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London Metropolitan University, Life In London and Portugal


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Hello everybody =)

 

I'm applying to Erasmus Student Mobility Program for next semester/year. My school sends Management/Business students to London Metropolitan University/ UK. Now according to rumors (which are semi-official), I've heard that this year Economics students would be able to apply too. In fact, I was planning to accept Portugal offer because although that university's language is Portuguese (well it is close to Spanish and French indeed so I will survive there), they say that there are students from all over the world, Tibet, USA etc. and that sometimes teachers speak English during courses to help foreign students.

 

What I need is;

 

1)Is there anyone who lives in/has been to Portugal (especially Minho)? How can I learn about adult ballet life in Portugal??Because when I google it I cannot find anything in English and it takes time to relate words to French/Spanish and understand what is said.

 

2)About London option... I know that London is almost the most expensive city in the world and so I'm a little (well a lot) frightened. Because I will be living only with what Erasmus gives me and I won't have much family support there; so I need to know a lot about London before I add England to my application list (is finding a part-time job easy in the university, like working in the library etc.? and where can I stay, where is the Metropolitan University, are there cheap student houses/flats around? and most importantly, I need to know about the fees of the ballet classes in London =( ) In fact I have so many friends from the UK but unfortunately none of them lives in London =/

 

London really frightens me, because if I go there, I will be staying for a whole year (2 semesters/ if I can) so I need to take ballet classes there not to lose what I've been working on since this September (my strenght etc.) and if I am to stay there for a whole year I need to plan everything right, knowing everything about the city/university before I apply there.

 

I don't have much resources about the university but I need "life in London experts" the most.

 

If I am to go to Portugal, I will stay there for only one semester and be back in January to continue my classes in the same studio. But I know nothing about Portugal and I don't think that this board has a member from Portugal=(( Nevertheless, I needed to ask. Thanks in advance for your helps and time.

 

One more concern about London; I'm better than OK communicating Americans. Because American accent is what I'm used to hear and speak here since I watch American shows in general though my high-school was teaching British accent (nope, no one else can sound right while speaking "British" than British people). Question is, after watching Hollyoaks a few times (not a big fan of it) I started to think "well what do I know about British accent? What if I don't understand what people say in London? How am I going to survive there? (what a stupid idea, I accept to live in Portugal without knowing one Portuguese word, but I'm afraid of London??)" so my question is... I compare BBC and Hollyoaks. They sound different. I can understand what is said in the Weakest Link for example. But I really have a hard time understanding conversations in Hollyoaks. What will I be hearing in London, BBC or Hollyoaks accent? (phew long post again..sorry)

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  • skyish

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There is no one accent in London - you have accents from everywhere and anywhere, but at least they all speak English! If you can't understand someone or they can't understand you, you just have to repeat yourselves! I find it difficult sometimes to understand US accents (and occasionally thick British accents) on the TV and films and often add English subtitles to DVD's at home in case I miss a word, but when I was in the States, I understood easily speaking face to face with people. So don't worry about it. :shrug:

 

The other thing is that in London there are several places such as Pineapple Studios, Dance Works etc where you can take walk in classes and they have a range of ballet classes for every level, so I'm sure you would find somewhere to dance.

 

London is very expensive, but you can find ways to economise and eat more cheaply and it's a very exciting beautiful city with masses of interesting things to do and see for free!

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Ooh London living...!! *cracks fingers*

 

Where do I begin...

 

General shopping:

One thing that I did not realise that actually helped me a lot while in Uni in London was the NUS card. (National Union of Students). It offered a lot of discounts everywhere. I didn't appreciate it much until I graduated and had to start paying everything full price... :(

 

Show it wherever you go, you might get a discount! A lot of places like Topshop (clothes), HMV (y'all know what that is..!), cinemas etc etc gives discounts when you show a student card.

 

Travel:

When you enroll at University they will also let you know how to arrange a London Transport student card, which will allow you something like 30% off travelcards (travelling on trains, buses and underground), which is very handy! Go to www.thetube.com for a map of the underground system.

 

I recommend the travel card vs the bus passes. Bus journeys in London are often long and you are more than often stuck in a traffic jam. Underground, on the other hand, are subject to delays but at least there's a map to follow. Especially around midnight when the day buses stop and night bus starts to kick in, you could still catch the last tube home and not having to worry about getting home by a different bus and end up getting off in a strange area.

 

Food:

Food is expensive if you eat out, as an indication a Big Mac meal is around £4.50?? (that's around $8.5??), but if you find a nearby farmer's market rather than going to the supermarkets, you'll find some great savings there. (fruit and veg are so much cheaper in markets, not to mention much fresher!)

 

Living:

I've had a look at the LMU website and found that Economics is based in the City, near Tower Hill / Aldgate / Liverpool Street. If you are only here for a year, I definitely recommend going to Halls (aka Dorms for the American version), rather than looking to rent from private landlords yourself. Also look for something along the tube lines.

 

There's quite an extensive list on the LMU website. Have a look through them, you're very welcome to PM me about the different areas in London. Personally I'd avoid East London (East of Tower Hill but north of the river). West London (Kensington/Chelsea area) is nice but generally expensive, and further out west will probably be too far away for Uni for you.

