Being a student and living in one of the greatest cities in the world
I can see The Shard from my kitchen window, a fact I tell everyone back home and one that never fails to surprise me every morning (or afternoon) as I put the kettle on. So, what is it about London that makes living here so great? Because it can’t be the extortionate price of housing, the dreary weather or the bad transport. I think, for me at least, it has a lot to do with the diversity. Growing up in a Conservative strong hold and attending white middle class schools felt stuffy and outdated. I am now studying on a course that is roughly one third UK students, one third EU and one third from outside the EU. Student halls are a mix of languages and cultures, too. It is all a shock to the system, but in a good and exciting way. I have to say that there are far more Conservatives at university than I imagined, so in some ways it is just like being at home!
London is iconic. The architecture is beautiful and walking over Waterloo Bridge on the way to lectures, even on a wet and windy day, never fails to make me smile. The part of me that is consumed by wanderlust is somewhat tamed by living here. London feels like a city of possibility. Although I recognise that it is definitely a place best experienced when you have money, or time. I don’t have all that much money, but I do seem to have a fair amount of time on my hands. I have already experienced many things in London: I have been to the top of The Shard (which was an incredible experience), I have sheltered from the rain in the National Gallery (and ended up spending hours there) and I have walked along Oxford Street at Christmas time. Every time I go to lectures, I walk through Somerset house and get an incredible view of the South Bank. Yet, there are an infinite number of things I haven’t done yet. I haven’t been to the top of St. Pauls nor have I been to the market at Spitalfields. It is easy to get into a lazy student routine of drinking too much at the pub and spending whole mornings (or days) in bed. I suppose this is something I hope to change this term.
There is more to being a student in London than just doing all the tourist things. For me, being in London was about making connections and discovering opportunities I might not have elsewhere. I have applied for a job at the Museum of London and I have an interview next week! If I am lucky enough to get the job the experience will be an incredible one. It is only working in the gift shop, but nonetheless it offers a different opportunity and I could be working in the centre of London, which is an exciting thought.
There is no doubt that being a student in London is expensive, but it is manageable. Learning to cook is key I think, being a cheap drunk helps too! I have found transport and textbooks to be the biggest, unexpected, expenditures, only one of which is particular to London. Managing a budget is part of growing up and moving out of halls next year, where I will have to start managing my bills too, will be another shock I am sure. I am determined to stay within Zone One, being able to walk about the city has been one of my favourite things so far. The tube has its own society and rules and conduct and behaviour. It’s too stuffy. As long as it’s not raining too bad (I really need to invest in an umbrella), London is definitely a city best experienced on foot.