London, United Kingdom: The University of Westminster: Welcome to London! (by Frederike)

Hi! How are you? Welcome to my first Blog.  My name is Frederike.
I’m studying International Management at the campus in Hamburg and
I am spending my semester aboard at the University of Westminster in London.
In the following weeks I will take you on my journey and share my own experiences, and give a few tips and tricks. Hope you enjoy it!

semester opening boat party with an amazing view!!

Before the semester starts.

London was my first choice for the semester abroad and I was very happy that I was accepted. It is worth a try to apply even though you don’t have enough points at the TOEFL test. The University is quite cooperative.
The online application was pretty easy and I got an answer from the UoW round about two weeks later. After that I got pre arrival information weekly, which helped me prepare for my stay in London. 

I decided to reside in the university’s offered accommodations.
There are three Halls of residences for semester abroad students.
For management students there are two halls to choose from:
Alexander Flemming Hall (located in the east of London) and
Marylebone Hall (located under the Regents Park directly at the Marylebone Campus).
Design and Film students can only stay at the Harrow Hall, next to the Harrow Campus.

I chose to stay in the Marylebone hall of residence and I really recommend living in this hall, it is a little bit more expensive than the other two, but there are many advantages:

  • I have my own cosy room with my own bathroom. I don’t have to share.
  • The location of the hall is fantastic. Everything you need is nearby, supermarkets, drugstores, restaurants, parks, a tube and a bus station (Baker Street), … There are also many sight seeing points within walking distance. So you can discover a lot of different new things.
  • Business courses take place at the Marylebone Campus. Since the accommodation is directly on this campus, you can easily and quickly reach your course rooms.

First days in London:

My semester abroad started on the 14th September. I was pretty nervous when the plane finally landed in London. I took the Gatwick Express to get from the Gatwick Airport to the city of London (Victoria Station).
This trip takes just 30 minutes and cost 17,50 pounds, when you book it in advance. There are also cheaper possibilities, e.g. a ticket for the EasyBus costs 2-4 pounds, but that takes round about 1,5 hours to get to the city. From the other airports it is also very easy to get in the city.
From Victoria Station I booked an Uber which drove me to my residence. Unlike in Germany, the taxi driver doesn’t converse with you,
everything is very „anonymous“.

Arriving at the Marylebone hall I was very impressed. Everywhere skyscrapers, people on their way, they seem very busy and it was quite loud. I was warmly welcomed at the accommodation from a guy named Cliff. He lives in the dorm too and takes care of the new arrivals.
He showed me, how to get my key card for my room and gave me further information about the hall and London. I also got a bedding package for 25 pounds and a welcome booklet with very useful information. Then I went straight to my room – 16D, on the 16th floor, the view is incredible.
I live on this floor with 5 other persons with whom I share a kitchen. The room is small, but it’s very cosy and has everything necessary (bed, desk and chair, a safe and enough storage space).

To be honest, the whole thing is pretty private, it feels like living in a big hotel. There are 240 students living here, but you rarely meet someone.
It took me a few days to get to know all my floor mates. However, there are many events where you have the opportunity to meet new people. On the first day there was a guided tour through the dormitory and the compound. We had a barbecue, a film evening and a meet and greet was also organized in the common room. Many of the residents are exchange students as well. The majority are Germans or Swiss with whom you connect easily.

The university organizes a lot for foreign students so that you quickly feel welcomed.  I recommend the participation in the social programmes.
There are various day trips possible to discover the city itself and various other sights in the UK.

The introductory week started on Monday. We were enrolled and received our student ID cards. I was really excited, from that moment on I was a Westminster student, it all became real. There were other welcoming events this week. My absolute highlight was the boat party on the Thames.
We spent about 3 hours on the Thames on a party boat, enjoying the sunset, an amazing view. There was also a so called freshman fair, where various clubs of the university introduced themselves. I was especially enthusiastic about cheerleading, so I will definitely take part in the trial training.

typical full english breakfast

Its only been a week and I am so overwhelmed from this breath-taking city.
I still can’t believe, I’m waking up in this pulsing city every day.
Feels a bit like living in a dream with all the beautiful houses, red busses, lovely gardens and the black cabs!

Next week the university starts. I can’t wait to tell you more about my unique and precious adventure in London. More to come soon.