10 tips I wish I had before coming to study at Imperial

# From a current EU student to prospective EU students

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you either received an offer *CONGRATULATIONS* or you’re thinking of applying to a STEM degree. Yet, something seems to be holding you back and you’re trying to convince yourself why you should choose Imperial College London. You’re scared of leaving your home town? You’re worried that you may not keep up with the high academic challenges? What should you expect? So many questions with so few answers… I know how stressful it can be to leave everything behind, especially that familial cocoon you grew up in. The saying turning over a new leaf and taking the big leap never made as much sense as when I left my French Lycée for Imperial. Here are some 10 tips I wish I got before coming here:

# London streets, iconic French Eiffel Tower and Queen’s Tower at Imperial

Tip 1: Facing academic challenges 😨

Not all of you will have taken A levels or IB but national diplomas and you’re worried that you may be at a disadvantage compared to your peers? I 100% feel you. I graduated with a Science Baccalauréat (Mathematics, Physics, Life Sciences) with further Mathematics and International Chinese Baccalaureate Option. I was slightly terrified when I learnt that my peers had 4-6 subjects when I had 14 and will always remember my first ever lecture at Imperial. It was on orbitals. My biggest nightmare. Orbiwhat was literally my first reaction. Here I was trying to follow what seemed like gibberish to me, sp3 hybridisation, oxyanions, pi bonds. We never covered this at school and I was completely clueless. I decided to go speak to the lecturer who was to my astonishment extremely approachable and gave me a list of relevant chapters to read. Now, you’re probably here thinking, oh no… am I going have to catch up on everything? Don’t worry that’s not the case. Phewwww, I know… While there are some areas that you may be less comfortable with compared to your peers, there will be areas that others have not seen. Don’t worry I promise, everything eventually balances out.

There may be times where you feel completely alone and lost but don’t be scared to ask for help. The staff are extremely approachable and want you to succeed. Your peers are also a precious and for some less intimidating help! Big shout out to Isabelle and Ewen for having unveiled the mysteries of organic chemistry to me!

Tip 2: Maintaining healthy social life 🙌

Imperial students are known for their ability to “work hard, play hard”. Your degree of choice can be daunting at times with multiple heavy deadlines and exams the same week. Despite this, maintaining a healthy social life is what will help you balance it all out. There is an impressive list of Clubs and Societies you can pick from for you to continue your hobbies *check out the list below* or even try out new ones you never thought you would enjoy. There really is something for everyone from belly dancing, wine and cheese, Model United Nations, lacrosse etc. If you’re scared of feeling home sick and want to reconnect with your European roots abroad, Imperial has many patriotic European clubs: French society has wine and cheese tastings for example!

Tip 3: Talk to people 👥

Scared of not fitting in? You may think that your cultural backgrounds are going to clash with your peers, making it challenging to forge new friendships. Remember 2 things:
a) You will be surrounded with like-minded peers who are in the same position. So be brave and start discussions. Be the ice-breaker! Give and you will receive.
b) Imperial is both a European and International university, a true melting pot which embraces diverse cultural backgrounds!

Bonding over cooking is also not a myth. People love food! Highlights of my first year including hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, Raclette parties, homemade bubble tea from scratch, dumplings you name them!

Tip 4: Get to know British words and expressions 🇬🇧

My personal favourites include: Blimey, lost the plot, dodgy, tenner, quid, knackered, chap, cheers!

Tip 5: Don’t let the perspective of living in a capital city scare you away 🎡

Capital cities can be intimidating, especially if you grew up by the countryside or in a quiet town. Don’t worry, you grow very fond of London. Its parks, pubs, museums, restaurants start to feel like home surprisingly fast. There’s so much to see and do! Make sure you spend sometime discovering it. Big shout out to my amazing tour guide and friend GAT who knows London like the back of her hand.

Tip 6: Getting to your surroundings 🌆

Imperial’s main campus is in South Kensington, with so much for you to discover. The Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria Albert Museum are just a 5 mins walk away! It’s a shame that most students have never set foot in them when tourists cross land and sea. When the weather permits it (surprisingly more than I thought with the English bad weather cliché) students have picnics in Queen’s lawn (next to the iconic Queen’s tower on our campus) or stroll through Hyde Park (5 mins away also). London is also magical in winter season, feel free to check out my blog for more information!

Tip 7: Reconnect with Europe ✈️
At Imperial, you can easily reconnect with Europe by taking a year abroad, a year in industry or even a degree with a European language for example, Biochemistry with German. In this case allowing you to combine your degree of choice with the opportunity to maintain linguistic German language skills in a science context! Be sure to check out the different courses!

Tip 8: Finance 💰

London is known to be an expensive city and some may wonder how students even manage to survive. Upon your arrival, a Imperial student ID card will be given to you, giving you access to many discounts in restaurants, bookshops and clothing stores. You will be surprised how many shops actually do student discounts! The ID card also allows you to access on-campus restaurants or shops at a discounted student price. You should definitely also download apps such as Unidays or Too good to go. What’s great about Imperial is that you can also take on a part time job along side your studies where you decide when you want to work. This flexibility allows you to take on both your degree and work when you have the time. The Imperial Career service at Imperial is also really helpful in helping you out as Max pointed out. Be sure to check out his blog!

Tip 9: Join student halls 🏢

Student halls are a great way to mingle with European and International students just like yourself during your first year. You will forge some of your strongest friendships there and go through quite some adventures! Check it out!

Tip 10: Beware… the golden tip (the BEST I could ever give you) 👍

Don’t change what you believe it, try to erase your roots or change your personality because you’re scared that you won’t fit in. Just be you. Imperial selected you and wants (E)U. So keep on doing all the things that matter to you and be as open to new experiences as possible.

Enough talking from my side. I hope this reassured you and if you have any specific burning questions left, feel free ask away 😀

2 comments for “10 tips I wish I had before coming to study at Imperial

  1. Thank you! I’ll go along with all this. Especially the points about communication and exploring the surroundings. I was very afraid of the new environment, and it was also hard for me to make new friends in college. But now I am excited about this experience and everything that gives me this studying!

    1. Hi Jane, thank you for your message! I am glad you found this useful! Best of luck on your new London experience.

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