 

Rotherhithe / Canada Water is a nice and reasonably priced area, but one thing to note is that the East London Line will be closed from December 2007 for a total revamp of the line (for the Olympics!), so if you don't mind being on the bus, consider this area!

 

Dancing:

Open classes - check out:

- Morley College (Lambeth North)

- DanceWorks (Oxford Street, near Bond Street station and Selfridges)

- Marylebone Studios (near Paddington and Marylebone stations)

- Finsbury Town Hall (Urdang Academy, near Angel / King's Cross)

- The Place (Euston).

- Pineapple studios (Covent Garden, very Central)

 

Syllabus classes - check out:

- the RAD itself (based in Battersea and unbelievably difficult to get to)

- London Studio Centre (King's Cross, within the City!)

 

Give them all a Google, they all have websites with class prices listed :)

 

Generally they are priced anything from £6 to £10 a class, which varies from 1 hour to 2 hours.

 

As for the accent, don't worry, I've lived here for nearly 7 years now and on the occassion I still don't understand what people talk about. I come from Hong Kong and although I had very good written English and (I thought at the time) pretty decent oral and listening standard of English, when I got here I couldn't understand what anyone was talking about for 2 months. Partly because of the accent and partly because I've never heard of the words and slang they use. (There's one time I misunderstood something which I'm still embarrassed about, but I wouldn't say it on here as that would be classifed as "needing parental guidance"... :shrug:) I'm sure you'll be much better than I am as you've been speaking this language for your entire life!

 

What I'm trying to say is, don't worry. London people are quite used to international mix of people and you shouldn't have a problem communicating with people. If someone's said something you don't understand just ask them to repeat - I still do that all the time. :D

 

I dance with a few Americans every week and they have found it ok :D

 

Yeah, as I said, PM me if you need anything. :)

 

Fish

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My two cents...

 

1) Try to live as close to your institution as possible. It will save you time and (travel) money. Make sure to be in touch with the university first to check on which campus you are based. As space is limited in London, institutions are often spread out. East London is up and coming, especially around Hoxton Square/Old Street, thus I think it depends where you would live in East London. There are some areas which I would avoid (e.g. Hackney), but you will find these in every part of London. Living close to a bus or tube station comes always handy.

 

2) I prefer the bus over the tube, especially for short-distance travel. Most of the time, I walk. Surprisingly, the bus is sometimes not much quicker than walking. Travel costs (even with a discount) are very expensive. When I moved to London 7 years ago, a single bus ticket was 70pence, now it is 2 GBP.

 

3) Please note that you have to pay an entrance fee for Pineapple and Danceworks (this is on top of actual class fee). A day-fee is usally 4 GBP. If you are a full-time dance student, you will be able to get a discount.

 

4) Calculate your budget generously - I also teach on a study abroad programme, where I have mainly American students. Extra expenses (e.g. for travel) should be taken into account, i.e. in which part of London do you live, how often do you have to travel from A to B, etc. Most of my American students are not used to spend so much on travel costs as they (a) lived on the campus, or (:shrug: had other ways of transportation available.

 

5) Lots of students have part-time jobs, IMO most of the jobs are not on campus (unlike in the US). Working in sales, call centres and as a waitress will help you to beef up your available budget. If you plan ahead, work need not to interfere with your studies, e.g. I worked more in the first half of the term, and concentrated on my assignments in the second half (working considerable less then), and took up work again in the term breaks. It is feasable, but do not over-rely on part-time job income. Studies go first ;-)

 

6) No worries about accents. There are literally 100s of accents in London. Keep you ears (and your eyes!) open and you will learn a lot

 

7) Enjoy performances and the West End shows! Sadler's wells gives tickets to students for 15 GBP 30 min (or is it longer) before the performance starts. Go to the shows of the big schools, they often have tickets for 3 - 10 GBP. ROH has "standing tickets".

 

 

Finally, wherever you go, an exchange will be an invaluable experience. Don't expect everything to be like at home, it won't, but that is the beauty of it.

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I have an Oyster card for travelling in London. You pay as you go and when you have used up all the money, you simply top it up at the tube stations (possibly at pay stations in the street or shops too). There is no time limit, so I keep mine and use it whenever I am in London. It works on buses and tubes and some regular trains too. You just swipe it on the round oyster sign by the turnstiles or on the buses by the driver. It's probably the cheapest and most convenient way to pay for travel in London. As a student you can probably get a special rate.

 

I also bought a pay as you go mobile phone - same principal It cost me £25 or about $50 for the actual phone. You pay for talk time separately. You get a top up card and when you need more time, you give your card to the assistant (either in a mobile phone shop or in a newsagents) who swipes it to register your phone on the network and add the money. It saves you going into rental agreements for just a few months and is cheaper than using your foreign phone.

 

With a student card, you can also get really cheap theatre tickets an hour before curtain up. Usually top price tickets for £15 or thereabouts.

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Other dance classes in London include Central Nights at the Central School of Ballet.

