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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United Kingdom

University of Auckland students have the opportunity to study at various universities in the United Kingdon

Let’s hear what our students have to say…

  • Most people think of going to London when they think UK but Sheffield is an underrated northern city with plenty of history, greenery and home to the Arctic Monkeys. It was voted the most generous and the safest city in the UK in 2015 and really lives up to this reputation. It’s an industrial city, with more trees than people and a village feel. Sheffield is a student city, where statistically the most graduates decide to stay on. (Natalie Wood, University of Sheffield)
  • Being away from home, I always felt very excited and found the people very friendly. It was at times a bit cold and wet in England, but not as cold and wet as I had been told it would be. Generally, it was full of beautiful architecture and public transport was very good. (Richa Garg, University of Birmingham)
  • As a bit of an Anglophile, looking at potential exchange universities in the UK was a no brainer for me. To go live in a society where tea almost literally flowed through the veins of every citizen was an opportunity too good to miss. Further than that, I love the Scottish accent, theatre and really old things, so Edinburgh really stood out as the perfect place for me. (Lauren Andrews, University of Edinburgh)
  • Glasgow is beautiful but so is the rest of Scotland – take advantage of the student tour companies and do lots of day trips to other parts of the country. Close to Glasgow and worth visiting again and again and again is Loch Lomond but there is no shortage of beautiful scenery – go to the highlands, visits other cities, take advantage of the ludicrously cheap flights to the European mainland. (Jessica Stubbing, University of Glasgow)
  • Edinburgh truly is one of my favourite cites in the world, and during my exchange I was lucky enough to see quite a few! Edinburgh city is so rich with history – even the everyday walk to university or the supermarket was interesting. The skyline, which is visible from many easily walkable viewpoints, such as Calton Hill, Arthurs Seat and Blackford Hill, is dominated by old cathedral spirals, clock towers and of course, the Edinburgh castle. (Natasha Neeve, University of Edinburgh)
  • One of the exciting things about going on exchange is being thrown out of your comfort zone and being put into a new environment and calling it home for a while, I remember my very first impression of London being how big it is. I can safely say that it’s the biggest city I’ve ever seen in my life. Kingston was a very suburban town about 40 mins outside of London city, this made it feel quite easy to settle down. I remember walking around in Kingston thinking of how lively and cute it is, as somewhat of a student town I felt like I was going to have a great time living here there seemed to be so much to see and do. (Roberto Panovski, Kingston University London)

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On culture

  • When I first arrived in London I must admit I was pretty overwhelmed. London is a huge city and walking down Oxford Street was nothing like Queen Street in Auckland. I had never seen so many people, buses or stores. However, within a couple of days I quickly realised that I loved London and there was just so much to see. (Allanah Colley, King’s College London)
  • Orientation was incredibly helpful and gave me the opportunity to make loads of friends. Both local and exchange students. Sheffield has the best students union in the country, with plenty of offices, tour guides and drop ins no matter where you are. They had plenty of activities set up, there was a dance, games, historical tours, campus tours, workshops to sign up for clubs and weekly weekend trips to other UK cities. (Natalie Wood, University of Sheffield)
  • King’s offers a rich selection of clubs and activities. Their student union is amazing, and there’s always something to head along to – a student play, or a debate for Black History Month, or the student bar to commiserate about election night. I joined the Literary Journal editorial team, and helped to produce a beautiful edition which we launched with the help of wine and crisps in the middle of the city. (Sophie van Waardenberg, King’s College London)
  • The most unique thing about St Andrews – other than the centuries-old architecture and the fact you might walk past an ancient castle on your way to class – is the tight-knit student culture. Being a small town, student life dominates St Andrews. There are so many unique events (including black-tie balls – I recommend trying to get tickets to Christmas Ball!), societies (which put on heaps of events), and pubs (which I frequented many times) all centred around students. It’s impossible not to be thrown into St Andrews’ student life – which is great for making friends. (Michael Calderwood, University of St Andrews)
  • At first I was slightly apprehensive of the fact that I would be living in Kingston, as it is a 40 minute train ride away from London city, but I quickly learned how amazing this would prove to be. I still remember how excited I was on my first day going to London city, seeing it for the first time I was amazed. I made the effort to go into London city every Saturday to explore and see as much as I could in the city, it became natural walking around in that colossal city and navigating the tube system was so easy I got to the point where I didn’t need to look at a tube map. There were so many benefits to living outside of London city, I got the best of both worlds. (Roberto Panovski, Kingston University London)

