King's College, UK: The Study Experience of Maria

Maria is currently pursuing her Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience at King's College Londonin the UK. We asked Maria about her experience of studying abroad.

King's College London, UK: The Study Experience of Maria

What are your name and age? Where are you from?

I’m Eleni-Maria Papachristodoulou, I’m 19 years old and I come from Nicosia, Cyprus.

What is the name of your university, study programme, which discipline? When did you start studying?

I started studying Neuroscience at King’s College London in September of 2017, so I’m currently a freshman.

What made you choose this programme? How did you decide?

I have quite an anecdote about that. When I was about 15, my mum was working for a neuroscience company and one day, they sent over this machine, you have to put it on your head and plug it into the computer. It puts a little cube on the screen which you can then move or make it disappear with your brainwaves.

It was the same time we started having neuroscience topics in IGCSE and it just came to me, I wanted to do neuroscience. Especially since I had already been thinking about psychology in the first place.

What were the main challenges you had to face before being accepted to your university?

Because of my timetable, I ended up doing four A-levels. I had to do English literature on top of private lessons for Maths and Chemistry, which meant that I had barely any time to concentrate on Biology. It ended up being a massive struggle for my own sake, I was working 12 to 16 hours per day just to try and get the everything done. But other than that, the application process was really straightforward and I was lucky to have the support systems in my life that helped me get through with it.

What are three things you like most about the university? Why?

Even before choosing this university, I knew that employability will be a very big factor in my life and this is what I like most about King’s College. I feel like the security of knowing that I will graduate from a top university impacts the way my university life is going. Another thing would be the fact that we’re in central London, there’s just something about this city that makes you want to be here. Also. it overlaps with my third reason: I just feel like it’s right. Whatever you do at King’s College, you feel like you belong.

If you could improve anything about the university, what would it be?

Some of the lectures are not dynamic and it feels like the lecturers are reading off the slides, and it’s not what you expect when you come to the university. I would like to see more enthusiasm from some of them, maybe, in that case, more people would show up to 9 am lectures. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that much, it’s such a small fraction of our lecturers that it doesn’t impact on the overall experience that much.

What are three things you like the most about the city?

I think number one thing would be the fact that on any given day, in any given place, no matter the weather, there will always be something to do. The spontaneity of this city allows it. The fact that you never really have to plan anything and still have fun is astonishing. There’s always something fun, there are opportunities around every corner, the chances to see beautiful things and to learn more about the city’s history. Whoever you are and whatever you’re into, you’ll always find something.

Name one thing you would have liked to be different about the city? Why?

Price. Hands down the worst thing about the city are how much you end up spending. Housing prices, food prices, it all adds up to incredible sums. If you don’t learn how to spend money cleverly, it can really hurt your wallet.

What was the biggest surprise in your study adventure?

It’s not as difficult as it was towards the end of A-levels, shockingly enough. The thing is, with the university I feel like I’m learning exactly what’s going to be on the exam. I don’t have to think, “What is the examiner going to think?”, “What if they throw us a curveball?”. It just feels like what we know is what we’re meant to know. We don’t need any leg-ups, we don’t need to pay an incredible amount of money for personal tutors and things like that. It’s all straightforward from now on.

How would you rate your experience on a scale from zero to ten (0 – It is/was a total disaster, 10 – I have/had the time of my life)? Why?

Oh, a solid 9. I met some amazing people, I genuinely enjoy the course, everything is great. The only reason why it’s not a 10 is that certain parts of the course, as I’ve mentioned, are a bit dry and repetitive and I feel like that could have been avoided by making sure that all lecturers are passionate about their work and if there was more communication between departments content-wise. Sometimes it just happens that we repeat an entire concept with a different lecturer a day or a week, or a month after we’ve learnt it with someone else. But as you can see, again, that doesn’t impact my day to day experiences that much. It’s still a 9.

Is there anything that you would do differently if you could do it over again?

I feel like had I known I would end up with high exam results, I probably would have tried to apply to even better universities. Though I’m sure now that even if I did have enough good grades to be accepted to the top of the top, like Cambridge, I would have still ended up at King’s. It would have been just a matter of principle, having had an offer from Cambridge. I would have still chosen King’s College.

What are your plans after graduating?

At this point, I’m just feeling the whole thing out. If I can find med tech opportunities in the field with a Bachelor’s, then I’ll go for it. But if it seems to be impossible, if I see that for my dream job I need to get a PhD, then I’ll get myself a PhD and go from there. I probably want to do something in the research and development area, where I can actually have a voice in what happens and in how I can contribute to the creation of something new and the creation of something good. Or at the very least, I want to do some work on something that isn’t just a drug. And even if I do end up working at a pharmaceutical company, I hope that I get some role that’s significant.

Share your favourite spot, the university and the city with us!

My favourite spot in London would probably have to be the Natural History Museum. It’s so fun and pretty. There’s a robot T. Rex! Either that or the Tate Modern actually. It’s such a good place to just go to and relax, let your mind wander. In the university, it would either be the library, where I spend most of my time (laughs) or the campus café. “The Shed” is where I met most people, where most of us became friends. It’s where we were when we first saw snow in London and ran outside to play with it. It brings great memories.

Did you find your study programme on StudyPortals? If so, how then did StudyPortals help you in your decision process?

No, I didn’t, I heard about the university through the family. However, I wish I had known this website because of all the data, all the suggestions, I would have really loved to have that kind of information on hand.

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