Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Best things to do:

 HOGMANAY! If you’re in Europe for New Year’s you can’t get better than Edinburgh’s annual Hogmanay Festival – complete with torchlight procession (one of my top exchange moments) ending in a spectacular firework’s display, massive street party to bring in the new year, displays of various Scottish arts (from dance to poetry to music), and finishing it all off with a traditional Scottish ceilidh on New Year’s Day in the stunning National Museum of Scotland. I cannot recommend this experience enough.

Mum’s Great Comfort Food – my favourite restaurant in Edinburgh, I have been for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Try their deluxe hot chocolates (as featured in my previous post) they’re incredible! Plus you can get traditional bangers and mash but you get to choose the flavour of your sausages and the flavour of your mash! So beautiful.

The Stand Comedy Club – there are no words to describe my love for stand-up comedy and Edinburgh is one of the best locations to do it. I wish I was there for the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival but if you’re like me and can’t make it up then (or afford it – I imagine accommodation is insane around this time) then The Stand is your next best place. I think they have comedy of some sort most nights and (as far as I’m aware) it’s always brilliant! I went twice – once for a standard Saturday night gig with more experienced comedians, and then once on a Monday for their £3 newcomers’ night. They were both hilarious shows and I would go every week if I lived close.

Enjoying a drink under Edinburgh Castle – while I found the castle itself overpriced for what it was, one of my fondest memories of Edinburgh is cracking open a couple of ciders with my friends on the lawn in front of the castle on the one sunny afternoon I got in the eight days I was in the Scottish capital

 

Walking up Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh’s hill stop has great views of the city and while it’s not an easy walk up, it’s definitely do-able in converse so it’s not like a proper hike or anything if you’re like me and fitness isn’t necessarily your strong suit.

Calton Hill – I like the views from here better than Arthur’s seat. It’s closer to the city so you see more of the buildings in detail. Plus it’s a cruisy ten minute walk from the bottom.

Edinburgh Christmas Markets – if you’re there over Christmas it’s lovely! Not much else to report other than I love Christmas so Christmas markets make me ridiculously happy.

Why it’s number 1: Edinburgh is competing with Melbourne, Barcelona, and Portland for my favourite city I’ve ever been to. Steeped in history, incredible vibe, lovely people, so much to do. I can’t recommend it enough. I went twice – in winter and spring (although it was still cold), and even though I’m a complete sun baby, I still thought it was the bees’ knees. I don’t quite know how to describe why I love Edinburgh so much, I just do. If there’s one city I recommend you go to while you’re in the UK, this one is it!

Also would 10/10 recommend going here on exchange itself if you can! We don’t have the option for law but my friend went for commerce and science and loved it. Even though Nottingham is incredible, I’m still sad I never got the option to go to Edinburgh!

It’s a wrap

Going through this post again and adding in all my pictures has just made me miss Britain even more. I can’t recommend it or the cities I’ve talked about enough! I hope this has helped you all find inspiration of the places to visit if you ever make it over to the Queen’s country. You definitely won’t regret it. Also if anyone in Edinburgh or Brighton is reading this and looking to hire a graduate law/politics/history student – I’m your girl!

Hope everyone’s exams went well!

Elizabeth

Zofia: Travel

So now, to take a proper look at one of the major reasons I (and many people) wanted to come on exchange: travelling.

I had a lot of opportunity to travel around the UK and Europe both during and after my exchange. Because I did the January to May semester at Edinburgh, I ended the exchange at the beginning of the Northern Hemisphere summer, and then had until Auckland restarted in July to explore. That being said, we also had some short mid-term and “study” breaks that us exchange students used to our advantage.

Waitangi Day London

The first bit of travelling I did was down to London for Waitangi Day. I went with two other Kiwis, and there’s a huge pub crawl organised by Kiwis in London, so we got to meet a tonne of nice people with very familiar accents.

The second mini break I took was with some exchange students during a week we had off lectures in February. We went to Brussels and Amsterdam for two nights each. We loved just wandering (and biking) around the cities, enjoying classic food like the Belgian waffles.

