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Living in London

EddEdd Registered User regular
edited September 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey guys, I know we have quite a few Brits around these parts so I thought I'd ask for a little advice. I'll be spending a few months in London through a study abroad program, so I was curious about a few matters.

For one thing, how far does 250 pounds go in order to feed one's self for a week? This assumes I'll not be dining out with any frequency in favor of just generally purchasing groceries.

I'd also rather not stick out any more than necessary. Do you guys tend to find it condescending when foreigners, or at least Americans, use your terminology when equivalent terms are about as easily understood? It sounds like a ridiculous question, but somehow I'd feel uncomfortable asking where the "loo" is when I'm sure I'd be understood perfectly as well having just asked for the "bathroom," with the added advantage of not sounding as though I'm trying hard to be culturally apt.

For that matter, are there differences in general terms that are likely to draw some confusion?

I'm sure more questions will come to mind, but if anyone has any other general advice for living in London, it would be appreciated.

Edd on

Posts

  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I'm not a Londoner, but your questions are pretty broad, so here goes. (I'm a Brit)
    Edd wrote: »
    For one thing, how far does 250 pounds go in order to feed one's self for a week? This assumes I'll not be dining out with any frequency in favor of just generally purchasing groceries.

    That's more than enough, even in London you should be able to feed yourself for 100 quid tops.
    Do you guys tend to find it condescending when foreigners, or at least Americans, use your terminology when equivalent terms are about as easily understood? It sounds like a ridiculous question, but somehow I'd feel uncomfortable asking where the "loo" is when I'm sure I'd be understood perfectly as well having just asked for the "bathroom," with the added advantage of not sounding as though I'm trying hard to be culturally apt.

    Some people won't understand you if you insist on saying something like "gas" rather than "petrol", or "trunk" instead of "boot", but sidewalk/pavement, bathroom/toilet and most of the other ones have no problem. No-onw will think you are weird for using American words.
    I'm sure more questions will come to mind, but if anyone has any other general advice for living in London, it would be appreciated.

    I believe an Oyster card is handy.

    It might help if you narrow down where in London you are talking about, it's rather akin to me saying I'm going to Los Angeles... it's a big place.

    EDIT: Here's a trick for studying in the UK. Set your spellchecker to UK English (why you should have to set it to UK English rather than just English I'll never know. You guys are the ones that speak the English variant...). I did the opposite when I studied in California. It's very useful for when you type "realize" or "meter" or something that will look equally bad on a submitted piece of coursework. A lot of professors don't take kindly to American spellings of things, and they won't care about you enough to know that you are an American.

  • EddEdd Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I'll be in central London, but I think that may be the best I can tell you.

    Edit: as per the spelling, luckily, this program functions as a satellite of my university in the States, so I'll be principally taught by Americans in the company of Americans.

  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Central London is a big place :) What university is it?

  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Edd wrote: »
    Edit: as per the spelling, luckily, this program functions as a satellite of my university in the States, so I'll be principally taught by Americans in the company of Americans.

    That's a bit boring :( Won't you get to study with English people?

  • EddEdd Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Lewisham wrote: »
    Central London is a big place :) What university is it?

    Heh, well, it isn't. I'm basically living in a little enclave of Americans in a hostel called Pickwick Hall, which I've just found out is three minutes from the University of London.

  • FibretipFibretip Registered User
    edited September 2007
    My wife, myself and our two kids do a weeks food shopping for the whole family for about 80 pounds. There's nothing fancy there, just loads of veggies, milk, cereal, bread, fresh meat, cheese etc... basic foods, no big frozen meals or whatever. I can't imagine you even managing to spend 250 a week unless you were seriously eating out at pricey restaurants every night.

    I wouldn't find it condescending if you tried to fit in... but really, in my experience... very few people fit in here anymore, myself included.... and i was born here! There's so many different cultures mushing together here now that i almost always have to repeat what i actually want wherever i go. Just ask for the bathroom, it's fine, i ask people for it all the time... they know i mean the toilet... nobody is gonna say to you "Actually sir this is a restaurant... we dont' have a bath here"

    London is a great place... be aware that the tube is getting quite expensive now... and that actually, what may seem like a trip you need to do in a train... can sometimes only be a five minute walk in reality. when i first moved to london i took the train everywhere, from oxford street to tottenham court road for example... then once my wife actually showed me around... i realised that's only 10 minutes to walk. Get a decent map though... london can be mighty confusing.

    also... don't take the bus in central london unless you want to get where you're going 3 hours later.

