Our Global Ambassadors, current UCL students, have answered the main questions submitted by new students at January ISOP.
Our Global Ambassadors are here to welcome and provide support to new and current international students at UCL.
Throughout your first few weeks, you are bound to want to learn more about UCL and life in London. Not sure where to buy your groceries? Best things to do in London? Wondering what it's really like being a student at UCL? Who better to ask than a current student!
Here the Global Ambassadors have answered the main questions students submitted during January ISOP.
What is the 16-25 railcard?
A 16-25 Railcard gives you 30% off rail fairs in the UK. You can also link this to your Oyster card for further discounts. More information on how to get around is available on the travel in London webpage.
What is your favourite city outside of London for a day or weekend trip?
These are just a few suggestions however, and there are many other day or weekend trips you can go on whilst you are studying at UCL!
These trips also don’t have to cost a lot, for example take a look at National Express and Megabus for cheap coach journeys, and the National Rail website for train tickets. Remember to use a 16-25 Railcard for further reductions on train journeys, and that if you travel in a group you can get discounts.
International Friends also offer a range of day trips and guided tours for UCL students.
What are the best ways for managing money and what are the best student discounts?
There is a range of online tools to help you manage your money, such as the Save the Student and Money Advice Service websites. More information is also available in the dedicated 'Money' section of our Countdown to UCL articles.
For the best student discounts, use your UCL student ID card in a variety of shops and cafes, or get an NUS Extra card (Totum) for additional discounts in shops, restaurants, theatre and more.
You can also sign up to UniDays to receive promotions and discounts online and via email.
What is unique about the academic approach at UCL and in the UK?
The main difference from other countries is that you are encouraged to think critically and to challenge accepted views, in fact you will often find that lecturers really encourage debate and questions. There is a range of different assessment types, from coursework to examinations, and the weight of each depends from course to course; make sure you check this at the start of the term. You may also find this article on studying in the UK for the first time useful.
Remember that while the approach to studying is often quite independent, there is still plenty of academic support available, so do take advantage of office hours and go speak to your tutors and lecturers.
What are your top tips for where to study?
There are plenty of study spaces at UCL and in the nearby Bloomsbury area. For example, check out Senate House library down the street from UCL, or use the UCL Go App to see where there are free study spaces in the UCL libraries. Many of the libraries are open 24/7 during term time, and you can borrow laptops and chargers from the library.
How did you go about settling in and coming to feel that you belong at an institution as large as UCL?
Make sure you explore the campus and your surroundings, join clubs and societies and take advantage of the ‘Give it a Go’ or Project Active events. These are also a great way to meet people from outside your course and department! Remember to also take advantage of the academic support and the many opportunities available to UCL students, such as the Global Citizenship Programme or short-term international mobilities.
Where can you eat at or nearby UCL?
There are a range of cheap food outlets offered by Sodexo, and a range of cafés and bars offered by Students' Union UCL. Near UCL we suggest you visit the Brunswick Centre, Tottenham Court Road and Charlotte Street.
Another tip: make sure you have a reusable cup to get cheaper drinks, and always remember to ask at the counter if they do discounts for students!
What is your favourite place at or nearby UCL?
At UCL, the new Wilkins Terrace offers a very nice environment for a quick break or meal outside, as well as being a great shortcut for cutting across campus and making it to class on time! The Print Room café is also very relaxing and often hosts live music events, as well as having a range of cheap hot food and drinks.
There is also nothing that says UCL more than meeting friends on the Portico steps or attending a play at the Bloombsury Theatre.
If the weather is good, you should definitely spend some time in places like Russell Square or Regent's Park and Primrose Hill, which aren't far from the main Bloomsbury campus.The British Museum is only a few minutes away from UCL, and Somerset House (which includes the small but beautiful Courtauld Gallery) with the surrounding cafés near Covent Garden aren't too far either!
If you have any further questions, we recommend taking a look at the rest of the Students' website or contacting International Student Support on firstname.lastname@example.org.