Amsterdam

During the Easter break, five of us decided to go on a roadtrip around Scotland. We travelled all the way up north into the highlands, visiting some friends who lived in one of the tiny highland towns. We also saw the Isle of Skye, and about ninety-four castles. Scotland is truly beautiful.

And then, quicker than I actually would have liked, my semester was over. I started off my summer with a Topdeck tour. This is a bus tour aimed at young people, where they drive you around continental Europe and you spend one or two nights in each place. It was super full on, but an incredible time. Topdeck isn’t quite as infamous as Contiki for its partying, which to be honest probably worked in its favour. I joined a two-week tour, and went from Rome, to Venice, Pag Island (Croatia), Ljubljana (Slovenia), the Austrian Alps, Prague and ended in Berlin. I had the most fantastic time, and couldn’t recommend it enough – it’s like a tasting board of Europe, so you can decide where to come back to. Fair warning, you will be absolutely exhausted by the end of it, and possibly never want to see a hostel shower again.

ParisPortoScotland roadtripTopdeckSpain

After Topdeck I met up with a friend from exchange and we did two weeks travelling around Spain and Portugal. I’d never been to Portugal before and it honestly blew me away. We had a few beach destinations (Palma de Mallorca, Malaga and Lagos) as well as some bigger cities (Seville, Lisbon and Porto). When we arrived in Porto we realised that we happened to be there for the weekend of the Festa de São João do Porto – a street festival for the patron saint of Porto. Everyone is out on the streets the whole day, cooking sardines and banging people on the head with plastic hammers (it’s meant to be a sign of affection). It was an amazing coincidence that we were there for it but if you get the chance, definitely go! It was one of the most fun days of my trip.

After Spain and Portugal, my parents and sister flew over from NZ and I met them in London. We did a two-week roadtrip around the UK, driving from Cambridge all the way up to Edinburgh and back down the other side.  It was atrocious weather, but England and Scotland are often overlooked when people choose to travel to Europe. I was glad to get the opportunity to have a look around because the UK actually has some awesome history and buildings that reflect that. That being said, I could have traded the 9-degree temperature and sheets of rain for the sun I’d been getting in Spain.

So at this point my time in Europe was nearly over, but I managed to squeeze in one more weekend in London (for the Wireless festival) and a couple of days in Paris, which was beautiful.

Wireless

Even though I’ve gone into great self-congratulatory detail on my travels, it’s also true that no matter where you go in Europe you’re going to find something amazing. Different people enjoy different things and different styles of traveling, so find someone who matches you and head off!

Ciao!

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Elizabeth: Last Post!

For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to figure out the best words to describe the exchange experience and how much it meant to me. I’ve decided there are no words that do it justice. My best advice if you want to know what it’s like is to just do it yourself – it’s the only way I can express how incredible it was to you. A bit rubbish for someone who is supposed to be telling you about how she felt about her exchange – I promise I tried really hard!

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Kayaking on Lake Brienz in Switzerland – if I had to choose, possibly my favourite place I visited

Explaining how incredible all the travel was is easy – I went to 18 countries in just over seven months and utterly adored it all. Experiencing new cultures, trying incredible new foods (French pastries and crepes are just as good clichés would have you believe – you honestly haven’t lived until you’ve gorged yourself on them for a week straight), and living it up in the sun/snow/depressingly grey overcast (or whatever weather Europe wanted to throw at me) created some of the best moments of my life. There’s just nothing like it. Watching a jaw-dropping sunset in Santorini (which I was doing almost exactly a month ago) definitely beats sitting in the law library doing an assignment on torture (which is what I’m supposed to be doing right now). It’s not really hard to convince anyone of that!

santorini

Being on exchange is more than the travel though. It’s a great excuse to go and see awe-inspiring places that you’ve been lusting over on instagram for years, but most of the memories I truly cherish are the ones with the friends I made in Nottingham; the late night conversations in our cramped flat corridor, the walks around the uni lake on a beautiful day or if I was feeling stressed, laughing at the strange things English people do, taking the piss out of each other’s accents and home-country habits (my friends mocking how I said ‘Tesco’ will forever be burned into my mind). A semester abroad gives you the opportunity to set up a whole new life for yourself in a foreign country with no one else from home around it. It sounds (and is!) terrifying but it’s also extremely freeing. It’s setting up a little life for yourself in addition to your one in New Zealand.

