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Kelly Oakes GBR

I'm an Undergraduate Physics student from Imperial College London, about to start the Masters year of my degree. I mostly write about physics research papers that I find interesting in the hope that other people will find them interesting too. The wordpress version of my blog is here.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I thought I’d write about some of the things I’ve discovered since moving from a small town to the big city. It’s in list form because, well, lists are easy and I have a lot to do before I go and (hopefully) meet with my supervisor next week. I ended up writing quite a bit more than I planned to. Sorry about that.

Before I moved to London, I wish someone had told me:

1. You can get away with doing the bare minimum amount of work during the first two terms and then moving into the library for the third. However, this gets harder and harder each year, and really – who is benefitting from this arrangement? Apart from the Library café who end up with all your money because you no longer have time to cook for yourself, and need energy drinks and coffee to stay awake long enough to cram everything in.

I’m terrible for leaving stuff to the last minute, so I’ve done this little routine for the past three years. Every year I say I’ll change, and every year I do the same thing again… this year I’m going to change for real though, promise.


The London Eye. One of the things I have actually gotten around to doing in London, and it was rubbish and overpriced.


2. Following on from the first point: Physics is a lot more fun, or at least interesting, if you learn it properly rather than cramming.

When I get to revision I realise this, but by then it’s too late – there’s only time to learn the basics and make sure I can do the problem sheets before I have to move on to the next topic. Sometimes there isn’t even enough time to do that.

3. Sharing a room is not half as bad as it sounds. You’ll always have someone to talk to, and might even end up becoming friends. At the very least, there will be someone that notices if you go missing.

I shared a room with two other people in my first year of university. Luckily one of them was hardly every there, so me and my other roommate had a room big enough for three people between the two of us, which was pretty good. We became friends and it was actually pretty nice having someone to come home to after a long day in the lab or library.

4. Living in halls may sound like fun to begin with, but a year will most certainly be enough. Same goes for sharing a house with friends (especially if they’re the type that have an aversion to putting the heating on, washing dishes or cleaning the bathroom – or all three).

The kitchen on my floor in halls was shared between 20 people. It was big enough, but because there were so many people no-one was ever held accountable for stealing food or not tidying up after themselves. Which gets annoying after a while. In second year I moved into a big house with three friends. This was really fun to start with, but it was ridiculously cold in winter and after a while the inevitable arguments about bills started, and for two years there was a constantly changing huge pile of washing up to be done on the worktop in the kitchen. I moved out of that house a couple of months ago and I do miss it – but it is nice to come home to the new flat I share with my boyfriend knowing that I’ll be able to cook dinner in a clean pan.

5. You can still have a great time while living on a shoestring, as long as you’re not fussy about what events you attend.

There’s always loads of talks and events with free food and wine at Imperial in the evenings, if you know where to go. You might end up having to speak to someone from Deloitte about how much you’d love to work for them or join some obscure society to get in, though.

6. …however, if you’re friends with people that have money, you may run into trouble. There’s only so many times you can decline an invitation because you can’t afford to go out before you stop getting invited.

I basically ran out of money at the end of my second year and have been living on practically nothing ever since. My friends don’t seem to get that I don’t always want to spend what little spare money I have on going out, and have (maybe unintentionally) made me feel quite bad about not going to the student union every week or whatever.

7. Going somewhere for a night out can mean an hour on the tube to get there and over two hours on a night bus to get back.

It’s quite funny to see the look of shock on visiting friends faces when you tell them how long it’ll take to get to a different part of London. Most of the time the journey is worth it. It takes so long because London is so big - if it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be anywhere to go to in the first place.

8. Despite there existing a ridiculous number of new places you could go, you will end up going to the same places time and time again.

Familiarity can be nice, but this is not what I imagined my life in London would be like. Before I came to university I imagined I’d be going somewhere or doing something new every week at least, but I can’t actually remember the last time I went to a new club or bar. Not that I can afford to go anywhere any more (see #6).

9. You will make lists of the things you want to do and can only do in London, but you will never do most of the items on the list.

I spend most of my time at uni or at home. I could do this in any other city. Why am I spending so much extra to do it in London?

10. You will pay more than double the rent that your friends pay in different cities.

I’ve had a look to see what I could afford around the country for the rent me and my boyfriend pay on our little one bed flat. I found a FOUR bedroom terrace house in Bristol, a two bedroom luxury apartment in Manchester and I couldn’t even find anything that expensive in my home town. No joke.

11. You will be glad when Christmas and Easter come around because you’ll have a chance to leave the city and go back to your home town where you can actually hear yourself think.

I get itchy feet every few months and long to go somewhere a bit more rural. After a few days of being in my home town, though, I start to miss the constant roar of traffic and the air conditioning unit by the bedroom window. I think I actually quite like these little constant reminders that the world is still going on around me.

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Blog Comments

Evie
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Great post Kel!

Ash
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Lovely post :)

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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Ugh, sounds like life in any big city, but it sounds like you think UCL is worth it, right?

Genomic Repairman
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Hah you got suckered into the Eye too!

yannisguerra
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And never take a cab...unless you are super rich.
If you have some money, the ethnic food (non english?)is really good.
And yes, you never go to the landmarks in the city you live in, because "you have time to do it later"

Kelly Oakes
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Brian Krueger, PhD said:
Ugh, sounds like life in any big city, but it sounds like you think UCL is worth it, right?


Imperial ;) and yes I do think it is. I've mentioned a lot of negative points but I do think there are positives that make it worth it, perhaps ones that I take for granted like being at one of the best unis in the country.

Tideliar
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Greatest and finest city on this or any other earth. And also known as home sweet home...I think London is the only city i could guarantee I'd be happy. Well, London and Washington DC.

"It takes so long because London is so big - if it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be anywhere to go to in the first place."

have you been reading Terry Pratchett? Sounds very like Ankh Morpok...

jonathon
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Before arriving in London, each student receives a short description of the room with the possibility to share a room with a number of other independent students. Twin rooms in flat shares are ideal for friends or travelling companions who wish to stay in comfortable and affordable surroundings in London. Depending on an individual's needs almost every type of flat is available for rent globally now.So if you are looking for a place to rent worry no more as it really is no rocket science. Just log on to an online directory like Plaza Estates rental and browse through your favourite flats for rent.

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