Tête-à-tête with Norbi

Norbi Receiving the IH Community Award for November from IH Warden, Saeed Zeydabadi- Nejad.

Norbi Receiving the IH Community Award for November from IH Warden, Saeed Zeydabadi- Nejad.

In this piece, IH Blog Assistant Editor, Nikol Stoykova, sits down with Norbi, the winner of the November IH Community Award. Read on to learn more about the friendly face that greets us as we enter our home.

Nikol: Describe yourself using only three words.
Norbi: Helpful, talkative, friendly.

Nikol: Where are you from?
Norbi: What is one special thing about the place you grew up in? I’m from Hungary, from a village in the Eastern part of the country that is close to the Romanian border. It is a small town where everyone knows each other, and we talk a lot amongst ourselves. I was looking for a job in Hungary, but it’s really tough, so I followed my sister and came to London. First, I was a cleaner in College Hall. Then, they offered me a job in International Hall, Monday to Friday; they knew my sister, and they knew they could trust her, so they thought, you know, “maybe the brother is similar” (Laughs) Since then, I’m here, since March 2013. I do miss home though, mostly my family, but me and my sister, we go home at least three times a year.

Nikol: What is your favourite holiday and why?
Norbi: It’s definitely in the summer time, maybe in July and August when the weather is nice because you don’t get too much sun around here.

Nikol: What do you wish you had more time for?
Norbi: To be with my family.

Nikol: What is the one food you can eat every day and never get bored of?
Norbi: Good question! I’m not sure if there’s a food I’ll never get bored of. But I definitely miss my mum’s chicken soup! (Laughs)

Nikol: What are you interested in that most people aren’t or haven’t heard of?
Norbi: I really like watching football, but everyone does really. (Laughs) I used to play football back in my country, in third league; it was amateur but I really enjoyed it. But I wouldn’t say I have any extraordinary hobbies.

Nikol: What is the most interesting place you’ve been to?
Norbi: I went to Finland when I was 14. I’ve also been in Spain, Portugal, and Greece, and I really enjoyed it there, but I would say Finland is the most interesting place I’ve visited. The people there are very friendly—I know it’s not just there, but still. It was my first time away from home, my first time getting on a plane. Actually, I went there to play football, and we were staying there with another family, and they were so nice to us. It was my first time away from my family as well, so it really felt heart-warming how welcoming they were. It was really fun, although we didn’t win the tournament. (Laughs)

NIkol: What is an exciting thing coming up in the near future that you’re looking forward to?
Norbi: I’m planning a trip to Canada in March with my girlfriend. We’re staying with her brother in Toronto, and I’ve never been there, so I am excited about the many interesting things there are to see. That’s the biggest plan for this year. I was just looking at the flight tickets today actually. (Laughs)

NIkol: What is one hidden talent that you have or that you wish you had?
Norbi: I would love to be able to play the guitar and sing. Or be a mind-reader. (Laughs)

NIkol: What sport would you really want to be a professional in?
Norbi: Maybe football or cycling. I like to cycle, not this time of the year, but when the weather is better. On the weekends I do 20-25 kilometres just around where I live. I really like watching cycling too! They have incredible stamina: in football, they go for only one and a half hours, while in cycling they can go on for six to eight hours!

Nikol: What is the best thing about working in IH?
Norbi: You meet so many people here. I really like talking to everyone; it’s so nice to get to know so many different people. You can never get bored, even when it gets quiet sometimes. Once you start to chat with people, the time flies so quickly. I know that any problem people have, they’re going to come to me or to someone else who is there. It’s good to help them because for some people it’s very difficult to be away from their family for the first time, I can imagine. I was in student accommodation back at home when I was in high school, so I understand how difficult it could be to be on your own. When you know someone, it’s much easier to settle.

If anybody ever wants to talk to me about something, I’m here. I’m always good to talk for good things or bad things!

Eating Health at IH

What if I told you it really is possible (and simple) to stick to your resolution even at the IH dining hall?

“Nothing in excess” was boldly inscribed years ago on the temples of Delphi. This Greek philosophy can be applied to your diet too. You neither need to gorge down the entire (seldom) good-looking salad bar, nor cut yourself loose on the dessert counter. It’s all about the balance.

A balanced IH tray would ideally contain a rich source of carbohydrate, a rich source of protein, some vegetables and a dessert/fruit.

To break it down, carbohydrate is the primary source of glucose that provides energy, especially to your brain. (Whoever told you to cut down the carbs?!). Examples of good sources of carbohydrates available at the hall are noodles, rice, bread, mashed potatoes or corn. This should be accompanied by a good source of protein such as meat, fish, eggs, tofu, beans, soya or any pulses. Ensure you consume deep-fried or oily dishes less often, and opt for baked or roasted items instead. For those days when you just cannot tolerate the site of naked meat/ fish being served- including boiled eggs in your salad could be a good idea.

