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Life in London for a Pakistani Student

London, it’s big, bold, and a fantastic choice for international students, brimming with opportunity and promise. Home to four of the world’s top-tier universities, over 100,000 overseas students flock to the UK’s capital every year for world-class education and its enriching culture. Whether it’s going out shopping, visiting the city’s myriad of museums and galleries, or simply hanging out in one of London’s beautiful parks and green spaces, life here is vibrant and fun.

The UK as a whole prides itself on being a champion of democracy and for its freedom of expression. In terms of education, this translates into high-quality academic study, with no fear of censorship.

For Pakistani students, London is an ideal destination. Not only is the city a diverse and welcoming place for all people and faiths, but it has a strong Pakistani representation, making it feel especially accommodating.

Nevertheless, navigating London life can still be a daunting experience. With just a bit of prior knowledge, however, life in London for a Pakistani student can be a worry-free, defining experience that you will cherish forever.

London weather​

While perhaps not quite as bad as people claim, the weather in London is characteristically unpredictable. As with the rest of the UK, London experiences the full gamut of seasonal weather. Being so changeable, Brits love talking about the weather and you’ll often find it a topic of conversation.

Spring: April-May

Temperatures in spring will range from 10-18oC, often during a single day. These mild temperatures mean layers and jackets work best.

Summer: June-August

Summer temperatures may not reach the highs of Pakistan but can still reach over 30oC, making some lighter items of clothing essential packing.

Autumn: September-November

Expect cooler evenings and some relatively mild days. Just remember to layer up and keep a few sweatshirts handy

Winter: December-March

For the Pakistani student, winters can feel a little cold and wet, so you'll want to bring a warm waterproof coat and an umbrella. While not all that common, London still averages around 15 snowy days a year, so good boots are a must.

Speaking English

Being such a multi-cultural destination, you will hear a variety of languages spoken in London however the English language will be the most common. While it may feel daunting at first, by studying in London you will find yourself immersed in spoken English which will accelerate your understanding. And, given you are considering London as your study destination, your mastery of English is most probably more than good enough for life in the Capital.

Studying in the city is an excellent opportunity to hone your English-speaking skills and boost your vocabulary. From lectures and study halls to shopping and socialising, you will find your English improving daily as you pick up the subtleties of the language. With English being so widely spoken across the globe, a better grasp of the language will prove a benefit to both your confidence and your career.

Nevertheless, while English is the common language for the international community of London, you can expect to hear a wide variety of accents, dialects, and unusual phrases, especially from Londoners themselves. This can sometimes make understanding someone a little tricky. People here are friendly, however, and will not mind repeating something or explaining slang terminology.

Accommodation

In terms of accommodation, international students have a choice between university residences, typically known as dorms, or private renting a flat or a shared house.

Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.

University Halls

These offer the chance to live on campus or within close proximity, usually within a few minutes walking distance. This can not only save money on transportation, but can also free up more time for study, socialising, university events, and catching up on chores. The cost of these rooms varies depending on your preference of en-suite, whether or not to have a roommate, and the size but usually includes utility costs and sometimes food.

Private housing

Offering a little more independence, private housing offers the chance to build lasting friendships with other housemates. While a flat or house share involves a little more work ensuring bills are paid and food is brought in, they needn’t be any more expensive than on-campus residences and can often be the cheaper option. Be mindful, however, that in London, like the rest of the UK, students still need to pay Council Tax, which covers the cost of local services such as waste clearance, albeit at a discounted rate.

Getting around

Whether you choose to stay on campus or a little further afield, life in London for a Pakistani student will involve a good deal of walking, cycling, or public transport. While driving in London is possible, its public transport system is world-class and, thanks to the capital’s extensive underground tube network, getting about is easy. Top-side, you can also jump on one of the city’s many buses or trains, most of which can be used with London’s student travel card known as an Oyster Card 18+.

At a discounted rate, you can expect to pay between £50-£60 a month in transport costs, which is around 1200 rupee. While it might be tempting to hail a black cab or jump in an Uber, these can push this figure up considerably.

If possible then, it’s always best to make use of the public transport available, walk, or use one of the many cycle lanes throughout London. While it can be intimidating at first, navigating the city on a bicycle soon becomes second nature and is one of the fastest ways to get around.

Food and shopping

In terms of food and eating out, London has got you covered. The city is one of the food capitals of the world, with renowned street markets selling fresh fruit and vegetables and affordable supermarkets dotted throughout.

London adheres to the same strict food hygiene standards as the rest of the UK so a higher price here doesn’t necessarily mean better quality. It’s worth shopping around for your groceries, therefore. Great bargains are available in local stores or by choosing non-branded varieties of products in cheaper supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda, Aldi, and Lidl, with chilled items often reduced in price later in the evening.

With the UK having large Muslim communities, many areas have a halal butcher, with shops and restaurants typically stating the halal status of their meat in the front window. Brits are familiar with halal requirements so feel free to ask at supermarkets and shops if you’re unsure whether something is suitable.

In London, you’ll find cuisine from around the world ready to sample, and is a great place to broaden your palate. The UK loves Pakistani food, however, so you’ll find plenty of restaurants and fast-food options should you miss some more familiar flavours.

Ready to Begin your Life in London as an Pakistani Student?

Studying in London offers the chance to experience fresh sights, experiences and meet new people from a wide array of diverse backgrounds. And, while studying in London means learning about new cultures and people, there is still plenty to remind you of home, with Pakistani restaurants, shops, and communities to be found throughout the city.

In choosing London, your education, career and your self-development will come on leaps and bounds.

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