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The 30 best things about being an international student in London
Published: 25 Feb 16
We’ve put together a list of reasons why London is one of the best places to be an international student. From some important points to some fun things you won’t find anywhere else, read on to find out why we think it’s so great.
- Quality of Education
Coming to study at a London university will set you up for life. Some of the universities here are amongst the top ranking in the world, meaning that they attract top researchers and lecturers alike, so you’ll be taught by the very best in your field of study.
With approximately 300 million people who speak English in the world, and it being the business language of many large companies, being fluent in English can open a lot of doors in the world of employment. Luckily, living and studying somewhere is one of the best ways to become fluent in a foreign language, so if you can team your degree with an excellent level of both written and spoken English, then you’re already ahead of the game.
London is one of the most diverse cities on earth meaning it’s likely you’ll make friends from countries all around the world, who will come from many different and interesting backgrounds. This means that you not only learn about British culture whilst studying here, but also lots of other amazing cultures. So when you graduate and go travelling or work somewhere else in the world, you’ll be much more culturally aware and you may even already have friends there that can make it feel a little more like home.
- Career Prospects
Home to many of the largest graduate employers, there are simply endless opportunities to land your dream job. By living here, you can attend interviews in person instead of having a poor quality video call on Skype where you’re struggling to even hear the questions.
Being at a university in London is not like being at a campus university where you see the same people and go to the same places all the time, which can get a little boring and claustrophobic after a while. Living and studying in a big city like London brings with it a much greater sense of independence, and enables you to grow much more as a young person.
London’s transport network is one of the best and most reliable in the world, making all parts of London very accessible. It’s almost too easy to get from home to coffee shops to lectures to restaurants to bars to nightclubs to home to lectures… you get the idea.
Because of the city’s high standard of living, London has some of the highest quality accommodation available to students. This means that it’s easy to find the perfect home from home to help you get settled into life in a new country.
- The Weather
Despite popular belief, it isn’t always raining. We get beautiful crisp clear days in winter with ice rinks and markets popping up, and even the occasional light flurry of snow. It’s never too extreme and it’s still easy to get everywhere – no one ever gets frostbite or snowed in here. On the other hand, the summers in London are gorgeous and because it’s not too hot you can stay outside and explore without ever overheating.
Love culture? Great, us too, and London is one of the best places for it. The bonus is that the museums are also some of the most architecturally stunning buildings in town, so they’re as interesting on the outside as they are on the inside.
Being a capital city, London has many famous art galleries, most of which are free. There are many special exhibitions throughout the year which bring even more artistic wonders from all over the world. London also has one of the biggest and most creative selections of street art in the world too, so you can stumble upon great masterpieces while simply making your way to lectures or the local coffee shop.
There are 65 restaurants with at least one Michelin star in London and hundreds of other restaurants who deserve one in our eyes. With amazing and sometimes crazy pop-up restaurants too, there is such a broad range of exciting places to choose from. We recommend picking one great place once or twice a month, taking some friends and making a night of it.
Cosy, cute, rustic and utterly British in every way. Most people who live in London go to a pub at least once a week or more. They have a homely feel to them, often with big fireplaces, cosy sofas and booths, and lots of wooden beams. Whether you’re craving some delicious traditional food or just want to have a few drinks with friends, a good pub will never let you down. The other good news is that there are hundreds of them across town so there will always be one when you need it.
- Fish and chips
We love takeaways in the UK, and whilst in recent years Chinese, Indian and Thai have perhaps dominated the takeaway scene, traditionally we had fish and chips on a Friday night as a treat. Just try it and thank us later.
- Afternoon Tea
Nowadays, everywhere from cute cafes to up-market hotels serve afternoon tea and sometimes there’s even champagne involved. It’s traditionally something you have in between lunch and dinner, where there’s tea (obviously), cake, sandwiches, and scones with jam and cream. Check out the best ones in London here.
