What NYU doesn’t tell you: London

Here are the most important tips for conquering city life at NYU London.

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Samson Tu

File photo: A bus stop in London, near Trafalgar Square, in the summer of 2019. (Samson Tu for WSN)

Gabrielle Trinidad Almeter, Staff Writer

“What NYU doesn’t tell you” is a series started by the Abroad section meant to share advice on the ins and outs of the cities where NYU students study abroad.

As the semester comes to a close, I’ve acquired a lot of knowledge on London life. From study spots to nightlife to public transport, I’ve got you covered with the most helpful tips. Read on to ensure that your semester at NYU London runs as smoothly as possible.  

Making the most of student life

NYU’s partnership with the University of London comes in handy for more than just studying — if you take up the university’s offer to join the Students’ Union UCL as a visiting member, you have access to a plethora of clubs and societies, discounted student nights at bars and clubs, and sports teams. UCL’s student nights include Team UCL’s Sports Night on Wednesdays, “Hips Don’t Lie” for reggaeton lovers on Thursdays, and even a Winter Ball toward the end of the term. All ticket prices start at £3, with drink prices as low as £3, making the events affordable and accessible to students. 

Studying off campus

With stores dotting every corner, Pret A Manger is a great place to study, as long as you don’t mind the white noise. If you’re a caffeine addict like me, the popular franchise’s coffee subscription will come in handy. For only £12.50 the first month and £25 every month afterward, you can purchase unlimited organic coffee, tea and hot chocolate, with any milk alternatives. If you prefer to support local coffee shops, try exploring Fitzrovia or Marylebone, and you’ll find plenty. 

Alternatively, try Lamb’s Conduit Street, a picturesque area a few blocks from campus. Aside from just coffee, the street is a one-stop shop for anything you might need —buy affordable groceries at The People’s Supermarket, browse minimalist clothing at Folk or discover a new classic at Persephone Books, a bookstore which sells novels mostly written by women.

If you prefer to study in a quiet space, look no further than the Senate House Library. The modernist building houses cozy reading rooms with individual desks and cubicles. With the assistance of a library card available to students through NYU’s partnership with the University of London, you can frequent the library from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. on weekdays. It also serves as an excellent resource when writing papers. 

Conquering the nightlife

Outside of student life, the prominent pub culture in London makes it easy to meet new people. Popular pub chain Wetherspoons serves affordable food and drinks, with the cost of a pint as low as £1.99 in some UK locations. Try using this cheap tipple finder to make sure you’re getting the best price on your alcoholic drinks next time you frequent a Wetherspoons. But beware, pubs typically close at 11 p.m. If you’re game to keep the night going, use the app Fatsoma to find affordably priced nightlife events in your area.

Experiencing the art scene

Maybe nightlife is not your speed, and that’s OK. London offers a variety of ways to experience the culture. Try exploring the city’s state-of-the-art museums, including the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, to name a few. The best part is, they’re all free.

Home to famous playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde, London has done an excellent job of preserving its theater culture. Luckily for us, it’s also incredibly affordable. While a simple search for the hit show “Hamilton” on Broadway puts the cheapest tickets at more than $100, I was able to see the play for less than £50 during my first week in London. Whether you’re a theater aficionado or not, I’d recommend taking advantage of London’s theater prices while you can. While government subsidies have kept the prices down, even in London’s West End, recent budget cuts from the art’s counsel threaten this integral aspect of London’s ecosystem.

Staying safe

Whether you’re enjoying a theater, pub or club at night, make sure to be accompanied by friends at all times. I was surprised to find out that pepper spray is illegal in London when mine was confiscated upon entering a club. If walking around at night without pepper spray gives you anxiety like it does for me, I’d recommend buying a personal attack alarm like She’s Birdie. But don’t panic — London is generally considered safe, given that it is a popular tourist destination.

Navigating public transport

While London is similar to New York City with its comprehensive underground transport system, do note that trains only run until midnight. That means if you’re coming home later, you’ll need to either take the bus or call an Uber. If you end up staying out until sunrise, the Tube does open at 5 a.m., so you may be in luck. NYU supplies students with refillable Oyster cards, and the metro system is super easy to navigate. 

Contact Gabrielle Trinidad Almeter at [email protected]