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On orientation

  • With the events put on by the Study Abroad team at King’s during Orientation week I found it very easy to make friends (even though I was nervous about this!). I truly made lifelong friends at King’s who became my new family and were a source of invaluable support during my time away. (Allanah Colley, King’s College London)
  • Orientation Week, or Fresher’s Week as it’s known in the UK, was no disappointment and some of my finest memories from my exchange are from that first week. (Sebastian Bailey, University of Manchester)
  • Also, Leeds University had many welcoming parties for exchange students like me which gave me many opportunities to talk to and get along with many other people from different countries. The orientation was good, the staffs were very friendly and easy to talk to. I loved the Leeds University as the campus was so much bigger than Auckland University and academically there was less pressure on grades and the courses were not as tight and difficult so allowed me to have some relaxing time. (Jiwon Hyeong, University of Leeds)
  • Beyond just being outrageously beautiful, I loved my time at Glasgow Uni for the people. Everyone I met was incredibly welcoming and open to me – they are always happy to help with whatever you need. The exchange student orientation was great for meeting other study abroad students and also orients you really well to being in the UK in between the tours around the city and day trips to Edinburgh. (Jessica Stubbing, University of Glasgow)

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On housing

  • The accommodation I stayed in was probably one of the highlights of my experience; it was directly on campus, central to everything you need, and I became very close to all my flatmates who also became my travel buddies in the weekends. (April Wong, University of Glasgow)
  • With King’s College I was lucky enough to live in Borough, which is very centrally located and within walking distance or a quick tube ride away from most of London’s sights. I was living in one of the University’s Residences, and was paying relatively cheap rent for being able to live so centrally. My flat was full of other study abroad students from around the world, and I made lots of friends through my Hall. (Allanah Colley, King’s College London)
  • My accommodation at St Andrews was incredible. I was lucky enough to be in Agnes Blackadder Hall where I had my own bathroom and a double bed! There was obviously a desk in my room to use to study or the study room at the hall was open 24/7. (Olivia Scott, University of St Andrews)
  • My residence hall was unbelievably nice – I had an ensuite bathroom, double bed, and TV in my room. I was catered, and the food was decent enough — there were also so many great options for affordable meals in town, and Tesco grocery store is right in the centre of town. There were events put on by the hall every week, including free pre-drinks before big events. I met most of my friends in St Andrews through hanging out in the kitchen that my corridor shared. (Michael Calderwood, University of St Andrews)
  • In Manchester, my accommodation was “Oak House” which is situated in Fallowfield. I had my own room and shared a bathroom with three other girls. My flatmates and I became very close, we cooked meals and baked delicious sweets in our kitchen throughout the semester. (Briana Putnam, University of Manchester)

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On academics

  • Although the coursework at Glasgow proved to be challenging – if not harder than Auckland – being on exchange helped me put things in perspective. I worked with local students in my classes and we formed study groups after class, and I was regularly in contact with my professors about aspects of Scottish law I found challenging. I realised that reaching out and asking for help when you needed it can do wonders when you’re on exchange. (April Wong, University of Glasgow)
  • I really enjoyed the classes I took at King’s College. I took European Politics and English Literature papers, including a Shakespeare paper where I had classes at the Globe Theatre! My lecturers were all passionate, helpful and very knowledgeable in their fields. (Allanah Colley, King’s College London)
  • All my lecturers were very professional and very helpful especially towards exchange students, always taking the time to answer any questions properly after class. The courses I took were interesting, and actually made me excited for more study. (Richa Garg, University of Birmignahm)
  • The final, and probably most important highlight of my St Andrews experience was the learning environment. Instead of having face to face lectures with the teaching staff, a lot of learning was self directed reading. Each class would then have 1-2 hours a week contact time to discuss and expand on that learning. I feel that this style, as well as the expectation of quality, really challenged me and I was able to understand and analyse concepts more critically. The teaching staff are also very friendly and easy to contact should any difficulties arise. (Olivia Scott, University of St Andrews)
  • Studying at King’s has been an absolutely incredible experience. From the daily crossing of the Waterloo bridge in getting to classes to the afternoons spent in the Dumbledore’s office like Maughan library, from the passionate lectures given by professors with posh British accents to the Friday afternoon tutorials that promised a peaceful sunset view of the Big Ben. Together they take you on a journey through time, a journey through the past 188 years reminding each and every Kings’ student of the rigour and diligence with which the generations of scholars have worked in search of the truth. As a student at King’s I was constantly challenged and thoroughly enjoyed the rigorous academic atmosphere. (John Liang, King’s College London)