- Roast Dinner
If you’re free on a Sunday, this is an absolute must. Head to a proper British pub or, even better, go home for the weekend with a British friend from uni and have a home cooked roast with all the trimmings. You can expect some roasted meat, vegetables, potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and gravy. Tip: Don’t expect the Yorkshire puddings to come for dessert.
More specifically, English breakfast tea, is something very close to our hearts. It goes with just about anything and can be drunk at all hours of the day. We like ours with milk and one sugar plus a few biscuits on the side for dunking.
- Full English Breakfast
Also known as the ultimate hangover cure, this breakfast is your best friend when you need something substantial to get you through the day. Eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast and sometimes hash browns (grated and fried potato), this really is a breakfast for the hungry.
- The British Countryside
Whilst you’ll never be bored in the city, you may crave some really large open spaces and time in the great outdoors. Thankfully, it is extremely easy to get to some of the most beautiful British countryside from the city centre. Take a weekend trip to a traditional British village surrounded by stunning scenery and come back refreshed and ready for action in your Monday lectures.
- Food After A Night Out
We’re not sure if this is a thing in other countries but after a night out in London, most people head to a kebab shop, chicken shop or equivalent for a 3am snack. Don’t ask us why, it just happens. You’ll meet some interesting people in these establishments and probably eat your body weight in donner kebab and chips.
- Old Fashioned Sweets
There are a few old fashioned sweet shops across the capital and they’re also sold at many markets too. Assortments of boiled sweets, toffees, fudges and sherbets all transport you back in time before Haribo even existed. They’re absolutely delicious and are great to have on hand as a pick me up when revising.
- Cockney Rhyming Slang
Now, there are only certain parts of east London that you might come across this and it is impossible to understand, trust us. Examples are ‘I’m going up the apples,’ ‘I’m on the dog and bone’ and ‘you’re having a bubble.’ To translate, what they’re actually saying is ‘I’m going up the stairs,’ ‘I’m on the phone’ and ‘you’re having a laugh.’ Easy enough, right?
- The London Eye
Everybody loves a Ferris wheel, and a ride on this one gives you the most incredible views over London. It’s also such an iconic part of the London skyline that it’s an absolute must for both tourists and locals. Tip: pick a beautifully sunny day or a clear night to get the best views.
- The Shard
Standing alone and towering at 310 metres High, it looks like a shard of glass piercing the sky. With its swanky restaurants and bars set against the backdrop of the city lights, this is truly an amazing place to go. They also hold yoga classes and silent discos up there so keep your eye out for something a little out of the ordinary.
London is so rich in History and it’s all fascinating, if we do say so ourselves. You could head to one of the many museums but for a more immersive experience, the London Dungeons really gives you an insight into life in historic London. It’s also excellent around Halloween time as there are scary fright nights and lock-ins.
- The Royal Family
Quite honestly, we love our royal family, and you should too. As our longest serving monarch, the Queen is fabulous. She has a great sense of humour and a love of corgis and Downton Abbey.
- Hyde Park
One of the largest green spaces in London, this is a runners, walkers and picnickers paradise. It’s also home to some great events including music festivals, outdoor cinemas and a winter wonderland.
- Music Scene
With so many music venues hosting top global names and small up and coming bands from all genres, there is always a cool gig to go to somewhere in town.
- The Beach
Ok, so we are cheating here a little bit as everyone knows there’s not really a beach in London, but because of how well connected it is, you can be sitting in a deck chair and looking out to sea after just a 1 hour train journey from central London. So, find a sunny weekend and hit the beach with some friends.
London has some amazing markets selling everything from street food to fashion collectibles and vintage treasures. Our favourites are Borough, Portobello and Spitalfields markets.
There are so many places with great shops in London but everything can normally be found on or near Oxford Street. With high street brands, top designers and large department stores such as John Lewis, Debenhams, House of Fraser and Selfridges, you’ll always find what you’re looking for. If you prefer big shopping centres there’s also Westfield in Shepherds Bush and Stratford.