Life in London is distinct. The lifestyle here can be like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. It’s a city with a beating heart that students from around the world treasure. That’s why we think it’s no surprise that a place this diverse has a huge international student population. The appeal keeps on growing, with the number of Indian students choosing to study in London has been significantly increasing year after year. The city is welcoming more and more Indian students with open arms than it ever has before.
If you’re a student moving to London (or just thinking about it), here are the top things to know about living in London as an Indian student to help you get settled.
How to Adapt to the Weather
You may have already heard that the weather in London can be unpredictable. This is possibly an understatement! Even though we do experience regular seasons here in the city, where temperatures are generally an accurate reflection of the time of year, grey skies and rainy days are highly likely at any time of the year. The good news is that it usually only pours for a few moments before the showers stop. It’s not often that London sees rain that stretches on for hours.
What Clothes to Pack
Despite this, you’ll want to make sure you have access to warm clothes (think jumpers, scarfs, hats, and gloves), as well as a waterproof coat or an umbrella. It’s also important to bring the right footwear. In the summer, sandals and flip flops are a great option. But in winter, spring or autumn, trainers or boots are a much better option.
How to Prepare for Seasonal Changes
Even though the weather might be tricky to adjust to at first, each season blesses the inner city with its unique charm. When the autumn leaves fall, parks will pop at the sight of red and yellow. In Spring, pink blossom will fall to the ground. In summer, the sun will beam across the city, making the historic buildings look even more fascinating and the skyscrapers shinier than ever. It doesn’t often snow here in winter, but when it does, a white blanket will cover the city floor. Spending your studying years here, you’ll experience the beauty that can be found in every season! To prepare for the seasonal changes, it’s best to have a wide selection of clothes available that you can wear at any time throughout the year.
When are the Seasons?
For a recap on when the seasons hit in London, here’s a handy guide:
Understanding the English language
The English language is fruitful. Since you are already looking to study in London, you’ll already have a high level of spoken English skills that will be more than sufficient in getting you by in daily life. However, living and studying in the city will no doubt broaden your vocabulary and refine your fluency in the language. You’ll enhance your abilities to socialise in English and develop a greater sense of understanding of the language. The fluency you will develop during your studying years in London will help you master the social skills you need for future interviews, workplaces and in the international business world.
That being said, slang is popular here and Londoners are always coming up with new ways of describing things. As an Indian student living in London, you’ll gradually learn new terminology for a whole host of objects, places, and feelings. If you’re unsure of any specific words, people in London are more than happy to explain what they mean. Alternatively, you can always ask a classmate what slang words mean or check online for other meanings.
Arranging your Domestics
Although domestic help is available in the city, it can be expensive. Grabbing a takeaway is an enjoyable treat for a night in with your classmates. However, the cost of a takeaway can be much higher in London than if you cook for yourself. Similarly, laundry delivery is a rare service for Indian students living in London to purchase, since it can be expensive. To manage your expenditure, it’s a good idea to do as much of your domestics as possible by yourself.
How to do Laundry
Laundry delivery services are available almost anywhere in the city. But this is considered a luxury in London and is often used by people with lots of expendable income. The cost of having your laundry carried out for you every week may be much more expensive than in India. Doing your laundry yourself will likely be the cheapest option. You could use the washing machine at your student accommodation if you have one, or head to a laundrette to use a machine there. At a laundrette, you can expect to pay around £10 (about 1,000 rupees) per wash load when you use their washing machine and tumble dryer services.
How to do Food Shopping
If there are certain meats that you do not eat, then London sells a range of meat choices in almost every supermarket. It’s good to know that some supermarkets sell higher priced food than others. This is sometimes linked to the quality (for example, what cut of meat it is), but since the UK has remarkably high food standards, the higher priced food is usually just because it’s a high-end brand selling the item. There are lots of cheaper brands or unbranded foods for sale in London’s supermarkets that will still be of a high quality.
As a rough guide, food in supermarkets like M&S and Waitrose will usually be sold for a higher price. Shops such as Tesco’s, Asda’s, The Co-Operative, and Sainsbury’s will be averagely priced. For cheaper food that’s still good quality, Lidl and Aldi are good options. You’ll also find lots of independent supermarkets across London that stock food at varying prices. In any supermarket, you can usually find the cheapest products stacked on the lower shelves.
All supermarkets will let you browse the shelves and some of the larger stores will have delivery services available where you can order your food online.