 

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On travel

  • One of the highlights of my exchange was being able to travel so frequently and learning about different cultures. I was away from Glasgow almost every other weekend with my flatmates and we took advantage of the cheap air fares! With proper budgeting, I realised that there wasn’t any place that we could not go to. It was surreal being able to experience a different city in a different country weekend, and coming back to Glasgow to study during the week. (April Wong, University of Glasgow)
  • When I wasn’t studying, I spent my time in London going to markets, parks and gardens, visiting Buckingham palace, exploring art galleries and museums, getting lost in bookshops and department stores, being in the Graham Norton audience, wandering past the Thames river, going to musicals and shows on the West End as well as eating delicious food. There really is something for everyone in London – it is such a vibrant city and there is always something amazing going on. (Allanah Colley, King’s College London)
  • I visited the Peak district often, it is a 5 pound return on the bus. There are beautiful cycling trails, hikes and quant villages to explore and its right on your doorstep. Flights to Europe are also insanely cheap. I went to Portugal, Macedonia, Hungary, Ireland, Bulgaria and Germany. All of these flights ranged from 10-30 pounds. This makes it affordable if just for a weekend. (Natalie Wood, University of Sheffield)
  • Manchester also has a very big international airport, and I was able to pick up extraordinarily cheap flights to places all over Europe. I was able to visit places like Tenerife, Hamburg, Dublin, Barcelona and lots more places for outrageously cheap prices. (Sebastian Bailey, University of Manchester)
  • It’s easy to escape, too. As well as exploring Cardiff and Bath, I wandered around Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Barcelona, and Paris, and the list goes sickeningly on and on. If you’re lucky, you can grab a ten-pound flight to France and have a weekend away, eating pastries and pretending to speak the language of love. (Sophie van Waardenberg, King’s College London)
  • While Studying in London I took great advantage of this opportunity and visited 12 countries with friends during weekends and study breaks. This has by far been the most memorable experience in my life, the friendships developed during these travels, the diverse cultures explored and the different people I got to meet are all intangible assets that will I cherish forever. (John Liang, King’s College London)

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Tips

  • If I had one piece of advice for outgoing exchange students, it’d be to enjoy each day as if it were your last day on exchange! This helps you put little everyday challenges in perspective and allows you to appreciate the people you have around you. (April Wong, University of Glasgow)
  • I highly recommend doing the exchange programme. Home will always be there, but the opportunity to study abroad may not. I have loved every minute of it, and although I am excited to come home, I am upset that it’s now over and that I must part with my new friends. (Richa Garg, University of Birmingham)
  • I felt this exchange programme gives you broader views of seeing the world because during the exchange period and while you travel, it allows you time to think about a lot of things: about your future, about yourself etc. which, I believe, actually helped me become more mature and gain more confidence through this time. (Jiwon Hyeong, University of Leeds)
  • I learned that I can accomplish a lot more than I thought I could and part of this was due to what I would recommend to future exchange students: make the most of your experience by getting involved in University life, seek new friendships and soak up as much information and culture as you can. Furthermore, even though it may be tempting to spend the semester partying and travelling, university life on the other side of the world is definitely an experience not to miss as well. (Briana Putnam, University of Manchester)
  • Going on exchange is hard. It’s an experience that will force you to grow, to go outside your comfort zone, to challenge yourself. But I guarantee that for every second of discomfort you will be rewarded with months and months of memories that you will take with you for the rest of your life. (Jessica Stubbing, University of Glasgow)

