Are you a fresher or a returning student with no prior experience living in London due to Covid-19? Moving to a new city can be an exciting and daunting experience for many. As you prepare your journey to London, you may wonder where the best places are to shop, eat, study and socialise. How could you make the most out of your student card and discounts? Which unique places could you visit around London, and how do you ensure that your student life in London is enjoyable and safe? Keep reading to have these questions answered by two Student Money Mentors at King’s, who wrote this blog post based on their personal experiences!
Student discounts: different kinds of discounts you could get with your student card
As a student you can get different kinds of discounts with your student card basically on everything you can imagine from clothing to food, and even travelling! Usually, takeaways and restaurants deduct a 25 percent of food bills, some technology companies can even reduce their price by 50 percent!
There are some websites that can even find special student deals, such as Save The Student and Student Money Saver. There also are different types of UK student discount cards that can provide online codes. Firstly, there is an app called UNiDAYS, it is free and makes getting student discounts online completely painless. You will need your academic email address to create an account and then apply the various discount codes to websites at the checkout. Secondly, Student Beans is very similar to the previous one. It is a free website that lets students gain access to a wide range of discount codes. Thirdly, TOTUM and ISIC cards let students get special deals that might not be available through the other two mentioned. However, to obtain this card, there is a small fee charged.
Below we will provide a list of stores that regularly offer student deals. Do not forget to present your student ID at the time of purchase in order to obtain the discount.
ASOS, Bohoo, Burton, French Connection, New Look, Office, River Island, Schuh, Topshop, Urban Outfitters – 10% All year around.
Domino’s Pizza – 35% off online purchases of £25+.
Yo! Sushi – 25% UNiDAYS.
ASK Italian – 40% TOTUM card.
Spotify Premium – Students pay half price for premium membership.
Apple music – Students membership can cost as little as 4.99£
Virgin Experience – Students can get up to 20% discount on activities.
16-25 Railcard – Investing in a railcard is a smart move as it gives you 30 percent off standard rail fares. Use your TOTUM card to get 12 percent off a one-year railcard. If you’re planning on travelling around London, you can add your railcard to your Oyster card and enjoy a 34 percent discount on off-peak, pay as you go travel, as well as daily caps.
18+ Student Oyster photocard – 30% off adult rate travel cards for use in all transport of London services.
Different places students could go in London to study/revise
King’s campus libraries are distributed across the whole of London and are free to register as a student. They compromise of libraries in Denmark hill, Guy’s, St Thomas House, Strand and Waterloo. King’s College London study facilities provide students with a variety of ways to study and/or revise as they wish. For example, students can book study spaces in the libraries with or without a PC and usually are available Monday to Friday at all campus libraries and weekends only at New Hunt’s house and Franklin-Wilkins libraries. Also, if students need to prepare a presentation with other peers, they can book study group rooms inside the library. King’s offers students many other options such as postgraduates’ only zones as well as complete silence zones. There even are individual pods inside of the library that let students speak loud in order to attend skype meetings or calls! If you are feeling a bit low, you can recharge in the Wellbeing room, located in room 2.24 in the Maughan Library with comfy bean bags. There are also common places like this one in some KCLSU restaurants, check all of them out online!
Additionally, there are some libraries outside King’s that are free to register and as a student you can even have access to borrow some books of them. For example, the British Library is an amazing building compromised of four floors and has a capacity of 1,200 people, this means that your days of fighting for study places are gone!! There also is free WiFi and many books available. Students also have access to Senate House library; this one is one of the largest humanities focused research libraries in the UK and includes many collections. The membership is free for King’s students, and you can even borrow all books! As you can see there are many libraries that offer a free membership for students, take advantage of this opportunity!
Eating Out & Nightlife in London
From time to time, you may decide to eat out or enjoy the nightlife with your friends. Being a diverse city, you will find a plethora of different cuisines and nightlife venues across various zones in London. To be a money-savvy student whilst eating out, maximise your use of coupons and discount codes! Numerous websites (such as DesignMyNight) and provide limited discount codes for small and big restaurants around London, so keeping an eye on these could be a great way of saving a few pounds every week! I noticed that Too Good To Go offers unsold food at a discounted price at the end of the day, so this app may come in handy when you’re looking to buy food at a cheaper price. From my experience, many restaurants will also often give discounts on food when you purchase them close to their closing time. So, if you’re planning on some late-night eat-outs, this could be another option for you! Similarly, some bars and nightclubs have specific discounts on certain days of the week — if you can save a couple of pounds on drinks, why not schedule your night-out plans on cheaper days?
