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Lola

August 19th, 2023

20 Things I’ve learned about London (and wish I knew before moving to the UK)

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Lola

August 19th, 2023

20 Things I’ve learned about London (and wish I knew before moving to the UK)

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Moving to London to start your studies soon? Well, you’ve landed on the right page. Consider this your pre-departure treasure trove of knowledge! The excitement of beginning university life in London is like no other journey. Yet, there are certain tips and tricks that I wish I knew before I made the big move. That’s why I’ve decided to share my newfound wisdom, as a student who’s called London home for the past year.

  1. Diverse culture: London is a melting pot of cultures, with people from all corners of the world calling it home. Embrace the diversity and get ready for a rich cultural experience.
  2. Public transportation: The London Underground (Tube) and buses are the lifelines of the city. They are incredibly efficient, so familiarise yourself with the system, grab an Oyster card, and set yourself up for cost-effective travel.
  3. Healthcare (NHS): It’s important to register with the National Health Service (NHS) for free or subsidised healthcare services as soon as possible. Finding a local GP (General Practitioner) is essential, and getting matched with a GP can take anywhere from one to six months.
  4. Grocery shopping: Supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Waitrose are widespread. They aren’t as large as the American grocers that  I was used to, but they maintain all the essentials you need to make healthy and delicious meals.
  5. Banking: Open a bank account  as soon as you can to manage your finances. Major banks include Barclays, HSBC, and Lloyds. Some housing agreements require a bank account for the lease, so I’d make sure to get an official bank account as soon as possible. In addition, completely online banking services like Revolut and Monzo are quite popular in the UK.
  6. Cost of living: London can be expensive. Budget wisely and explore affordable options for accommodation and entertainment. I’ve definitely had to cut some costs, but its been worth it to live in a city as lively as London.
  7. Cuisine: Make sure to try traditional British dishes like fish and chips, but also explore the diverse culinary scene with international cuisines.
  8. Parks and green spaces: London is known for its beautiful parks like Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, Hampstead Heath, and many more. Take advantage of these serene spots for relaxation.
  9. Student discounts: Take advantage of your student status for discounts at cinemas, theaters, museums, and various shops across the city. Be sure to bring your student card with you when asking for student discounts. You’ll be surprised at the amount of money you can save. Another personal favourite of mine is Unidays, a discount programme that gets you discounts across a variety of online retailers.
  10.   Cultural events: London hosts numerous cultural events, festivals, and exhibitions throughout the year. Keep an eye out for exciting happenings in Time Out London.
  11.   Explore neighborhoods: Each London neighborhood has its own unique charm. Explore various areas to find the one that suits your lifestyle. My favorite way to explore is by walking around a new area, or taking a walking tour to learn about the history of different neighborhoods.
  12.   Recycling: I’m happy to say that London is incredibly eco-conscious. Familiarise yourself with the city’s recycling guidelines to contribute to sustainability efforts.
  13.   Types of housing: Shared housing is a popular option for students to save money and make new friends. University housing is also available and provides convenient options for students.
  14.   Fun activities: London offers an array of fun activities, from exploring world-class museums and art galleries to enjoying West End shows and vibrant nightlife.
  15.   Pub culture: Pubs are an integral part of British social life. Experience the unique atmosphere, sample local ales, and engage in lively conversations.
  16.   Strikes: Various groups and organisations strike in London, and these strikes may or may not impact you. Be aware that transportation strikes can occur, impacting public transport availability.
  17.   Shopping and markets: From luxury boutiques in Mayfair to quirky markets like Camden Market, London offers diverse shopping experiences.
  18.   Theatre capital:  London’s West End is famous for its world-class theater productions. Catch a musical or play for an unforgettable experience.
  19.   Fascinating history: Don’t forget to do the common touristy things while you’re in London. London is steeped in history, with landmarks like the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace narrating captivating stories.
  20.   Time management: Plan your activities efficiently to make the most of your time in the bustling city. It’s important to balance both academic priorities and socialisation during your studies. It may be hard to find this balance with such a range of incredible activities in the city, but with practice you will get there!

For anyone moving to London soon, what other topics about the city are you curious about? For those who already live here, leave a comment with any of your own tips or fun facts about the city!

About the author

Lola

My name is Lola Idowu, a master’s student from New York, studying Behavioural Science. Aside from my interest in human behaviour, I also love to read, try out new restaurants, and shop at local markets or boutiques.

Posted In: London life

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