Food, glorious food: Courtney

Let’s face it – one of my favourite things when I’m exploring a new place is to find the best eats a city can offer, and going abroad was no different! Thankfully, London hosts a smorgasbord of different international cuisines, thanks to it being a melting pot of so many different cultures. This results in London’s huge variety in different foods, so you’re never out of option. Whether its having the cult classic Nandos (I swear it tastes better in the UK), or shopping around one of the many food markets in London, you’ll find something you like. I love Borough Market in London Bridge, it has as many food stalls, ranging from international cuisines, to coffee, bakery, cheese and dessert stalls. In terms of lazy food, my personal favourite is Deliveroo, a delivery service, which for £2.50 or often free, you can get local restaurant food delivered to you. My personal favourite is Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which is UK wide and actually Kiwi owned – they have a Kiwiburger on the menu or even L&P if you’re feeling a bit homesick!

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Amazing Brunch (complete with Cold Brew Coffee) at The Breakfast Club in London Bridge

A must-know for anyone living in London (or the UK for that matter) – the coffee is terrible. The great thing about this is that I’ve dramatically decreased my caffeine intake, but sometimes when you’re getting up at 5am to head out to Luton for a 10am flight, you just want a good coffee. On the bright side – the expat Kiwi community here has meant quite a few Antipodean places have been set up by Kiwi’s and Australians alike (which thankfully, Australians make a pretty good coffee). So definitely have a search around London for some Kiwi classics, although, they are generally located in the city centre, so if you don’t live close, you need to be pretty dedicated to the cause! Because of this, I’ve slowly moved over to hot chocolates – which help to keep you pretty warm in the low temperatures. One of my favourites so far was actually a Galaxy Hot Chocolate on a train to Scotland (Galaxy is a chocolate brand but way better than Cadbury’s!). I’ve also had a pretty good one at Dark Sugars in Shoreditch, which smells incredible!!!

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Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at Dark Sugars in Shoreditch – complete with chocolate shavings!

A classic stereotype of England is sipping tea and eating scones, one I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve tried! For a friend’s birthday we attended high tea in Marylebone. The cakes, scones and finger sandwiches were incredible, and was funny to watch my American friends discover scones with clotted cream for the first time! We were however, confused when my friend from Ecuador asked the waitress for some salt – we first assumed it was for the sandwiches. However, further questioning revealed she was confused why the ‘butter’ tasted sweet, and was going to use salt on it to make it more savoury. We soon realised she was talking about the clotted cream – and we broke the news to her it was actually cream and supposed to be sweet – but was definitely a cultural confusion for her.

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High Tea in Marylebone

Now unfortunately due to being a student, I sadly cannot afford to eat out every single night. So,  my local supermarket (Sainsburys’) has become my best friend. I will say that the food (even with the awful exchange rate) at supermarkets is much cheaper than at home. I can easily do a week’s shop for £20, which is a great money saver! That then means I can save more money for my travels, or even discovering a few more great food joints! A handy tip for anyone heading abroad – join your supermarket’s loyalty program! I’ve only been here 4 months, and I’ve already managed to rack up £20 worth of points, which you can use towards groceries or even on eligible train tickets, which is paying for me to visit the Lake District later this month! I know some people don’t like to sign up for them and have to carry a card with them, but if you’re on a budget like I am, it can really come in handy!

In the 4 months I’ve lived away from home, my culinary adventures have not been limited to that of London and the UK. I’ve been fortunate to visit several European countries, and so here is a wee follow up of my faves!

The Netherlands: Stroopwafels
I was fortunate to spend a long weekend in the Netherlands with a friend, who is a Dutch native. Her family introduced me to Stroopwafels, and I immediately fell in love (and am now having major withdrawal now I am back in London). They are pretty common there, and can be found in pretty much all supermarkets. They consist of this thin soft cookie-like outside, with a delicious caramel gooey centre.

