Twelve signs you’re at uni in London


Embrace the London stereotypes and forget what you think you know about how much a pint should cost, says UCL student Sophie Parker…

Every city has its own character, and it’s nigh on impossible to move to London and not be affected by it. As such, it’s pretty easy to spot someone who’s a student in this vibrant, diverse and often downright crazy metropolis. Here’s a list of things you can expect when you get here.

University Rivalry: Extreme Edition

Every university in the country has at least one direct rival, whether it’s the other place in town or a historic battle of the league tables. It’s all part of the fun, and without them we wouldn’t have Varsity matches – or punchlines to many uni-based jokes. But going to a city with 40 universities makes things a little more complicated. Chances are you’ll still have one main foe, but you’ve got to keep an eye on dozens of others on the side. Yours will always be the best though, no matter what anyone else says.

You develop strong feelings about the north/south divide

Weirdly, whatever your opinions on the supposed divide of the UK as a whole, you have completely new feelings within the city limits. When it comes to finding a house (read: flat) in second year, half of your group insist they can never live south of the river while the other half are adamant that Peckham is the only place to be. We wouldn’t dare weigh in on that one…

Your idea of ‘good value’ is distorted. Massively

Living in London doesn’t actually have to be that expensive, especially for students. However, you do find yourself looking in estate agents’ windows and thinking a studio flat’s being sold for a fair price when five bed detached houses go for less back home. You’ll also get looks from your friends when you describe a £4.50 pint as ‘amazing value’. Thank God for London weighting on student loans, eh?

You still get proud when you give someone the right directions

Sure, you’ve been living on this road for nine months now, but you’re still impressed you know where the Pret on the corner is. Bonus points if it’s a tube journey and you get the right lines and station to change at.

You talk about how fresh the air is whenever you’re at home

And you can actually see the stars! Although you have no idea how you survived 18 years with only one bus an hour. Everyone at home got sick of this within three days of the Christmas break in first year, but you don’t care. Everything’s just so clear and fresh and unpolluted out there.

You’ve forgotten what cash is

EVERYTHING can be paid for with contactless here. You’re even in danger of forgetting what cards are – it’s just so much easier to tap your phone.

You’ve given in to one stereotype. Minimum.

Whether you have a thing for rooftop bars or just can’t survive without your hot yoga class, everyone falls for at least one of the many, crazy London stereotypes.

You visit your mates studying somewhere else and spend the entire time talking about how big their house is in second year

You just can’t believe they have a lounge and a garden. And stairs! They have two or three whole floors! You’re still pretty sure you wouldn’t change your flat in the Big Smoke for the world when you leave though. Even if you are paying double their rent.

Citymapper is your whole life now

In a city this big, you’re always going to be going somewhere new, and without this app you wouldn’t stand a chance. Obviously you’ll still be late to everything, but the important thing is you actually make it in the end.

You have very strong opinions about road usage

You’ve either become a cyclist, or they make you feel rage like nothing else. Buses might be your favourite mode of transport, but they could also be the worst thing to be allowed on the roads. Oh, and don’t get anyone started on scooters…

Tube strikes are an excuse for a day off

You only had that one, technically optional 9am that day anyway. And you know you walk to campus, but really the knock-on effect probably made it near impossible to get across that really busy road between your halls and the lecture theatre – even with the pedestrian crossing. There really was no alternative, just one of those things about uni in London…

You have a favourite tube line

And all of the others are terrible. You are, for reasons you don’t even understand, willing to enter full blown debates over the pros and cons of each line, when you know the only thing that will ever be agreed upon is that the Central and Circle lines are definitively hell on train tracks.

About the author

Sophie Parker is currently in her second year at University College London, studying for a degree in English. As well as getting involved with student media, including writing for The Tab, she enjoys getting lost on Hampstead Heath and recently picked up kickboxing. While she’s pretty good at the former already, the latter needs a little bit more work. After graduation, she’s hoping to work in a writing-based industry – she just doesn’t know which one yet.

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