It’s official, London is the best place in the world to study.
Unsurprisingly, based on articles such as the above, there are always going to be a huge number of students who swarm there each and every year. It has the status, culture, size and everything that a student might desire.
At the same time, it’s a completely different beast in comparison to other student cities. For domestic students, studying in London is completely different to say Nottingham, as an example. Then, for international students (and there are a lot who take to the Big Smoke each and every year), there are clearly even more considerations.
Regardless of where you are coming from, let’s now jump into some top tips that can make it so much easier for you to settle into your London studies.
London is large: make your accommodation choice wisely
It doesn’t matter whether you are arriving from abroad or locally, your accommodation is going to be one of the biggest decisions you need to get right.
It’s not a newsflash, London is huge, and there are umpteen types of accommodation available. Furthermore, this accommodation is far from cheap, while there are stories each and every year of students ending up in box-like rooms.
If you have opted for official student accommodation, this shouldn’t be an issue. For everyone else the advice is simple; take your time. You might need to take advantage of storage units in the interim, but if this is what it takes to finding the right place to live then it will be completely worth it. Ask locals, ask estate agents and search high and low for the right place to live. Get this wrong, and you’ll live to regret it for at least the next twelve months.
The great study book trap
In truth, this next point can apply to any university, but bearing in mind the costs you already have to contend with in London, as well as the competition for textbooks, it can be argued it is even more important.
In short, try and buy your textbooks in advance. No, don’t turn to the official sources, but instead turn to eBay, Gumtree or any other source which lists second-hand versions. With some of these books retailing for hundreds of pounds, this can shave some significant sums from your costs.
An Oyster is a must, but there are caveats…
Let’s not get away from the fact that you will need to tap into London’s vast travel network, and an Oyster will help save you money in this regard.
However, there are caveats. The main point is not being lazy. Sure, this is a city with a great travel network, but sometimes it’s just as quick to walk between tube stations. You don’t always have to jump on the underground.
Understand the cultural differences
In those first few weeks before classes start, try and make it your aim to understand London culture.
This can apply to both international and domestic students, as the cultural differences in London can be vast.
For example, it can be as simple as restaurant times. If you reside abroad, you might be used to arriving at a place to eat well into the night, perhaps 11pm. Well, if you operate the same tactics in London, you’ll find yourself getting turned away a lot.
Then, there are shop opening hours. In many other parts of the UK, the high-street closes at 5pm. This is slightly later in London, but still not comparable to other world cities where the shopping hours go much later in the night.