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Setting up: where to buy the essentials

Food shopping 

Supermarkets vary in price but some of the cheapest are Asda, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Marks & Spencer and Waitrose tend to be more expensive.

It’s also worth checking out independent stores outside of central London, as they can often offer good quality produce at better prices.

As an alternative to chains, you can try the People’s Supermarket on Lamb’s Conduit Street, not far from the School, which is a food co-operative that supports local produce wherever possible. Anyone can shop there, but full members receive a discount in exchange for a few hours’ work per month and a small membership fee.

Homeware

For reasonably priced homewares (pots & pans, sheets, towels, toaster etc.) for your accommodation, we suggest you try the following place near the School:

  • Robert Dyas for electrical equipment
  • Primark for good homeware at low prices
  • Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, John Lewis and other department stores
  • Tiger for an array of cheap but fashionable household goods

Outside the city centre, stores like IKEA, B&Q and Homebase sell a huge range of home furnishings, rugs and plants. Poundland and 99p Stores offer a variety of products for £1 or less.

Remember: many high street shops offer a discount (usually 10%) when you show your student ID card.

Clothes

The School is situated 10 minutes’ walk from Oxford Street and Regent Street, the main shopping streets in London where you will find all the chain stores such as Topshop/Topman, H&M, Dorothy Perkins and Primark as well as large department stores like Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Debenhams, House of Fraser and Selfridges. The School is also close to Covent Garden, which is a clothes shopper’s haven with plenty of stores along Neal Street, Long Acre and surrounding roads.

Remember: many high street shops offer a discount (usually 10%) when you show your student ID card.

Stationery

There are several branches of Rymans close to the School, which offer a student discount on presentation of a valid student ID card. Paperchase sells attractive, though more expensive, stationery as well as a big range of greetings cards and art materials. Tiger also sells some very reasonably priced stationery.

Books

There is a large Waterstones just around the corner from the School on Gower Street and another on Tottenham Court Road. Otherwise, you may want to look at online book providers such as Amazon or Abe Books, which sells books second-hand.

Pharmacies

The main pharmacy chains in London are Boots and Superdrug. Pharmacists can also offer basic medical advice for small problems. Smaller independent pharmacies (or chemists, as they are usually known in the UK) can be found in shopping streets outside the centre of London.

Charity shops

Charity shops are often a great place to buy cheaper second hand items such as clothes, homeware and books. There are some located near the School on Goodge Street and there is an Oxfam bookshop on Bloomsbury Street.

Gyms

There are several gyms to choose from near the School including those at Student Central, International Students House and the YMCA on Great Russell Street. There are also several privately-run chains nearby such as Fitness First and Nuffield Health, though memberships for those tend to be more expensive. Other chains like PureGym and The Gym Group offer cheaper and pay as you go deals.

Many less expensive gyms are run in partnership with the local council so you should search the local council website for the area where you live. The Oasis Sports Centre is one such gym close to the School.

Sport societies

There are many sports societies you can join through Student Central including football, athletics, basketball, rugby, netball, cricket, volleyball, squash, badminton, lacrosse, hockey and ice hockey. There is also the opportunity to compete in national competitions and the Student Central-organised leagues.

Clubs & societies

Student Central offers the opportunity to try a huge range of activities through its many clubs and societies, such as art, drama, music and debate.

Post Office

If you are sending mail abroad then you should check costs on the Post Office website to ensure you are using the correct postage stamps. If you are sending a package, then it is usually cheapest to visit the Post Office. The nearest branch to the School is on High Holborn.

Mobile (cell) phones

There are several stores specialising in mobile phones, often competing with each other to offer the best deals so make sure you shop around. The main phone networks (EE, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Three, Vodaphone) all have stores around London. Carphone Warehouse also sells phones across a range of networks.

For each network, you have the following options:

Contract phone

  • Minutes, texts and data included
  • The phone is usually a cheaper initial cost
  • Monthly bill
  • Committed to at least a year’s contract
  • You will need to have a bank account where you can pay by direct debit

Pay-as-you-go phone

  • You pay for minutes, texts and data you use though sometimes these are included in certain deals
  • Phone is usually a greater initial cost
  • You top up your phone with money when needed
  • Not usually a commitment

SIM only

You buy the SIM card to put in an existing phone or buy a phone separately. Other companies such as GiffGaff and Mobilephonesdirect offer competitive SIM-only deals.