HOW TO PREPARE FOR STUDENT LIFE IN LONDON
So you’re about to embark on some of the best years of your life in one of the liveliest cities in the world. To make sure you’re prepared for all the excitement to come, we’ve got a few handy hints that should help you both before you start life as a student in London and over the next few years.
Follow our 10 top tips to ensure that you’ve got everything organised and can crack on with the fun when you arrive in the Big Smoke.
1. Find somewhere fantastic to live
Unlike many other university cities, London universities aren’t campus based with lecture halls a stumbling distance away. Instead you will need to have a look at where the majority of your university buildings are located and find some lovely and affordable student accommodation nearby.
There’s lots of private student accommodation dotted around central London that will be inclusive of bills and utilities and most importantly, secure. So you needn’t worry about setting money aside in your budget for bills in your first year, or your safety in the city. Finding student accommodation with an onsite management team will make sure that this is all in hand.
2. Start to familiarise yourself with the Tube network
London is wonderfully easy to travel around, all you need to do is keep your Student Oyster travel card topped up and you can hop on a bus, train or the Tube and make your way from one end of the city to the other.
Take the time before you arrive in the city to work out which Tube lines you’ll need to use to get from your student accommodation to your university buildings. This is essential if your first time on the Tube will be when you start university, as navigating the spider web of Tube lines can be a bit of a stressful experience in a bustling underground station.
3. Register with a doctor and dentist
Your university or Student’s Union will be able to give you a hand with this task. It’s a good idea to get this boxed off and out of the way before you arrive, as life will quickly get a little hectic with a jam-packed social and academic calendar.
4. Budgeting in London
The best way to budget is to get organised and plan ahead:
Start things off by setting up a student bank account.
Find out how much your first loan instalment will be.
Work out how much you’ll need for food, travel and any other essential outgoings each week.
Subtract this from the total loan amount and divide the remaining amount by the total number of weeks in your first term – this will be your spending money each week.
Once your loan comes through, move it straight into a savings account or a personal account that is not your student account.
Set up a weekly standing order from this to your student account with a set amount that covers your essential outgoings and spending money.
Sounds complicated but will make things a heck of a lot easier at the end of the term!
No matter where you are heading off to university in September, you will need to budget. Setting up a weekly payment into your student account will help you manage your money and ensure that you’re able to make the most of all the opportunities available to you.
5. Food shopping
Give yourself a helping hand when it comes to getting in your weekly food shop and make a good shopping list. This should comprise all the ingredients for your meals for the week; which you can plan on another list.
Such diligent planning will keep your fridge and cupboards healthily stocked while helping you stick to your weekly budget. You could even up the ante with an online shop, enabling you to keep a sharp eye on the cost of the products mounting up in your shopping basket and making life oh-so easy.
6. Eating out as a student in London
The thought of eating out as a student in London needn’t cause a feeling of purse-gripping anxiety. Certainly not when there are hundreds of cheap eating options as far as the eye can see (as long as your eye is looking in all the right places).
All you need is your ever faithful student discount card and to take your pick from the gargantuan number of voucher sites that are quite literally offering you the world’s cuisines on a plate, at significantly cut down prices.
If you fancy splashing out a bit, head to the markets in Camden, Portobello and Borough for a feeding frenzy on delicious bites made by some of the city’s finest.
7. Student pub and club nights in London
Don’t forget to pack your best garms and dancing shoes, ready for boogying the night away all over the city. There are top student nights on most days of the week, with cheap entry and drinks keeping the cost of your busy social life affordable. Here are a few of our recommendations for weekday fun and games:
Tuesday: PANIC! At The Roxy
Wednesday: Tropical at The Nest
Thursday: Lights On at Lightbox
Friday: West End Pub Crawl
8. Safety in London
As with any big city, it is crucial that you are diligent about your personal safety in London. This means that you should always:
Travel with a friend whenever possible
Avoid walking home alone at night
Book a taxi in advance (using firms such as Uber) or use a black cab – never get in an unmarked taxi
Plan your journey in advance, particularly if you’re likely to miss the last Tube home
Keep valuables out of site as much as possible
Ensure that your Oyster is topped up
The great thing about London is that it’s always busy, so there’s no need to worry as long as you’re sensible and don’t go home too late as there are always lots of people around.
9. Sightseeing and day trips
There are endless museums, galleries and events to visit and attend all over the city, most of which are free entry. So whether you want to immerse yourself in the land before time at the Natural History Museum or discover groundbreaking exhibitions at the Tate Modern, your inner culture vulture will be suitably satisfied.
Alternatively, if you’re craving a little fresh air beyond the confines of the city, head out to the lovely and vibrant seaside city of Brighton, located just a hop, skip and a jump from London.
10. Keeping fit and healthy
Once you’ve got your student accommodation in the bag, research the local area to find your nearest fruit and vegetable stall and budget gym. Fruit and vegetables are generally much cheaper from a stall than the supermarket and often tastier.
If the idea of a budget gym doesn’t float your boat fitness-wise, make the most of the various large green spaces in central London such as Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath and head on out for a run. When the weather takes a turn for the worse and running outside is suddenly less appealing, there are plenty of free exercise videos on YouTube and the NHS website, not to mention all those free fitness apps!
Article & Image courtesy of THE STUDENT HOUSING COMPANY