 

If you book in advance at Sadler's Wells, student tickets are 8 pounds.

 

The Royal Opera House also has a student scheme. You sign up in advance, and for shows that have many seats left, they send out emails and texts a few days in advance, and you can book up to two tickets for any available seats for 10 pounds each.

 

My student budget is wearing thin... but I live in Oxford, so the travel costs are less. I still cycle or walk everywhere (for the most part), and if I'm careful about buying food and preparing it at home, etc., things are quite doable.

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Thank you all for your replies, I'm waiting for more small tips, I'm collecting them on my information notebook now=)

 

Now, my biggest concern is about accommodation. Because as you recommend, I searched about the halls and found out that their prices are more than Erasmus's monthly payment. I've found other options like International Student Houses; quad rooms are very affordable there. And some other friend recommended "host" option but it freaks me out a little. Every house has different rules; I would die if I offend my hosts by doing something perfectly normal to me (like washing my clothes once every 2-3 days, going to bed at 4 a.m, watching TV late at night etc.) so it's out of question for me =// Is renting a "room" (not a whole house/flat) better than staying in quad rooms in terms of price?

 

I'm using Vodafone here. I will buy a Vodafone UK SIM from there, because my family and my fiancé are also using Vodafone. I don't think that cell phone would be a problem for me.

 

I'm good at cooking but I will need a kitchen facility in wherever I stay. And as far as I read in the information sections no place has a kitchen facility except than mini fridges =( What can I do about it?

 

And most importantly, why is internet connection that expensive in the UK?? It really surprised me because even in Turkey most of the dorms has either free or really affordable DSL connection; but I read that most of the accommodations has expensive dial-up connection :shrug: How were/are you handling your internet needs?

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I would assume that all halls of residences have kitchen facilities, I would not worry about it. The mini-fridge would be in your room, but you share the kitchen with other flat/house mates.

 

I am sure you will be able to use the Internet (for free) at your university. For domestic use, you will have to sign a contract. Yes, it is much more expensive than in other countries, but you might want to share a contract with your house mates (e.g. wireless connection)

 

There are also plenty of internet cafes, which charge usually 1 GBP/hour

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London sounds easier. Portugal sounds...wonderful! All right, in all fairness, London has tons of perks to it, like the Royal Ballet, the academies, the history everywhere you look, and clotted cream from the countryside in abundance. But I was ever so briefly in Portugal and didn't want to leave. It was so beautiful and temperate and...words quite fail me. I just loved it there! I don't know how it is to really live there, but perhaps someone else here has done so.

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My oldest daughter spent a summer (3 mos) in London a few years ago, and it was a wonderful experience. Housing was, as you've discovered, the biggest issue/expense. She and her boyfriend ended up renting a small flat outside of London and then took the train in every day. The rent was lower but the transportation costs higher, but in this case, it worked out very well for them. For food, she shopped almost exclusively at the farmers' markets and they cooked at home (he was also going to chef's school, so he brought home a lot of delicious food :)) Another money saver was the pay as you go Vodaphone. You don't pay for incoming calls in England, so she would call me and then I would call back on my cellphone which had a decent international rate. Although they had a laptop with a wireless card, Internet access was not available at the flat. In the city, there were lots of internet cafes so she sent the occasional email. We communicated more by phone than anything else, though. When I visited her, my first time in London, I couldn't get over what a diverse city it was. I loved it! My DD just decided to go to SUNY next year, and I am secretly hoping that she will take advantage of their London exchange program so I have an excuse to go back!

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that she will take advantage of their London exchange program so I have an excuse to go back!

 

You mean with LCDS at the Place? :):thumbsup:

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:blink:

 

Well, I was losing my hope about London because the more I calculated, the more I got desperate and yesterday, finally, I decided to apply only to Portugal (especially after seeing individual halls' prices and photos! :thumbsup: ) and I've even searched for ballet studios (found nothing) and ballet theaters in Portugal (found a theater in Braga, but it's focused on music concerts I guess(as far as I can understand Portuguese)) and with the comments of the insidesoloist, I now want Portugal option more.

 

However... This morning I was explaining my mother what Erasmus is and where I can go with that program etc. she just looked very surprised and said "are you crazy? if you are able to go to London, then go to London, we'll of course support you!" and I'm now pretty much confused. Words aren't enough to tell this confusion; because I'm totally freaked out about London but it's totally better for me because (if I have enough money) I can attend ballet classes there and see ballet performances of famous companies. Maybe I'm exaggerating this whole "expensiveness" thingy, maybe I'm not; but I can do a pro-con list: I know that I'll be perfectly comfortable in Portugal but I won't understand much of the courses (they are all in portuguese) and I won't have enough of ballet. In London, I'll be severely uncomfortable, because I will have to work at the same time, and I'll be stressed thinking about money all the time but I will have English courses, I will have enough of ballet (maybe I won't, because maybe I will have to work all the time? I don't know) and if I happen to save enough money I can be fitted for a pair of pointe shoes for the first time in my entire life and maybe I'll find my perfect shoe to order online later on.

 

:thumbsup: I need to decide soon.

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