Living and studying abroad in London for about three months now, I have noticed some things that I have gotten accustomed to. These things have helped me grow while abroad and have made my experience so much better while being away.
Here are 8 tips for studying abroad in London that will enhance your experience:
1. London is huge
Most people don’t realize how big London is. Parts of the city are walkable, but you will definitely have to use public transportation. The Citymapper app will be your best friend and it will get you from point A to point B in the easiest way whenever you are exploring London. Don’t be afraid of the city’s size — go out and explore it because you are only studying abroad in London for a small amount of time.
2. Carry your student ID with you everywhere
Many of us know what it is like being a college student on a budget— and being “broke” abroad can feel even worse. Here’s a little tip: so many stores, restaurants, and tourist attractions in London offer student discounts if you have your student ID with you. Museums in London are even free for students!
Some places will give you from 10% to 20% off your purchase with your student card. Don’t ever be afraid to ask if there is a student discount; the worst thing they can say is no.
3. Don’t worry about the weather
London is known as a place where is always raining and the weather isn’t always the best. Once you arrive, you’ll notice that the rain doesn’t really phase Londoners. They will sit outside, go for walks in the park, and even walk around without an umbrella. The rain doesn’t really bother them. While you’re studying abroad in London, plan to assimilate and don’t let the weather hold you back from anything that you do. Carry an umbrella when you want, but remember it’s just rain — it’s not going to hurt you.
4. Bring a reusable bag everywhere
This is another smart way to get a discount. Most stores in London and the rest of Europe charge you for plastic and paper bags. Bringing and carrying your own reusable bag will save you money.
Another smart thing to do is to being a reusable cup. Some coffee shops will give you a discount for bringing one. By doing so, you’re saving money and also helping the environment.
5. Get used to having coins
No more $1 bills! In most of Europe, the one-note currency is in the form of a coin. Often, there are even two-pound or two-Euro coins, too.
In London, many stores don’t enjoy when customers give them a £20 note when a purchase is small, such as £3. All of the coins in London are easily recognizable and it is really easy to get exact change. It might take you some time to acclimate to what the coins look like and how much each is worth, but when you get used to it, it will be worth it.
6. Learn to walk
London is a city. If you don’t want to take public transportation, you’ll want to get used to walking. One of the benefits of being in a city, though, is that a lot of things you might want to visit or frequent are super close to each other. Unlike much of the United States, cars are not required in London and not everyone owns one. I recommend buying some comfortable shoes with support so you’ll be ready to walk a lot in both London and while adventuring in Europe. Walking is a great way to get to know an area better and it keeps you in shape, so it’s a double-win.
7. Pack light
This is something that I really regret not doing. Everything that you are used to having back home in the United States will be available to you in London — or at least the equivalent of those things. When I came to London, I came with two suitcases. I have purchased so many things while here and, because I overpacked to begin with, I am going to have a lot of difficulties taking it back with me because of the lack of room in my suitcases.
Packing light from the get-go is super important and, throughout my study abroad experience, I’ve learned how to leave certain things behind that I know I don’t need.
8. Learn to do things alone
This is a really big one in my book when it comes to tips for studying abroad in London — and even studying abroad in general. There are times when people on your program or your friends will be busy and you’ll find it might be hard to find someone to do things with. Doing things alone in a big city like London may seem scary, but being alone in a big city is probably one of the best things ever. You learn to be independent and you are able to explore and find places or things that you might not be able to do with a big group.
By following these tips for studying abroad in London, you’ll be able to soon become a true Londoner. Don’t be afraid to do things on your own, try new things, and go on exciting adventures. You’re after all only abroad once, so enjoy every minute of it.