Studying in London is an experience like no other. The city has so much to offer, from rich history to unbeatable nightlife and pop culture. However, it can still be difficult to adjust to life in a new city or country. Here’s a bit of what you can expect when studying in London and a few things to keep in mind to hopefully make the transition a bit smoother.
Despite all its famous history and culture, one of the things London is best known for is its frequent grey skies and rain. On average, it rains about 170 days each year which for many can feel overwhelming and maybe even depressing if you’re used to a lot more sunshine. On top of the rain, London’s weather is incredibly unpredictable. In the span of an hour or two, you can have wind, rain, sunshine, and even more. For this reason, it’s important to make the most of the sunshine and warm weather when you get it, but you’ll also quickly notice that Londoners don’t let the weather slow them down. You’ll need to make sure your wardrobe is ready to tackle London’s crazy weather with plenty of layers, a waterproof jacket, wellies, and an umbrella. We’d suggest always carrying some of these things with you so that if the forecast says sunny, but you end up caught in the rain, you aren’t unprepared.
Finding your Footing
One of the most beneficial things you can do when trying to acclimate to a new city and culture is to immerse yourself in the culture. There are so many ways you can learn how to be confident, such as through exploring, trying new activities and meeting new people. As a student, you have the unique benefit of being surrounded by countless other students in similar positions to you, so you won’t have trouble finding and making friends to explore London with. Being a student also means that you can join a student group, sports team, or society to connect with other students who share similar interests and passions. UWS offers loads of social events for students to connect both before the term begins as well as throughout as a way to relax when your courses get tough.
Studying in London, you’ll also meet students from all walks of life and different cultures. You’ll have students fresh out of school as well as more mature students who have more real-world and professional experiences. There are more than 40 universities in London, so there is definitely no shortage of other students in your position looking to try new things and acclimate to their new life in London.
Like many other major cities, living in London is expensive. It’s more than just typical expenses like rent, food or the occasional night out with friends. Going out and exploring the city, you’ll notice how quickly your expenses add up. You shouldn’t let this limit you or hold you back. Just make sure you’re thinking ahead, budgeting and looking for ways to keep your expenses low. One fantastic way to save money is by looking for student discounts wherever you can. The UK offers student discounts on a wide variety of items from public transport to clothes and meals out, so it never hurts to ask. Some of our favourite discounts to share with students are on Oyster cards to keep transport around London affordable as well as discounts on food at many local pubs and restaurants. Many of London’s historical attractions like the Natural History Museum are free or reduced significantly for students as well. While it can be challenging at times, it is definitely possible to stick to your budget and keep life affordable even when living and studying in London.
Culture shock is a completely normal part of moving to a new city. There’s thought to be four stages of culture shock, although they present differently for every individual as they make their way through the process. It begins with the honeymoon phase when you’ve first arrived in your new home. Everything is new and exciting, and there is so much to see and do that you have no time to miss home. Next is the negotiation phase, which many say is the worst part and describe as a crashing feeling that can occur soon after moving or a few months later. This is when you’ll notice the biggest differences between London and your home and may even feel overwhelmed or suffocated by how different things are. From there, you’ll move into the adjustment and adaptation phases, where you finally start to assimilate and overcome the problems you faced during the negotiation phase. The most important thing to remember is that it’s all temporary and that the way you feel is entirely normal.
To get through it, reach out to your friends and let them know how you’re feeling because chances are they’re feeling similar to. It can also be helpful to find something comforting that reminds you of home, maybe a favourite dish or doing an activity you’ve always loved.
The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and make the most of your time in London. There’s so much for you to explore, and the streets you walk every day were once home to some of the most significant events in British and world history. There’s no shortage of fascinating things for you to see, do and learn. Instead of the library, you can study at the café in St Martin’s Crypt, and while stretching your legs and clearing your mind, you can walk by Westminster Abbey, where Kings and Queens were crowned. You can also enjoy London’s famous nightlife and entertainment which has something perfect to offer everyone, including award-winning shows and musicals in the West End, heavy metal or classical concerts at one of the city’s many venues, and unique bars to explore in Camden and Soho. London is also known around the world as a foodie heaven with cuisines from all around the world available in high-end restaurant settings as well as at one of the many street-food markets such as Camden Market or Borough Market.
Studying in London also provides you with a gateway to the world. You can hop on a flight at one of the city’s airports and be almost anywhere in Europe within only a few hours or take a quick train journey and explore everything the UK has to offer from the Jurassic Coast to Scotland’s Highland and Islands. Unlike many other parts of the world, plane and train tickets are incredibly affordable in the UK, and often you can find deals as cheap as £10 for a flight. This means that even students on tight budgets with limited time can explore everything London, the UK, and Europe has to offer
No matter how you choose to spend your time studying in London, there’s no denying that your time here will be some of the best and most memorable years of your life. Besides earning a challenging and world-renowned degree, you’ll learn more about yourself, other cultures, and the world, all while pushing yourself in a new and exciting environment. There are so many fantastic things you can look forward to when studying in London and you can read more about them on our blog.