Guest post by Glenn Anderson
London is one of the most prominent educational cities in the world. Thousands of students, including international students, graduate from renowned universities in London. The academic framework in the city is state-of-the-art and is a matter of pride for the residents. It is a rare occurrence for a student to pass up the opportunity to study in the iconic Imperial College London or the famous University College London (UCL).
Being the capital city of England, London contains almost anything a student would need throughout their time in the city. The overall experience is greatly rewarding. With the city being a highly recognised educational hub, students living here get the opportunity to gather knowledge from some of the smartest minds in the world. However, as great as it all sounds, there are certain challenges to studying and living in London as a student. This article focuses on some of these difficulties and suggests efficient ways around them.
Life in London Is Not Exactly Cheap
The lofty standard of living in London comes at a cost. Living expenses in London are above average, and a certain level of affluence is required to lead a quality life in the city. Every year, thousands of applicants attempt to immigrate here, raising the city’s demand in the process.
Rent is one of the most expensive aspects of living in London. Students need to be prepared to pay more than they expected upon arrival. On average, students living in an urban setting with a university nearby have to pay almost 50 pounds more than the ones residing in the rural parts of the city’s outskirts. Transportation costs are also pretty steep compared to some of the other regions in the country. Certain areas within the city of London itself are more expensive than others, mainly due to the presence of important monuments or venues nearby.
Thus, ideal student accommodation must be ensured before moving into the city. There are various options that students can choose from, based on the proximity of the universities they are enrolled in and with their overall budget. Students need to cautiously monitor their money and spend it wisely. They might feel rich during the initial stages of going through the student loan. However, the situation may reverse very, very quickly. Hence, proper planning is required for students to survive amidst all these atrocious expenses.
Part-time Jobs Can Ease the Pressure Significantly
The best way to tackle exorbitant expenses is to, simply, raise your income. International students do not necessarily have a lot to do after the initial months of city exploration and getting used to the new way of life. Thus, it is a great idea to take part-time jobs that can ease the pressure on the student’s budget.
The best idea is to take up a job that is near the living area, be it a rented house or the university dormitory. This way, commuting expenses are reduced, if not negated altogether. Students should try to get jobs that are relevant to their fields of study if possible. If not, any job that pays well or is decent for a student should be considered. The work experience that students can acquire from such situations is invaluable and can greatly benefit them in their future exploits.
Furthermore, getting a full-time job down the line is a lot easier for students who already have real job experience. Hence, it is common to see freshers struggling to pin down a job right after graduation. Students need to keep an eye on job posts and circulars to get an idea of the typical requirements. Existing students can help, as well as the university faculties. London is not an almighty struggle if the right methods are known. Chances are students would never have to dig into the loan fund for petty expenses if a part-time job is in the bag.
London Has a Lot of Transportation Options
As mentioned previously in this article, travel costs in London are quite high, and the processes can get complicated for an immigrant. If the destination is close by, students can choose to walk instead of spending money on transportation. This way, they can get a better view of the city’s remarkable beauty, stop and take photographs at will, and visit every corner independently.
However, if the distance is significant, there is an assortment of options London has to provide. Below is an analytical list of the choices students have for getting in and around the city.
- The Tube (London Underground): London’s Tube is one of the most technologically advanced and iconic underground railway systems in the world. The network covers almost the entire city, especially the central regions. The city also does feature above-ground railway networks which extend to even more faraway destinations.
- Bus: Most tourism adverts and showcases of London highlight amazing double-decker buses. These are highly convenient for intra-city traveling due to the affordable costs of a ride.
- Taxi: Taxis are usually found in abundance in the streets of London. The black cabs are, arguably, the most popular, although there are other variations available for hire as well.
- River Transport: Students can choose to travel on water to avoid the occasionally annoying traffic in London. The rates are cheap, and the experience is exceptional!
- Cycle: Students can acquire a bicycle and travel independently without the need for specific licenses. There are also various hiring schemes that they can obtain if purchasing a personal bicycle is out of budget.
- Tram: Certain portions of London feature tram service, which is relatively cheap and convenient to access. South London has the densest network of trams. Students residing in that region are greatly benefitted due to this.
Students Benefit From Cooking Their Meals
Food prices in London are usually above-average unless students find ways to counter that. Dining out can cost as much as fifteen pounds per meal, especially during lunch or dinner time. Breakfast options are relatively cheaper and are probably the only time of the day students may go out to eat. Apart from that, the best choice is to cook their own meals in their living quarters.
There are certain benefits to self-cooking: students can learn the art in the process, as well as save up a ton of money, as meal expenses form a significant part of their overall budget. Even shopping for food ingredients can be an educational experience. The retail outlets and mega-stores in London are bound to be slightly different from the student’s country of origin. It is exciting to experience new products and brands — especially the local ones — that are unique to London. With time, students can become expert cooks and never worry about meals ever again!
Carrying a Student ID Can Make Things Easier
The best practice for international students is to acquire a student ID before arriving in the city. London hosts plenty of clubs, restaurants, shops, and other places of utility that offer discounts upon seeing a student ID.
Usually, a university ID card does the trick in most places. However, if students want something more reliable and widely accepted, other options are viable. An NUS card or a Totum card, issued by the National Union of Students, can be used on occasional offers on clothing, traveling, food, and more. The smaller offers are usually provided daily, while the bigger ones are handed out every week or even monthly.
Additionally, students can also choose to obtain an ISIC card, which makes them part of a large group of students in similar situations. This card works similar to a student ID, but with more success due to its official acceptance all over London. It is a great way to save money and can greatly benefit the students in the long run.
The National Health Service (NHS) Is State-of-the-Art
The whole world recognises the NHS because of their efficiency in treatment and the state-of-the-art medical technology they possess. The UK provides a suitable healthcare option for international students by allowing them to use the NHS’s services. International students who are studying on a course of 6 months or more are eligible for full health care from the NHS free of cost. Dental expenses, however, are not entirely covered within this amount and need to be paid separately.
International students tend to live very frugally due to having limited funds. However, as described in this article, there are various methods that students can adopt to live off a strict budget. With proper knowledge and a little effort, the difficulties can be overcome. Life in London is worthwhile once the students get a hang of it!