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My flat, slowly leaving Nottingham one by one – saying goodbye to exchange friends was definitely the saddest thing about coming back to NZ

The exchange experience in general just heightens every emotion you have in the best way possible. I expected to have fun travelling, I expected to make friends, I expected to enjoy Nottingham and all it had to offer. What I didn’t expect was how intense all these feelings and experiences were. Within a few weeks I had made friends that I felt as close to as some of my friends back home – something I never really expected but am so grateful for now. I didn’t expect Nottingham to feel like home after such a short time there. But that’s what it feels like to me now – in the same Wellington (where I’m from) and Auckland (where I’ve lived for over four years) will always feel like home to me, I think Nottingham will too. I put a lot of this down to the feeling like time was running out – knowing that you were leaving in a few months meant you found your friends and felt at home quickly because you had to so that you fully immersed yourself. I said yes to more things and put myself out there more than I ever would at home and am so thankful I did. While there were obviously low points in the seven months (like crying in an airport bathroom after an immigration officer yelled at me, getting lost for over an hour when it was -6 degrees outside twice, and getting called on in a class where I knew nothing), none of it took away from the fact I had a better time than I could have imagined. The whole exchange was a ‘best case scenario’ outcome.

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Neuschwanstein Castle, about two hours outside of Munich – the one the Disney castle is based on!

The only real advice I have for going on exchange is just telling you to do it! If you have the opportunity to do so I can’t imagine why would ever not take it up. If you’re nervous because you’ve never lived out of home before, you can always choose places close to NZ or to other family, or choose countries that are relatively similar to NZ to help with culture shock (Australia, UK, Canada, US, Ireland). If you’re worried about making friends, don’t! I don’t know a single person on exchange who didn’t make friends – and even if you didn’t, it’s still an incredible opportunity to study and travel overseas. If you don’t want to push your university out a semester, don’t worry about it! You can likely still graduate on time and even if you can’t, it’s 100% worth it.

romecolsume

You have to go on exchange! Even it’s only so finally you can be the subject of snarky memes about people who studied abroad and/or summer holidayed in Europe.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my exchange experience. I hope you all get to experience it on your own someday, because I honestly can’t recommend it enough.

nottingham

Safe travels!
Elizabeth

 

 

 

Courtney: Last Post!

So, I’ve been home for 3 weeks now, and the post-abroad depression has truly settled in. I’ve been annoying my flatmates non stop with my stories of my time abroad, and getting sad whenever I hear someone mention England in the slightest. Anyone that asks me about it gets a whole essay and a half – I cannot tell them all how much fun I had.

Studying abroad teaches you things you would have never learnt in a classroom and much more. While the actual studies were amazing, studying at a world class university such as King’s, there were other aspects of my time abroad that I never even knew I’d benefit from. As cheesy as it sounds, I definitely grew as a person over there. It forced me to overcome my shyness, and get on with things – there was no-one to hold your hand through each and everything. I learnt I could travel alone, and not feel awkward eating alone in a restaurant in Edinburgh (something I would never have done back home!) I’ve made lifelong friends with people from all corners of the globe, with such diverse, different backgrounds that I never knew if we’d ever have anything in common. I learnt so much about different cultures and countries through my many opportunities being able to travel across the continent.

So would I do it again? 100 times over. Despite all the times I got lost, didn’t know what I was doing and missed home, it was an experience I can truly say I wish everyone could have. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, I have two words for you. DO IT. It is worth every cent, every hard moment missing home, every time you think you’d be better off at home. I cant recommend this experience enough – if you couldn’t already tell!

Now I’m busy planning how soon I’ll be financially able to return to the UK, after my final semester at university! If you have any final questions, feel free to hit me up! I wish the next lot of exchange students all the best for the next semester!

greece
 Travelling in Corfu, Greece
rome
Exploring the sights in Rome, Italy
london
Saying goodbye to my home in London, Champion Hill

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Courtney: Academics

Ahhh, the ‘study’ part of study abroad. Let’s not forget what we’re all here for folks!

