This post is probably one of my most highly requested things to talk about. I've had so many emails from readers asking about my experience at university in central London and whether or not I would recommend it, so I thought it'd be easier to write a full post about it and hopefully answer all of your questions.
As many of you know, I have just finished my first year at City University London studying journalism and I've had the best time. I met the most amazing people and loved life in the big city. I can do a separate post on my actual course, but for now here's my general advice/experience on going to university in London.
It's probably the best decision I've ever made
First things first, I know that uni life in London won't be for everyone, but for me it was the best possible decision I could have made. I've wanted to live in London for as long as I can remember and with wanting to work in the fashion or media industries, I think it's the best place for me to be.
University in London is a different university experience
Going to university in London is unlike going to other universities in my opinion, and with a boyfriend at Leeds uni who I visit regularly, I can say I've seen both sides. I think London offers a far less "studenty" atmosphere, but for me that was for the best. It's a completely personal decision, but if you're looking for the classic student lifestyle of going out and getting drunk every night for not a lot of money, London really isn't for you. I love a good night out every now and then, but the constant messy/party lifestyle just isn't for me...it just wears a bit thin after a week. I'd rather spend my money exploring the city and going on adventures during the day (or shopping) than spend £40 a night going out drinking. My flatmates and I regularly explored London: we ate out, went for days in Shoreditch or Camden, we saw West End shows and just made the most of the city. As I said it's an entirely personal thing, it just depends what you want out of your university experience.
Rent and drinks out are expensive, the rest isn't much different
I think this is the aspect of university life in London that could make or break it for a few people, and I totally understand that for many people, living in London is just not a viable option. Choosing to go to university in London does give you access to a higher amount of student loan than everyone else and more bursaries (see here for Mayor of London Scholarship details), which makes a difference, but for some people it still won't be enough. I don't know anyone in my accommodation who manages to get by with just their student loan, they also rely on financial help from their family or parents. My student loan and grant cover my rent entirely but leave me with little else for food, clothes, travel, etc. I wouldn't be able to attend my university without my families help and I am so grateful for their support.
As far as everything else goes, buying drinks out is expensive, but the rest isn't much different, it really just depends on what you buy and what you do. I have friends who have kept to a budget of £30 a week, and others who spend £120. I also have friends in Leeds who spend more in a month than I do living in central London, largely because of how much they spend on alcohol...it just entirely depends on your lifestyle.
Days out and travel don't have to cost much
Whilst some places in London can be extortionate, there's also so many things going on that are totally free to access/attend. I'm always checking the Londonist for cheap or free things that are going on near me, it's also a great tool to find all the crazy events that take place in the city (giant inflatable waterslide at Kings Cross anybody??)
It's also super easy to walk around London and it's often no different time-wise to taking the tube. Don't be fooled by the tube map - 3 stops might only be a 10min walk and you'll save yourself money
Get a railcard
I got mine through Santander when I signed up for their student bank account and I'm so glad I did! I was originally just thinking of the benefits for travelling back home or to see Joe (it cuts your train fare by a third), but if you take your railcard and your oyster card to an information desk at a tube station, they can link the two and you can get money off your tube fare as well! It's been so worth it and I would highly recommend anyone living in London to get one.
If you do choose to go, make the most of it!
With the housing market in London getting more and more expensive by the second, this might be the only chance you'll get to live in central. You'll have the support of a student loan (which you should absolutely make the most of and not worry about!) and you'll be in the best position to apply for internships and work experience whilst you have the accommodation.
The opportunities I gained through my blog increased massively when I moved to London, all of a sudden I could attend photoshoots, blogger events and meet up with and collaborate with other creatives who lived in the city too. There's so many opportunities to take, make sure you take them all and really make the most of it.
If you have any more questions about my university life, course or anything else, don't hesitate to email me and I'll try to reply as soon as I can.
Love Ellen xx