An insider’s guide to studying in London

Lexa Pennington's picture

Making the decision to pack up your laptop, a bag of clothes, and a heap of textbooks, and head to a completely different country in order to study can be incredibly exciting, yet daunting. The chances are you won’t know anybody at all, so how can you ensure you make the most of your time abroad? The best way, of course, is to choose your location, and educational establishment, wisely. Some cities in different countries will offer better opportunities, and experiences, than others, and it’s essential to do your research; where on earth offers the best courses, the kind of culture you’re looking to explore, and the adventures you’re hoping to have? If the answer to those questions is London, allow us to be your guide…

An insider’s guide to studying in London

London: City of Culture

The first thing to mention about London is its culture – or, rather, cultures. You see, while London has an incredible history of its own dating back hundreds of years, it has come to be something of a cultural melting pot, inspired by each of those who has come to call it home. London can, therefore, come as something of a shock, but in the best possible way. The weather, for example, may come as an unpleasant surprise if you’re used to warmer climes, but the rain is something you’ll grow to love. Meanwhile the bustling roads, towering buildings, array of accents, and juxtaposition of vibrant streets and quiet parks, vintage store fronts and contemporary glass towers, will also become a part of who you are as much as where you live. The key to such a mass of the new and slightly odd is to embrace every moment; sure, enjoy being a tourist during your early days and weeks, but you’ll soon adore London as if you’ve lived there forever. 

If you’ve chosen to study in London, there’s a chance you’re looking for excitement, heaps of history, and the opportunity to study in a place that defines diversity; you won’t be disappointed.

So, how do you make the most of London’s unique heritage? Traverse the streets, ride on the underground trains, and take at least one bus to wherever you need to go – soak it up. If you’re moving away from home for the first time it can also be a good idea to plan a trip to London before you make that final journey. There are some fantastic vacation apartments in London that make perfect bases from which to explore your new home; become a local in no time.

Regardless of how much you love grow to love London, there may come a time when you realize how much you miss home too; such feelings are completely normal, and are usually conquerable by visiting a new place to remind yourself why you fell in love with London. Take a stroll with friends, admire a new corner of the city, or simply retreat to your room to hide from the world for a bit. It’s important to remember that, with five major airports, London isn’t as far from your family and friends as it may feel; having visitors to stay is a great way to combat feelings of loneliness, as well as inspiring those you love to fall head over heels with your new home.

Accommodation: Living in London

You may have heard rumors that London isn’t the cheapest place on earth to live, and you’d be proven right. London is a buzzing metropolis, and it thrives on this reputation. There are, however, bargains to be found if you’re prepared to look hard enough. Living in shared accommodation can seriously reduce living costs, especially on grocery shopping, while choosing to live in university halls during your first year is a wonderful way to ease yourself into London living; just imagine how many new friends you’ll have to live with in you remaining years as a student. As an overseas student, now is a good time to explore the tuition fees that you’ll be expected to pay, as well as any bursaries or grants you’ll be eligible for. Well, you never know unless you ask, do you? Following that first year in the relative safety of student accommodation, think about the areas you’d like to live in, whom you’d like to live with, and the type of budget you have. Okay, so you may not get a mansion on Mayfair, but not all student digs are a disaster.

London is a veritable paradise, just waiting for overseas students to explore its many hidden gems; regardless of what you’re studying, you’re certain to learn more about life from London’s streets rather than its textbooks. You’ve no doubt heard of the city’s palaces, its dungeons, its galleries, and museums, but your time as a student should be about discovering your own version of London. Dance the night away under a canopy of street lights, discover hidden vintage stores and boutique cafes, and walk until you can’t walk anymore. Only then will you be a Londoner.