By Carlie McGuire
So you’ve been accepted into the study abroad program, you’ve gone to the boring orientations, filled out the endless amounts of forms for various offices, and tried to explain to everyone what exactly you’ll be doing next semester.
“Well, no it’s not an exchange program, but like I’ll be working and taking classes at this education center, and what? No I still don’t know what internship I’ll be doing.. ect ect”
Now you’re suitcases are out, you’re passport finally came back from the Visa office,
and in just a few short days, you’ll be leaving for London. How exciting! But there
are probably a million things you’re worried about, and sorry to say, but a million things you haven’t even thought of yet. But don’t worry, we’ve been through it, we made the mistakes of the first few weeks so that you don’t have to!
1) If you haven’t ordered an Oyster card yet—DO IT. It was the biggest waste of money for me personally in the first few days. If you read the e-mails from CAPA, you would have ordered it earlier, and it would be ready for you on arrival day. If you didn’t pre-order, make it the absolute first thing you do in London. Over the course of 5 days, I bought 6 individual day passes at 7 pounds each. Total cost in dollars? 55. You’re oyster card makes everything so much easier, and even though its hard to swallow, that 120 dollars you spend once a month will be so worth it.
2) Food- go for some groceries as soon as possible. You’ll be tempted to eat at ever cute little pub you see, but a lot of those “distinct” looking pubs are actually chains, and if you’re going to spend your money on food, make sure its somewhere that is actually unique!
3) Phone- If you have an iPhone or Blackberry and can’t live without it, you can go to most electronic stores and get it unlocked, then use an international SIM card. Beware though, unlocking your phone voids any warranty you have on it. The other option is to head over to a store like Carphone Warehouse and but a 5 pound phone and an international SIM card. Texts are about 5 pence each to send, and calls are 10 pence a minute. You will go through texts really fast if you do a lot of lame “hey” ones to friends who live in the next room, so be wise! And yeah, the 5 pound phone doesn’t have a QWERTY keyboard which sucks sometimes, so if you need to, go for the more expensive phone.
4) Going out- Do your research before you go out, there are a lot of places to go in London that are fun, have great music, and not totally expensive. And even though once in a while it can be fun, avoid Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square. Those are huge tourist traps, and whenever you meet people in London and admit you went there, they will laugh at you.
5) Going along with going out, plan you’re route home BEFORE you leave. Know which nightbus to take home and where it picks you up. Its either that or spend a stupid amount of money on a cab. Just go on TFL’s journey planner!
6) Feeling stressed when you get to London? It’s normal, it’s a huge change and being a little anxious doesn’t mean you made the wrong choice, or that you aren’t appreciating it enough. Once you get into a routine with classes and your internship, and start knowing the city better, those feelings will be a distant memory! Soak up every second you have in London, it all goes by too fast!
Without a doubt the first week is expensive, tiring, and sometimes stressful, but it will all settle down! Good luck!