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G'day London!

Posted by Vipul on 22 August 2008

It's surreal. I'm finally in London! And right in the centre of it all! London Business School gives me easy access to the following famous landmarks:

Walking Distance:

    * The (fictional) home of Sherlock Holmes on Baker Street
    * Madam Tussaud's
    * Lords Cricket Ground
    * London Zoo
    * Paddington Station (Paddington Bear? Harry Potter?)
    * Marylebone Station (yay for Monopoly!)
    * Regent's Park (of course!)
    * The (non-fictional) residences of Sir Paul McCartney and Kate Moss - not that I'm a celeb stalker.

5-10 mins on the Underground:

    * Buckingham Palace
    * Westminster Abbey
    * Hyde Park
    * Bond Street
    * London Bridge

Now that I've found a place to stay, I have time on my hands. Perhaps I'll walk around and check out some of these places, about which I've been hearing since the days of nursery rhymes!

Besides famous places ... I've been enjoying warm beer, £3 meal-deals, and Peruvian cuisine (mmmm Ceviche and Cusqena!!! *drools over keyboard*). I've been exploring the underground system and will make sure I ride a red double-decker bus today.

Next week is orientation ... and the weekend is a long one. I already have tickets to a concert (to celebrate the fact that London got the 2012 Olympics) and plans to visit the Nottinghill Festival! ... London will be fun!

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Some tips, tricks and warnings:

  • If you are an overseas student, chances are you will be asked to get a chest X-ray done at Immigration in Heathrow. It took me 10 mins. There was no queue. For me, it was less trouble than dealing with New Delhi traffic to get an X-ray done before leaving Delhi.
  • Carry your university offer letter with you in your hand baggage. Immigration officials at Delhi and at Heathrow demanded it. (I was not carrying it, but they let me through after I made an innocent face and pleaded with them).
  • Carry at least £3000 in travellers cheques (or cash - though that might be risky). You will need ready access to cash when signing a lease on an apartment. You will typically be asked for 6-weeks rent as deposit (refundable) and 3-months rent upfront (non-refundable). Rents, as of August 2008, within walking distance of the school range from £180 to £300 per week per head.
  • To travel from Heathrow to Central London, Dot2Dot is a good coach service. They have a counter in the arrivals hall at Heathrow (its near the car rental counters in Terminal 4. Pretty sure that other terminals will have a counter too). Check out: http://www.dot2.com
  • Go to the Flat Hunters' Pub Crawl!! Its a great way to meet class mates, make new friends and find flat mates! See: http://londonpubcrawl.blogspot.com/
  • It can takes weeks to open a bank account. So come prepared! Make sure your overseas credit card will work in the UK. Make sure you have ATM access to your overseas bank account. Make sure you have enough cash readily accessible. My Australian credit cards DO NOT work when buying something on-line or over the phone in the UK. They do work in shops. My Australian ATM card works fine.
  • Oh, and, even though cars drive on the left, pedestrians seem to like walking on the right here (unlike in Australia or in Asia!). So stick to the right on footpaths and escalators!

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