As much as I wanted to experience travel and living in another part of the world for 6 months, the study part was pretty important to me. King’s is a world renowned university, especially being well respected in the UK university system. If you’re interested in the rankings, etc of your university, definitely check King’s out!

Classes

If you thought UoA classes were relaxed, take a look at King’s. For each class we had a total of one hour of lectures a week, and one hours of tutorials. Yep, you read that right. There was very little contact time, which meant you need to be pretty disciplined to keep up on top of all your classes. It is great, however, if you are a study abroad student, as it gives you a great amount of time to see the city you’re living in and beyond! I ended up with only three days of classes a week, which meant for a great long weekend every weekend! It was great for those trips around the U.K., such as Brighton, Stonehenge and Bath! However, it was easy to get complacent and think if you miss a class, it’s only one hour, so how much can you really miss? Often, they’d give exam hints and coursework help, so can actually be quite helpful. In short – go to your classes. They’re only an hour – even if they are at 9am and you have to battle London rush hour to get there.

Classes were probably the most difficult thing for me in planning my whole exchange. I left my exchange till Semester 1 of my fourth year of my degree, so my paper options were quite limited, and most were specific papers required for my major. If you can – definitely go as early as possible, so that you have many options and don’t have to stress too much about stage 3 papers while your friends go to Ireland without you!

I’m doing a BCom/BA, majoring in Marketing, Management and Psychology. Tip: King’s does not let you take Psychology papers, no matter how much you beg the Study Abroad Office. So Psych majors, turn away now. King’s does offer work psychology based classes, which count towards my psych major, however can be quite business based, so I wouldn’t recommend them if you don’t have an interest in that sort of stuff. It worked for me and my Commerce degree, and I filled up the other slots with business papers. For anyone doing a Commerce degree, they are very specific on classes – they have to match pretty much exactly the equivalent at UoA. Luckily, they have a great amount of information of classes already approved, so you can always just go off of that list if you don’t want to trawl through the University’s website. Check out the Business Student Centre for more info!

The papers I did were the following:

5SSMN232: The Psychology of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Equivalent Psych 300 level)

5SSMN233: Work and Organisational Psychology (Equivalent Psych 300 level)

6SSMN361: Marketing Communications (Equivalent MKTG 306)

6SSMN336: Corporate Social Responsibility (Equivalent MGMT 309)

I found them all pretty interesting papers – although they are my majors so keep that in mind! If you want any specific information about how you found these papers let me know – although bear in mind King’s does change their course catalogue so they might not still be available for your semester!

Uni Life

One thing I learned about King’s, and London universities in general, is that they have a very diverse and international student population. There are a large number of European students attending, as prior to Brexit, I believe they pay the same (or similar) fees to UK students. Therefore, you’re likely to meet lots of people from all around the world! As you are only able to pick your classes from a specific list, chances are you’ll likely meet other study abroad students too. In one of my classes, an intro tutorial asked us where we were all from. Only one of those people were actually from the UK! While I have definitely met those hailing from the UK, I believe it is often most common for UK students to go to smaller, ‘university’ towns – much like Otago – rather than choosing something in a bigger city! It does depend on each and every person though.

 

One day was truly disappointing though. I had just finished class, and was waiting outside for a friend. She came out, and had told me she’d bumped into a friend who’d just seen Prince Harry – yeah, you read that right – giving a speech at King’s. We’d just missed it! Top tip – keep an eye out for speakers! I wish I had known, because that would have been an awesome opportunity!

Exams

I’ve just finished my exams as of a week ago, and let me tell you, their exams are no joke. The actual exams are pretty ok as far as exams go, but the actual exam process is pretty intense. You’re given a specific seat number, in a room that contains around 1300 desks – it can be pretty overwhelming. The exams aren’t even held at King’s – ours were held in the Kensington Olympia Convention centre, which I guess was how they managed to squeeze so many people into one room. You have different length exams in the same room, so it can get pretty distracting when they announce the end of one exam, and you’re still writing. Other than that, it was all pretty easy to understand and efficient – just make sure to go with plenty of time to find it!

