Student: London Living
The capital city. Big city lights. The draw of the only metropolis in England, and one of the most popular cities in the world. Renowned for fashion, tourism, a unique travel system and a huge potential for job opportunities. What’s there not to like?
If you’re a student you may be asking “why London?” Well, there’s a different appeal that comes to mind when London is mentioned and you’re 18. You’re not thinking job; more so the chance of discovering a bigger social life, clubbing, new people, landmarks, society events and not to mention the endless amount of shopping you can do, even though you can’t really afford it. But who cares? Food isn’t important, right?
The city tends to rank amongst the best for courses of any discipline with a wealth of universities in the capital (40 to be exact), and a huge student population of over 369,000 (accurate as of 2014/2015). With a huge international appeal thanks to Imperial, UCL and Kings University it is understandable why these figures are so high. London and Oxbridge are the preferred destinations for international students, and your chances are maybe better in London with more of a choice to pick from. The opportunities to learn in London are so vast that your preferred discipline will have a course at a top-tiered university available.
Careers wise London has all types of jobs on display. Any careers event/fair you may go to will have people from the working districts like Liverpool Street or Canary Wharf show up and tell you about any opportunities with next to no loss of time to them. They would leave work at 6 and be at the event for 6:30…. that’s a pretty quick turnaround if you ask me. It’s much harder for them to liaise with a university outside of London and have to book themselves far in advance. There’s always some careers fair happening across London and if you want to network early this is your chance. You’d want to be based in London over anywhere else.
A bit of fun here; but the countless times we got out Boris Bikes at night and just explored London was amazing. When you have no lectures the next day and your night out was a bit dry, there’s no better way to go out and explore London that to take a bike and just cycle around. Maps will get you home safely, and the bikes are so cheap it’d be a crime not to do this. We chose night time to do this due to safety and convenience (all we had to worry about were the buses on the roads, and we were likely bored at 2 am). Cycling to Brick Lane for a bagel if you have a craving is always worth it, forget Uber eats or Deliveroo. I was my own Deliveroo people!
Dollar Dollar Bills Y'all
On the flipside London has a lot of issues when you’re broke, or should I say a student. One thing I struggled with when studying in London was actually getting out of my university area often. Expenses around London are ridiculously high, and when you take away necessities such as expenditure for food and rent, all those landmarks mentioned aren’t really possible to visit as you’re so tight on money. The rent costs for me living off campus were pretty damn high for the ROI, so having spare money to go out and see London itself wasn’t much of an option. Plus we all wanted to go out and drink or hit at night out once a week, and that’s where any leisure money was spent. Either it was in the club for a really expensive round of drinks, or the Addison Lee cab home (this was way before Uber was a thing kids). Or, if you had the patience, you could try to coordinate all your friends back to campus on a bus if you were just as drunk and not turning blue in the cold English winter night.
I can’t say I’ve had to do this often but getting on the tubes in the morning to get to university or elsewhere was pretty tiring and intense. Being squashed against strangers for half an hour at a time due to rush hour is not fun, and if you haven’t travelled to London much before this may be a big shock to you. Brace yourselves, there is no personal space on the tubes between 7–9am. Anything goes, and all spaces will be occupied. Mind the doors.
London is very well known for its fine dining experiences. The array of cuisine on offer is huge and far-reaching, with every type of food you can imagine available. Now during my student days, I cannot say I was going to a different expensive eat every week, so if this is one of your reasons for moving to London as a student I would re-think your reasons. I didn’t particularly miss out on this as I tend to eat anywhere, but when the budget pinches, it pinches hard.
Big City Lights
All of this being said, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I had a great time in London for 3 years, and it flew by me in the blink of an eye. I’d go again if I could, but don’t be attracted to the bright lights for just any old reason. If you can make ends meet and go, do it. If not, remember you’ll make great friends and meet cracking people no matter where you go. The city is just a bonus, and London is the biggest bonus I can think of.