Your friends were more than likely off to the other big cities like Manchester, Sheffield and Nottingham but not you. You went to the capital, awaiting street performers and an array of edgy Instagram posts that you’ve only dreamed of through your unprescribed tortoise shell glasses. But there’s a few things you had to prepare yourself for:
Your freshers week was likely to be determined by whatever you and your flat mates decide on – Camden, Clapham, Covent Garden tend to be the three magic C’s of fun – although your University will have a few suggestions. But unlike other universities there’s no true common consensus. On the plus side, you’ll be receiving crying calls from your friend who kissed a guy from their course and embarrassed themselves in front of people in their seminars. London students are unlikely to have that problem, because if you haven’t realised, LONDON IS HUGE. Bumping into someone is a novelty not a regularity.
STUDENTS ARE POOR BUT LONDON STUDENTS ARE POORER
All students have that slight poverty attribute where the sniff-test is another form of washing and you come up with new ways to make your pasta gourmet. But whilst London students will share those similarities, their poverty is exceeded. London students simply have more way to make themselves poor. After the first rooftop bar is discovered, you can kiss your bank balance goodbye – a government ‘fun’ loan would seriously be appreciated.
Whenever the word ‘London’ appears so will ‘transport’. The overground, the underground and buses along with your beloved contactless card will be vital. If you’re not familiar with London, the tube map will resemble the Da Vinci Code but it won’t be long before you’re showing people from home around and feeling like a smug bastard because you know exactly where to go. It’s not often a group of friends can skip along to the nearest social space without someone shouting “I NEED TO TOP UP MY CARD!!!” And usually they don’t have any money to actually top it up, so they use their slightly-richer-but-not-much-richer friend’s debit card.
IMPORTANT: It is not a myth that nobody talks to each other on the tube. We communicate in other ways, sighs when we hear ‘this train is being held at a red signal’, gasps at the city worker who just about escapes the crunch of the tube doors and tuts as an entire school trip decides to emerge. It’s a language you’ll learn to know and love and transport talks start to become part of your life, especially if you’re complaining about it.
BUT LET’S NOT FORGET UBER
The night tube – which doesn’t operate every night and everywhere – and the night bus are the most cost effective options. If it really is a late night or early morning trip, you can expect to be judged by all the business people on their way to work. However, being the unsavvy student you are, an Uber is always the more attractive option, especially those who claim they ‘don’t have it’ for three years just to escape the bill.
THE MADE IN CHELSEA FANTASY
You had to shake out the dream of the London high life, quickly. You won’t be traipsing round with Selfridges bags around your arms after brunch in Kensington. The only thing you will do in Kensington is visit Westfield and pose for a picture in front of a flat you definitely do not live in. You’ll be drinking two cocktails maximum just for an Instagram boomerang. Whilst your friends in the northern universities are indulging in £3 doubles, you will be paying a £3 tip just to avoid being sniggered at by the staff. The harsh reality of your alcohol is a heavy pre-drinks with a man named Glen, second name Vodka – or give Waitrose own brand a try if you want to cling onto false civilisation.
But fear not. You’re in one of the best cities in the world, you can discover new places every single day, sit in beautiful parks and have many imaginary weddings with the person sat opposite you on the tube. You’ve got your whole time at University to soak it up, you can kiss your rooftop apartment dream goodbye and welcome your renovated shed with open arms, because this is London and it is great.