Blimey! You are in London and not sure how to make the most of your student life? Explore, get gobsmacked, check out the novelties around the place, and Bob’s your uncle!
Ask any senior and they will concede that the best days of one’s life are those spent as a student; a college student, to be precise. There is a gay abandon about those years that gives you time to stop and stare – open-mouthed – at life’s changing wonders. And, if you are a student from Oman, finding your way around London, that open-mouthed stare is bound to happen every time you venture out to find your groove in this culturally different city; a city that seamlessly weaves its rich heritage and traditions with an ultra liberal modernity.
The city beckons you to get intimate with it, learn about its nuances and its legendary stereotypes, experience its staggering history and its modern edifices and feel oriented to a time and space that makes it a world city. While a royal visit would be limited to a tour of the Buckingham Palace, there are other affordable and convenient things to do as a student in London and feel that world city connect.
Here are 10 delightful things to get you started…
1. Take guided tours
The idea of a guided tour might not appeal to your student sense, but, as a first timer in London, your best bet to get a feel of all the tourist spots in the city is to take one. And there are several. To begin, London is really huge and you need to make a checklist of top tourist spots to visit. If you live in Central London, you could, perhaps, rely on your foot to check out some of the attractions around the area. But, of course, there are other options – bus, riverboat or the Duck Tour. The latter is an attraction by itself. You will be treated to interesting information about the city and its tourist attractions by the guide.
2. Visit museums
Agree, visiting museums and making the rounds of galleries has a very touristy feel about it; one that you as a resident are not keen to indulge in. But if you want to get a first hand feel of the city you are living in, a visit to the museums and galleries is in order. For one, you get to visit world famous museums and, importantly (as a student), not pay for entry, as most are fee to enter. Also, include art galleries in your itinerary if you are artistically oriented or are an art buff.
3. Go shopping
Shopping is shopping, tourist or otherwise. As a new student in London, you would have packed your bag with all the essentials from your hometown, but venture out into the shopping zones, even if you have no intention of buying anything, to feel the city come alive. Shopping streets are vibrating cauldrons of energy. The flow of people, the shopkeepers bringing out their ware, the trinkets hanging on the display windows… You will want to make shopping a weekly affair. But if serious shopping is on your agenda, remember London is known for some of the best shopping avenues in the world.
4. Eat out
If you are not the cooking sort, eating out, rather, picking a takeout might be an everyday affair. But the eating out that is inferred here has no mundane touch to it. Find out from the locals in your area or seniors in the hostel to recommend some of the best food outlets to treat your palate. London caters to every taste bud, with restaurants and street stalls dishing out items that have all the fare from around the world. Experiment with different foods and make your stay in the city memorable.
5. Explore parks
London boasts some of the neatly laid out parks, with tall trees and rolling green plains adding to the topography. Central London alone has eight royal parks. One visit to any of the nearby parks and you will soon learn that they are ideal destinations for picnickers on weekends. Many even utilize the premises for sunbathing and generally enjoying the weather – during summertime, that is.
6. Walk around
Although winter can be bone-chilling in London, the summer months easily beckon one to go out and enjoy the pleasant weather. If you like the idea of walking, the time is now to indulge your passion. The change in the weather has brought in all the sunshine that you could ask for, so get on and walk home from college. Try new routes and learn to stop and enjoy London’s striking nature.
7. Checkout the Underground
London Underground is a public rapid transit system that you might have used in the course of your commute to college or during visits to places of interest. But learn to travel on a whim – on a weekend or a public holiday; simply take a tube or any of the transport service to understand the city’s complex network of travel options. You could pick one mode of transport at a time: London Underground, bus, train or boat service.
8. Get entertained
Love cinema? Of course, your source of entertainment, your Netflix account, has all that you need from the world of movies and TV series, but if you are a film freak, the thrill of catching the first show would take you out to the theatre in your neighborhood. However, if you are looking for a happening place to indulge your fancy, checkout the options at the West End, which is home to some of the major cinema houses in the city.
9. Get fit the easier way
Whether you are a fitness enthusiast or not, your body needs to be stretched and strengthened to cope with all the changes it is experiencing – from the food to the weather. While joining a gym would answer all your requirements, you could plan out a fitness regime with other roommates or friends, without making a dent in your wallet paying the gym fees. With beautiful parks dotting the landscape of this city, jogging in the mornings or evenings would be the best way to get started.
10. Don’t miss Trafalgar Square
And that’s an order! Trafalgar Square is absolutely the center of London; it is a must visit place to feel the confluence of the city’s historic monuments and its modern day attractions. Go there any day and experience the exuberance of tourists wanting to capture the significance of the Nelson Column, the quaint fountains, the National Gallery and the equestrian monuments – the Big Ben too. Go on, check out all the attractions; you might even catch one of the free concerts that take place at the Square on specified dates. Finish off your visit at one of the picturesque fountains and feel the relaxed mien of the Square, despite the flow of people…
Oman Air has daily flights to London; for more information visit www.omanair.com