Germany: Soft Pretzels
Now I know you can get soft pretzels both back home and in London, but I think being in the land of Pretzels make them taste better (a theory in progress). Not only that, you can find them on almost every street corner, and they’re all so cheap! The two girls I were travelling with and I exclusively lived on pretzels the 3 days we were in Germany!

France: Do I even need to say it?
Macarons, bread, pastries, wine – I never want to leave! The culinary adventure in France could almost outweigh the cultural experience – almost. Make sure if you visit to leave some time to have some proper meals – the French take their mealtimes pretty seriously!

However, with being adventurous and trying lots of new food around the world, comes the risk of ordering something not quite what you were expecting. This happened to one of my friends while we were in Cologne. She thought she was ordering fish, however what came out were two raw herring filets – not quite what she was expecting! So if you’re unsure, my top tip is to always ask! (Or at least have a google translate app handy…)

Its exam season here, so I’m off  to find a few good coffee shops to get my study done! If you need any top food recommendations, feel free to ask!
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Accommodation Awards: Zofia

Bi-annual Auckland Abroad Accommodation Awards
A disclaimer: I have only been around a short while and visited a limited number of the accommodation that University of Edinburgh has to offer. I’m sure opinions and experiences vary widely from my own.

 Catered:
Best Carb Selection
Of course, this goes to all the houses in Pollock Halls. The JMCC Restaurant puts on a stunning display, with at least one pasta option and sixteen different types of potatoes per meal. In all seriousness though, the catered food is quite lovely (particularly the potato scones that get served up at weekend brunch). We get a full cooked Scottish breakfast every morning (vegetarian sausages come highly recommended), and a broad selection for dinner. There are always two vegetarian options for those interested, but vegans can be left to the wayside occasionally so that’s something to consider.

Most Basic House(s)
Grant House in Pollock Halls, fondly nicknamed Grantanamo Bay many years ago, is one of the “Tower Blocks”. Accompanying it: Lee, Baird, Ewing and Turner. The Tower Blocks of Pollock are your ‘basics’ accommodation, with small-ish rooms that come equipped with a single bed, sink, wardrobe and desk, and communal bathrooms, pantries and common rooms. Since this is where I’m located I’ve got a few photos of the real thing; the others you’ll have to the University of Edinburgh’s accommodation site for pictures, but they’re all pretty true to life.

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 Most Posh House
Introducing Chancellors Court, Pollock Halls of Residence. Chancellors is well-known for being the nesting ground of posh Londoners, so if Made in Chelsea is your thing then this is for you. There are also double rooms available for cheaper than singles. As long as you’re happy being woken up when your roommate stumbles in at 4am from Why Not Wednesdays (or, alternately, don’t mind a passive aggressive roommate who is mad at you for stumbling in at 4am), this is a viable option.

 Most Conveniently Placed Bathroom
Enter Holland House, which has ensuites. Other than that it’s nothing special, and is also the furthest away from the dining hall (so depends whether you prioritise eating food or getting rid of it).

Self-catered:
Most Rodent Infested
Previously Kincaid’s Court, but the resident rat recently died. A raucous wake was held for the late Billie. RIP; she or he (even biology students wouldn’t get close enough to gender identify) will be missed.

 Most Fun
Kincaid’s Court, especially now the rat is dead. I tried incredibly hard to think up a better superlative than ‘most fun’, but honestly I couldn’t find a better way to describe it (photographic evidence of said fun provided). Flats in Kincaid’s can have up to 12 people living in them, which means its super social, and they host by far the best parties. For the first 2 weeks of living in Edinburgh I was at Kincaid’s literally every night because there were always people keen to go out and about. They’re also situated in Cowgate which means it’s approximately a 30 second walk to student favourite pubs, like Three Sisters and Stramash. If you’re planning a studious time in Edinburgh, maybe stay away from here; the amount of times we’ve had someone claiming they’re staying in at 7pm, but to have a bottle of Buckfast in hand by 9pm is legendary.

