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After a long flight from New York last September, I was completely unprepared for Orientation. It’s not that it necessarily requires lots of involvement and stress, but rather that the events are published in many places, there’s so much going on, and it’s almost impossible to not be at least a bit overwhelmed. Since then, I’ve had a lot of time to adjust, but I thought it might be helpful to make a quick list of tips for how to get through Orientation. Don’t worry too much, but consider taking a look at this list to get a better idea of what to expect:
1. Look over the LSE Orientation page and familiarise yourself with what you need to do, what you have the option of attending, and when events are scheduled. You don’t have to figure everything out ahead of time, but it will be a lot less stressful if you know when you need to go to Registration, for example. For specific information once you’ve arrive, have a look at LSE’s "How to" guides.
2. Keep in mind that LSE Welcome Presentations are compulsory, and the welcome presentations in your academic department may also be compulsory. There will be some events that you’re welcome to skip, but these don’t fall under that category. They’ll provide you with some really useful information that you might have trouble finding later. More information about these presentations will be available on the website in July.
3. Check both the LSESU website, the LSE Postgraduate Students and Offer Holders 2014/15 group, and the LSE Orientation page for information about what’s on. I mostly checked the LSE Orientation page, and I missed out on quite a few events from the LSESU that would have been really great opportunities to meet other students and get some nice refreshments. I had expected all of the information to be in one place, but that’s often not the case, so make sure you look around for events that interest you and write them down somewhere so you don’t forget.
4. Don’t worry about maps and locations until you get to LSE. You’ll be overwhelmed with information, but memorizing the layout of campus before you actually arrive isn’t necessary. Take a look at the campus map just before you arrive, but remember that there will be help points throughout Houghton Street with students waiting to assist you. Campus tours also run each day of Orientation, so there will definitely be someone to help show you around.
5. Meet people! Orientation is one of the best times to meet new people, and it’ll make your experience much better. Remember, though, that it’s also okay if you don’t meet too many people during your first week. For my Orientation, I was exhausted and I hadn’t yet adjusted to being in London yet. I didn’t really speak with anyone until the second week because I was having a tough time. I still managed to make quite a few excellent friends in my hall and through societies- so while it’s always a good idea to try and meet people during Orientation, don’t feel too pressured. You’ll find your way!
It’s no secret that LSE has a tendency of producing extremely successful alumni. From 32 international Heads of State to 16 Nobel Prize winners, us current students have quite big shoes to fill.
But, what if our dreams pull us in a totally different direction than our degree? There is definitely something to celebrate about those individuals brave enough to go down the more bizarre and quirky path. Here is a quick look at some unusual yet awesome stories from alums coming out of our renowned institution…
1. Elham Al-Qasimi - First Arab woman and UAE national to reach the North Pole
Talk about an original list of accomplishments, Elham has thus far been a LSE MSc graduate, investment manager, and North Pole explorer. At 22, Elham left her home of Dubai to take up her MSc in Management of NGOs at LSE. She was quite the standout student here, having received a Distinction for her thesis. For the next few years after finishing her course, she took up positions with the likes of J.P. Morgan and the Impetus Trust. In 2010, she decided to leave her professional life behind to begin training for an expedition to the North Pole in an effort “to stand on top of the world.” She accomplished this goal unsupported and unassisted on the 23rd of April 2010. You go Elham!
2. Edith Nesbit- First modern writer for children and inventor of the children’s adventure story
Commonly known as E. Nesbit, her story certainly falls into the realm of weird and wonderful - she was an active socialist, cofounder of the Fabian Society, and author of over 60 children fiction books. During the height of her career as an author, she also served as a guest lecturer here at LSE during its formative years. In terms of her children’s books, she was celebrated for her ground-breaking approach of contemporary fantasy - she turned away from the tradition of fairy tales and fables set by her contemporaries like Lewis Carroll and Kenneth Grahame and instead set all of her stories in the present day. She had a keen ability to incorporate the hard truths of the times into a positive adventure story. Several of her stories have been adapted for TV and film, and, more likely than not, you probably know one of her stories like “Five Children and It” or “The Railway Children!”
