As a Canadian student living in London, in some ways you’ll be ahead of the game as you’ve already stepped out of your comfort zone to embrace life in a new culture. However, as much as you’ll be ahead, you may also be a bit behind when it comes to transitioning to the London way of doing things. We’ve compiled these 3 steps as a guide to becoming a Londoner that you can take to transform from Canadian student to Londoner in one smooth transition:
Dining Out in London
Let’s get to the important stuff first. Be happy there are lots of cheap food options in London that will satisfy your stomach and your student budget. Brick Lane in East London is a great spot for good Indian curries that won’t cost you lots of money.
Furthermore, outdoor markets are some of the best places to get your hands on cheap eats from artisan vendors. Look into such markets as Borough Market, Portobello Market, Camden Lock Market, and Brixton Market, to name a few.
If you’re feeling a tad homesick, there are places to find traditional North American breakfast, such as the Breakfast Club (you don’t have to eat blood pudding if you don’t want).
Getting Around in London
To get around in London you’ll be using the London transportation system, which includes the Underground (a.k.a. the Tube), buses, trains, and walking. A nifty web site to help navigate the massive transit system is Transport for London, where students can enquire about student travel cards, discounts, and ways to easily plan their journeys around town. Your university will usually help you get started with this process and give you more detailed instructions on how to get to/from your university.
Keep an eye out for handy road markings telling you when you should “Look Left” or “Look Right.” With the number of tourists from around the world who travel to London every day, the city has taken measures to ensure that everyone can get around the city safely.
Eventually, you’ll get the hang of things and feel like a true Londoner yourself. Until then, remember to stand to the right on escalators to allow fast-moving commuters to walk down the left. Avoid the circle line as much as possible during holidays and peak “tourist” periods (i.e. Canadian March break).
Tap Into Your Interests
Even though this is a guide to becoming a Londoner, the irony of the title of this blog is there is no right way to transition into London life. It really just comes down to being true to you. Do you like visiting museums on a Friday night? Then do that! London has some great exhibits all about town. Are you a beer fan?
Be happy there are plenty of pubs down every alleyway. If you’re missing that taste of home, visit The Maple Leaf in Covent Garden where you can eat your fill of poutine and wash it down with bottle of Moosehead. Are you into fashion? London has the best shopping at both vintage stores and popular shopping streets (Oxford Street, to name a busy shopping hub, or Camden Market, for the more quirky at heart).
The moral of the story is to learn how to acculturate rather than assimilate, meaning that you can keep an open mind to your London surroundings yet simultaneously retain your Canadian identity.
And if you’re ever feeling a bit lost? Just contact your Across the Pond advisor for a little help. We’ve been there as well.