    only thing i can think of that always confuses people when i talk to my american step family is as follows.

    in the uk...
    a comforter is called a Quilt, or a Duvet (doo-vay) almost every bed in the uk has one. I know in my experience of the states it's more of a winter thing and most people tend to lean more towards sheets and blankets and whatnot... but here, duvet's are pretty much the standard.
    a quilt can also be just a quilt (ie patchwork) just to confuse things further ;)

    if you talk about comforters to people here... they won't know what you mean at all... it still takes my family ages to get over this every time they come and stay

    oh and yeah, the obvious one... here people call pencil erasers "rubbers" you'd better get that one out of your system pretty early ;) ie.. don't be offended if someone in a class asks you if you have a rubber they could borrow.

    I believe in angels, not the kind with wings, no...not the kind with halos, the kind who bring you home
  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    £250 should feed you for a month, comfortably.

    The only important General London advice is that the Tube shuts down somepoint just after midnight and never get into an unlicensed minicab. You probably shouldn't go out alone late at night but as long as you stick to the bright lights you'll be fine.

    Lots of nice places to go and see, and most of the museums and art gallerys are free entry so do take advantage.

  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Fibretip wrote: »
    in the uk...
    a comforter is called a Quilt, or a Duvet (doo-vay) almost every bed in the uk has one. I know in my experience of the states it's more of a winter thing and most people tend to lean more towards sheets and blankets and whatnot... but here, duvet's are pretty much the standard.

    God, I hate comforter. It adds no comfort! It is a duvet :) Yeah, no-one will know what the hell you are talking about if you say comforter. Also, "twin" bed. I thought that meant a double bed! In the UK it's called a single bed (see, it makes sense... why imply a single bed is two?!)

    I have almost converted my Californian girlfriend to duvet... I am so close... ;)

  • TheFishTheFish Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Edd wrote: »
    For one thing, how far does 250 pounds go in order to feed one's self for a week? This assumes I'll not be dining out with any frequency in favor of just generally purchasing groceries.

    General living costs in London are quite expensive compared to the rest of the UK, but £250 would be more than enough. If you're going out often in the evenings though then drinks can soon add up.
    Edd wrote: »
    I'd also rather not stick out any more than necessary. Do you guys tend to find it condescending when foreigners, or at least Americans, use your terminology when equivalent terms are about as easily understood? It sounds like a ridiculous question, but somehow I'd feel uncomfortable asking where the "loo" is when I'm sure I'd be understood perfectly as well having just asked for the "bathroom," with the added advantage of not sounding as though I'm trying hard to be culturally apt.

    The accent is going to give you away anyway so I wouldn't worry about it. In the case of toilets people will know what you mean.

    One thing to note as a student is that the word 'school' means only the mandatory 5-16 education. After that it's called college/university.

  • EddEdd Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I have a girlfriend, so I really have no place asking, but I'm curious.

    It's well known that British accents are some sort of aphrodesiac to naive young American women. I've never been given a straight answer on whether the reverse was true.

    So....

    Edit: from what I'm hearing, I'm almost confused as to why they would readily hand out quite so much cash. That having been said, what sorts of recreation in the area might be worthwhile, other than perhaps xyz bar/restaurant?

  • JansonJanson Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Edd wrote: »
    I have a girlfriend, so I really have no place asking, but I'm curious.

    It's well known that British accents are some sort of aphrodesiac to naive young American women. I've never been given a straight answer on whether the reverse was true.

    No :P Although your mileage may vary.

    I'll definitely second an oyster card.

    The most useful thing you can buy in London is a pocket-sized London A-Z. I bought one this summer as I was visiting a lot and I used it so much.

    You'll get stared at if you try to strike up a conversation on the tube.

    I love the tube, though. Hardly any English people actually reside in central London; and no two people will look alike. But the stony expressions are always the same.

    sharasugar_80.png sharanomsugar_80.png
  • EddEdd Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Can we define "Oyster Card?"

  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    https://oyster.tfl.gov.uk/oyster/entry.do

    Basically, it's a pre-pay travel card. You put money into it, then you can use it on buses/tubes and some trains. It automagically detects when you've used it enough that a day pass would be cheaper. However, you do have to pay to get one (although you can get that money back if you hand it back in) - it's only £3 or so. Generally it saves you faffing around with tickets and fares for various things.


    edit: as for things to do, it really depends on what you like. London really does have pretty much everything. The usual tourist cheesiness is stuff like The London Eye, Madame Tussauds, Trafalger Square (although I don't think you can feed the pidgeons anymore - our mayor hates them), Oxford Street Shopping (followed by Camden Shopping), Tower Bridge/Tower of London. Various Art galleries including the Tate Modern, various Museums including Natural History Museum.

