Welcome to London!
Welcome to London! One of the world’s greatest and largest city. London is a city that has a great deal to offer and for all to indulge in for visitors, students and business. The city has a diverse range of people coming from over 60 countries around the world and speaking more than 300 languages. Around 10% of the population of London are Muslim. The number of people living in the Metropolitan area number up to 15 million according to EU estimates and up to 25 million people come to visit the capital every year. It is a sprawling city and can seem very bewildering place if it is your first time in the city.
Even if you speak English fluently you can only learn how to pronounce place names like’ Greenwich’ ‘Leicester Square’ or Portobella Road. Many visitors waste a large amounts of money simply because they don’t know the tips and ways of life that ‘Londoners’ are used to. It is what we at the Muslim College are here for. If you are confused about something in London, you simply need to ask and we will do what we can to accommodate your needs.
The United Kingdom comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Greater London covers an area of over 600 square miles and has an ever-growing population, currently over 8 million people.
Throughout it’s history, Britain’s own culture has been enriched by many other nationalities. Sometimes by conquering nations! Other times by those seeking asylum or choosing to immigrate here. London, especially, is home to many different nationalities which provides a fascinating variety of culture, food and entertainment.
The UK has a very varied climate. November to March are typically cold and wet with the possibility of snow on higher ground. Average temperatures are between 0ºC and 10ºC (50ºF). The temperature in summer (July and August) can reach up to 32ºC (90ºF).
Whatever the time of year, it is best to have warm clothing with you. During the winter months, a warm waterproof coat is essential. If you plan to explore the UK during your vacations, please remember to bring appropriate clothing, especially if you are travelling to the north of the UK.
Supermarkets are open from 8:30 to 20:00 throughout the week and usually 10:00 to 17:00 on Sundays. Some supermarkets in cities are now open 24 hours a day.
In major cities such as London, there are many specialist shops selling a wide variety of food so you may still be able to cook up your favorite meal!
Shops are generally open from 9:00 to 17:30 (Monday to Saturday) with some shops opening later on certain days or open for a few hours on Sunday. In some smaller towns “half-day closing” occurs. On one day in the week most shops will close at lunchtime. This no longer happens in most larger stores and in cities. Offices hours tend to be 9:00 to 17:00. Banks open from 9:30 to 5:30 (some Banks are opening on Saturday morning).
There are 9 public holidays when colleges, offices and most shops will be closed.
New Year’s Day – 1st January
First Monday after New Year
Early May Bank Holiday – first Monday in May
Spring Bank Holiday – last Monday in May
Summer Bank Holiday – last Monday in August
Christmas Day – 25th December
Boxing Day – 26th December
If you are planning a short visit to London on a visitors visa to look at different colleges before applying, please remember to buy health insurance.
If you have come from a country with a health-care agreement with the UK or are staying for more than six months, you may be able to obtain free medical or dental treatment under the NHS.
If you are a long-term student (12 months or more), it is advisable for you to register with a local Doctor. We can provide contact details for doctors in your area. You will need to contact the doctor to see if they are accepting new patients and you will normally need to have an appointment to provide basic information about your medical history.
Under the guidelines provided by the British Department of Health, it is for the hospital to decide who it extends its services to, but normally they do provide Health care to all patients regardless to wherever they are from.
The Department of Health does however recommend visitors to the United Kingdom to apply for private healthcare insurance. The Muslim College concurs these recommendations. Below is a list of contacts that will help you in this regard:
Department of Health Overseas Visitors Policy Team – Hospital Treatment
Tel: +44 (0)113 254 5819
Department of Health – Overseas Healthcare Team
133 – 135 Waterloo Road
Tel: +44 (0)20 7210 4850
The Home Office – Border and Immigration Agency
40 Wellesley Road
Tel: +44 (0)870 606 7766
For the Muslim College, the welfare and health of all our students is our the highest priority. Our wish is for our students to have an enjoyable learning experience without having to worry about what to do when problems do arise.
