Study Russian in London

London is amazing!

Study Russian in the UK

Having never been to the UK (or even out of the country) before, the first couple of weeks were pretty tough. Fortunately, my uni had a Freshers' Week fair the first week or two, which had all sorts of events to help you get settled and meet new people. There were free student tours around the city, to help you get acquainted with your surroundings (and figure out where basics are located – grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.). I was given university accommodation, which turned out to be extremely helpful, as I was able to easily meet other students and save money on housing. One of the first things you want to do when you arrive is to set up a UK bank account. I went with NatWest, but Barclay’s has a good reputation as well, and they have locations all over the UK, making it easy to withdraw money anytime. I also got a basic UK phone, as my US phone was still locked. I did pay-as-you-go for the first term, then switched to a monthly plan, as it was cheaper in the long run. I went to Carphone Warehouse, and they helped me set up my UK phone and get me started. Once you have a UK SIM card, it’s easy to switch to different cell phone providers, depending on who has the best plan for you. Get acquainted with your local Tesco or Sainsbury’s. These grocery chains offer inexpensive food/toiletry items and are on nearly every street corner in London. My dormitory was self-catered, so on my first night, I ventured out with a fellow student to the nearest Tescos and bought basic cookware and food items.


London is amazing! I come from a small town on the southeast coast of the US, so London was overwhelming at first. There are a lot more people, who seem to be out all the time (perhaps why they call London the ‘city that never sleeps). I’ve noticed that people tend to dress a bit nicer, even just to go grocery shopping. Public transport is extremely safe in London, albeit expensive. I recommend getting an Oyster card when you first arrive, along with a 16-25 Student Railcard. You can sync the cards together at many tube stations and save up to 30% on public transport (buses, trains, and tubes). Oyster cards are pay-as-you-go, which you put money on (top-up) as you need to, and are much cheaper than buying tickets each time you travel. There’s always something to do in London. I set up my UK bank account with NatWest, which gave me a free Tastecard, which offers discounts at restaurants all over the city, once activated online. You can also purchase a Tastecard online though. Many places around London (including shops and restaurants) offer student discounts, so be sure to have your student ID whenever you go out. You can often get half-priced tickets (or cheaper) at theatres/cinemas with your student card.


I chose King’s College London primarily for the MSc program, but also because it’s highly ranked (top in the UK and the world). The location (central London) was also a big factor in my choosing. A leading university in one of the most historic and popular cities in the world? I’ll take it!


When I’m not reading for lectures or attending lectures, I work out at the local gym on campus. I also go out with friends each week. Sometimes we try a different restaurant, other times we catch an afternoon film at the cinema for a discounted price with our student IDs. Just the other day, I had a three-hour break between lectures. Being so centrally located in London, a few of us were able to walk to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square from campus. Most of the museums in London are free entry, with maybe £1 for a map, so it’s convenient and inexpensive to get a bit of culture in from time to time. Many pubs have weekly trivia nights for £2 a person, which a few of my flatmates attend every week and I go along when I have time. You can also join societies and organizations through the university. I joined the Christian Union on campus and I meet with them every week. We often go out to eat after our meetings at varying restaurants each week. I also joined the UNICEF society and volunteer once a week at a local primary school. Through the Christian Union, I went on a ‘weekend-away’ trip to Ashford, Kent, in the southeastern part of England. For only £35, it included train ride there and back, food, and housing from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. Sometimes joining a society can be a great way to inexpensively see more of the UK.


Although the jet lag will leave you exhausted, and you might be feeling homesick, get out that first week and socialize! Some of my closest friends that I’ve made here, I met the first two weeks. Being around other people will help with the homesickness as well. Although people may not show it, plenty of them will also be missing home. Feel free to talk to people about it, as you’ll be surprised how many of them feel the same way. Keep track of your money! Try to pay with cash to avoid any hidden card-user fees. Have a weekly budget so you don’t overspend. King’s College London has advisors specifically for monetary issues, so feel free to meet with them if you have any concerns. Be aware of your surroundings. London is a relatively safe city, but there’s always a risk wherever you go for crime. Be mindful of walking around late at night alone. Stick to main streets that are well-lit. NEVER take an unmarked taxi. – these are extremely dangerous and you run the risk of being assaulted. Always book your taxi in advance through a licensed company. Remember that you’re here for your studies, and not just for a good time. That being said, take advantage of the opportunities you have while here. Make sure to see the famous sites, try the hip restaurants, go see a play. Check out internships in London – there are loads of them, and they look great on a resume.


I had been attempting to apply to quite a few British universities when I stumbled onto Across the Pond's website. I got an email within a day of signing up for more information. My advisor was wonderful! She was always quick to answer any questions I had regarding the application process. Applying overseas can be stressful when you’re going at it alone. Having a personal advisor helped me make sure my applications were correct and well documented. The visa application process can also seem like one of the biggest obstacles to studying overseas. Across The Pond held multiple online video seminars, which helped me better understand how to accurately apply for a student visa. I highly recommend Across the Pond to anyone interested in studying in the UK.

- Amy

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