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London Guide For Students - Before you leave
London | Formalities | Other things | Going there

I. Before you leave

1. What you'll have to know about London


The United Kingdom is an island located north of France, and inhabited by strange people : the British... oh, you already know that ? OK, so let's be a little more specific, we will focus on London.

London has 7,172,000 inhabitants, who live in some 1579 km². This is one of the biggest European cities in terms of population, with Paris, Moscow and Istanbul. But in fact it isn't really a city but a metropolitan area called Greater London (like the "Région Parisienne" in France). The Greater London administrative area comprises the City of London and 32 London boroughs (equivalent to French "cantons").

The London that most tourists see is Central London, which comprises the historic City of London, the West End, the City of Westminster, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which are the richest areas of London. In contrast, the East End has played host to successive waves of immigrants for centuries and contains some of the UK's most deprived areas.

More details about London in the Wikipedia >>>



That's the hard point. London's weather is nearly the same as Brittany or Normandy. Very cloudy, there is often rain and always wind. September is usually sunny, with temperatures about 15-20°C. But the remaining months are colder, with temperatures from 12-15° in October to 0-5° in December. In fact, the main problem is the wind, which cools you down a lot. Don't forget your warm clothes !

Temperatures in London Rain in London

The other issue is about rain : sometimes it's raining permanently during one week. You'll probably need a good umbrella (and a strong one, British wind is definitely an umbrella killer) and waterproof shoes.

Weather forecast in London >>>



London and the whole UK are under GMT time, and British have summer time like us. In fact, when it's 12:00 in Paris, it's always 11:00 in London, no matter of the summer time. That's easy, isn't it ?

Nonetheless, you will be hit by a small detail. Due to the timeshift and the latitude, the sunset comes very early : in December, the night falls by about 4:00 PM !

Now that you know in what you will put your toes into, let's have a look at formalities and things to prepare before you leave.


2. Formalities

What a beautiful passport !

You must be sure to have the following papers :

  • Your passport, or your ID Card : without it, you just can't go to London. It's better to have a passport, as French ID Card is sometimes not recognized by banks.
  • Your Carte Européene d'assurance maladie (which is replacing the E111 form), in order to be refunded if you have any health problem.
  • Some papers which can help you to open an account : a letter in English from your bank saying that you're a good customer, and your last three bank statements. You can download an example of the letter here.
  • Your CVs and cover letters (at least 50-100 of each if you don't want to do photocopies there)
  • Some passport-sized photos (required for discount cards)
  • Don't forget to forward your efrei mailbox to another address you can access through a webmail (hotmail, voila, etc.)

Forwarding your e-mail

That's very easy :

  1. Open a session on any Linux/Unix machine at EFREI.
  2. Create a file named .forward in your home directory.
  3. Into this file, just type the email address you want to transfer your mail to.
  4. That's all !


3. Other things to think about

Beyond the classical stuff you can bring, there are several things that you should thnk of. Here they are :
  • Take some pounds with you (the amount depends of your accommodation). See the money matters part for more information.
  • An adapter for English electricity plugs (don't bring a phone cable for your modem if you have a PC, English phone plugs are not standard). A French multiple outputs plug will be also useful.
  • A radio or a music player, with speakers (for example, small computer speakers).
  • Some sheets of paper and envelopes.
  • A strong umbrella, and good shoes (in general, you'll have to walk a lot).
  • An USB key, which is useful for storing data when you're in a cybercafé or at UCL. On this key, put your CVs and cover letters.
  • An alarm-clock, or something which can wake you up in the morning :)
  • A dictionary (obviously).
  • A camera (there is so many amazing pictures to shoot !)
  • Do not forget to unlock your mobile phone before leaving, in order to use it with an English SIM card. If you can't do that with your provider, you will be able to unlock it in England (try small phones shops or markets), or by internet.
  • Do not forget to book your hostel before leaving !


4. How to get there

Now that you're ready to leave, there is several ways to get to London :

By Eurostar

The Eurostar

It is probably the best choice : just two hours and a half and you're in Central London, at Waterloo station. Tickets are from 35 € from Monday to Thursday, if you book in advance on Eurostar.com, but the average price is from 70 to 120 € for a single journey.

Tip : Keep your Eurostar tickets, as EFREI will probably refund them.


By Plane

That's a plane. Isn't it ?

It can be cheaper than the Eurostar, around 8 € with low cost companies like Easyjet, but you will arrive at Stansted or Luton instead of Heathrow. These airports are 45 minutes away from London by train. The main issue is for your luggage : bringing a 35kg pack with you is not very reasonable or recommended!

Go to EasyJet website >>>


Other ways

By coach, the trip is really cheap, but it lasts about 10 hours (paris-London) ! By car, you have to pay the gas, motorway fees, the boat or the train, and the London Congestion Charge. And, what will you do with your car during four months in London ? Don't forget that British are driving on the left :). In fact, these two ideas aren't really good ones.

Go to Eurolines website >>>


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