As sad as I am that my time at King’s has come to an end, I’m pretty excited for the next 3 weeks before I return home, as I’m set to travel around Europe, enjoying the nice summer sun! I hope this gives you a little insight into how the university system/academics works here at King’s – and will likely be a little similar if you’re attending another UK university. I wish you all the best of luck!

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Accommodation Awards: Courtney

When deciding where I wanted to study abroad, I knew I wanted to choose a big city to live in. However, the main drawbacks of choosing a city as opposed to a smaller town or a University town is that things can get a little more expensive – especially accommodation-wise. I would personally recommend staying in University accommodation over finding somewhere yourself, as it usually tends to be cheaper and more central. Along with this, it usually includes all bills, so all you need to worry about is buying food for yourself, and paying rent – no extra costs included. It also provides a great way to meet other students, both those local and other study abroad.
 
In saying that university accommodation is cheaper than most private rentals, London is still expensive. Fortunately, most residences at King’s are in Zones 1-2, which means an easy commute into Uni each morning. The location on each though, does depend. I personally live in accommodation situated about a half hour bus ride into the city – although I know some that consist of a 20 minute tube ride, 10 minute bus ride  and 20 minute walks. It all depends on your location and what public transport is available to you. Obviously, you’ll be paying more the closer you are to the centre of the city (and therefore closer to the University). I don’t mind travelling into the city, particularly as much of the time I am travelling with friends.
 
Now I can only speak for King’s residences, and of that I have obviously only lived at one. I have visited (and heard of) a few others due to friends living there, so I will give a rundown of these the best I can. So as follows, here are the Accommodation Awards for KCL Residences 2017:
 
Furthest Away, Most Modern and Highest Concentration of Woodland Creatures: Champion Hill
My residence, and arguably the furthest away is Champion Hill. Located in the suburb of Denmark Hill, it is connected by the Overground, National Rail services and buses. While the bus takes longer in London due to traffic, it has the advantage of being the cheapest. £1.50 will get you as far as you need to go – no zone charges, unlike the tube or rail. The absence of an underground does mean sometimes it takes slightly longer to get somewhere, but in a city as large as London, almost everyone has a long trip at some point.
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Because the residence is quite far out (although in London terms, its as close to the city as Mount Eden or Parnell), it has quite a suburban feel. I love this about the area, as you feel like you can get away from the hustle and bustle of it all and relax. Even better – the amount of squirrels and even a few foxes living in the area! Much to the amusement of my American and British friends, who are used to seeing these, I find it very exciting every time I see one! Now that we’re fully in Spring here in London, they seem to be out and about more, to help me get my fix of woodland creatures.
 
Rooms here are pretty spacious – similar to that of Carlaw Park Student Village/University Hall at UoA, although slightly narrower. The best part about these rooms is whilst it is classed as a non-ensuite, you still get your own shower and hand basin, sharing a toilet with around 4 others on your floor – which is great. Champion Hill does offer rooms with their own toilet as well, although these are slightly more expensive. Like the other residences, they come with a shared kitchen which you share with some of your flatmates.
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I cannot speak for the other residences, but I will say that there are very few events put on by the halls, so it can be difficult to meet others in your hall. Apparently this is due to the fact of my arrival time – I have heard they have lots of events in O week in September, and I arrived for the second semester in January. So if you are relying on those kind of events to meet people, I might suggest choosing to go for the Fall semester. However I will say that it is not impossible – as long as you put yourself out there, you will definitely be able to meet some people. Remember – your hall experience is what you make of it!
 
Highest Percentage of Study Abroad Students: Great Dover St
Located very near to London Bridge, this is a really nice centrally located hall. I have friends who reside at this dorm, and have visited it a few times. Mostly first year students live here, although a large majority of study abroad students are placed here – making it a great community to meet other like-minded study abroad students. However, it might be slightly harder as a result to meet British students, as they tend to put all the study abroad students together. The rooms are slightly smaller than that of Champion Hill, but they have full ensuites in all of the rooms. The rooms are organised into groups of about 8, which all share a communal kitchen. The location means its about a 20-30 minute walk to the Waterloo Campus, and slightly further to the Strand Campus. However if you’re placed at Guy’s campus – it is very close by!
 