Speaking of salads, they could be a good source of vegetables and provide the needed fiber in your diet. A vinaigrette dressing could be a better option than creamy mayonnaise. You could also experiment and make your very own lemon- honey- mustard dressing!

4710502074_63a89233b1_o (1)_edited.jpg

Sugary juices and fizzy drinks could be cut down to 2-3 times a week instead of a daily basis. They tend to provide unnecessary calories and barely contain any nutrients.

One way you could fulfill your dairy requirement for the day is by opting for a pot of flavored yogurt for dessert. Grabbing a fruit, instead of a pastry could also be a better alternative. Flaky pastries tend to have a higher amount of fat in addition to the chocolate/ sugary jam inside the pastry. Even if you do choose the pastry- reconsider drizzling the custard instead of drowning your dessert in it!

Finally, allow yourself cheat days wherein you could wish to enjoy all the croissants and fish and chips IH has to offer. By doing so, there is a higher chance of you sticking to eating healthy on the other days. Here’s to a healthier 2018, without IH food being a roadblock in shedding those extra Kilos!

Ishitaa Bhatia is a resident of International Hall. She is currently pursuing her MSc. In Clinical and Public Health Nutrition at UCL. These are her personal suggestions.Image Credit: CC by Eating Healthy/Flickr

How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint at IH

What is your Carbon Footprint?

Image Credit: CC by Carbon Footprint/ Flickr

Image Credit: CC by Carbon Footprint/ Flickr

Your carbon footprint is the total of all emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which you were created by your activities during a given time-period. You can calculate your carbon footprint on these useful tools designed by www.carbonfootprint.com or by the US Environment Protection Agency. Offsetting our unavoidable CO2 emissions is a practical and immediate way to take ownership of our personal contribution to climate change.

Since we are an international audience, check out this article from the Guardian to see how much CO2 emissions our home countries produce.


How can we reduce our Carbon Footprint?

We put together seven practical ideas for IH Residents on how we can do our part at reducing Carbon Emissions. To learn more about the University of London sustainability efforts, look at this presentation by John Bailey, the Sustainability Officer for the University of London. John would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

1.      Bring your own bags and buy in bulk when possible to reduce packaging. It’s great that we have Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco within walking distance from the hall. Make sure you carry a cloth bag with you or opt to not use a plastic bag if you are only buying a few things.

2.      Reduce your consumption of bottled water and other packaged drinks. In general, driving up demand for plastic means doing the same for fossil fuels. Plus, plastic has several negative impacts on the environment. Thankfully, all the water that comes out of the cold water taps at IH are completely drinkable you can also get filtered water down at the Dining Hall. However, if you prefer, a Brita Filter is a good investment.

3.      Eat less meat, and opt for sustainable sources when it comes to what you do purchase. By one estimate, consuming a pound of beef gives off more carbon than burning a gallon of gasoline. There are several vegetarian options available in the Dining Hall.

4.      Turn off the appliances which are not in use in your room. This especially applies to switching off devices when you are not in your room. Remember to Reduce the Juice.

5.      Take a shorter shower. Ever considered taking a shorter shower? Here are some ideas to help you keep your shower to under six-minutes.

6.      Recycle. As students, naturally, we use a large amount of paper as well as plastic, glass, etc. The EPA estimates that recycling glass, aluminum, plastic, and paper could save 582 pounds of CO2 per year, equivalent to more than 600 miles of driving. There are recycling areas on each floor in the hall. Contact Hall Management – info.ih@london.ac.uk for more information.

7.      In addition to the awesome things to do, one of the best things about living in central London is that you can walk to most places. As awesome as ride-sharing apps can be, consider walking it or using a Santander bike as often as you can.

Looking for more ideas? Click here

Guide to Camden Council Tax

ImageCredit: Selby Design

ImageCredit: Selby Design

Have you received your council tax bill? Unsure what to do next? We have compiled an easy step-by-step Council Tax Guide for you.

Identifying your circumstances

 You will receive a council tax bill by post. Below are explained the steps you need to follow depending on your circumstances.

Case 1: If you are a Full-time student

As a full-time student you can apply for council tax exemption.

Case 2: If you are a Part-time student

Part-time students are not subject to council tax exemption, but can claim a council tax discount.

Case 3: Full-time/Part-time student living with a non-student

The student can apply for exemption or a discount (as explained above). However, the non-student is required to pay the full amount specified on the council tax bill. Find out ways to pay below.

Applying for exemption or discount

In order to claim a student council tax discount or exemption (Case 1,2 and 3) you need to email a scanned copy of your original student certificate/confirmation of study letter in jpg or pdf format to revenues@camden.gov.uk. Please contact your university for this document.

