Like so many of us who chose LSE for their postgraduate degree, I had always wanted to study in London. When I arrived in September 2021 from the US, I had already lived abroad in Southeast Asia, South America and even here in England. Even so, the transition to London life was both challenging and exciting, filled with adjustments, new experiences and yes, culture shock. As I and my fellow international students at LSE have come to learn, while the adjustment period may take longer than you think, nothing compares to living in this vibrant and cosmopolitan city.
Here are four perspectives on the transition to London living from me and other international postgraduate students at LSE:
Me (Emma, US/UK):
Moving to London from a smaller US city brought plenty of challenges, especially during the second year of the pandemic. Adjusting to a new flat, new school, new friends, the tube and bus system, and even the grocery stores meant constant learning and trial-and-error. During the transition period, I reminded myself of why I chose to move here and focused on enjoying my chance to live in London and study at LSE. I love the city’s endless opportunities, my new friendships, and the academic skills and perspectives I’m learning from my programme.
Top tip: Consider the transition to an entirely new environment for your master’s as an opportunity for growth in all aspects of your life, including academic, social and personal.
The biggest challenge of moving to London was the overwhelming initial phase of adjustment to both London and LSE, given the many social activities hosted by her department, accommodation and cohort. Rather than trying to do everything, Aaratrika reminded herself to say “no” to some things, with the knowledge that you can’t do it all in terms of social activities, extracurriculars and even academics. Aaratrika loves the fact that London is cosmopolitan with something for everyone; each neighborhood has a different character and it feels like a million smaller cities within the larger metropolis.
Top tip: Prioritise! After figuring out what you want to gain from your degree and life in London, choose where to dedicate your time.
Coming from a small country, the biggest shock for Kirsti was the sheer size of London – it was a challenge to get used to, figure out her niche and really settle down. She loves the fact that there are so many opportunities available in the city, but you have to seek them out for yourself and be proactive. Since it takes some time to get settled into the city, especially as a busy master’s student working on her dissertation, Kirsti has chosen to stay longer after her programme finishes and work here in London.
Top tip: Your year in London will have a lot packed into it, so be kind to yourself!
The most challenging part of moving to London for Nicole was finding accommodation. Given London’s tricky housing market and the difficulties of finding a flat from abroad, she decided to choose a student hall to make the process easier. Another aspect that took some adjustment was the cost of living in London, which is higher than in many cities. Nicole loves London’s vibrancy, opportunities, events and festivals, as well as its multicultural character and diversity.
Top tip: Student halls work for many international students searching for housing in London, but have both pros and cons.