London Living- My Experience At A London Based University And Advice For Undergraduates
“London is a roost for every bird”- Benjamin Disraeli
Before moving to London just over three years ago, the longest I’d ever spent in the capital was 48 hours. For me, London was a city brimming with culture, packed with undiscovered worlds such as Camden Lock and Richmond Park and a place full of surprises on every corner. Amongst many others, these were all reasons that I was drawn to the city.
I’d always known I wanted to go to university; from the onset of my GCSE’s I was certain that I wanted to read English Literature and Language at degree level. It was something I set my sights on and proceeded to work towards for the following four years. I know this is the case for a lot of people and tends to act as a huge incentive to get through the arduous examination processes. I was certainly clear on what I wanted to study, the only problem was deciding where. A lot of my friends chose to study at universities fairly close to home; coming from Liverpool meant that York, Leeds and Manchester were all popular choices, but no one seemed particularly sold on The South, especially London. There could have been many contributing factors as to why this was the case, however I believe one of the strongest deterrents was cost.
The first thing that often comes to mind when you say London is ‘expensive!’ I can understand how elevated prices can put you off visiting a place for a long weekend, let along studying there for three years. While I totally understand that this very real concern for a lot of people, including myself initially, I will say you’d be hard put to find a student who’s rolling in cash. My rationale was simple, if I’m going to be broke I may as well be broke in one of the best cities in the world! I would strongly advise anyone, regardless of where you’re planning on studying, to look into the bursaries, grants and loans that are available to you. I understand times are tougher than ever, but be aware universities want you to study with them, more often than not they are willing to go the extra mile to get you in their lecture theatres.
While there are a whole host of amazing universities to choose from spanning the length and breadth of the country, the aspect of studying in London which really gave it an edge for me, were the resources available on my doorstep. As I was an arts student, the array of world class theatres such as The Globe, Old Vic and National, were invaluable. Being able to see text in performance so frequently and to be given such a vast choice, was truly wonderful. In addition, London not only plays host to so many fantastic libraries such as the British Library and Senate House, it also offers world renowned research centres and hospitals. As well as the superb academic resources, London really is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines and hotbed for events, ensuring you’ll always be spoilt for choice on Friday evening. Discovering the hidden gems of the city were just as rewarding as making use of everything else at my disposal, which is something I will forever remember about my time at university.
Attending an open day is the best way to ‘try before you buy’. Doing this will certainly give you a flavour of what’s to come. I knew, almost as soon as I set foot on the campus of my chosen university, that I was in the right place. Much like buying or renting a new home, once you know, you know. My advice here is to go with your gut instinct; remember it’s you who’ll be studying and potentially living, in the city of your chosen university, so what you think takes precedence over all other opinions.
I truly believe that studying in London equipped me with so much more than a degree in English Literature and Language; it heightened my awareness of living and woking with different types of people, broadened my horizons and gave me a real thirst to fulfil my true potential. While this can be true of any university experience, I strongly believe these skills were intensified through living in the capital; the environment is one which nurtures and challenges inquisitive minds and certainly pushes you to discover more about your academic and personal abilities.