A Pro-Tip Guide to London for Students

Anna Alden
September 12, 2015

London is a fast-paced city and can be a lot to take in at once. Add to that a lost 20-year-old trying to wrangle a bag that's bigger than her, and things can get interesting. So, for my fellow students who will one day find themselves walking the streets of this city, backpack in hand, here are a few tips that might make the trip a little less stressful and a lot more like that movie scene where the main character wanders around foreign places and miraculously becomes a better person. (If that ever actually happens I want to know about it.)

1. Pack light! I know people say this over and over, but thinking that you'll need everything won't be true, and it'll also start to cost you. Some airlines only allow you to check one bag, and others two, so always check— some of my friends were so surprised when they got to the airport and had to pay for their second bag. I had no idea either, but it ended up costing them around $100, and most likely another $100 on the way home. That's a trip to Ireland and then some!

2. Bring snacks! At the last minute I decided to use the extra room in my backpack as a place to pack quick and easy snacks like individually packaged peanuts, crackers... and animal cookies and goldfish because I'm a child. But anyways... it ended up being a great way to have something on hand when I'm on the go, and before I had time to find the nearest grocery store and actually get some food shopping done. It also means that my entire backpack will be empty on the way home, so I'll have plenty of room for anything I buy while I'm here. 

3. Speaking of extra room... I also left space in my carry-on for any items I decide to take home with me. We need to move again in just three weeks to get to Oxford, and by now I've stocked up on bathroom amenities that will need to be transported somehow. As an added bonus, this way it'll be super easy for me to decide I absolutley DO need an Oxford sweatshirt and an Oxford hat and an Oxford tshirt and a small vile of Oxford dirt and a jar of Oxford library air...

4. Have a bag with lots of compartments that you can carry around everywhere. Every single time I leave my room I need my room key, fridge key, mail key, cabinet key, Oyster card, money, and other things I'm probably forgetting right now. But it's okay, I have so many compartments to remember for me!

5. Asking people where to go can sometimes get you through the entire city without looking at a single map or Underground schedule. I'm not kidding... a group of us made it to a restaurant with directions completely supplied by the people of London. Thanks people of London!

6. While everything can be quite expensive in London, and contrary to your bank account's wishes you do need to eat, there are some things that will be surprisingly cheap. My phone plan, for example, is half the price than it is at home, and the city is always offering great deals— "Time Out" magazine is given out in Underground stations every Tuesday, and advertises any free or cheap events happening in London that week!

7. Meet people! Even though we're only here for a short time, it's been made that much more enjoyable by meeting and getting to know other London students. While underpopulated right now (semesters haven't exactly started yet), my entire building is full of other students attending universities. Some of them have even been here for some time, and can let us know where there are great places to eat, shop, and hang out. 

I haven't been here long, but this short adjustment period has taught me a lot about what it means to travel as a student. Our goals and resources are very different than anyone else, and trying to make it work can be an adventure in itself!

Again, special thanks to the people of London for getting us to a fun place whilst we were refusing to look at a map.

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Anna Alden

<p>I am a Literature major at the University of Rochester and am attending Oxford through IES Direct Enrollment in the fall semester of 2015. As an aspiring academic, I am far too invested in the contents of my bookshelf and can often be caught printing an extra copy of completed papers for my own safekeeping. I am fully prepared to take on a completely new and exciting abroad experience both in and out of the classroom, and my love for writing makes each experience even more exciting to share.</p>

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