Here is advice for students thinking about their up-coming time at the London Centre. Much of this responds to things many students have questions about before coming to the London Centre. This information comes from past program participants and London Centre staff members.
Many off-campus study students have questions about how housing selection works for the terms they will be on campus. The Campus Life office has this helpful resource to answer these questions.
Housing in London
The facilities and housing page has information about the residential arrangements for students in London.
There is no "normal" amount to come prepared to spend in London. While things in London are more expensive than we are used to in Appleton, economizing and sticking to a budget certainly makes things manageable. Some costs you might anticipate are: groceries, eating out, independent travel, entertainment, and cell phones.
You likely will not be able to find a bank that will allow you to open an account in London considering the short time that you will be there. That said, there are cash points (a.k.a. ATMs) located all over London and most anywhere else you'll travel to which will accept your ATM cards from home. Be sure to check with your bank at home that your ATM card will work - cards on the Cirrus and Plus networks are usually accepted. Also, check with your bank about charges they may issue for withdrawing cash outside of the U.S.
For your arrival, it is a good idea to come with some amount of British Pounds (available for exchange at many larger branches of banks in the US) and/or a credit card in hand. You can also exchange money at the airport upon arrival or at a number of exchange shops throughout London, although exchange rates and fees in airports and at these exchange shops are often quite poor and you end up the loser. Generally speaking, LU students have been able to deal with money matters through using their credit cards and ATM cards. Before you leave the US, you should notify your bank and credit card companies that you will be traveling abroad so they will be less likely to think the card has been stolen and turn off your card(s).
Regardless of how you get from the airport to the Centre, you will have to get all of your luggage through an airport, onto at least one train, up a couple of flights of stairs, and down about four city blocks. The lighter you pack, the easier this trek will be on you! Keep in mind that things can get very heavy, very fast! One good test while packing is to pack what you think you'll need and go outside and walk around the block - you'll inevitably be tired and your bags will be too heavy. Go back inside and re-evaluate what you deem necessary. Then, repack. Students generally tend to bring more than they need.
While the temperature in London rarely goes above 85 degrees in the summer or below 30 degrees in the winter, London does have cold winds and temperature extremes. No, it won't be as cold as Appleton and there won't be Wisconsin amounts of snow. Yes, it will definitely be more rainy and damp. Make sure you pack for the English climate. Think in terms of layering and colour coordination when you pack to make a smaller amount of clothing go the further. Layering keeps you warmer, makes it easier to adapt to indoor or crowded Tube temperatures, gives you more options in combination, and saves room in your suitcases. It is best to bring practical, warm clothing that is comfortable and requires minimal care. Londoners generally dress in a more stylish manner than Wisconsinites, so bring some nicer clothes than usual as well. Internship students may need to dress up more frequently so they may want to bring more nice outfits.
What you will need:
- A few sweaters
- Dress pants
- Comfortable shoes (there is a lot of walking to be done in London!)
- A jacket with a removable lining for both cold and warmer days
- A waterproof jacket
- Waterproof shoes
- At least 1 dressy outfit (i.e. skirts, dresses, shirts)
You may want to shop when you get to London and it is possible to get good prices at markets and during the sales where you can generally get deals on sweaters and other clothes. Jeans and hiking clothes, however, tend to be much more expensive in London and are best brought from the US.
In your carry-on luggage
- Passport- if you do not have a passport, apply early as it can take 4 to 6 weeks to process the application
- Immigration letter provided by Lawrence
- Driver's license, LU ID card, or other ID
- CISI Insurance information provided by Lawrence
- Medications in their original bottle/packaging with the original labels
- If the prescription will need to be refilled while you are out of the United States, you will also need a prescription from your doctor containing the commercial, generic, and Latin names of the drug - it is also advisable to bring a letter from your doctor which explains your condition and treatment
- A change of clothes - It doesn't happen often but it's good to be prepared in case there's a delay in getting your checked baggage from your flight.
- Photocopy your documents - make two sets of copies of each of the following: the first page of your passport (signature and photo page), visa, IDs, return plane ticket, Travelers' Check numbers and credit card numbers. Leave one set at home and bring the other with you to London.
- Eurail or Britrail passes (if you choose to purchase either of these) - both of these can only be purchased from the U.S. so you will either need to buy them before you arrive or have them mailed to you in London once they are sent to your home address. Research these passes and decide if they will be beneficial for the traveling you plan on doing while you are abroad - it's often more cost-effective to just purchase youth or group discounted fares.
In your checked luggage
- Batteries - these are available but much cheaper from the US
- Battery powered alarm clock
- Toiletries - Pack enough for the first few weeks (unless you have a must-have favourite product). You can get everything in London that you would want from the US (although sticking to American brands might be a bit more expensive than trying a different brand). Contact lens supplies, though, can be expensive in London so you should plan on bringing enough for the term.
- A book bag or some sort of carry-all - larger packs are can be good for traveling but are awkward when you are out in London for the day or getting groceries home.
- A towel (if you decide to bring one)- Alternatively, you can easily save the space and weight in your luggage by purchasing a towel when you get to London.
- Notebooks and stationery can be expensive in London so you may want to pack a notebook and a few pens.
- You might want to get one good London guidebook so you will have an idea of what the city has to offer before you arrive. You are advised to purchase an 'A to Z' book of maps when you get to London - this is an invaluable resource for every Londoner!
- A small sturdy umbrella - It can get windy so have one that can stand up to the weather.
- Small sewing kit and safety pins
- Anything sharp you are bringing (scissors, tweezers, razors, etc.)
- International Phone cards from the US - buying international calling cards in London is cheaper and work more reliably than ones brought from the US
- Linens, bedding, dishes, and basic cooking utensils
- Hair dryers and other small electrical appliances