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Basically, no matter where you end up staying you’re going to have an amazing time. If you like cooking, then go for self-catered – this is definitely something I miss about flatting back home. However, being able to roll out of bed at 1.30pm on a Sunday and have hash browns and sausages at your disposal is nothing short of heavenly!

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Accommodation Awards: Elizabeth

If we’re giving out awards for the best accommodation for your exchange, Broadgate Park at the University of Nottingham would definitely snag a few.

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Picture of Broadgate Park feat. that classic British grey sky that I’ve become very accustomed to

The one that Broadgate would win by a mile is the award for ‘Most International Students Crammed Together in One Building’.

Considering Broadgate Park is a collection of apartment buildings catering over 2,000 students, they took special care to put a fifty or so exchange students in the same place. Sometimes I have to remind myself I got on a plane to England and not the US, because I swear I am constantly surrounded by American accents.

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This is Hazels, in the exchange student block – it’s right near reception and laundry which is super helpful.

 

Although it wasn’t what I expected when I moved in, it’s fantastic being surrounded by other exchange students. There’s parties everyone is invited to, group trips to places around the UK, and accents to take the piss out of (unfortunately that accent is mine 90% of the time, even the other New Zealander jumps on the bandwagon –  et tu, Brute?).

There’s definitely a sense of community around the building, and especially within the flats themselves. Ours is the best (of course), named after the best Nickelodeon TV show of the 2000s:

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Out of all the accommodation in Nottingham, I’d peg Broadgate for ‘Best Location’ as well!

While all the catered Halls of Residences are on the campus itself (so they get the awards for ‘Place where you can get out of bed the latest and still make it to class on time’), I still think Broadgate has a better location. It’s situated right next to the entrance to University Park (the main campus – where almost all of the exchange students have class), the bus stop into town is literally right outside, and it’s only a 10 minute walk from the nearest suburb called Beeston.

Beeston has shops, restaurants, cafes (esp. Greenhood which does the only coffee close to resembling NZ coffee since I arrived in this city), Tesco, two post offices; literally everything you could possibly need while you were on exchange.

To make things even better, if you’re a law student (like me!) your building is the closest to this entrance to campus – they have to give us some perks when we’re forced to learn the intricacies of European patent law at 5pm on a Thursday.  The walk into uni is also gorgeous – University Park is such a green campus with trees everywhere, as well as so many daffodils at the moment because it’s spring! I can’t wait until summer when all the leaves on the trees come back because it’s going to be even more stunning!

The apartments themselves would win the award for ‘Bare but extremely functional
There’s six rooms per apartment in our block, one bathroom (with separate shower and toilet cubicles), and a kitchen. The facilities are all up to scratch, and while all the furniture is included, there’s no kitchen supplies save for the literal bare necessities (fridge, freezer, microwave, kettle, toaster). Because we’re all international students with no space in our suitcases for crockery, it meant we had to buy it all. Luckily, Poundland and charity shops are close by and we were able to stock our kitchen on the cheap.

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We’d also win the ‘Most Cramped Hangout Area’ award. We have no lounge in our apartments, so we’ve taken to either cramming around our dining table in the kitchen, or sitting in our corridor chatting. It’s not ideal, but it definitely makes us all closer! There’s also one main common room in the middle of the complex which we hang out in as well. My flatmate has just informed me there’s also a study room there too – I have yet to go, sorry Mum!

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I was super impressed with the size of the bedrooms when I got here! Still a classic university accommodation sized room, but all the furniture is moveable so you can arrange it how you like. Plus, being an exchange student means having hardly any stuff to store, so the room is perfect. The wardrobe is also a really decent size and there’s space to store stuff under the bed.

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The photos don’t really do the room justice – I swear it looks bigger in real life!

Other amenities at Broadgate that are worth mentioning are the shop, the café, and the grocery cart. The shop is basically a dairy that has everything a student needs: chocolate, energy drinks, frozen pizza, tampons, alcohol, a cash machine, crisps, popcorn – for those days where you don’t want to go all the way to Tesco. It’s a life saver!

