I remember receiving my LSE offer on a cosy morning. I was in India, smack in the middle of the second COVID peak, simultaneously awaiting responses from the universities I had applied to. The whole experience was surreal, to say the least. The child in me has had no rest since then! Coming into London (for the first time ever) has been quite the journey. One that people meet with all sorts of emotions and thoughts. Mine was amazement, joy and wide-eyed wonder (for the most part). For others, it ranges from stupor, to anxiety, to apathy. Regardless of where you lie on this spectrum, you are not alone!
Through this mini-series, I aim to take us through a few fun things to explore in London through the plethora of emotions, events, responsibilities and “settling-ins”, one will have to face as an international student.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to yet another list! These blogs will contain a good mix of things to do on a very (very, very) tight budget and ones that might require one to loosen a few purse strings. You’ll hopefully find at least a couple of things that might pique your interest.
Experience the museums and culture
These are some of the best things in London! A few museums are free of cost, and some have discounts for students. Be sure to carry your student ID card in case you want to avail the student discount! Making a list of the ones that interest you and just walking in is a great way to kick start your time in London. There are many events that showcase the UK culture and general knowledge as well.
Visit local shops
Little bookstores, shops, bakeries, cafés and restaurants speckle the city and offer their own range of products and services. These are not only easy on the eyes (very subjective) but also offer customers the experience of being able to meet sweet strangers and converse with the shop owners. Always a pleasure to have serendipitous conversations and connections.
Be a tourist
As a student, once you dive into schoolwork, there is barely any turning back. I spent the first few weeks, after the long-forgotten quarantining laws, just exploring London like the tourist that I was and am. Going to the London Eye, walking through the streets of London, exploring different tourist-y activities, etc. were all part of my bucket list of things I got through during the first few weeks. The lastminute.com website offers a whole range of things to explore. Check out student discounts as you visit attractions as well.
Visits the Markets
London is well known for its market scene. A quick Google search will reveal the number of markets present here. These range from seasonal markets, to all-year-round ones, to special ones that pop up during certain weekends or during festivals. These give you a range of items to explore. From handicrafts, to books, to food, to clothes, to food again, you can feast your eyes (and purse if you choose to indulge) in some very interesting combinations and multi-cultural items.
Use public transport
One of the best ways to engage and immerse in a city’s local traditions, culture and vibe for lack of a better word, is to travel like a local. London is very well connected in my opinion, and so one finds multiple options to use to commute. An Oyster Card/Travel Pass helps immensely, and a Day Pass can be used in case you intend to spend the day out. It is truly a great way to feel a part of London that, I am not going to lie, is not everyone’s cup of tea, but is something that can help us explore an aspect that would otherwise be incomplete, in my view. The buses, underground, overground and trams, in addition to the Greenwich Cable Cars offer an interesting view of the city and its people. Taking some time to truly immerse in it (while being safe) is certainly an interesting way to kick start your time in London!
Well, I hope some of this resonated with your personal interests! See you in the next installation of this series.
NB: Thanks to my London-er friends who supported me in this quest of curating a list of items one might explore.