One of the greatest aspects about living in London is that you don’t often need a car to get around the city. In fact, it is preferable to take the Underground, Buses, or Cycles to get around in the city. Yes it is not perfect, and most of the times people living in London complain about how congested and noisy it gets. But being able to travel in London is one of the greatest gifts one is able to experience and the sooner you are able to get use to the London transport scheme, the sooner you will be able to take full advantage and appreciate all that London has to offer.
In London there is an extensive public transport system – trains, buses, underground trains and light railway.
If you use a taxi in London, it is best to use the well-recognised London taxis known as “Black Cabs”. They will usually provide a guide to the fare and operate under a proper license. However, public transport is much cheaper!
The Greater London area is divided into six travel zones.
Zone 1 covers the main business and shopping districts in the centre of London.
You can buy daily, weekly and monthly travel cards which either give you access to the buses or to both buses and underground trains. For month travel cards, you will need a photocard and you can also apply for student discount rates.
Click on the logo for Transport for London for more details about how to get around London by bus, train, tube and other modes of transport.
Greater London is served by 12 Tube lines, along with the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and an interconnected local train network. Trains generally run between 5am and midnight, Monday to Saturday. Operating hours are reduced on Sunday. Exact details depend on the station and the line, so it’s worth checking the Transport for London website (www.tfl.gov.uk)
London’s buses are part of the landscape – you will often see more than 20 of them nose-to-tail down Oxford Street, with pedestrians passing them at twice the speed.. but they will get you anywhere you want to go, if a bit slower than the tube, but you do get a chance to see the scenery on the way.
Buses generally run from 05.00 to 00.30. Night Buses operate on many major routes from around midnight to 05.00, and some routes operate a 24-hour service. Cash fares are not available for bus passengers in Zone 1, therefore passengers must obtain a valid ticket or Oyster card before boarding. Some routes are especially good for sightseeing including routes 9 and 15 which use heritage ‘Routemaster’ buses during the day.
The Oystercard has been seen as the biggest cha nge in the London Transport System. it is valid on buses, trains and tubes and on the river it gets you discounts. Thankfully, the Muslim College will provide you all with Oystercards so you can simply breeze into the transport system, but you will need to ‘top-up’ the card (you can even top up your card on line)
Oyster can store season tickets (Travelcards) as well as credit for single journeys (pay as you go), and your card is fully re-usable. When you are beginning to run out of credits on your card, you can top up your card at nearly 4,000 different shops, at the station ‘touch-screen’ ticket booth or at the Travel information Centres in and around London. With ‘pay-as-you-go’ you can travel as many times as you like during the day and works out cheaper than a Travelcard.
You can also top-up by going online at: www.tfl.gov.uk/oyster
To ensure you pay the correct fare on Tube, DLR, London Overground and National Rail services you must always touch in on the yellow card reader at the start of your journey and touch out at the end. On buses and trams you only need to touch in at the start of your journey.
The other option is to get a Travelcard which can also be purchased in shops in and around London as well as in underground stations. But we recommend for the purpose of saving money, use your Oystercard. During excursion on the programme, the Muslim College will be providing you with ‘group Travelcards’ to help us get to our venue, but you will not be able to use them in buses. Oystercards and one day Travelcards can be used on all public transport. Be sensible and use your Oystercards.
Although London has all you could ever need, it’s still great to get out of the city – daytrips by train are inexpensive if started after 10am.
You can purchase train tickets at very reasonable rates at: www.thetrainline.com
Bus services are also cheap and reliable – but are at the mercy of traffic. Hiring a car is a viable proposition and you can drive in the UK provided you have a valid Malay Driving Licence. Some companies you can go to hire cars include:
Outside of London public transport varies from area to area. Most major towns and cities are linked by railway. Cities will have regular bus services but smaller towns may not. Internal flights also operate between major cities.
British people are generally reserved and value their privacy. It is customary to shake hands when meeting someone for the first time, whether male or female.
Other physical contact is generally avoided with anyone other than family and close friends.
Good manners (“please” and “thank you”) and personal hygiene are valued very highly.
With the wide variety of cultures in Britain, please use your common sense and try to respect all beliefs and customs.
In London there is a wide range of activities available to suit all budgets, you can: experience food, music and entertainment from many countries; see a variety of sports in the city’s large arenas (which also host musical events);enjoy a range of world famous “West End” shows; visit museums, art galleries and exhibitions to suit all tastes.