    You can get pretty much anywhere in london quite easily.

  • satansfingerssatansfingers Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    for general stuff to do, just pick up a copy of time out. it's a good guide to whatever's happening in any given week.

  • Anarchy Rules!Anarchy Rules! Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I would also recommend buying a map of London. It is exceedingly difficult to navigate without one.

    Sometimes distances are deceptive. Occasionally it is easier to walk, however sometimes what may seem short distances are best taken using the tube.

    Remember the underground map is not to scale!

    One of the greatest things about London is just wandering around. The city keeps a lot of charm away from the tourist districts.

  • CojonesCojones Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I've got a fairly good idea of where you'll be staying and it's a nice enough place.

    250 will last for ages - you wouldn't even have to be frugal if you're sticking to supermarkets(get loyalty cards).

    Make sure that you pick up an oyster card - you'll be relying on public transport to get you from A to B provided that whereever you're headed is over a couple of tube stops away, anything less is walkable.

    exmac.png
  • FibretipFibretip Registered User
    edited September 2007
    i'll just point out why people are saying get an oyster card... incase anyone is thinking "can't i just buy a ticket" and can't be bothered to read the site...

    a one way fair on the tube paying cash for a ticket is a flat £4. that could be a 10 minute walk for £4 or an hours journey, it doesn't matter how far you travel... any one way journey within central london will cost you £4 if you pay cash.

    If you have an oyster card that price becomes £1.50

    what you find is that there is a price cap on oyster which still charges you less than a travelcard. for example... if you travel 20 times in one day.. you will only pay a maximum of £6.10 which is still several pounds cheaper than the equivalent cash fare.

    oh and yes, it does cost £3 to buy the card in the first place.

    I believe in angels, not the kind with wings, no...not the kind with halos, the kind who bring you home
  • Lave IILave II Registered User
    edited September 2007
    Gotta be quick as popping out.

    I live in London, it's great. I flatshare with a few friends, though moving in with the GF soon. I only earn about £240($480) a week (PhD student) and I get by.

    Also, tfl.gov.uk (no time to link sorry) is great to find how to get places. An oyster card is absolutly essential.

    2ndly pick up a little A to Z book when you get here (for about £6) and keep it with you at all times. London is a huge network of little random streets, you'll need it. And everyone has one, you won't look like a tourist. walkit.com is a great way to find out how to walk between 2 london places. You'll find that most places you would get a tube too, are a quick walk away. And don't be afraid of the buses. They are awesome.

    London is a huge mesh of cultures, you won't stand out at all. Unless you where a "fanny* pack" a baseball cap and a USA flag. So don't worry.

    Oh and The University of London, is a consortium of different universities including University College London, Bloomsbury, Kings College (I think) and some others. So find out which tubes you are near - then I can tell you more.

    You'll love it.

    * Fanny means vagina - don't use it, but saying that, I've found that swearing in the UK is a lot corser than the states, and our humour more acerbic.

  • apotheosapotheos Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited September 2007
    We watch The Office at lunch time in our office, and we recently switched to the UK office Season 2

    First episode featured a joke about a black mans cock prominently.

    I work in a rather conservative office. It was awkward. Go UK humor!

    Also I'd just like to add that a duvet is a very specific kind of comforter.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duvet



    猿も木から落ちる
  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited September 2007
  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I wouldn't worry about accents in London - I just moved here from overseas a few months back and this town is basically full of immigrants - in any one day you should dozens of different languages and accents - and American English isn't abnormal here, hell, in parts of London an English accent or even someone who speaks English as a first language is almost odd. I wouldn't worry too much about people fucking with you because you are an immigrant either, unless you run into real jerks, and they are usually the type of people that will find a reason regardless of accent. I have had a couple of people joke about my accent, but nothing malicious. Students should be fine, although you will probably have plenty of debates on politics, Bush and Iraq.