Best Suburb Name: Julian Markham
This first year dorm also hosts other study abroad students in a similar set-up to Great Dover. It is located in a zone one suburb of Elephant and Castle, which arguably has the coolest name of an area I’ve found so far in London. It’s a 20 minute walk again to Waterloo campus or a very short bus ride if you’re running late! The rooms are similar size to that of Great Dover with a similar layout – ensuites with a shared kitchen.
 
Laziest Commute: Stamford St Apartments
You can imagine my envy, when on the first day of classes after a busy 40 minute bus ride into the Waterloo campus for class, I look directly across the street and see a KCL residence. Students that live there and have classes at the Waterloo Campus literally have to roll out of bed and they’re already at class – which I was beyond jealous of! Although – no excuse for missing class! While it’s a great timesaver and very convenient, the apartments cost an extra£40 per week (around $80NZD) and being that central means they are probably pretty used to lots of noise. Definitely something to weigh up though if you like your sleep!
 
From the Residences that I have seen, most seem to offer a good way of living, all in similar circumstances. However, the nicest ones are arguably Angel Lane in Stratford and Champion Hill – some of the furthest out, but recently renovated so they offer a few more modern additions.  While London is expensive, it is an amazing hub of culture, art, history and business. It is incredible to be living and studying in the heart of such a city, you barely notice the transport times or accommodation costs. If you’re an urbanite like me – I can definitely recommend living in London while studying abroad. 
 
More perks of living in London – it is such a great hub to get to other places in Europe! I’ve currently visited Scotland, Denmark and Sweden. I’m then off in a week to visit a friend in the Netherlands, followed by a trip to Cologne and Berlin, Germany with some study abroad friends! 
 
Until next time,
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Food, glorious food: Elizabeth

Food is perhaps my best part of life. Going on exchange it’s even better – using ‘well I won’t be here in six months’ as an excuse to buy excessive amounts of food is my favourite thing.

The hard part about living in a new city is not knowing straight off the bat where the best places to get food are. Although through trial and error (and lots of other people’s recommendations), I’ve done all the work so you guys have some top quality food to try if you’re ever in Nottingham!

Best cafés

My best advice to any exchange student looking to move to England (but outside of London) is to give up coffee now. You don’t want a caffeine headache when a burnt coffee from Starbucks is likely to be your best option. New Zealanders love good coffee, supposedly the Brits do too but I am yet to find much evidence of it – I would like take this opportunity to thank to the Uni Bookshop Costa for the worst flat white of my life.

The upside to the normally terrible coffee: bonding with other New Zealanders and Australians about it. I’m not saying that I’m friends with one of the Australians because of mutual complaining about rubbish coffee, but it definitely helped! That being said, there are a few hidden gem in among the very below average quality coffee.

Greenhood, Beeston
This is my local café – if local means a 15 minute walk away – and an absolute star. The people who work here are lovely, the locals are friendly, and the coffee is decent. What more could a girl ask for? I’ve spent many an afternoon here studying (or talking to friends while I should be studying) over a coffee or several. They also always have a small selection of homemade cakes which are always incredible – I can definitely recommend their Elderflower and cream cake.

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This was the first decent flat white I’d had in Nottingham and I had already been there for four weeks!
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Greenhood – appropriately named, because – if you remember from my other blog – everything is Robin Hood themed here

200 Degrees, Nottingham City

While Greenhood is my local, 200 Degrees is my favourite. The coffee is superb, the sign outside is always hilarious, and it’s just all around spectacular. There’s also a branch by the train station that I haven’t been to yet but I’m sure it’s just as good.  I always make an excuse to go when I’m in the city.

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Unfortunately, the Brits don’t do brunch like New Zealanders do. This is the worst thing about the country as far as I’m concerned. I have no recommendations in Nottingham and it kills me a little bit inside – especially since my friends in Auckland keep going to cute new brunch places at home. So please get your brunch fill while you’re still in Auckland!