Where to Find Authentic Indian Stores
Most of the large, UK supermarkets won’t sell Halal meat or many authentic Indian spices. However, there are many international supermarkets scattered around London that will. Likewise, independent Indian food stores are common. Some of the best shops to find Indian food in London are places like ‘The Indian Spice Shop’ in Euston, ‘Bhavin’s’ in Tooting and ‘Taj Stores’ on Brick Lane. If you would prefer not to travel too far for your spices, then Sainsbury’s is renowned for having a good collection of Indian foods.
Budgeting and Managing your Finances
London has so much to offer international students, but it can come at a high price. Everything in London can be expensive – from a small cup of coffee to your monthly rent. There isn’t much you can buy for a pound (which works out about 102 rupees), but there are ways to enjoy the city without missing out. Here are our top tips for Indian students living in London to help with managing your finances.
When living in London, you will definitely want to make use of the public transport network to get around. Hopping on a bus or a train can take you almost anywhere in the city – and beyond! Even as an Indian student, you can apply for a Student 18+ Oyster Card to travel cheaper than other commuters. Alternatively, you can purchase a railcard for 34% off off-peak fares and daily caps on your travel expenditure.
Find Ways to Save Money
There are lots of ways to save money while living in London without scrimping on the fun. You can take advantage of the free stuff – like sightseeing, visiting parks, exploring museums and attending outdoor cinemas. When you are paying for an experience, check to see if you can use your student discount or if pre-booking online gives you a cheaper price.
It is not just the big attractions that offer students money off to enjoy the city, lots of restaurants and cafés will save their best prices for those studying in the city. They may not always advertise it, but you can ask if they will accept a student discount card. If you are heading on a night out, then London has a ton of student-friendly bars with free entry, happy hours, and hot deals.
Familiarise Yourself with the Currency
As best as you can, try and find ways to quickly familiarise yourself with the currency. As an Indian student living in London, you may need to calculate the conversion rates on a daily basis to establish whether something is cheap or expensive when you first move. Since one pound is around 100 rupees, you could work in multiples of ten in order to quickly decipher the costs of something.
Shop Around for the Best Deals
When in London, you’ll notice that some places will charge more money for the same thing. This highly depends on the shop, the brand, and the area you are in. If you are on a budget, make sure you shop around for the best deal or look online to see if there is anything cheaper. If you are unsure about the price of something, ask a friend for a guide about what you should expect to pay for certain things.
The best thing you can do to manage your finances without sacrificing your social life is to set a budget. This will help you keep an eye on your expenditure and monitor the impact of conversion rates. Try and map out a clear plan about how much money you have for food, travel, studies, rent and socialising each month. With your newly opened UK bank account, you will likely have access to an online banking app. Nowadays, many of these have in-app spending trackers that you can use free of charge. They can help you monitor your outgoings and add ‘categories’ to your expenditure.
Getting Involved in Sports and Fitness
London is a great city for almost every sporting event you can imagine! Home to many major sporting events, you can find football matches, rugby games, tennis tournaments, cycling events and cricket matches at world-famous venues – from Wembley Stadium to Wimbledon.
If you’re a huge cricket fan, then Lord’s and The Oval are two of the most prestigious grounds found anywhere in the world – and they’ll be right on your doorstep! Alternatively, you can find a park that hosts amateur cricket matches and watch as many games as you like free of charge!
Joining a sporting club is also a great way of making friends in the big city. Search online or ask around for a sporting and fitness event near you.
Connecting with the Community
London is an inclusive city with a vast Indian community. There are lots of places where you can find authentic Indian cuisine, clothing, and home décor items, as well as an abundance of activities like Bollywood bar nights and dance groups.
Where to Buy Authentic Indian Clothing
In all parts of London, you can find stores selling authentic Indian clothing. From luxurious international brands like O’nitaa and countless independent stores selling sarees, salwar suits, lehengas, kurta’s and lots more.
Indian restaurants and entertainment
When in London, you will be able to find student-friendly bars that host Bollywood nights out and Indian dance groups where you can show off your skills. For the absolute best of Indian cuisine, hundreds of authentic restaurants scatter the city’s streets. For a cheap Indian meal with bring-your-own-bottle deals, Brick Lane is an ideal choice to explore the food options available.
For a ‘home away from home’, INSA (Indian National Students Association) is a not-for-profit organisation designed to create a welcoming network for Indian students living in the UK. Joining is free of charge if you attend any university in the UK and the network will help connect you with other Indian students living in London, while helping to promote your wellbeing.