3. Sean Morley aka Val Venis or Steel - Canadian world champion professional wrestler
Not sure what to do with your life after graduating from LSE? You could ditch the academic life and take up professional wrestling like Sean Morley did in the late 1980s. Better known as Val Venis or Steel, he became one of the most successful wrestlers in the world in the mid-90s. After years of rigorous training, he went on to become the 8th CMLL World Heavyweight Champion in 1997. His career skyrocketed after winning this title, and he was super active with the WWF and WWE until 2009. Today, you can catch him in digital form as he appears in various WWE video games. Plus, he hasn’t totally turned a blind eye to his LSE days - Sean can be found campaigning for the Tea Party Movement in the USA.
Honourable mentions: Frank Turner (musician and activist), Sir David Attenborough (broadcaster and naturalist), and Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones founder), to name a few.
If the mounting pressure of becoming a world leader or influential economist is a bit too much to handle, just remember that you can always become something weird and wonderful. Stay strange, LSE!
If you answered yes to most questions, you’re definitely an international student! Finding your feet will be a little daunting - but your Students’ Union is here to help you settle down in London, your new home! :)
Read on for the 6 essential things you’ll need to do…
1. Get to central London from the airport
From Heathrow Airport you can take the London Underground’s Piccadilly Line to central. Journey time by tube is under an hour and you shouldn’t have to wait longer than ten minutes for a train. Other options include the Heathrow Express or Heathrow Connect. Taxis will be pricey but are also available outside the airport.
From Gatwick Airport there are lots of options for getting to London. The Gatwick Express non-stop train service to Victoria runs every 15 minutes with a journey time of 30 minutes. You can also take Southern trains services operating four times an hour, with a journey time to Victoria of around 35 minutes. Taxis will be quite expensive but can be booked online or will be available at the arrivals lounge.
2. Sort out your visa and paperwork
Before you arrive, ensure that you have all the relevant documentation and visas to allow you to study in the UK. Make sure you’ve checked the information you’ll require with your local government. Their website will be a good place to start.
When you finally arrive, LSE staff are here to help with all things related to your visa and immigration issues. International Student Immigration Service staff is qualified to advice you about Tier 4 applications and your responsibilities as a Tier 4 student, police registration and working during your studies. You can find more information online or attend a drop-in session with a lovely staff member. If necessary, you can also request an individual appointment.
3. Get a UK bank account
If you are one of the lucky students staying in the UK for a period longer than a few months, we recommend you to get a bank account. This will allow you to pay bills and rent quickly and easily!
There’s a bank for everyone so research which one is best for you and which important documents they require. Compare what the different banks offer online.
Some banks are quite specific about the format of the documentation they accept. Usually, you need to obtain a bank letter from the Student Services Centre. All banks require current address information, so make sure your contact details in LSE for You are updated before requesting the bank letter.
Find more useful information about bank accounts on the LSE website.
4. Travel around the city
If you live within London then the tube (or subway for the all the Americans out there) is the fastest way to get around the city. Oyster cards are the cheapest way to pay for a single fare journey’s on London underground, buses, DLR and some trains.
If use public transport quite often, you should consider buying a Student Oyster Photocard to get some great discounts on season tickets. As an LSE student you can apply for a student Oyster card as soon as you have a London address.
We’re sure you want to travel around the beautiful places the UK has for you to see. Trains are often the quickest and most comfortable way to get around, but if you’re on a budget, our tip is to take the bus. Megabus and National Express travel between major UK and European cities for very little money - and you can get a student card for the latter, too.
5. Stay in touch with new friends and family
If you’re thinking of getting a mobile phone or landline with broadband, make sure you research different rates online to get the right package for you. Vodafone, O2 and T-Mobile offer dedicated international call plans at similar rates.
If you didn’t download Skype yet, what are you waiting for? FREE internet calls where you can speak to your family, friends and pet!
Not into technology? Don’t worry! Post offices are open from 9am-5.30pm Monday to Friday, 9am-12.30pm on Saturdays. Airmail costs 48p/54p for Europe/the rest of the world. Your family and friends will love to get a postcard with the Queen’s face on it (probably).
6. Stay safe!
London is generally a safe city but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. Always keep your doors and windows locked if you go out and, when you do go out, stay in groups. In case of an emergency call 999 free of charge from any phone. You can also find your nearest police station online.
If you have any questions, need advice or just want to have a chat, your International Students Officer, Indo Vickerson, would love to hear from you! Indo is here to represent your views to the Students’s Union and the School, as well as organising amazing events and campaigns for you. Get in touch on email@example.com.
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