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The café is next to the shop and serves coffee and hot food. I’ve only been once but it’s really lovely – definitely a good place to hang out, get a bit of work done, and grab a bite to eat! There’s also a fruit & vege cart that comes every Tuesday and Friday! It sells pretty much every fruit or vegetable you could want and at decent prices! Definitely easier than lugging it all back from Tesco.

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I wish I could tell you guys that Broadgate is cheap but the reality is far from it. With the exchange rate, I paid over NZD$4,300 and that’s not including any food for the semester. Far from ideal, but it was the second cheapest option (although lots of the others are catered, so you get meals included). I don’t regret choosing self-catered though, because I lived at Halls in Auckland as a resident and an RA and am beyond sick of hall food.

Broadgate is a stellar place to live while you’re on exchange in Nottingham – I’d definitely recommend it! If you guys have any more questions about Broadgate or any other Nottingham accommodation (I’ve got some friends who live in catered halls and get info off them), let me know – I’m happy to answer any questions!

Hope everyone is making the most of that Kiwi summer!
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My O-Week Experience: Courtney

Greetings from London!!

After 30+ hours travelling straight from Auckland, I arrived in the UK on a very dark, foggy afternoon in London. That’s something that was not mentioned to me – due to the UK’s high latitude, it gets dark around 4pm in January! Thankfully this means longer summer nights – which I will definitely be looking forward to. I arrived about a week and a half early, and fortunately was able to stay with my cousin in Wimbledon until I moved into my residence. This gave me a good opportunity to get over my jetlag and get myself acquainted with London.

I highly recommend going early if you can, particularly if you are travelling to the UK or Europe. The jetlag is not fun, and I’d met some poor souls from Australia trying to stay awake at orientation having arrived the day prior. I explored all the classic London tourist spots in that week – even if it meant leaving early in the day, as you wouldn’t see much past 3:30pm when it started to get dark.

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This is Somerset house, which in December hosted an ice skating rink! This beautiful historic building is right next to the Strand Campus, and nice for a bit of solitude in the busy city during the right times!

My first week at King’s was rather eventful, to say the least. Monday morning, first day of orientation we were greeted with a tube strike. Not just a few lines, but the entire underground system, which millions of Londoners require to get into the city each day, as only a few thousand actually live in the city centre. As you can imagine, the streets were gridlocked with replacement buses, causing me to be an hour late to orientation (along with many others!), as I ended up with a 45-minute walk when my bus got caught up in the madness.

Orientation was rather unstructured at King’s. We had a few morning sessions, welcoming us, informing us about British Life and Culture, and the school system. It runs fairly similarly to the New Zealand system, although the grading is a little different – 40% is actually a pass here! Although unfortunately it doesn’t mean it’s easier, as the way they grade means anything over an 80% is near impossible.

I quickly learned at King’s that you would definitely need to put yourself out there to meet new people. They offered a few events in orientation week, however many were group based and often people would quickly form groups – which is quite intimidating if you’re not comfortable with meeting new people. However, it is a great way to put yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself!

Friday of orientation week I also got another surprise – Snow! An extremely exciting event for someone who rarely sees snow. Unfortunately, London being slightly warmer than up north, meant that the snow didn’t settle. I’ve also managed to spot a fox that lives around my residence a few times – which again is exciting for someone who’s never seen one before. I’ve found I definitely get strange looks freaking out over squirrels (which are everywhere).

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Big Ben is just a short walk from the Strand campus. I made sure to visit it during orientation week because it is scheduled to have scaffolding go up soon, as it is under repair for the next three years!

Unfortunately, my residence has yet to do anything about any activities or meeting people, which is quite different to what I’m used to, living at Carlaw Park Student Village previously. I assume much of this is to do with the fact that I started in their second semester (January), and so many residents already know each other from orientation in September.

My orientation experience is only going to be relevant to King’s, however if you have any questions about UK Universities, feel free to contact me at cyul074@aucklanduni.ac.nz, and I might be able to help with my experience so far!

I’ve recently booked trips to Scotland, Copenhagen and Amsterdam in the next month, so looking forward to my European adventures! Feel free to follow me on Instagram @courtney_yule to follow my adventures!

Until next time,

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