10 things I’ve learnt from being an international student in London

As it has been a few years since I moved to London, I have realised that being here has had a greater impact on me that I first expected.

The cultural diversity and social divergence in London is greater than I’ve ever experienced and understanding the different layers on which society works has been a metamorphic process in which I have rediscovered myself and learnt that challenges can become rewards.

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Moving out from my parents’ house has been indeed a cathartic way to discover more about my skills and accomplishments and  how to become an adult.

Is there a precise way of learning how to be an adult? No, there isn’t. But let me tell you this: You build your own strategies and tactics in life.

1.Be aware of your and other people’s needs. 

Being nice and polite is a must, but knowing when to say ‘no’ to things is vital. Understanding that everybody comes from a different cultural and social background is essential to buildings up new relationships.

2. Meals shouldn’t be just chips and take-outs.

Learning how to cook simple meals is indispensable. Your health for the following years will rely on this and there are endless, on-budget options.

3. Think outside the box, or even better, remove the box.

Don’t get follow stereotypes. People  come from very different social backgrounds and they might have other views that yours. Carefully choose your words or you might offend/ get offended by awkward situations if you don’t act with care.

Be considerate to others.

4. Create a budget but don’t forget to have fun.

As a new person to the hustle and bustle of  London, spending money on things you don’t really need may be very easy. Keep in mind what is your monthly expenditure and try not to go overboard when shopping. You might realise you’re penniless a week after your pay-check.

5. Find a part-time job.

It can be in an office, a cafe, a restaurant, walking dogs or baby-sitting. As long as it does not interfere with your studies, go for it.

If you are lucky enough, you can get a job in your desired field and as Confucius said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

6. Find time for your inner peace.

Being a student and having a part-time job can be quite stressful and joggling between work and studies can bring you to the edge sometimes.

Find the time to relax and enjoy the day. Go on a 10 minutes walk just to relax, read a book, listen to your favourite band, Skype with a friend. You’d be surprised to see how much this can help.

7. Don’t forget about your roots.

Living in London can be quite transforming.

It is very easy to get lost in the abundance of new things or habits coming from other people and it is natural to want to experiment.

But, bear in mind everything you’ve learned from your parents and make sure you leave a print on the world.

8. Stay connected with what’s happening at home.

Although exploring London can be fun and filled with new experiences, you can lose track of what’s happening at home quite easily.

Being caught in the routine of studying and working you’ll realise you haven’t checked the local news from your country or you have even forgotten about the new elections coming up.

It’s vital to remain on track with information from home or else, when you go back, you’ll find yourself confused by the amount of things you missed out on.

9. Move on with your life and build new relationships

I understand how important are for you the relationships you have with your friends from home.

But as soon you leave, they move on with their lives – they still care about you – but they keep the party going.

And you should do the same.

Another thing, “it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live” ( Albus Dumbledore), because you’ll end up being sad and lonely.

Get out there, meet new people and have fun!

10. Be yourself!

No matter what you do, you don’t have to live your life to please anyone.

Your decisions are yours and yours only.

No one can tell you what do and you shouldn’t be bothered by that.

It is true, you can be advised about doing certain things, but, never, ever let yourself driven by someone else’s passions.

Stay positive and learn to love yourself and people will start loving you.

Love,

Csilla

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Making the most of London Life

Being an international student in London isn’t always easy, but it can be pretty amazing if you allow yourself to take advantage of all the opportunities you’ll be given. Living on campus is probably the more expensive accommodation choice, so, if you are willing to commute to university, I assure you that rewards will come: more money in your bank account, possibility to travel within London and understand the public transport (which can be quite complicated) and foremost, perceiving new habits and new people.

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One of the things that you’ll find easy to do will be socialising and partying. People in Britain have less concern at a party if your shoes and bag are matching or if you’re wearing the right necklace. Of course, depending on the social activity, it matters what you wear, but that doesn’t define the level of fun you can have. Also, make sure you attend at least one tea party while you’re here: there’re super awesome!

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Depending on what your preferences are, some of the places you can go and have fun in London are: Piccadilly Circus (a lot of nice restaurants and clubs), Soho (from vintage to alternative rock, you can find any atmosphere here) and, let’s not forget, Camden Town. Camden Town and Soho are somehow alike, but soon as you get to both places, you can see the huge differences. While you’re in Camden, make sure you go to the Camden Food Market: it’s amazing!

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While London is a city from which you can learn and experience many things, be careful not to overspend. In order to keep track of your financial expenses, make sure you keep a weekly list of how much you have spent and always organise your shopping priorities with the food on the top. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to spend your money on non-essential items and then be annoyed on how you could’ve bought food for two days. But let’s not worry! London offers choices for every budget and if you research your accommodation choices to get the best for your budget, trust me, you’ll have the time of your life.

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The multitude of things you can do in London for free is extraordinary: museums, parks, exhibitions, and so on. You can enhance your cultural experience by only walking from St. Paul’s Cathedral down to Southbank and you’ll be amazed of how many things you can see!

If being new in a metropolis like London makes you feel a bit scared, don’t worry at all. Everyone in London, even locals, have got lost at least once!

So, sit back, relax and plan your adventure!