Student life in London can be somewhat daunting, but the opportunities for fun and friendship as well as boosting your education and career are virtually limitless.
Here are some tips on making the most of your time in “the most influential city in the world” (according to Forbes).
1. Relish the city’s multicultural character
London’s vibrant atmosphere is owed to the many different cultures which have found a home in the city. Communities from every continent have settled in the capital and brought with them customs, cuisines and styles which breathe life into all corners of the city. As a student, there are endless opportunities to experience these cultures through the food, shops, events and people.
Brick Lane in East London hosts a myriad of curry restaurants; Ridley Road Market in Dalston has stalls selling wares from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean; and Golborne Road in Kensington is referred to as ‘Little Morocco’, with shops and restaurants selling North African produce.
There are many organizations set up to help students and non-students from around the world to meet up, practice their language skills and share their different cultural experiences. The Language and Cultural Exchange, which meets every Sunday in the Crypt Café in Trafalgar Square, organizes day trips to landmarks and other activities to encourage integration.
2. Visit the famous London museums when they’re quieter
London is blessed with a wide variety of museums, many of which have free admission. Weekend trips to places such as the Natural History Museum and the British Museum can be stressful affairs, with tourists queueing out of the door and exhibits difficult to view. Use some of your lecture-free time to visit the great London museums and galleries during quieter periods.
Apart from the Natural History Museum, which regularly hosts school trips first thing in the morning, the start of the day is usually the best time to visit London museums. For art lovers, the Tate Britain and Tate Modern are open late on Fridays; this is often another fairly quiet time, unless a recent exhibition has just started its run.
3. Make the most of student discounts and deals
Student life in London can be expensive, so it makes sense to take advantage of student discounts as often as you can. A great starting point is to get an NUS card to entitle you to money off at a variety of shops, restaurants and venues, including Superdrug, Pizza Express and Odeon Cinemas.
As well as these, Feng Sushi, Bella Italia and Pizza Hut also offer generous student discounts on their food, while Peacocks, Schuh and Urban Outfitters are worth a visit for cheaper clothing. If you are looking for cheap international travel, STA provides good student deals, as do National Express coaches and Network Rail for exploring more of the UK.
4. Take the opportunity to boost your future career
As well as the excellent opportunities which are likely to be provided by your university, there are several services in London which offer career advice, as well as chances to network and meet potential employers. Accelerator, a business incubator, runs programs and events aimed at students and provides office space for budding student entrepreneurs. Google Campus is another fantastic facility based in the creative hub of Shoreditch.
5. Explore other UK cities and attractions
Rail links from London are second to none. Make the most of your Young Person’s Rail Discount by hopping on a train and exploring cities and attractions further afield. For history buffs, the ancient towns of Chester and York are little more than two hours away. Pop culture fans can head north to pay homage to The Beatles in Liverpool or visit the thriving club scene in Newcastle. The country’s National Parks offer respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. A train from Waterloo gets you to Brockenhurst in the heart of the New Forest National Park in only 90 minutes.
6. Discover “secret London”
It is possible to live in London a lifetime and still not have enough time to explore every nook and cranny. The current trend for “secret” events and pop-up venues adds to the city’s vibrant cultural offer. Sign up to the social media channels of organizations such as London Pop-ups, Secret Cinema and Time Out London to keep abreast of the latest goings on.
7. Make your student accommodation part of the whole experience
With five central locations (Hoxton, Tower Bridge, St Pancras, King’s Cross and Westminster) in the heart of the London, urbanest student accommodation is close to many of London’s main attractions, tube stations and universities. This accommodation is fantastic if you want to make the most out of student life in London, and study hard. Urbanest partners up with some of the most well-respected and renowned universities in the world, such as The London School of Economics (LSE), New York University, Kaplan and many more.
With all of your utilities and 50Mb internet/Wi-Fi included in your rent, urbanest makes life in London hassle-free from the start, so you can focus on your studies. Each location features spacious common rooms, study areas and excellent London views, as well as free bicycles to explore the city on. Major welcome events and other events organized throughout the year allow students to meet each other and create a sense of community.