Books & Study Life

KCL – 1st term

As some of you might recall, in August I shared the news that I’m going to King’s College starting from year 2, click on the link to find out more if you are curious.
I should start by saying that I am enjoying my time at King’s very much. In this post I will share my experience on the first term at KCL, from food to the societies I joined and, of course, about the studies, as in modules and assignments.

Picture of books and a mug

All the books in the pictures are related to what I’m studying or I studied.

Similarly to my experience at Oxford, I will chat about on a few topics, schedule, modules & assignments, food, and societies. I will not share anything on specific teachers or colleagues. I will say that I am happy with all the teachers, I think the seminars are very interesting, the lectures are clear, and the material is engaging. King’s is a very diverse place with people from all around the world, from different backgrounds, and I love that. I found out a lot of fascinating things, just from my colleagues describing their experiences.

I have 4 modules, so I have 4 sets of readings and 4 lectures each week. Usually the lectures are about 1h for each module and the readings can vary from about 70 to 150 pages. In total I read from 300+ to 500+ pages a week. This is why I have less time for reading books, as most of the readings are chapters or, very often, articles.


KCL. Weekly schedule:

Because I commute home almost weekly, unless my husband joins me for a few days in London, I read on the train journey. After trying the premium service I’m not going back to standard class mainly because it seems that everybody is working on their laptops in the premium coach, so it’s nice and quiet and I can do more than in standard.

Luckily I did not have seminars of Fridays, so I could return to Liverpool on Thursday evening, usually. I would say that in total I’m spending over 30 hours each week studying, more towards 40. It is a full time endeavour that is without a doubt.


KCL. Modules & Assignments:

I mentioned that I have 4 modules. Two of them were semester and two are yearly. As for assignments, I had to do a presentation and I picked workhouses as my topic, which was fascinating. Besides that I had to do essays of different lengths, a review-like assignment of a museum, and another small assignment on note taking. I like the diversity of the assignments, even though essays are a safer choice, the others push us to do something new and that is very good.
What I am less pleased is that I have 2 deadlines on the same day and I would have preferred to have at least a day between them.

My modules are: Memory, Human Rights, Middle East, Industrial Revolution. The first two are the ones for the first semester only, although I will have another Memory module on the second semester too, but it will be slightly different.

Memory module was so interesting. We touched on how historical events are remembered, talked about museums, statues, pageants, LGBTQ+ history. With such a diverse topic one learns a lot. I am very happy that I took this module, even if it was mandatory. I would have picked it if it was not mandatory. I think the topics and how are presented are very important for future historians, regardless of the career path one wants to pick. Also, because one of the assignments is more journalistic than essayistic, that offers the opportunity for developing more skills.

Human Rights was the second one term only module. I wonder if I should say that this was my favourite module because I like all of them very much. In this module we talked about so many things, from Locke and Voltaire to climate change as a human rights issue. It is an ideology focused module and the readings were very diverse, spanning over 300+ centuries. Finishing in present day was great.

Middle East in the 19th and 20th centuries is a module I picked without knowing much about the topic. It felt daunting in the first 2-3 weeks, as there was so much information. Now I am impressed with how much I learned and how many things I can remember from the weekly seminars, lectures, and readings, of course. What is amazing about this topic is that it covers such a broad area and a long period and we get a more global view.

British Economic History couldn’t be more different than the other, as it is focused on the economical perspective, and it’s quite heavy in graphs and maths. Luckily we are not required to produce graphs for the assignments. Also, who knew that reading on the theory of the high-wage economy can be so enjoyable? I was not keen on the topic I picked for the first essay, so I’ve changed it and I loved writing it.

For some modules is easy to pick essay questions or other assignments from the beginning, because I already knew about Locke, for example, but with economic history or even the Middle East, where I’m less aware of what it entails, I will have to be flexible and change the question if I’m not happy with it.

As you can see the diversity of modules is pretty impressive.


KCL. Food:

What I had low expectations was the food offering for vegans. Well, I am amazed how many options there are at King’s. I would highly recommend KCL for vegans who want to eat at university regularly. One of the food places is 100% plant based, and it is in a splendid location. All the other places have at least 2-3 vegan options! The soya milk is available without an extra charge.

At Roots, the vegan place at King’s, which is in Bush House on the 8th floor, close to the Strand too, the food is pretty amazing. In the picture above all are from there. The cakes are smooth and delicious. The food is different each day, pasta or gnocchi, aubergine-based middle eastern dishes, Indian dishes.
At the other place I’ve been to a lot of times, Chapters in Strand, there are a couple of vegan desserts, a sandwich, and a chickpea and winter vegetable salad that is very filling and very good too.

