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From when to start flat-hunting to the best places to hit the books, top tips for making the most of your time as an undergraduate in London
1. A Student Oyster Card is your saviour - get one and guard it with your lifePicture: Scott Cawley/Flickr
London is one of the biggest cities in the world but with a Student Oyster Card you can explore it easily and cheaply.
Tip: get a 16-25 Railcard (some banks offer them free when you open a student account) and ask to have it linked to your oyster card at a station ticket office to save a third on every journey you make.
2. Get app happyPicture: Freestocks/Flickr
Navigating the capital is simpler with a smartphone. Use mapping apps like Citymapper to calculate your journey times and alert you to traffic or delays, while until the night tube opens later this year (praise be to the gods of transportation) apps such as Uber and Gett will have you home safe and sound after a night out. Every student has a story about falling asleep on the night bus and ending up in Enfield. Don’t be one of them.
3. Avoid express supermarketsPicture: Getty
Seek out your nearest superstore, even if you have to get the bus there. It’ll work out much cheaper than endless trips to the express shop round the corner – they’re known to be pricier, especially in central areas. And stock up on beige food while you’re there as nothing will see you into your overdraft faster than a post-night-out kebab habit.
4. Take the busPicture: Chrisada/Flickr
The easiest way to explore London is by bus. While the tube might be speedier, from the top deck of a bus you get to see how the capital fits together above ground. It’s also a good way to squeeze in some sightseeing without having to battle through crowds of selfie stick-wielding tourists. Take in Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square and Downing Street on the 24 or spot Somerset House, The Ritz and Harrods on the number 9.
5. Think about accommodation earlyPicture: Chapter Spitalfields
Do your research – check student forums where you’ll find first-hand tips on the best halls of residence from current students. If you’re flat hunting, the London rental market moves quickly so make sure you know what you want and be prepared to act fast when you see it.
6. Yes, it can be expensive – but it’s worth itPicture: Alessandro Grussu/Flickr
You’ll be spending three or more years in a city that’s world renowned for its culture, nightlife and diversity so get out there and enjoy it. And study hard knowing that London’s thriving job market means you’ll be well placed to kickstart your career once you graduate.
7. Freebies are your best friend
While you might be missing out on the £1 pints that campus uni students enjoy, you can save those precious pennies elsewhere by making the most of London’s many free events, exhibitions and attractions. Keep a close eye on the Evening Standard’s extensive lists as well as museums and art gallery websites (even some of the smaller ones).
8. Love the libraryPicture: Steve Cadman
London is home to some of the most spectacular libraries in the world and pulling an all-nighter is that little bit more appealing if the setting is spectacular. Try the London Library, the Wellcome Library’s Reading Room and, if you’re lucky enough to be a King's College student, don’t miss the Maughan Library which has appeared in films such as The Da Vinci Code.
9. Explore the outskirtsPicture: Andrew Birch/Flickr/Hertfordshire
You’ll get the most out of the city if you break out of the uni bubble from time to time. Once you’ve got to grips with your local area, be sure to explore further afield, hang out with hipsters in trendy east London or go celeb spotting in upmarket Chelsea. If you’re feeling in need of fresh air, head to one of the Home Counties – the picturesque countryside of Hertfordshire and Surrey is a stone’s throw away.
Looking for student accommodation in London? From Lewisham to Islington, Chapter has a portfolio of affordable options all over the capital, including central locations and the best of London’s boroughs. Their extensive array of housing makes it simple to find something suitable even at short notice. Find out more at chapter-living.com