Renting accommodation in another country can be a difficult and frustrating experience, but with some planning and expert advice, the task of finding somewhere to live can be made a lot easier.
You may need reference to rent accommodation, including bank details, a letter from your college or university confirming that you are studying with them etc.
Before you start looking for houses or rooms it’s a good idea to identify which areas you need to be looking in. The college or university that you are going to study in should be able to give you a list of areas that are close to where you are going to study. They may even have lists of landlords that deal especially with foreign students. This is often the best way to get accommodation, as overseas students very often get the nicest houses.
Three are free source of information available online to find accommodation to students.
Living in the UK, particularly London, is expensive compared to many places in the World. The cost of living will of course depend on the individual situation (and tastes!) of each working traveller, but you still need to be prepared financially. Just because you’ve been working hard to save many thousands of your own currency, doesn’t mean it will be quite as many pounds! Check out a Currency Converter to get an idea of what your currency will be worth in the UK.
Generally, you should prepare yourself (and save accordingly) for the following costs while in London:
Food & Drink
While it’s important to be aware of the costs you will be facing as a working traveller, don’t let it put you off! As long as you plan carefully and think about cost-saving strategies the cost of living in England or the rest of the UK need not be prohibitive. In the UK, shared housing and utilising the excellent public transport networks are two significant ways to reduce your costs of living.
Flat-Share Rental per month
East London: £290 – £390 (single), £430 – £600 (double)
West London: £280 – £430 (single), £459 – £690 (double)
South London: £280 – £500 (single), £350 – £650 (double)
North London : £300 – £400 (single), £430 – £550 (double)
One Bedroom Flat Rental per month
East London: £650 – £750
West London: £700 – £800
South London: £600 – £700
North London: £650 – £750
OK, let’s be quite honest here. London is expensive and this is due to the popularity of the city and the demand to live in the city. But for visitors there is no shortage of short term accommodations in and around London.
Average price of a hotel room in London can be quite costly, but if you look around you can find rooms at around £60.00 per night in the city. If you choose to share rooms with three people, this can be brought down to £30.00 per person per night.
For you officers, we have a few Bed and Breakfast accommodations nearby. One includes where most of you are residing temporarily, Blue Star Hotel. There are also a couple of Bed & Breakfast near the Muslim College who can also accommodate the needs of those wanting to visit you. List below are some of the Bed & Breakfasts nearby:
10 Hanger Lane
Tel: +44 (0)20 8992 0801
North Common Lodge
9 Hanger Lane
Tel: +44 (0)20 8992 3691
Fax: +44 (0)20 8992 0152
Mob: +44 (0)7973 890604 (Mobile)
There are also some initial costs that will whittle your wallet down fairly quickly if you donâ€™t plan accordingly, especially when it comes to setting up longer-term accommodation. Generally you should budget for the following:
Accommodation when you arrive:
If you haven’t already organised accommodation for when you first arrive make sure you have enough money for hostel or hotel accommodation (from £11.00 upwards per night) or to give to mates who let you doss!
Bond and first month’s rent: This will be your most significant outlay. When leasing a flat or room in a flat-share bond can be up to 6 weeks rent and on top of that you will probably have to pay up to a month’s rent in advance. This could be as much as £1000 depending on the price of your rent.
Transport: Flat and job hunting can take a lot of trekking across the city on Tubes and buses. Make sure you have some cash for public transport or to purchase an Oyster card, see Getting around the UK.
The most convenient way to stay in touch with family and friends when you travel to the UK is to get a UK SIM Card! With the diversity of the London population, international SIM cards are very popular in the capital.
Traditionally if you chose to call with your current mobile phone in the UK it would be very expensive. However, by simply changing the SIM card (the small removable chip inside your handset) in your mobile phone for a UK SIM card you can avoid all roaming charges.
By purchasing a UK prepaid SIM card you can reduce call charges by 80% and keep your current handset. All you need to do is ensure that you have unlocked mobile phone.
Once you have replaced your SIM card for a UK SIM card you will receive all calls your families at a very cheap rate.