    Some examples of prices:

    Can of Coke from my local supermarket - 35 pence - then from two local kebab stores - 60-80 pence
    Espresso single shot coffee - 1 pound
    Pint of good lager at my local - 3.20 pounds
    Weekly travel pass for zone 1-2 (and all buses) - 23.10 pounds (check out the transport websites to see what the zones are)
    1x BLT Sub from Subway - about 3.20 (roughly)
    Movie ticket - 8-9 pounds (note - apparently there are theatres that show slightly older films for around 4 pounds - there are also places that do discount nights for about the same)
    Baguette /french stick from local supermarket - 40-75 pence.
    Newspaper - 70 pence (although there are 3 or so free dailys that will be forced upon you if you venture near a Tube station)


    An ok meal from a restaurant can cost 10-15 pounds (a lot more if you want to spend it) - that will include a drink, entree and main - heaps of restaurants about that will charge in this range.

    Tipping - So far as I can tell tipping only occurs at restaurants in London and nowhere else - and usually its about 10-15% - often they will tell you on the menu how much they expect - this is apparently different from how its done in the US. I don't know, as tipping is new to me.

    I spend about 5 pounds a day on food while at work, then maybe 5-15 at night if I eat out. In the weekend maybe 30 - 40 or so? I also spend about 20 a week on groceries - which includes breakfast foods + 3 or 4 meals, if i can be bothered to cook. I think I spend roughly 90-120 a week on food. People also seem to drink a bit here, going to the pub is the major social point - going to the pub on a Sunday night to meet friends for a pint is quite normal.

    Some things are kind of dear here though, like electronics, so unless you are desperate I'd advise against buying anything like say a laptop or the like here. Same goes for games and the like. If you think there are any games currently out you want to play sometime while you over here, buy them before leaving. Games and movies can also be weirdly delayed.

    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • CojonesCojones Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Lave II wrote: »
    Oh and The University of London, is a consortium of different universities including University College London, Bloomsbury, Kings College (I think) and some others. So find out which tubes you are near - then I can tell you more.
    The place is near Holborn station so it's relatively close to KCL(strand), LSE and those Gower Street bastards.

    The Office(UK) is about a million times better than it's US counterpart. That much is beyond debate.

    exmac.png
  • FibretipFibretip Registered User
    edited September 2007
    oh and also.. do remember that "pants" in england are underwear, not trousers.... i can remember that one causing embarassment several times

    I believe in angels, not the kind with wings, no...not the kind with halos, the kind who bring you home
  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    It causes me no end of amusement when I am in the US and people go "Oh man, I just stained my pants" or "I've got mayonaisse all over my pants"

  • MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I am living in London for the next month. My business put me up in an apartment right by Holburn station. I'm having a blast. The "language barrier" gets in the way sometimes, but it's not too bad. And yeah, buying things at Sainsbury's = super cheap. But eating out gets so goddamned expensive. The only way to deal with it is to not remind yourself that a 17 pound meal was 34 dollars.

    HOW DO YOU FUCK UP BAGELS. YOU BOIL THE WATER. PUT IN THE NOODLES
  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    MikeMan wrote: »
    I am living in London for the next month. My business put me up in an apartment right by Holburn station. I'm having a blast. The "language barrier" gets in the way sometimes, but it's not too bad. And yeah, buying things at Sainsbury's = super cheap. But eating out gets so goddamned expensive. The only way to deal with it is to not remind yourself that a 17 pound meal was 34 dollars.

    Tesco or Asda are way cheaper than Sainsbury's!

  • Anarchy Rules!Anarchy Rules! Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    At least he isn't shopping at Waitrose or Marks and Spencers!

    If you want to go dirt cheap, try Aldi or Lidl.

  • MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Lewisham wrote: »
    MikeMan wrote: »
    I am living in London for the next month. My business put me up in an apartment right by Holburn station. I'm having a blast. The "language barrier" gets in the way sometimes, but it's not too bad. And yeah, buying things at Sainsbury's = super cheap. But eating out gets so goddamned expensive. The only way to deal with it is to not remind yourself that a 17 pound meal was 34 dollars.

    Tesco or Asda are way cheaper than Sainsbury's!

    the nearest tesco, AFAIK, is just far enough to be annoying to walk it

    HOW DO YOU FUCK UP BAGELS. YOU BOIL THE WATER. PUT IN THE NOODLES
  • FibretipFibretip Registered User
    edited September 2007
    yeah they just closed the tesco that was just past holborn station a year or so ago.

    I believe in angels, not the kind with wings, no...not the kind with halos, the kind who bring you home
  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    There is also a Whole Foods on Kensington High Street, if you want to go all organic. It is pretty fancy too, but then they probably wanted to impress the rich types that live in that area.

    Oh, while the small supermarkets tend to run good hours - up early, closed late seven days a week, the larger ones have a weird 5PM Sunday closing rule. Apparently the rule is based on size.

    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
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