Two weekends ago I went to Belgium to visit my brother and an old flatmate from Prague. I managed to see a lot of Belgium in the space of 3 days (thanks to my brother having a car). I visited Brussels, Mons, Bruges and Ghent. I also got to practice my French, and find out it’s even worse than I thought, and watch the hilarious In Bruges for the first time.
So I’ve finally arrived in Prague and I’m so happy to be here!
Everything is packed and ready for my move to the Czech Republic, this Wednesday. (Unfortunately I have to wake up at a really awful time on Wednesday morning in order to get to the airport for a 7am flight. Oh man, why?!)
So you’re moving to London to start university, you’ve made a great choice! London is the best city to go to university in in the UK. Why? Because we have everything bigger and better than the rest of the country. Ok, I’m being a little biased and big headed. But going to university in London is a lot different to going anywhere else in the country. Not necessarily in a bad way, but there’s something about London that makes it really weird to go to university in.
First of all, unlike any other large sized town or city, the university isn’t the only thing going for it. Mostly because we have about 40 different universities in one city. Hardly any of them are campus based. Meaning your whole uni life can be spread across the city. And unlike places like Sheffield or Warwick, people don’t just go to London for uni. People travel to London from all over the world for tourism, to work, to live, and they don’t immediately think: “university”. Time and time again I have heard Northern family members say: “Why didn’t you go to Manchester to study? Manchester is a student city.” What does that mean, “student city”? Because to me that means there’s nothing else to do except study.
That’s why in my first year I didn’t feel like London offered the real student experience, whatever that is. Whenever I spoke to my friends from school in the holidays who went to other places in the country to study, they always asked: “What is London like?” But I really wondered what it was like to not study there. (They have this thing called “carnage”. What the hell is that?) To me, their uni experience sounded like living in a tiny village. Everyone you met was a student and when you went to the shops, everyone was a student. The only people you met in clubs were other students and when you met a local, they hated you because you were a student. And during uni holidays, the place was like a ghost town. You were stuck having to live on rubbish food from chain restaurants like Nandos and drinking bad filter coffee from the student union because no one had heard of a ‘skinny latte’, let alone been into a Starbucks. Yeah ok, point made. But that’s what I first worried about when I was a fresher in London. I worried I wasn’t getting the “real deal”. Maybe I didn’t, but I think I got better.
Here’s some of my tips on how to make the most out of freshers in London, so you don’t feel too left out…..
University is a great time of your life, but with such a limited budget and time away from your degree to spare, it might also mean that you end up forgetting healthy eating and exercise.
In my first year of university I didn’t really care about either. I was just focused on grades/having a social life. (And I guess with a blog mostly about eating cake and burgers, I’m not exactly that bothered now!) I am of the mindset that as long as you are happy with your body and you feel healthy, then you are absolutely fine and don’t need to change a thing. However, it’s not just about the outside, but also about how you feel psychologically. Nowadays many students suffer from depression and other mental health disorders at some point in their academic career (about 1 in 4 UK adults are diagnosed with a mental health issue in any one year), and that number is increased when living with the day to day pressures of a big city like London. Thus, making a few adjustments to your lifestyle may make you feel a lot better. Here’s some of my tips on how to stay healthy/happy whilst at university:
So this is probably going to be one of my last posts from London for about a year. In September I will be moving to Prague and studying history as an Erasmus student at Charles University. I’m really excited about living in a new city and having the opportunity to experience a new culture in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But I’m also very sad to be leaving London behind. In my first year everyone said that your first year was for getting to know your university campus and your second year was when you got to know the real London. This was definitely true for me. After my second year I now feel like I know all the really cool places to eat, drink and hang about and I’m no longer terrified to go a bit further out of Central London to try somewhere new.
Here’s some of the things I am really going to miss about London:
This week I went to Vienna, Austria to visit my friend Dalia. Having never been to Vienna before, I only ever see Dalia when she makes her annual trip to London for Fashion Week. But I was very excited to go and see Vienna for myself, in the eyes of a local, so jumped at the offer to stay at Dalia’s parent’s house in Vienna.
Vienna is very different to London. If not just because of the architecture which makes you feel like you’re in a fairy-tale, but also the transport which runs all night long on weekends, the cuisine, and even the universities have a very different atmosphere.
Washed Out, aka 28 year old Ernest Greene, is an American synth-pop musician who plays music that has been defined in the genre of chillwave. Having just finished a four-month tour, Washed Out played his last show at the notorious gay nightclub, Heaven in Charing Cross. After playing an hour set comprising mostly of songs from his debut album Within and Without, as well as a surprising choice of cover song, Wicked Game by Chris Isaak, I chatted to a worn out Washed Out at 11:55pm about his tour, his new music and his university life.
For many, me included, the Christmas holidays couldn’t have come sooner. I really needed that break from the hectic end of term lifestyle which had essay deadlines looming, endless seminars I hadn’t prepared for in which I got eye ache from looking at my notebook with such thoughtful intensity every time the lecturer asked a question, and not to forget the spaghetti with tomato sauce diet I’d kept quite strictly to. It was nice to come home and to eat whatever I fancied because the supermarket doesn’t seem too much of an effort when you’re not the one going there. Oh and not to forget the luxury items my parent’s seem to be able to afford, like cheddar cheese for example. Who could have imagined cheese would be so expensive when they got to university?
But even though I love varied diets, central heating and hot water that actually comes on regularly, I still really miss London during these holidays. Especially because my hometown residence is a small-town in the middle of nowhere where it’s not unusual to be stuck behind a tractor when in traffic. If you too are feeling the Holiday-Away-From-London-Blues (there must be a catchier way to say that!) I have thought of a couple of tips to keep you occupied.
This Saturday night I was running late to meet my friend. After running to the tube station and catching the tube just before it left, I suddenly became aware of how drunk everyone around me was. Sitting next to Black Swans, I listened to humorous, what can only be described as, playground chanting-tube singing, and then watching people attempt to pole dance on the tube, I finally after 10 minutes late reached my destination. I was going to someone I don’t knows house party. We stayed for 20 minutes because we were very bored and felt quite out of place knowing zero people, we wanted to leave quickly, so sneaked out and didn’t even say bye (rude, I know!).
But what we didn’t realise is that the exit is locked and you needed a key to get out.