Hello readers, my name is Fran and I am the Senior Editor at the UCL chapter. As a European student that has been living in London for the past three years, I am feeling wise enough to share my top 5 tips for studying in London.
- Engage as much as possible in university-organized activities and join a club if you like!
It might sound silly or even obvious, but this is the first step not only to make friends but also to understand and appreciate the culture of the university you are attending. I highly recommend that if you are undecided about which clubs are best suited for you or are unaware of what you want to do, then attend freshers fair. It will provide the chance to talk to the societies’ and clubs’ members. Remember they are there to help! Do not be afraid to join clubs and societies involved in activities or events that you have not yet experienced. Feeling that art or photography might interest you? This is the time and place where exploring happens, so go and enjoy this discovery journey!
- Often students move to bigger and more expensive cities, my advice after 3 years as a broke student is to try to look for FREE events and student discounts.
Among my favourite platforms to find free or affordable events and activities in London is ‘TimeOut!’ Here you can find free evenings in museums, free drawing class in art galleries, cheap yoga classes, cooking classes, booze tasting and so much more! In these cases, you will have to be creative and try to explore what you might not be used to interacting with. Leave your comfort zone; after all, you have already moved to come to London, so you are already a risk-taker and an explorer! I was not aware I was such an art lover, but thanks to the numerous free initiatives or student discount events, I have found a hobby! Do not give up and do not think you will always need lots of money (or even the bank of mum and dad) to do fun things. London is a welcoming city and shaped by students and young needs!
- Lose yourself in the city!
I know that nowadays we are always aware of where we are and the very popular places we love to hang out in, but from my personal experience, my favourite parts of the city are the ones that are not on the tourist’s map. So, switch off your Google map and lose yourself in your new home. London also offers incredibly cheap trips on the tube for only £1.50, so take this opportunity to see London Outskirt and residential areas (hidden pubs with a delicious Sunday roasts are ready to be found, or spicy curries which are to die for).
- Engage with the local cuisine!
As an Italian I have always been very opinionated (and stubborn) about food: nobody makes it as delicious as my nonna! But if I were you, I’d try to attend food festivals and farmer markets, which will allow you to discover new foods and new flavours! Trust me, your palate will thank you! ‘London Farmers Markets’ is an incredibly useful website where you can find all you need: Vegan? Celiac? Meat lover? No worries! There is a farmer market to suit everyone’s taste and dietary requirements. What I really like about these markets is not just exploring the local food, but that these markets are organized and attended by farmers who are selling their own products. You will also be playing an incredibly important role in sustaining the local farming community! So, not only will you have a gorgeous meal, but you will also help the local community– what else can you ask for? Permanent food markets are also available. My favourite one? Brixton Food Market!
- Create your own little family!
Moving far away from home can be hard and make you feel lonely at times. I recommend creating a little family with the people you are engaging with during lecture or even those you live with in halls! Be brave and try to promote frequent quality time evenings–where food is shared, board games are played and perhaps even there are really bad attempts at karaoke (especially if you love singing but you are terrible like me!). People are coming from all over the world and we are all looking to meet new people!
I have shared my top tips for studying in London as a European student. So… what are you waiting for, you should be on your way to explore Greenwich and eat some fish and chips!