Monthly Archives: January 2014

Living in London (another ramble)

 Being a student and living in one of the greatest cities in the world  

            I can see The Shard from my kitchen window, a fact I tell everyone back home and one that never fails to surprise me every morning (or afternoon) as I put the kettle on. So, what is it about London that makes living here so great? Because it can’t be the extortionate price of housing, the dreary weather or the bad transport. I think, for me at least, it has a lot to do with the diversity. Growing up in a Conservative strong hold and attending white middle class schools felt stuffy and outdated. I am now studying on a course that is roughly one third UK students, one third EU and one third from outside the EU. Student halls are a mix of languages and cultures, too. It is all a shock to the system, but in a good and exciting way. I have to say that there are far more Conservatives at university than I imagined, so in some ways it is just like being at home!

            London is iconic. The architecture is beautiful and walking over Waterloo Bridge on the way to lectures, even on a wet and windy day, never fails to make me smile. The part of me that is consumed by wanderlust is somewhat tamed by living here. London feels like a city of possibility. Although I recognise that it is definitely a place best experienced when you have money, or time. I don’t have all that much money, but I do seem to have a fair amount of time on my hands. I have already experienced many things in London: I have been to the top of The Shard (which was an incredible experience), I have sheltered from the rain in the National Gallery (and ended up spending hours there) and I have walked along Oxford Street at Christmas time. Every time I go to lectures, I walk through Somerset house and get an incredible view of the South Bank. Yet, there are an infinite number of things I haven’t done yet. I haven’t been to the top of St. Pauls nor have I been to the market at Spitalfields. It is easy to get into a lazy student routine of drinking too much at the pub and spending whole mornings (or days) in bed. I suppose this is something I hope to change this term.

            There is more to being a student in London than just doing all the tourist things. For me, being in London was about making connections and discovering opportunities I might not have elsewhere. I have applied for a job at the Museum of London and I have an interview next week! If I am lucky enough to get the job the experience will be an incredible one. It is only working in the gift shop, but nonetheless it offers a different opportunity and I could be working in the centre of London, which is an exciting thought.

            There is no doubt that being a student in London is expensive, but it is manageable. Learning to cook is key I think, being a cheap drunk helps too! I have found transport and textbooks to be the biggest, unexpected, expenditures, only one of which is particular to London. Managing a budget is part of growing up and moving out of halls next year, where I will have to start managing my bills too, will be another shock I am sure. I am determined to stay within Zone One, being able to walk about the city has been one of my favourite things so far. The tube has its own society and rules and conduct and behaviour. It’s too stuffy. As long as it’s not raining too bad (I really need to invest in an umbrella), London is definitely a city best experienced on foot.

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The End of an Era?

I am sure someone, somewhere, once said that writing whilst (mildly) intoxicated was a bad idea. Nevertheless, if it was good enough for Hemingway, it is good enough for me.

So the end of 2013 sort of feels like the end of an era. It was the year in which I finished schooling, as I knew it. I sat my A Level exams and collected my results. By some miracle, I secured my place at King’s and I have entered the (semi) adult world, where I have to do my own washing.

This year has been the first time I have lived away from home. Which has been both wonderfully refreshing and rather disconcerting. The relative serenity that university living has brought me (compared to my hectic household) has been rather nice. However, negotiating shared living and adjusting to new people has been a massive challenge. Away from the comforts of home and a small town, London has been both a comfort and a shock.

I rather wanted to write about the profound things I have learnt about life and myself over the past year and the aspirations I have for the year to come. However, as I sit here now, nothing all that profound springs to mind. So, I believe you will have to settle for the ordinary. 

2013 has been a year of change; that much is certain. In the past few months, I have left the town I grew up in, the boyfriend I had been rather serious about and entered single life as a lazy student who really resents the (not really that far) walk to university in the morning.

The inspiration I had in the first few weeks of uni fizzled out quickly. The joy of simply learning about everything wore out as the realisation that 9am on a Monday morning is fucking early kicked in. My passion for learning turned to disinterest as some of my modules proved dull and uninspiring. The £9000 a year was being called into question almost every week (and definitely at each English lecture). However, my bitter and cynical outlook on life should not cloud university wholly. I have learnt a fair bit since I have been here, more about life than Virginia Woolf, but important stuff nonetheless. 

The next year will prove more interesting than the last, I am sure of it. I will only be in classes two days a week, which means I shall have to get a job! I am hoping to do something more fulfilling than Costa. Balancing actual work and school work will be fun to attempt once again. Although, I always found work to be a welcome break from learning, and I hope to actually learn stuff about the big wide world, too. This year also brings big coursework deadlines (3 of which are in the coming week!!) and end of year exams. This is a daunting prospect, for sure. My first two assignments have come back as 2:1s and I am hoping I can keep this up for the coming year. I might add that the pressure to get a First has only slightly been increased by my parents’ inscribing, “Here’s to a First Class Honours!” on the back of my iPad….

The end of 2013 truly means saying goodbye to the education system I so loathed and embracing a system that encourages (and requires) students to push themselves to read and to be more than they could. University is definitely more than just a system of education; it is a completely different lifestyle. So, I suppose it is the end of an era, and a beginning of a new one. I am sure I have absolutely no idea what the next year brings for me, but I am optimistic about it anyway. 

Happy New Year, I hope the universe is kind to you.