London. One of the most iconic cities in the world. But what is it actually like to live in it, as a student no less? Like everything, it has its pros and cons, so hopefully this article will help you decide if London might just be the place for you!
First, a little introduction, I am a final year dental student at King’s College London. That means I’ve lived in central London for four-going-on-five years. I’m a born and bred Londoner too, having been raised in the ‘suburbs’ of the city which is where I completed my IB diploma. Here’s a little insight into my kind of day studying and living in London.
My day starts the same way as every Londoner’s – with a 4am jog along the Thames (or not). While for me that previous statement is laughable, what is true is that if you were to wake up at 4am – whether you want a 24 hour gym or a coffee – you’ll find it somewhere. This is not a sleepy city by any means, so you don’t need to be either.
The real morning question for every Londoner is travel. If you’re lucky enough to live within walking distance to uni then your method of travel is clear, but if not then the wonders of the Tube await. Between signal failures and planned closures, the London Underground is not perfect but it is extensive and can get you anywhere you need to go, just double check the service update before you set off. If your daily commute involves the Tube or taking the bus then get yourself a monthly travelcard – it’s one lump sum for the month for all your travel and can save you a fair amount. My tip though – London is made for walking. If it’s a choice between a 30 minute walk and a 10 minute Tube journey, I’d walk every time. Not only do you skip the potential delays but you discover a little bit more of the city on your way.
The next part of the day is uni. For me, that means seeing patients in the university hospital all day. Whatever form your course takes, it’s safe to say the enjoyment of studying in the heart of the city never goes away. If you need to get some self-led studying done then you can always use your university’s library. Some London universities have more than one library in different locations and every borough has a public library too, so if you’re looking for a change of environment, check that out. If libraries don’t suit you, then there is a coffee shop for everyone in London. Bypass Starbucks and find the independent cafes in your area, many of which will do student discounts.
Now it’s free time! That can mean a visit to one of London’s hundreds of restaurants, bars or pubs. It could mean sitting out in the park or doing an activity. There’s endless options in the city for things to do and with plenty of websites dedicated to helping you find something (think Culture Trip, Secret London and Time Out) it’s easier than ever to discover something new. Or you could just stick to your Student Union cafe and bar – no judgement here, it’ll have the lowest prices!
Some days, I will have ‘work-work’. Many students in London eventually get a job of some kind. As ever, there’s many options which are geared towards students. Your university should offer flexible part time work so you can start there. If that doesn’t sound appealing then there’s agencies that need waiters, nannies, admin staff and of course – tutors!
The day ends, of course, at home. Home for most London students means either university halls of residence or a rented flat. Uni halls are usually everyone’s choice for the first year but it is possible to live in them for your second and third years too, just find out your uni’s policy on this. If you do decide to rent in London, it is a love-hate situation for everyone. Living in the heart of the city is great, and it’s worth viewing loads of places to find somewhere you love. The downside here is that the rumours are true, London is an expensive place to live and you don’t get a massive amount of space for the price you pay. But hey, when this is (sort of) your view, you can’t complain right?
And that’s it! A day in the life of a student in London. It’s essentially a normal day but, because it’s London, there’s endless options for each part. There’s different markets to explore, different routes to walk down and new restaurants opening every day. I really believe that living in London as a student is the best phase of life to experience the city in – you’ve got enough time and freedom to make the most of where you are. I hope this has given you a small idea of what life in London is like! It’s busy, crowded, diverse, fun, cultural and most of all – exciting.