Important things for any student abroad to establish about the city where he or she is staying are: Food, Transportation, Communication. And here’s how IES Orientation helped with each of those.
FOOD: Where we last left off in the previous blog, I had just reached the residence hall and gotten settled into my new room at Nido King’s Cross. A walking tour of the area was scheduled around two, where an IES rep walked us around our little block in the borough Islington and pointed us to choice locations in walking distance. To anyone wanting to live in London, look for TESCO (a small grocery store chain with all the basics you need if you’re not on a meal plan) and PRET A MANGER (imagine fast food but with healthy sandwiches and apples and crisps instead of burgers and fries). These will save your stomach and your wallet. Also, I’d recommend getting this free app called Zomato which will find restaurants for you based on location, price, or cuisine. Very handy in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
TRANSPORTATION: Our next stop on the tour was King’s Cross station (yes, the one with Platform 9 3/4). Here we got our Oyster travel cards for the tube and buses. An absolute must-have for living in London. Those of us who would soon be living on campus at their direct enrollment schools and would probably only need the tube or the bus on the weekends got the pay-as-you-go option. But for me, with no housing at Mountview and a forty minute commute from Nido, I needed the monthly plan. (I’ve yet to need a taxi.) You can also get a tube map app for your phone as well.
COMMUNICATION: With a big “No Service” in the corner of the screen, the most that my iPhone was good for was playing Candy Crush Saga. So the next day, we walked to an electronics store to get either (a) a cheap, prehistoric pay-as-you-go phone or (b) a UK sim card. Note: if you want a UK sim card put in your phone, make sure that you call your service provider and get them to “unlock your phone” beforehand. Learned that the hard way. A couple apps that you can get to communicate with people back home include WhatsApp and Viber, which allow free international messaging with anyone else who has these apps (and as long as you have wifi).
What I really appreciate about the Orientation process here is that they give you the tools you need to explore the city and the culture on your own so that you don’t have to worry about making a serious mistake. And if something does happen, after Orientation, you will know how to deal with. They won’t hold your hand, but you will be well taken care of.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Chase Wheaton-Werle. I'm a musical theatre major from the University of Tulsa. Outside of my major, I enjoy creative writing and poetry. In the fall of 2013 I'm attending Mountview Academy for the Theatre Arts. This will be my first experience out of the country, and as someone with a passion for theatre and British culture, I couldn't ask for a better destination. I hope this blog can provide not only some insight to the intensive curriculum of an actor in the theatre center of the world, but also some good chuckles.</span></p>