A: Always carry your Oyster card with you. Used for riding the London Underground and public buses, an Oyster card is an essential item for all locals.
B: Buckingham Palace is beautiful, but there are other fortresses and palaces to be seen in London. My personal favorites are the Tower of London and Kensington Palace.
C: Chips are crisps and fries are chips. While this may seem basic, it’s important to remember when looking at a restaurant menu that American fries are known as chips, and American chips are called crisps here in the UK.
D: Don’t feed the birds in Hyde Park. No matter how sweet the ducks and swans appear, they shouldn’t be fed human food. You should obviously avoid feeding any wild animals, but swans are known for being aggressive towards people.
E: Eat new foods! Avoid chain restaurants if possible, and try fish and chips, curry, and shepherd's pie.
F: Food expires more quickly in the United Kingdom, as less preservatives are used in the products. I recommend making smaller grocery trips in order to avoid food waste.
G: God’s Own Junkyard is a fabulous place to visit if you’re looking for Instagram worthy photos. The warehouse is full of neon signs, giving you perfect lighting for every snap of the camera.
H: Hit the many food markets of London for a quick snack! I recommend Borough Market and Camden Market for fantastic treats and a great ambiance. This is a fantastic thing to do with friends that doesn’t waste tons of your money.
I: Instead of always spending your funds on restaurant meals, make lunch and dinner in your flat! If you’re having a tough time choosing a recipe, check out the BBC Food page.
J: Jack the Ripper walking tours are available in the city where he once roamed. This is the perfect thing to do during spooky season, but make sure you watch your back!
K: King’s Cross station is a real place! You’ll want to snap a quick picture at Platform 9 ¾ if you’re a Harry Potter fan.
L: London can be pretty expensive. Create a budget with multiple categories so you can keep track of your spending. You’ll want any extra money you have to plan trips or excursions.
M: Many museums in London are free to visit. I recommend the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate Modern.
N: Never stand on the left side of escalators. The unspoken rule is to walk on the left, stand on the right. If you are caught standing on the left, you’ll stick out.
O: O2 arena is a fantastic venue for concert lovers. Ariana Grande, Lana Del Ray, The Lumineers, The 1975, and the Jonas Brothers will all be performing there in the next 6 months.
P: Peak times for the tube are from 6:30-9:30 in the morning and 4:00-7:00 in the evening. During peak times, tube rides are more expensive and cramped. It’s the equivalent of rush hour in the United States.
Q: Queen Elizabeth II and her family members are not obsessed over in the UK. While Americans tend to be highly interested in the British royal family members and their activities, locals are not.
R: Reap the benefits of student discounts! You never know which restaurants or shops will have student deals, so always carry your student identification card with you.
S: See a West End Theatre performance. If you happen to be a musical nerd like I am, you’ll love that you can see remarkable shows without breaking the bank. Some popular titles at the moment include Waitress, The Book of Mormon, and Come From Away.
T: Tea rooms are lovely places to visit if you fancy dressing up a bit and spending a quiet afternoon with friends. All of the pastries served in tea rooms are an added bonus.
U: Umbrellas are a must-have. While it doesn’t rain here as frequently as some claim, it doesn’t hurt to have your umbrella handy on a, particularly cloudy day.
V: Very rarely will Londoners speak to one another while riding the bus or tube. If you do choose to chat, keep your volume to a minimum. Otherwise, you’ll be considered rude by your fellow passengers.
W: Walk as much as you possibly can. Though taking the tube is a quick and easy way to get around, you never know when you’ll stumble upon your new favorite restaurant or bookshop.
X: Xenitis, a mix between a common cold and the flu, can make its way around campus quickly. Make sure you’re practicing proper care habits by washing your hands often, getting necessary vaccines, and sleeping for 7-8 hours per night.
Y: You don’t need to travel all the time. While some people will visit a new country every weekend, not everyone can do this. I recommend exploring as much of your new city as possible. Studying abroad in London is a unique opportunity, so take some time to soak up British culture.
Z: Zones can be confusing at first. For example, my campus is in Zone 4, which is a fairly residential area. In Zones 1 and 2, you’ll find the most popular tourist attractions and the hustle and bustle that London’s known for. If you purchase a student Oyster card, be sure to indicate which zones you’ll be traveling between.