Restaurants
Being a broke uni student doesn’t change while you’re on exchange (in fact, it usually gets worse), so I can’t say I’ve made it out to that many restaurants (the exchange rate kills me a little bit sometimes).

One place I can recommend is Annie’s Burgers in the centre of Nottingham. They have about 30 different burgers on the menu, from classic to weird and wonderful. My friend had the Elvis which is PB&J flavoured – just incredible.

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My burger, can’t remember what it was called but it had cheese, bacon, and a hashbrown – marvellous!

The best hot chocolates I’ve had: a series
In my attempt to get rid of my caffeine addiction (with varying levels of success), and because chocolate is amazing, I tried to switch from coffee to hot chocolate when I went to cafes. This has resulted in some incredible drinks, even if coffee is still number one in my heart.

 

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Mum’s Great Comfort Food – Edinburgh, Scotland. You should go here not only for the deluxe hot chocolates, but also because the menu has the best comfort food in the world. My friends and I went three times while we in Edinburgh over New Years, and I took my other friends here when I went back during Easter

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The Breakfast Club – Soho, London. I waited for 45 minutes in line to get into this brunch place and can confirm it was 10/10 worth the wait. Look at those mini marshmellows!!
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Northpoint – St Andrew’s, Scotland. Not only was this malteasers hot chocolate life changing, but this was the café where Will + Kate had their very first date. If you’re as royals-obsessed as me, this café is a must
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York’s Chocolate Story – York, England. I paid £10.50 to go through a chocolate museum and it was not wasted. The chilli hot chocolate at the café afterwards was pretty good too

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 Cooking food yourself
Since I live in a self-catered apartment, it means I have to cook for myself. I’m honestly cooking on exchange because a) you’re not studying as hard as you would at home so there’s more time and b) FRESH PRODUCE IS SO MUCH CHEAPER HERE! Honestly, berries at tesco are the same price (if not cheaper) off-season in England than they are in-season in New Zealand. I’ve been able to cook with loads more veges and delicious things than I can at home because it’s just way more affordable. Also they seem to always have Ben&Jerry’s on sale for £2.50 which is equally amazing and dangerous.

The range of food is also much wider than at home! Although there are still some things missing though. I searched the whole supermarket but couldn’t find fresh pesto. Plus, there’s no Wattie’s Tomato sauce here which breaks my lil kiwi heart (and annoys my flatmates to no end because I never shut up about it and they’re all from other countries and don’t understand).  My best advice for the stuff you miss is to make friends with a New Zealander or Australian whose parents send them a care package! I managed to sneak two tim tams and half a packed of chicken crimpy shapes off one of my friends and it was beautiful.

Traditional English Food
As far as traditional English food goes, it’s not that different from New Zealand most of the time. At the start of semester my flatmates and I tried sampling as many British chocolates and crisps as we could, but apart from that I haven’t noticed much difference (but that might be because Mum’s English). My favourites that you can’t get in NZ are quavers, cheese and onion Walker’s crisps, hot vimto, and Cadbury’s caramel chocolate (the caramel is WAY better than our caramellos, although it’s the same idea). Plus they have way more variety in popcorn at the supermarket which is fantastic – I’m partial to tesco branded salty & sweet popcorn for £1 a bag.

Mulled wine and cider are both big in Europe as well over winter. I tried mulled wine for the first time at Winter Wonderland in London, and although it’s not my favourite drink in the world, it was definitely nice to sip on while walking around Christmas markets.

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I was also lucky enough to stay with my mum’s family in England over Christmas and had myself a proper English Christmas dinner (complete with Yorkshire pudding, of course)! I maintain it was the best meal I’ve had on exchange. So if you’re coming over Christmas definitely try to get yourself invited to someone’s place for food!

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That’s all I’ve got to tell you for food! As always let me know if you have any questions about Nottingham or exchange in general.

As a side note, I just wanted to add to my Accommodation Awards post from last time, but the rubbish bins at Broadgate Park (where I’m living) recently featured in a meme (https://www.facebook.com/StudentProblems/videos/1235920199868044/) and so if you ever wanted to live somewhere #famous then Nottingham is your place!

Hope you’re all well – please enjoy a good flat white for me,

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