Some of the more popular SIM cards in the UK include:
Be sure to put aside some cash to buy pre-paid top-ups; not being able to call back a potential employer because you have no credit is not a good look!
You’ll probably be using the Internet for job hunting, searching for accommodation and staying in touch with family and friends back home. Internet cafes charge from £1.00 an hour, but allow plenty of cash for this as you’d be surprised how many hours you can rack up in these places.
Your first few weeks are sure to be a blur of eating, drinking and socialising. Eating out in London isn’t cheap so try not to have breakfast, lunch and dinner while out and about as it will be more economical to buy groceries and prepare your own meals.
With London being one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, the diversity and range of food that is available is, to say the very least, just as, if not more eclectic. Thankful there is no shortage of Halal restaurants, take aways, and shops to make your stay in London comfortable and with a full stomach. Prices range from the very cheap to the expensive.
On of the most resourceful guides for food and drink is the London Eating – London Restaurants Guide website (www.london-eating.co.uk). Here you will find reviews of the best restaurants and more significantly an indication of those restaurants that are Halal in and around London.
There are of course ways of saving your hard earned pounds as a working traveller (you say frugal, we say sensible!) for more important things like skiing in the Swiss Alps and living it up in Ibiza. Here are some cost-saving strategies:
Utilise your student or youth travel card: You are entitled to many discounts if you have a student or International youth travel card. This includes discounted entry to museums, cinemas and clubs. There are also special deals and discounts associated with Oyster cards (see Getting around the UK), so keep it handy at all times. Remember, a pound saved on a movie ticket is a pound towards another pint!
- Buy from Charity Shops: Walk down any High Street in London and you’ll be hard pressed not to see at least a handful of Charity Shops (op shops, or second hand shops). Make these your first port of call for any crockery, utensils or home wares for your pad. Most stock decent clothing and shoes too, so if you don’t have a suit for that all important job interview, you can pick up a bargain.
- Keep your eyes peeled for specials: At home you may have cringed when your mate whipped out a ‘buy one get one free’ voucher, but when you’ve only a few pounds left in your wallet you’ll be cheering for specials. Check the back of your cinema ticket for discounts at nearby restaurants, take advantage of early-bird dining offers at restaurants you normally wouldn’t be able to afford and make note of happy hour times at every pub you pass.
- Leave things till the last minute: If you’re working casually and can pack your bags at a moment’s notice there are some great last minute travel deals to be had. Check lastminute.com for flights, accommodation and package deals.
- Book ahead of time: In slight contradiction to the above point, you can also save loads of dosh by booking your travels well in advance! If you know the best time for you to take off work or when your mates are free to travel, book your flights/trains and accommodation early, this is often when you will get the biggest bargains.
- Watch out for swaps and freebies: The only thing better than something cheap is something for free! There are some kind souls in London who give away stuff they no longer need to struggling working travellers, you just need to be able to go and pick it up. From mattresses and couches to computers and tellies, there’s plenty up for grabs.
- Join the local library: Once you’re settled in a suburb one of the first things you should do is join your local library. Many have free computers and Internet access and cheap (£1.00 – £3.00) CDs and DVDs for hire, not to mention guide books to borrow for all of your adventures abroad!
You can of course save even more money by living outside of London, as the cost of accommodation and day to day living expenses are significantly lower than the capital. Keep in mind though that your UK earnings may be lower (or higher depending on your line of work) and some people may find the lifestyle and travel options can be less vibrant and varied than central London. Of course, it’s each working traveller’s personal preference where they want to base themselves for what will be the adventure of a lifetime no matter what!
To gain a better understanding of just how far your pounds will go when you’re in the UK and when you get home (if you’ve been lucky enough to save some along the way) check out the OECD Purchasing Power Parities.
Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) are basically a rate of currency conversion that equalise the purchasing power of different currencies by eliminating the differences in price levels between countries. The simplest way of working out your own PPP is to compare two identical products in two different country’s currency (the most common products used to calculate PPPs are burgers and Coca Cola, basically because you can get them everywhere) and then see how much you would have to spend to obtain the same quantity of the product. So have a look to see how many burgers your savings will allow, although we hope you’ll be slightly more adventurous on the food front while you’re a working traveller in the UK!