The United Kingdom is one of the most popular places to study abroad, and its capital offers students some of the best cultural and academic experiences. From its wide selection of colleges and prestigious universities to its unending list of cultural and historic attractions, a semester or year in London would seem like a treat if it weren't for the unfavorable exchange rate and its almost unbearable cost of living.
But don't let the high price tag keep you from studying in one of the world's greatest cities!
Follow these tips to make studying in London on a student's budget both realistic and enjoyable.
Go Through a Program
Studying abroad with an established program or university is usually the best way to guarantee affordable, temporary student housing. Most programs set up your accommodations with an all-inclusive fee in the tuition bill. This means less hassle for you as well as (usually) cheaper overall costs.
If your program or institution does not provide housing, it usually can connect you with a network of students who will have suggestions. If all else fails, there are plenty of student housing Web sites and online classifieds that advertise good housing deals.
Make a budget
With an exchange rate of nearly $2 to the British pound, prices in London can be deceptive, and an average day out in the city can easily cost $100 if you are not careful. With the right budget, however, you can avoid spending too much and still feel comfortable shelling out some cash when appropriate.
Always have a sense of how much you can actually afford to spend each day, each week, and each month. It helps to think of your budget in terms of pounds, not dollars, so you do not always have to convert in your head. Also, make sure you have a separate budget for fun!
Remember, you may be in London to study, but you can also enjoy yourself. If you know how much you can spend on the fun stuff, you will not feel guilty treating yourself every once in a while.
Get a Part-Time Job
If you have a tier 4 U.K. student visa, you can work legally during your stay in London. A part-time job in your school's student union or at a nearby pub would put a few more pounds in your pocket each week while simultaneously immersing you in the local culture.
Make Your Own Food
The cheapest way to eat in London is to cook your own meals. Anything pre-packaged or cooked will cost more, even if you do not get it at a restaurant. While you may think those microwavable meals from Waitrose or the tempting sandwiches at Prêt a Manger are harmless, they can add up. Instead of wasting your money on food you could make yourself, invest in Tupperware, sandwich bags and a reusable water bottle, and pack your own lunches.