Moving to London – a useful guide:
Recent years show a rapid increase in the number of international students looking to obtain higher education in UK universities, focusing mainly on universities in London, as well as a raise in the number of foreign nationals moving to London as part of their employment. For those individuals, we prepared this guide which contains info and tips to help you get an easy start for your new life or period in London.
Rich in history and heritage, London is a perfect blend of past and present. With roots dating as far as 43 AD, when it was built by the Romans and named at that time Londinium, London has grown and developed with time to the huge multicultural metropolis it is today and of the three most important financial centers in the world.
London is situated on the River Thames and with a population of close to 8,000,000 it is the largest city in the European Union. With strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and the first underground metro system in the world, London is renowned as a global cultural capital. A description which goes hand in hand with the face that there are more languages spoken in the city of London than in any other city in the world.
Greater London is made from two historic cities: the City of London (also known as The Square Mile) and the city of Westminster. It contains four landmarks which are are considered as UNESCO heritage sites: Westminster Palace, Tower of London, Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Maritime Greenwich. In addition, Wembley Stadium is the biggest football stadium worldwide and London Heathrow is the world’s busiest airport by number of international passengers.
Being an enormous city, London is divided into boroughs and districts. Greater London is the top-level administrative division of England covers London. It is divided into 32 separate London boroughs, each governed by a London borough council, and the City of London, which has a unique government. (Total 33 boroughs). The 33 boroughs of London are divided into 14 Inner London boroughs and 19 Outer London boroughs.
The largest industry in London is finance, with more than a half of the UK’s top 100 listed companies and more than 100 of Europe’s 500 largest companies have their headquarters in central London. The five major business districts: the City, Westminster, Canary Wharf, Camden & Islington and Lambeth & Southwark.
Tips & Info for living in the UK:
Accommodation in London:
Finding flats for rent in London might be a tedious task, there are many factors to be considered (proximity to public transportation, utility costs, suitability and safety of the area, etc.). Some of the universities in London offer accommodation in dormitories and student houses in their respective campus areas for their international students. Though many of the students and expats living and studying in London prefer to flat for rent or an apartment which is off campus, that way they can have a more thorough experience of the vivid lifestyle in London. To Find rooms and flats for rent in London, or to meet new flat mates looking to rent out their rooms, visit www.RoomMatesUK.com, which offers all kinds of accommodations like house share, flat for rent, flat mates in London as well as a classifieds section with student jobs in London. RoomMatesUK.com offers an easy and fast way to find a flat in London which is just like you are looking for. The interactive search tools will help you to clearly compare between suitable flats and view full detailed flat’s profiles, create a favorites list for you your best matches and contact the owners online. We easy way to find a perfect match for your flat search. We invite you to register for FREE and see for yourself why RoomMatesUK.com is the Smart search engine for accommodation in London!
NIght life in London is famous worldwide for its diversity and intensiveness. It ranges from being a global capital of club scenes to the more localized neighborhood pubs and student bars with a taste for everyone.For those looking for the more upscale cocktail bars, a stroll down South Kensington or Walton street will provide an opportunity to mix with the Chelsea crowed.
Wi-Fi in London:
Wireless internet access is quite easy to find in London and is quite commonly available on most of the centrally located coffee shops and restaurants as well as in the shopping malls.
Transportation in London:
London is easily accessible by all means of public transportation. You can travel in and around London by the tube, train, bus and the Light Railway (DLR). You should notice that although easily accessible by public transportation, it might get a bit expensive, so it is recommended to plan your expenses on these trips in advance by paying attention to these tips:
• Buy travel cards – these can be used on the tube lines, buses and trains and offer high value discount compared to individual tickets.
• Make sure your travel card if for the tight travel zone – London is divided to 6 travel zones (where zone 1 is the most central one).
• Oyster card – A London wide travel card which offers discounts on buses, tube lines, DLR, ferry and train fares. For students who plan to use public transport often, getting an Oyster is highly recommended.
Taxis in London – though more expensive than the public transportation routes, sometimes you will need to travel by taxi. You can either order one from the street, or simply send an SMS with the word “CAB” to 60835 and you will get back the contact numbers for a cab in the area.
Expenses & living costs in the UK:
In most cities in the UK, the living costs are not high. However, London is one of the more expensive cities in Europe and the average living costs vary significantly between its different areas. A major factor in preparing a budget for the required costs of living in the UK will be the accommodation factor. Since the accommodation in London gets very pricey at the central of the city (zone 1 and zone 2 especially), many foreign nationals who live in London chose the more outer areas for their residence.
For international students in the UK, the UKBA (the UK Border Agency) requires a budget of at least £800 per month for living in the outer London areas or a minimum of £1000 for residing in central London. These amounts are required for covering only the living costs and do not cover the Tuition fees in the UK which Vary between £4,000 and £22,000 annually (average of £11,000 per year).
An important factor to take into consideration is that although an expensive city by itself, London provides a cost-effective studying experience as many part time jobs for students are available around the city. In addition, many attractions, events, lectures and academic seminars are held for free or at given at very low prices for the tens of thousands of international students and professionals living in London and other major cities in the UK.
UK Student Visa:
All international students from outside the EU need to have a student visa. The granting of a UK students visa is based on a system called Tier 4. In order to apply for a student visa, 40 points have to be counted under the Tier 4 system. These points are gained with a confirmation of acceptance for studies (also known as CAS, which is valid for 6 months from the date issued by your institution) from a border agency approved university in the UK and a proof of sufficient funding for the tuition fees and living costs. The application for the student visa must be submitted within minimum 3 months before the start of the approved courses.
