Student Ambassador Dragana Pivic reflects on her first term at LSE. London can seem a big and overwhelming place. Did she make the right choice?
With LSE’s campus in the heart of the city, you’ll find many experiences in London just around the corner. Dragana shares her tips and what she wished she would have known before starting at LSE.
It’s the middle of September, and I’m back home in Belgrade, Serbia packing for my year abroad – my year as an LSE student.
I’m feeling overwhelmed and a little bit scared. I’ve been to London before, but of course, you have a different perception as a tourist to that of someone who is embarking on a journey quite like this one.
Fast forward to today and I’ve now been here for the past four months. I have to say that time flies at a fast pace, since my first term at LSE has already come to an end.
To those of you who are still considering whether to apply for your masters at LSE, I have a few extra tips that will help you out with this significant decision.
So, without further ado, here are the five (ok, maybe a little bit more than five) things I wish somebody told me before I came to London.
1. Prepare as much as you can in advance
If you’re like me, then you’ve probably already thoroughly researched everything related to living and studying in London. My first tip would be to do just that – read as many blog posts as you can and don’t limit yourself to just that.
YouTube videos from previous LSE students have helped me a lot regarding what to expect when you enrol at the school.
Bonus tip for my fellow international students: Book your bank appointment well in advance since September and early October could get very busy and then you’ll have to wait a long time to deposit your money and open a bank account.
2. Citymapper is your new BFF
The first thing that hit me when I exited my hotel room during my first week in London is that the buses don’t operate with cash anymore! Bear in mind that the last time I was here was in 2012 so, imagine my surprise when the bus driver told me ‘no cash beyond this point’.
The good thing is that if you have a contactless master card, a bus ride would cost you no more than one pound.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to break the bank and take tube every day (which is pretty costly if you ask me), I suggest that as soon as you get off the plane, you install the lovely app – Citymapper!
It will help you get around whether it is on foot (yay for those extra steps in your health app), by bus, tube – or if you are courageous enough – by bike. They’ve just introduced their own card that you can use for public transportation so you wouldn’t even need an oyster.
3. Ask for student discounts!
Coming from a small country, where discounts don’t even happen during black Friday frenzy, I was not used to asking for, let alone getting any discounts in stores, cafes or restaurants.
It turns out, students get all the benefits in London. You could save a lot of pounds when you politely ask if there are any -% for students. Hence, always carry your student card on you! : )
Living on a student budget in London is a real struggle. Luckily most of the museums are free of charge so, you could organise your weekends by exploring the gems of London such as Tate Britain, Tate Modern or the British Museum and many more.
If you’re more of an outdoorsy type, there are plenty of beautiful parks around London. If you fancy a nice view of London but don’t want to spend a lot of money, check out the Sky Garden. Book your visit in advance.
Also, don’t forget to look for some free tours around the city as there are many parts of the city to explore.
5. It’s not a post about London if I don’t mention the weather
Before coming here, I thought to myself, ‘I better pack those wellies’, since London is known for the heavy rainfall.
It turns out, it didn’t rain that much and I could have easily survived without them.
Nevertheless, keep an umbrella handy as the weather here is unpredictable at times. You don’t want to be sitting in class soaking off the rain and being cold.
+ Extra tip for prospective LSE students:
You will have so much fun! This year will bring so much of the new into your life.
I know it will be stressful at times but try to look at it from a perspective that change is a good thing and that it is such a valuable learning experience!
You’ll have a lot of work (studying) to do but remember there are a lot of people in the same situation as you are, and it’s always way better to go through it with someone than alone.
So, attend all your programme’s socials and make friends from the start!
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