Starting out in London this academic year

19 September 2020

Hello and welcome to London! Whether you are here in person or virtually, there are amazing things for you to enjoy! 

Tavistock Square in London, showing statue of Gandhi

UCL is situated in the London Borough of Camden and if you’re physically in London then Bloomsbury is where you will spend most of your study time. Bloomsbury is a pretty special place to study, not only is it surrounded by parks and gardens such as Russell Square and Tavistock Square, but it is steeped in history. Bloomsbury is home to the British Museum as well as some of the oldest universities in the UK.

You’ll also find those recognisable blue plaques on many of the buildings in Bloomsbury as numerous notable people have resided here including Mahatma Gandhi and Charles Dickens. Being a capital city means there is lots going on outside of Bloomsbury so check out these virtual tours of London as well as some tips and guides below to find out for yourself!

Whilst you’re out you may want to use the tube or bus network to get around. It is now mandatory to wear facemasks on London transport so don’t forget to carry one with you and to maintain social distancing as much as you can. Did you know that many tube stops are only a 5-10 minute walk away from each other? This useful TfL walking map outlines the walking times which you might need if you’re planning on walking.

The new TfL travel app TfL Go can also help you plan your journey on all modes of London transport. Even with the new restrictions in place, getting out for daily exercise is so important to your personal and mental wellbeing and walking is a great way to see London in a safe way.

If you do find yourself with some spare time after exploring London either in person or online, you might be interested in how you can get involved with UCL or with some of our local communities as a volunteer. Volunteering is extremely rewarding and allows you to get involved in things you’re interested in outside of your studies. Volunteering through UCL is easy to access and more importantly extremely worthwhile, find out more here. Alternatively you can find out more about the Mayor of London’s volunteer programme here

You may also be looking for part-time paid work or to gain work experience through an internship and there is a lot of support available to you at UCL, find out more here. UCL ChangeMakers is another way you can become involved with UCL in partnership work, if you’re interested in making a difference, then visit the UCL ChangeMakers website for more information.

Moving to London may also mean this is your first time away from home or in a different country. It’s important to know all about the practical stuff when living somewhere new, for example using the NHS to access healthcare, paying council tax or buying a TV Licence. Find more information on completing these important tasks and how to look after your wellbeing here.

You may also be thinking about coronavirus and what to do if you feel unwell or have symptoms, a step-by-step guide to reporting cases of coronavirus at UCL can be found here. It is important to remember that if you have symptoms you should order a test through the NHS Test and Trace scheme in line with UK Government guidance, by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

Additionally this website by the Mayor of London provides information on what you need to know about going out safely, using public transport and staying safe whilst you’re out.

Top tips:

Check out these top tips if you’re new to London – don’t forget to wear a mask and maintain social distancing as much as you can if you need to go out.

Culture and things to do:

Things may be more restricted now than before, but lots of museums and galleries are hosting free virtual events, tours and online shows that you might want to enjoy, check them out:

Best outside space in London:

Walking is a great safe way to explore London outside and an enjoyable form of exercise, check out these maps, parks and river routes for some inspiration:

London zoom backgrounds:

Student deals and discounts:

Amy Lightstone, Head of Engagement and Operations (London)