Medical care in the UK:
International students in the UK whose courses last more than six months are entitled to receive treatment from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) for no additional charge.
Expats, which do not have EU passports, and are living in the UK will need to pay for their medical treatment unless they can obtain from their employers with an extended medical insurance. If living in the UK longer than a year then it is possible to receive free NHS treatments pending registration with a local doctor.
Sightseeing in London:
With the third most international visitors in the world, four UNESCO landmarks, and scores of historical, contemporary and diverse locations, London offers unparalleled scenery features. Some of the major sightseeing landmarks for a vacation in London are:
The official London residence of Queen Elizabeth II.Developed from a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703, the palace became the official royal palace of the British monarch in 1837 and is currently the world’s largest operating royal palace.The palace consists of 19 state rooms, 52 principal bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. it includes the Royal Collection (priceless furnishings, paintings, fittings and other artifacts), the Queen’s Gallery and the daily Changing of the Guard ceremony.
The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel situated on the banks of the River Thames. The entire structure is 135 meters (443 ft) tall and the wheel has a diameter of 120 meters (394 ft).It is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, visited by over 3.5 million people annually. Built in 1999, It is described by its operators as “the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel.Since 20 January 2011 and following a three-year sponsorship deal, the London Eye, or Millennium Wheel has been officially named the EDF Energy London Eye. The London Eye is located in the London Borough of Lambeth at the western end of Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank of the River Thames between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge.
The British Museum
The British Museum is one of Europe’s most famous museum, and London’s most popular attraction, It accommodates Ninety four galleries of archaeological finds, prints, coins, antiquities and more. The British Museum is located on Great Russell Street, close to Tottenham Court Road in central London. (address: Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG).
Big Ben & The House of Parliament
The name “Big Ben” is generally known to describe the clock tower as a whole. However, “Big Ben” is actually the huge thirteen ton bell that strikes the hour within the tower. The common theory regarding how the bell got his name is that it was named after the Sir Benjamin Hall, a weighty politician of the time.who was First Commissioner of Works and whose name was inscribed on the bell. The Houses of Parliament (also known as The Palace of Westminster), incorporates The House of Commons (which was destroyed in WW2 and rebuilt 1950), The House of Lords and Westminster Hall. The oldest part of the Palace which still exists, Westminster Hall, dates from 1097. The palace originally served as aroyal palace and former residence of kings, though no monarch has resided there since the 16th century.
Tower of London
The Tower of London is a historic castle on the bank of the River Thames in central London.It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison since at least 1100, although that was not its primary purpose.As a whole, the Tower is a complex of several buildings set within two rings of defensive walls and a moat. The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times and controlling it has been a key element for ruling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
A large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English monarchs. In addition to the Abbey’s rich history, Westminster Abbey has stunning architecture with surrounding Highlights which include a statue of the Virgin Mary holding a baby Jesus, the Nave with the grave of the unknown warrior and the Little Cloister leading the College Gardens. Westminster Abbey is usually open to visitors from Monday to Saturday throughout the year. On Sundays and religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas, the Abbey is open for worship only, All are welcome to services.
One of the most important parks of Royal Parks’ in London, forming one large green lung covering over 600 acres of land. Hyde Park is a popular location for many major events, celebrations and concerts. Sites of interest in the park include Speakers’ Corner (located in the northeast corner near Marble Arch), South of the Serpentine, which divides the park into two parts, located the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial, an oval stone ring fountain. To the east of the Serpentine, just beyond the dam, is London’s Holocaust Memorial. Another memorial in the Park commemorates the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks, in the form of 52 steel pillars – one for each of the dead. A botanical curiosity is the Weeping Beech. Opposite Hyde Park Corner stands one of the grandest hotels in London, The Lanesborough.
A modern art gallery, in the Bankside area of Central London, and Britain’s national gallery of international modern art and part of the Tate group (together with Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives and Tate Online). It is the most-visited modern art gallery in the world, with around 4.7 million visitors per year. Opened in the year 2000, Tate Modern Museum became extremely popular with Londoners and tourists alike as it houses a collection of astounding modern art pieces presented within a building unparalleled in architecture.
One of the most famous London attractions, and an iconic symbol of the UK’s capitol, the Tower Bridge is a combined bascule, each weighing about 1,000 tons, and suspension bridge stretching over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, from which it takes its name. the Tower Bridge with its twin drawbridges,From Tower Bridge you can view the HMS Belfast, an 11,500-ton cruiser which opened the bombardment of the Normandy coast on D-Day. The Tower Bridge is sometimes mistakenly referred to as London Bridge, which is actually the next bridge upstream. The closest London tube station is Tower Hill on the Circle and District lines, and the nearest Docklands Light Railway station is Tower Gateway.
The largest square in London, and a meeting place for centuries, Trafalgar square is an iconic landmark in central London, frequently visitedby Londoners and tourists alike, and dominated by the giant 167 feet Nelson’s Column, a Statue in honor of Admiral Lord Nelson, commemorating his naval victory over the French fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.The square accommodates various activities, events and celebrations take place in Trafalgar square, such as the Royal Wedding, Olympics One Year to Go, New Year’s eve celebration, St Patrick’s Day as well as political rallies and demonstrations. Trafalgar square also contains a large number of statues as well as two fountains and it is surrounded by many noticeablebuildings, churches and museums.
Universities in London:
London is a significant city for higher education with a global impact. With more than 40 universities, London constitutes the largest cluster of higher education facilities in Europe. With close to half a million students, from which about 100,000 are international students, London provides a multicultural, popular destination for scores of international students. See this list of universities in London and their popularity with international students in the UK.