Tips on Navigating Life as an International Student in London

Going to another country can be a surreal experience, more so if you are moving for some time to do your studies. As early as April, upcoming international students in London are likely already thinking of what to expect about life in the city.

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing many schools to shift to online classes, there is still much uncertainty about how the school term will proceed. However, you never know. You may be part of the lucky ones who get the full experience as an international student, with campus and live lectures to accompany you.

Studying abroad certainly comes with perks, but it can also be intimidating to some. Whether it be the prices, food, or local life, things may feel new to you, so you will need to prepare and adjust for whatever lies ahead. To help you out through your journey, here are some tips for international students in London. From finding student storage in London to getting your paperwork ready, these can help you adjust smoothly to the city.

Top Tips About Student Life in London as an International Student

  1. Do Not Worry About Standing Out
    One of your first–and possibly even biggest–worries as an international student would be standing out in a foreign crowd. However, you do not have to worry about this as London is known for being highly diverse.The city has one of the most diverse populations in the world, with over 200 languages spoken there. Thus, you can wipe away your worries about being a foreigner as London celebrates the many cultures and languages through food and festivals. While living in London, you will meet people from all over the globe. Take it as an opportunity to try out different cuisines and explore new cultures throughout your stay.
  2. Handle Your Paperwork
    Before you get excited thinking about all the things you could do in London, start by getting all your paperwork done to prevent problems later on. In most cases, these are the most important concerns to take care of for your trip:

    • Student Visa. Depending on your home country, you may need to get a student visa to stay in London for the duration of your term. You can check to see if you need a visa so that you can arrange it immediately and get it done early on.Visa rules vary from case to case, but generally, anyone from outside the UK will need to apply for a student visa to study in London. As of January 1, 2021, even students from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland will be considered overseas students, thus requiring a visa.
    • Health Insurance. Health insurance will also be required when studying in London, so make sure you get this prepared. If you come from a country outside of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, you will be given a health surcharge in your visa application. This entitles you to access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). As for those within the said areas, you need to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
    • Bank Account. Finally, a bank account can help you manage your finances as an international student. Budgeting will be much trickier as you have to get used to the cost of living, so setting up a bank account while in London will be extremely helpful. Using a non-UK account may lead to high currency fees, so finding a local one will be ideal.
  3. Settle Your Student Accommodation
    Before landing in London, you naturally want to have your accommodations settled. Ideally, it would be convenient to get university accommodations, so you no longer have to find a room or apartment somewhere else. Some universities also have international student halls dedicated specifically for your case.In the UK, most rooms will be single occupancy, so you do not have to worry about finding a roommate. If you prefer to have your own place, you can try to look for directories to find a room from a private landlord. Make sure you think about your choice thoroughly as you will be living there for several weeks or months.

    During summer or the holidays, you may be going back home to family and friends. Thus, you might want to save on your accommodations by storing your belongings for the time being. Fortunately, you can find affordable quality and student storage in London from companies like Access Box Storage. You can easily book a pick-up from their website by typing in your London postcode. Whenever you need your boxes back, all you have to do is schedule a delivery date.

  4. Prepare for Living Costs in LondonPreparing enough money for your stay in London in advance will be important to budget your finances properly. According to LSE, students’ living expenses cost approximately £1,100 to £1,300 per month. To help you stick to your budget, you can also try doing to find the following to help you out:
    • Scholarship. A student scholarship can save you from having to spend on tuition, which can add up to a significant amount. Try looking for offers for international students to see if you can apply for one.
    • Student Job. Getting a part-time job can help you get more pocket money and build work experience at the same time. Balancing it with studies might be challenging at first, but with proper time management, you can be a working student.
    • Student Discounts. Look for sites and platforms that clue you in on student discounts. Keeping watch of these discounts will save you lots of money while living as an international student.
  5. Prepare for the English WeatherFinally, knowing about the weather conditions in London will be vital to know what clothes to wear once you get to the city. If you are coming from a tropical country, you will have to prepare as London experiences all four seasons in a year.

The winters in the city can get particularly cold as temperatures can go below freezing, so make sure you have enough layers on if you will be traveling at this time. Even during spring, you might be surprised to find that the weather still tends to be on the colder side!