The first two weeks of the MPA can be overwhelming – there are amazing people to meet, new things to learn and life admin to get out of the way. Here a few tips for settling into student life in London.

  1. Giffgaff offer a very competitive month-by-month phone deal and also offer second-hand handsets if you need a cheap unlocked phone when you first arrive
  2. Santander bank has a branch on LSE campus – get in early in your first week to book a consultation as spots will book-up fast. Natwest Bank is also based near to campus, with two branches located on High Holborn. They both offer international student current accounts, but other banks like Barclays and Lloyds also have similar offers if you want to shop around a bit. Another option is Monzo. It’s not a traditional bank, but many students and Londoners use it for pre-paid cards, low fees and managing multiple currencies (there’s a long wait list for Monzo cards so you’ll need to be a little strategic to get yourself one of these!). Finally, for highly competitive foreign transfer rates and easy transactions abroad, check out Transferwise.
  3. There are a few ways to travel on the tube. You can purchase an oyster card at most stations and load it up with credit, or if you have a contactless debit/credit card, you can just use that to swipe in and out each time you travel. However, if you’re willing to put in the effort to sign up for a student oyster card you’ll get 30% off every time you travel, which will end up saving you a lot. It’s also probably worth paying the £30 for a student rail card for around 30% off for rail journeys – you’ll definitely want to get out of London before long, and rail journeys are very expensive in the UK.
  4. Signing up for an NUS student card will give you a bunch of discounts at some of the more common restaurants (the 30% off at PizzaExpress is almost guaranteed to make back the £30 joining fee within a month), as well as at lots of other shops and services. They also usually offer a heavily discounted subscription to the Economist if that’s your thing.
  5. Everyone has their own views on the best brew in central London, but to get you started on your quest to find your favourite, you might want to check out Prufrock coffee (on Leather Lane), Fleet Street Press, or the Espresso Room, just north of campus.
  6. If you find the silence of the library a bit oppressive, some good nearby cafes with free wifi and a welcoming attitude towards laptops are the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Hubbard and Bell, and Timberyard Seven Dials
  7. If you’re into classic cinema, the British Film Institute and the Prince Charles Cinema both have good membership deals. The Prince Charles Cinema has a £10 annual membership deal which gives you access to regular £1 screenings and discounts off normal tickets
  8. If fine art is more your jam, then definitely sign up for a £5 National Art Pass from the Art Fund. It will get you heavily discounted or free tickets to London’s many incredible galleries and exhibitions
  9. While the LSE library is great, if you need a change of scenery, there are also many excellent libraries around London. A 20 minute walk up into Bloomsbury will take you to the Senate House Library. You can sign up on the spot with your LSE student card and can usually get a desk in an atmospheric old reading up on the 5th or 6th floors. The British Library is another good option, with about a dozen specialised reading rooms, three cafes, hundreds of desks, an enormous catalogue and rotating exhibitions. You’ll need to bring along a bit of paperwork and queue for 20 minutes to sign up, but its free for students.
  10. There are about a dozen excellent second hand and specialty bookshops around Bloomsbury, just north of campus. Judds and Skoob are probably the most well-known, for their towering stacks of humanities and politics titles, but for broader, (or sometimes far more niche) interests, wander over to the London Review of Books, Treadwells, SOAS bookshop and Waterstones.