Matthew undertook his undergraduate and masters degrees in London. Read on to find out what studying in London's really like.
Where did you study?
I studied Film Studies at the University of Greenwich and MA Screenwriting at University of Arts London.
What A-Levels did you take?
I undertook A-Levels in English Literature, Language, Media Studies and Film, but this wasn’t necessarily true of everyone on the course. It was more important to show a passion for the Film industry, whether this was through studying or work outside of education.
Did you move away from home for University?
I’ve always lived in London, and wanted to stay for a few reasons. First, even though I had lived here, I hadn’t really experienced the city as an adult, and always wanted to. Second, it was close to home. Though moving far as way is essential for some potential to others, staying close can be just as important, and for me, this was the case. Lastly, it was a great place for the industry. London, for better or worse, remains the place for the creative industries and provided the best chance for employment. I did move out and live in halls though.
How expensive is studying in London?
As expected, London is highly expensive compared to other UK cities. I was lucky enough to go University when maintenance grants where a thing, and sadly this has been scrapped, so the chance for lower-income students to study in London has been highly decreased, but that’s not to say it can’t be done. Be vigilant about your spending, especially when it comes to travel. I stayed essentially on campus, so this was never a big concern for me, but look out for finding a nicely priced place that becomes costly when you realise you have to fork out £50 on travel a week. Avoid the ‘posh’ supermarkets, Lidl is your friend, and the bakery section is better anyways. For work, turn to the temp jobs. Companies like Temp Tribe and Coople offer you the chance to pick and choose events to work at, and don’t come with the restriction that a contracted part-time job would have. Night-life wasn’t a huge factor me, so drinking in the flat with a few friends was preferable anyways, and luckily, drinks are pretty much the same no matter which Tescos you’re in around the country.
What was accommodation like?
I’m from a big family, so accommodation being a bit cramped with a smaller room was fine for me. At the time I probably didn’t really understand what on earth they were doing, but the resident workers there did a great job insuring it was never too noisy or chaotic, while still keeping a fun atmosphere. The kitchen was rough, but I definitely miss the balcony.
Did you do any work experience or internships?
I didn’t have the chance to do any whilst studying, but after University I was able to do an Internship with the University itself in the role of Research Officer for a creative project a lecturer was doing, so make sure to keep in touch with them. I would say, if I had the chance, I would freelance more, and spend more time building up a portfolio, and maybe turning that into work as a opposed to finding a particular place to work, though this depends on what your subject area is.
What was travelling to lectures like?
As mentioned before, I could just walk to my lectures, so it wasn’t a real problem for me, but from the outside, I can see how confusing TFL could be for someone. For Buses, Google Maps is pretty good for showing the correct times, even ahead of the the official apps. The underground, for all it’s faults, is still mostly effective. Staff are everywhere, when they’re not on strike, so do ask if you are lost. Living in London, you have access to a student Osyter Card, so make sure to get that signed by your University. People will be helpful, just don’t make eye contact.
What was the campus and student union like?
It’s a lot more scattered around than at most universities. Sport societies aren’t really as much a thing, so if that is something you are interested in strongly, maybe London isn’t for you. I had great people on my course who were always up for a drink after lessons, so that’s where my ‘community’ was around. To me, it definitely felt like a University experience, but it’s what you put into as much as you get out. Don’t come in expecting an American College movie-style experience, because those simply don’t exist. London is a great place to be an ‘adult’ for the first time.
What was the nightlife/social life like?
There’s something for everyone. Gigs, football, clubs, pubs, raves, there’s a new crowd round every corner. There’s a lot of gentrified, plastic pubs with £6 pints, but that’s not to say there isn’t a few diamonds in the rough. Finding them is the fun part.
Is London actually an international city?
There’s more nationalities to be found an average London bus than there is at a UN meeting. I’ve made this up, but it’s probably true. London is truly a global city, which is great for students coming from abroad who are struggling to fit in. There’s almost certainly going to be a society of other students from your home country who will be able to help out. It’s also great for foodies. Greek, Italian, Peruvian, Nepalese, Bangladeshi - there are so many restaurants in this city, and if you’re a fan of trying new things this is the place for you.
Did you go out and do touristy things in London a lot?
I fought back at first, but I have to admit that I still get a kick out of th Natural History Museum every time I see it.
Worst part of studying in London?
The noise. Learn to love your earphones.
Best part of studying in London?
The size and scope of the city. People who hate cities say they look all the same, but London doesn’t fit into this. Shoreditch has a different feeling to Soho, which has a different feeling to Notting Hill, which has a different feeling to Greenwich, etc. Yes there are areas like Canary Wharf, but there is life brimming with the city. People of all walks of life to meet. It’s a city of character, and not one is the same. I’ve lived here all my life and there’s still more to discover. It’s overwhelming at times, but there’s no place like it.
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