I always have my lunch at university in the days I have seminars. The prices are not very expensive either, as a main meal is about £5, which is not exactly cheap but it offers great value for money considering that I wouldn’t have had better options nearby and the food is so good. Cakes are £2-£3 and coffee is about £2.


KCL. Societies:

I joined three societies: Rifle, Vegetarian&Vegan Society, and Self-Defence. I joined the Rifle society and I am enjoying learning how to shoot. This is an activity I would like to do more of and I will join a shooting club next year.

The colleagues from the Vegetarian Society seem very nice, but I’ve seen them only once because I was always busy on the days they organised events. I hope next term I will be able to join them a few times.

Lastly, the Self-Defence Society, is a strange one, as in I talked with someone from the society when I went to London on the opening day and I was curious. I tried it once and loved it, so I went every week. The style is Krav Maga, Israeli street defence, and it is very results focused. We are not learning how to do complicated stuff, but how to de-escalate a situation and if we are not able to do that how to protect ourselves. It is very different from martial arts I did in high-school. I am considering joining a Krav Maga club in Liverpool because it is useful and also it is a real workout too.

8 Comment

  1. It sounds like you’re having a great time at KCL! I’m so happy for you, I think I would struggle to go back and study now. I’m glad to hear there’s a vegan cafe on campus too!

    Corine x

  2. Ah, this was so interesting to read! I am glad you have had a good term and chosen such interesting modules. The food sounds and looks great! The memory module sounds most intriguing! History is such an interesting subject to study.

  3. I loved getting to catch up with all you’ve been doing in this post. I know it’s been busy. Your courses sound interesting and I’m impressed with the food choices. My daughter was just saying recently that it’s a shame most coffee shops here charge extra for non-dairy milk choices. (I think it’s discriminatory to do so)

    I’m also impressed with all three of your societies. I find it quite interesting that you’ve gotten involved with the shooting and I’m a bit surprised it’s even offered. Shooting sports really do build skills and are fun in the process.
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    1. The food is pretty amazing, very pleased with the choices.
      I was thinking of more societies, archery and fencing, equestrian too, but they were either too late or too far, maybe next year.
      Shooting is really great, I enjoy it a lot and I think I’m quite good at it, considering the limited experience. In the picture above, the target is from my 2nd round of shooting. I am very keen on shooting as a sport, with a paper target I mean. 🙂 This society is over 100 years old from what I gathered. It used to be rifle and pistol but pistol is now illegal because it is a conceleable weapon and only modified pistols can be used (long barrel or an addition metal thing to make the pistol at least 60cm long).

  4. What an interesting post, Anca, thanks for sharing your first term and I am pleased that you are settling in well and enjoying life so much!

    I have to say that you seem to be eating quite well and I don’t think you can complain about the prices, as they do seem quite a bit less than out in the mainstream restaurants, although the coffee might be a little on the pricy side?

    It is good that you have also been able to stretch to premium train tickets, not only from the perspective that you can actually work in relative peace and quiet on your journey, but also from the improved safety aspect.

    The Human Rights and British Economic History modules both sound good to me and that you have also found time to join a few clubs and societies, although I’m not so sure about shooting, but that’s only my personal preference!

    I guess you have finished for the Christmas break now, so it is good to have you back online and i hope you get chance to relax and spend time with your husband 🙂

    1. Yes, coffee is a bit expensive compared with the rest of the prices, but overall is ok. The train is safe, but it can be noisy if is crowded and I can’t always work, which means I woud waste 2h instead of reading and that’s not ok. The train is quite expensive anyway, but I can work and I couldn’t do that in the car.
      Shooting is so relaxing, especially with a rifle, as I need to control my breathing to hit the target. I compare it with yoga as breathing is so important, it’s just me, the rifle, and the target and everything else is quiet. I just love it. The self-defence class is aggressive, but the first thing the teacher tells us is to back away if possible and I like that. As a workout is pretty fab too. We do some pushups in the warm up, for example.
      I’m on my break indeed, although I do have some essays due just before the 2nd term starts. :))

  5. I’m so pleased you finally were able to post about your experience, the things you are taking and studying and just life at KCL. I’m so glad you can find the food you need and also that you can get home on weekends quite regularly. It seems the train would give you a good amount of time to read. That’s a lot of reading! And many diverse subjects. The “Memory” module sounds especially interesting to me. The self-defence society sounds like an interesting one, too. I’m so glad that your experience has been a positive one for it is a very big step, especially with the distance from home. Thanks for letting us into your world!

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