September is fast approaching, which means BIMM Institute London Freshers’ Week is just around the corner! It’s time to plan for your first few weeks in the Big Smoke. BIMM Institute London graduate Marnie Burt has written a handy guide for exploring the best bits this city offers for new students (Ikea day trips and awkward flat viewings aside).
First things first: get yourself an Oyster card. These will help you travel across London on trains and buses with relative ease. Buy one from most stations in Greater London and top up your credit online or using ticket machines. If you’re over 18 and studying full-time, apply for a Student Oyster Photocard to get a 30% discount on your journeys. You can also use contactless credit and debit cards to tap in and out of train stations and buses.
When you find yourself with a lengthy break in your timetable, avoid the temptation to head straight for Spoons. Nandos, Taco Bell and Whole Foods Market are other popular and budget-friendly choices amongst students. A local hidden gem is the Cherry On Top café, serving delicious breakfast and lunch staples and boasting an outside seating area for when the weather holds.
Elsewhere in London, you’ll find fantastic food markets. Borough Market near London Bridge is heaven for foodies who like their produce fresh, and Tooting Market is full to bursting with delicious street food from all over the globe.
The local Wetherspoons *does* get an honourable mention here for the student-friendly prices of their drinks, but there are a thousand more exciting places in London to settle in with a few friends for the evening.
Fulham Beach is a fun bar with sand for flooring and a (very good) resident magician. Simmons Bar brings the vibes with its neon mood lighting, and The Wellington is as cosy as it gets, with the bonus of live music on Thursdays – courtesy of many a BIMM student!
There’s never a dull moment in West London’s music scene. The biggest venues in West London are the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Eventim Apollo, both amazing venues that host some of the best artists around.
You’ll often find yourself at Under The Bridge and Half Moon Putney. These are bigger venues that sometimes hold BIMM showcases, so look out for these names on the gig posters plastered around the college!
Culture spots in London are plenty. South Bank (near Waterloo) is known for its buskers and the Tate art gallery. Head towards Chelsea for the V&A and the Science Museum. Or, venture to Shoreditch for pop-up events and independent creative spaces.
Nature! There’s a surprising amount of it in London. Flocks of friendly green parakeets live in certain areas of Hyde Park – hold up an apple cut in half, and they’ll sit on your hand to snack on it. Legend has it that Jimi Hendrix introduced these birds to London, but this is yet to be confirmed.
Richmond Park in South West London is a glorious expanse of green, mainly overrun by pedestrians and deer, but cyclists are welcome too. Hampstead Heath is the summer spot of choice, with natural ponds available to swim in and stunning views over London’s skyline. If you’re looking for something more local, Eel Brook Common just off Effie Road is a pleasant place for a lunchtime stroll.
STUDIOS & PRACTICE ROOMS
BIMM partners with Pirate Studios (in Earlsfield), which allows students discounted bookings for studio and practice spaces. You’re likely to be making use of this, as BIMM’s own practice rooms are few and get snapped up very quickly, especially in assessment seasons.
Matrix Studios are near Parsons Green (although these rooms are only available to rent monthly), and Ritz Rehearsal Studio in Putney have fantastic facilities too.
The real muso spot, though – the one that you came here to bask in the glory of – is Abbey Road Studios in St. John’s Wood. I don’t need to explain its legendary status! Just know that a few fortunate BIMM students have had the opportunity to record here in recent years… Could you be next?
Check out more about this amazing city on our Life in London page.