You must put the council tax reference number found on your council tax bill in the subject line of the email you send.

Make sure that the student certificate contains the following information:

•    Name and address of University/College

•    Name of Student

•    Confirmation you are following a course of education

•    Start date of your course

•    End date of your course

•    Confirmation of the hours studied per week (including study, tuition or work experience).

Once your email is received, response will be sent. It usually takes up to 14 days.

Paying your council tax


Go to www.camden.gov.uk. Select ‘Make payment’> ‘Council tax (pay online) and follow the instructions.


Call 020 7974 6104 and follow the automated menu.

By direct debit

Set up a direct debit and you don't have to remember to make your payment. You also have the reassurance of the direct debit guarantee.

For any further questions please feel free to contact, the International Hall Management by emailing info.ih@london.ac.uk.

 Please Note: This blog post serves merely as suggestions on what to do and should be treated as a substitute for information provided by the Camden Council. Please contact them for further information.

Teeth and Eyes

In a previous blog post, "What is the NHS?", it noted that dental and optician services are not included within the NHS. So where can you access these services? 

Dental Services

Some dental services may be included, dependent upon clinical assessment and judgement. Even those that are, still have charges to them. It is always important to discuss with your dentist what options are available and what fees are involved. 

Click here for a list of dental clinics near IH. 

Some universities may even have their own dental clinics. For example, if you are a UCL student, you can access the Dental Centre on 139 Euston Road. 

Image credit: CC via Flickr

Image credit: CC via Flickr

Eye Services

Another service not included within the NHS is eye care services. It is important to get your eyesight checked every two years. Specsavers has a lot of branches across London, including one in Brunswick Centre, right next to IH! They offer eye tests, glasses and contact lenses.

They often have vouchers and deals, including this voucher for a free eye test up until October 31st 2017: https://www.specsavers.co.uk/stores/brunswickcentre  

Additionally, Student Central (for University of London), has an optician centre: http://www.universityvision-ltd.co.uk/


Image credit: CC via Google Images

Image credit: CC via Google Images

Sexual Health Services

Starting university is such an exciting time in your life. You'll meet so many new people, and probably party quite a bit. It can also be a very sexually active time of your life. So it's important to remember to stay safe

The best sex is safe and consensual :) 

Image credit: NHS

Image credit: NHS

Sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs and STIs) 

Young adults (under the age of 25) are most likely to get an STI, so it is important to use condoms to prevent this as much as possible. 

Image credit: Brook.org.uk 

Image credit: Brook.org.uk 

Get tested!

If you are sexually active, it is good practice to get checked for STDs and STIs every 6 months. A lot of infections are asymptomatic, meaning that you could have them and spread them, without knowing because you may not realise it. 

Here's some sexual health services near IH, which offer FREE STD/STI/HIV tests and contraception: 

Mortimer Market Centrehttps://www.sexualhealth.cnwl.nhs.uk/clinics/mortimer-market-centre-including-margaret-pyke-centre/


You can also check with your GP what they can provide for you in terms of sexual health care. 

Boosting your Mental Health

Starting university can be an exciting time, but it can also be a very stressful time. StudentMinds is a UK Student Mental Health Charity, with lots of great resources, including this page on starting university. It gives lots of good tips and advice on how to cope with change and take care of yourself during this period. 

Image credit: Student Minds Charity

Image credit: Student Minds Charity

You're not alone

1 in 4 people in the UK experience mental health problems. 

In an NUS survey, 78% of students believed they experienced mental health problems in the preceding 12 months. 

The majority of students may experience stress, homesickness, anxiety and depression during their time at university. 

Image credit: Student Minds Charity

Image credit: Student Minds Charity

It's fine! 

There are many people and services around that can help you if you're not feeling well. At IH, the Warden's team is here to provide you with pastoral care 24/7. Although the members of this team aren't trained counsellors, they can provide a sympathetic ear and give you further advice on where to get help. 

Here is a list of places you can call or go to for mental health help: 

Samaritans - Call 116 123 to talk to someone. They accept calls 24/7 and are Free 

London Nightline - Call 0207 631 0101

Camden and Islington Psychological Services self-referral - icope.nhs.uk

Your GP is also there for your mental health, not just your physical health!

Your university may also have counselling services, so it is important to check with them or look on their websites. Here's a list of some of the University of London institutions' psychological services for students:

  1. University College London
  2. King's College London
  3. London School of Economics and Political Science
  4. Queen Mary
  5. SOAS
  6. City University
  7. Royal Academy of Music
  8. Goldsmiths

Here are a few links with useful advice on taking care of your mental health as a student:

1.  Looking after your mental well-being

2. Dealing with Exam Stress

3. Your Year Abroad

Of course, at any point, please feel free to reach out to the Warden's Team to discuss any issues regarding mental health or other concerns.