Blogged by: Mollie Attenson
I connected with Meaghan during math class and she has become an angel! Meaghan went to the University of Westminster last year and told me she had no one to prepare her before she went. Luckily,I have had the opportunity to talk to Meaghan about her experience. She has provided me with a list of tips and tricks that may help those of you going in the future… I know they sure have helped me better prepare.
WHAT TO PACK:
I would pack what you normally would pack for a fall season. Even though it’s spring time, you don’t get a touch of spring until the last few weeks you are there. Bring lots of layering pieces and sweaters. I would suggest a warm winter coat, a rain trench, and a lighter jacket such as a leather jacket. As for shoes, DON’T go crazy. You are going to want to bring options (like i did, i brought 7 pairs) but don’t do it. Bring the shoes you would wear the most often and wellies (rain boots). For going out at night its still going to be cold, and there is a ton of cobblestone. So, bring a practical heel or if you can wedge because you will not wear stilettos on the tube (subway). Tights were a lifesaver when it came to making outfits day->night so bring a few pairs if that is your kinda thing. Bring a few going out dresses but don’t over do it, their pub/bar/club wear is more casual than you think and you wont wear it or you’ll be a bit overdressed.Stock up on your makeup and toiletries before you go. They are going to be more expensive there and especially deodorant they don’t sell in stick only aerosol cans so if you have particular products you use bring those.You will have an option to buy a bedding package and a kitchen package. I got both. I would definitely suggest investing in the kitchen one. They give you anything you would want or need to make food. It is delivered right to your room and is there when you move in. It saves the stress, spending money, and having to search and then lug pots and pans from different shops back to you room. As for the bedding, you can do that if you like, but they aren’t the greatest of quality. You can get affordable bedding/pillows at the Sainsbery’s (place you get your groceries) and they will be better quality. I would suggest bringing either a duvet cover or a quilt or something to put on your bed to make it feel more at home because the rooms, like most dorms, are standard and ugly. You have your own bathroom with toilet and shower in your room (you have no idea how great it really is) so you don’t have to worry about anyone touching your stuff.
WHAT I WISH I KNEW:
Tip #1 would be make friends with your flatmates because they will clue you in on all the cool places to go. They are going to be a lot younger than you (17-18-19) because only first year students are allowed to live in the halls.
Tip #2 is dont be afraid to mingle and talk to randoms. When it comes to strangers its nothing like NY. They are very friendly and when it comes to hanging out, central london, what to order, how to pay properly etc. they have no problem helping you out. And they love to hear the accent and the fact that we are clueless, so they wont mind it. Sainsbery’s is the grocery store that everyone shops at. Its in walking distance (kinda like from FIT to Kaufman). They sell reusable bags. Buy them! or bring your own, you will thank yourself when having to lug you stuff back to the halls, especially cause its always raining.
Restaurants are different there. 90% of them are a kind where you seat yourself, the menus are on the table, the tables are numbered, and one by one you go to the bar you order your own meal and pay for it there individually. Its served to your table. Its cool cause you can hang as long as you want and the paying aspect is already done with and you don’t have to deal with the check. Make sure you always have all picture forms of ID on you (fit id, Westminster id, drivers license) because if you use American cards they check to make sure the names match on everything, also most the highstreet stores in central London (urban outfitters, topshop, forever 21..) have student discounts.TRAVEL:
I did travel. I did a weekend trip to Liverpool. Then in April I did 9 days in Italy where 3 of my friends and I traveled from Venice, Florence, then Rome. Then we did 4 days in Paris. In the orientation they give you a bunch of advice when it comes to traveling but some good sites were studentuniverse.com
for flights and hostelworld.com
for booking hostels (which I stayed in, in each city.) If you want to know specifics about places or booking things or anything let me know.CLASSES:
The professors are tough. The students are in blocks so they all know each other (like our art students) so they do a lot of group work. Don’t expect to be babied or coached through it. There. There is no attendance policy or homework. You have exams and projects that you are expected to work on and research and everything on your own. The library is 24 hours so take advantage. If you have questions they let you set up one on one meetings with them on your off time, which is really really helpful when final papers/projects are assigned.
PHONE: yes i got a phone. i went to orange and you get the cheapest one and there is a plan where you just put money on as you go. it gets you like 100 texts a month and like 50 min. or something. i had a international plan on my regular iphone so i could call my parents on that only. but for communicating over there i used the orange phone
Me: Are you happy you went?
Meaghan : it was hands down one of the best decision i have made, and it was a life changing experience. i have made friends that mean so much to me and i can’t wait to go back. it is weird at first having to adjust but once you do you will fall right into it. you will learn so much about yourself and meet so many cool people!