Welcome to London, you fresh-faced student – you made it! The recession or the rising student fees couldn’t stop you and now you’re in one of the most exciting, modern cities in the world that also happens to be one of the most expensive. Ain’t life a bitch.
Here’s some handy tips from me, someone who has been there, done it and lived to tell the tale…
So invest in an NUS card and flash it where you can. Get that discount you will pay for later in taxes and lack of pensions. Enjoy London’s museums and theatres, sign up for their newsletters and follow their Twitter accounts for discounts. Save the cinema for your hometown: tickets will be half the price for the same film. The Southbank Centre is a great place to sit and study as it has a nice view, free Wi-Fi and a bar. Actually, a lot of London’s libraries have wireless computer networks and even some coffee.
On that note, get a coffee percolator, for the all-nighters and because you don’t want to buy into the Starbucks lifestyle. The mochachinofrappelattes will drain your bank account and if you’re too lazy to make your own, at least find a place that does nice coffee. It’s the first step to becoming a Londoner. If you don’t like coffee, tough; it’s what the cool kids do.
Distinguish yourself from the tourists and walk places. Travel is expensive and stations are often stupidly close together. Learn the London walk: fast, confident strides while tutting at anyone dithering in the middle of the street.
When a drink or two prevents you from fast and confident, you should still know that the nightbus N5 might have a different route from the normal number 5 bus. Imagine the surprise when you find yourself stuck on it at 3am. Plan your route: it will stop a great night turning into a nightmare.
Sharing a taxi and splitting the cost – yes. Throwing up in them and getting chucked out with a top full of sick – no. Drink water.
When en route home at 3am, never, ever stop at London’s inviting kebab shops, PFC, Chicken Palaces and the like. After several pints the greasy, pale, unidentifiable chicken pieces might look appetising and the grey, limp slices of kebab meat nothing less than delicacy; the next morning will give you a different aftertaste. Stick to chips if you must and have an amazing fry-up in the morning.
All of this advice might or might not be written from first-hand experience; my mother reads this too. You’ll ignore it all anyway and so you should, except for planning your way home at night, kids – this is London: be safe! And by Jove, make the most of it.
Image by ashley BALSAM bad courtesy of Flick