However, there are also things you should be aware of when you go on a night out. Firstly, be mindful of scams! I read an article about ticket scams, and it made me realise that students — particularly freshers who are new to university life — could easily fall for these scams. Especially when I make online payments, I always think and check twice beforehand to ensure that I’m not falling prey to one of the many scams targeting students. You should also be alert to safety. Keep an eye on your drinks (don’t leave them unattended!) and try to move with other friends during the night. You can never be too careful!
Where to go shopping in London
Eating out can be very expensive and not the best option for every student. So, here are some tips to go shopping and where to buy groceries at a cheaper rate.
Firstly, the best trick is to buy food from the reduced section. Most shops have a certain section in the store that is specially for reduced food. Check that section often and try to find out during what time they usually restore it. Secondly, try to avoid going to more expensive express shops such as Waitrose and buy in bigger shops such as Asda, Aldi and Lidl. Thirdly, planning what to buy before going shopping is a simple and very efficient idea. Fourthly, try to avoid buying name-brand products. Usually shops sell their own name-brands at a much lower rate, take advantage! Finally, there are many discounts online and offline. Check which one suits you best and plan your shopping before. This will really benefit you in the long term as a student! You can also check out this website for more information.
Adapting To the London Weather
Depending on where you’re from, the weather in London might come as a shocker for some students. For instance, the temperature in London often fluctuates significantly throughout the day. As a result, you may need an extra layer of clothing during the morning and night, but it could be boiling during the day! Personally, I found wearing multiple layers of clothes that I could take off during the day to be the best way of adapting to such changing temperatures. When you start the academic year in September, you will also realise that daylight tends to be relatively short during the winter times, with daytime occasionally being dark as well. I tend to take vitamin supplements, especially during the colder months, when people are more prone to getting ill.
Finally, be prepared for the rain! Rain in London varies from full-day drizzles to short-lasting showers — and yes, you will have to travel very often when it’s raining outside. I always check the weather forecast every time I go out and carry an umbrella with me. Sometimes, strong wind accompanies rain in London — in these instances, your standard umbrellas won’t last very long, and you may wish to invest in a sturdy umbrella!
How to make the most out of London
If you are a student with a budget, it is very important to plan in order to make the most of London. As we all know, London can be very expensive, but there are many tricks that you should know before thinking that it is impossible to have fun without spending money.
- Museums in London: Most museums are free and an amazing opportunity to learn and explore! E.g. British Museum, Natural History Museum, Museum of London, Victoria and Albert Museum and many more.
- Unusual attractions: London has many mysteries. For instance, you can find dinosaur sculptures at the Crystal Palace Park and then go and visit marvellously weird objects at the Wellcome collection, all for free!
- Park Life: If you enjoy going out and like green London is the place for you! There are so many parks and amazing gardens such as Greenwich Park, Richmond Park, Hyde Park, Kensington gardens, St James’s Park, and my favourite, Hampstead Heath.
- Art galleries: If you love art then go and check these free galleries – Tate Britain, National Gallery, Tate Modern, Barbican Centre and many more!
- Walks: If you enjoy walking around then there are many walks you can explore in the city. Walking through South Bank during sunset and have a nice picnic near the river is one of my favourite things to do. Little Venice also offers a nice and different scenery!
- Free festivals: Throughout the year there are some amazing and colourful festivals such as the Chinese New Year in Chinatown or even Nothing Hill Carnival! Another big street party is Pride in London and St Patrick’s Day. Go out and enjoy this wonderful city!
As you spend more time in London, you will naturally adapt your own ways of living and making the most out of the city. Although the current pandemic is still causing much confusion and concerns amongst the students, we hope this article answers some of the questions you may have had about student life in London.
Lisa Martin and Olivia Kim
King’s Student Money Mentors
Part of Money & Housing Advice
Connect with us! You can DM King’s Money Mentors [@kingsmoneymentors] with any other questions you may have on Instagram.
The King’s Student Money Mentors blog shares our students’ personal experiences and thoughts on money-related topics. Any reference, opinions or recommendations on a particular company/brand are only the views of the student(s) who wrote the blog post. King’s College London, the Money & Housing Advice service and the Money Mentor project do not share the views in the blogs nor endorse any of the companies mentioned. Readers should conduct their own research before using any companies mentioned in our blog posts.