On Living in London…
I suppose first I should establish a little bit more about me. I’m not from London originally. I won’t say exactly where I’m from as to anyone who may read this who I know, it’s going to give the game away pretty quickly, but it’s not London, and so obviously doesn’t have all the wonderful perks of living in London.
Obviously I first moved here about 3 years ago after getting accepted to study, and have been in love with the place ever since. I love having all that culture, all those shops, restaurants, bars and clubs right on my doorstep. Being able to go out to a bar and get drunk and then just jump on the night bus home. Ok, there are some unsavoury sorts on the night buses, but it’s still preferable in my opinion, than trying get a cab home at midnight because the pubs have closed and the last bus went an hour earlier!
I love that I can jump on the tube and in less than 30 mins be sitting in a restaurant in Soho before going to the theatre. It’s just wonderful
The big problem I have with London is the cost, and this is something that continuously frustrates me about being a med student. I’m not from a well off background. I’m by no means poor, but I can’t go out and buy all of the at a glance medical text books for instance, and put them on credit card for daddy to pay off, like so many of my fellow students do. The thing is med school is bloody expensive. Even if you manage (somehow) to get most of your text books from the library (fat chance here at Kings!), and get the cheapest equipment you can get, it’s still much more expensive than other degrees. And unlike other subjects you don’t really have time for a part time or summer job. I have friends who did bar work and the like when they studied, but you don’t have the time for that at Med School, so if you don’t have a parent bank rolling you, then what do you do? Scrimp and save, cut corners, sneak onto trains without paying and hide in the toilet to avoid ticket inspectors, walk everywhere because transport is bloody expensive and often an unnecessary cost, and then suddenly it’s time to pay rent and BAM! that’s another £600 from your bank account. I’ll freely (admittedly only because this is quasi-anonymous) that I have…done things I’m not that proud of to pay my way. God I’m not a prostitute (although seeing what you can earn it’s a possibility!), but I will admit that I have escorted since I’ve been here. Perhaps it’s because I’m reasonably attractive (by all accounts), and reasonably smart and educated, but I’ve been ok at doing it, and it’s helped boost the coffers at times of need.
But I find the fact I have done this (and know of at least 2 of my fellow students who also have) incredibly depressing. Dear god I don’t think we should get special treatment – there is enough of that for med students as it is! – but I or no-one should have to do things like that from necessity. Perhaps I’m getting my political hat on here, but how can you justify charging several grand a month for a small flat in South London, and that’s south London without much of a tube or train network! The housing system in London needs to change, and quickly as it is unsustainable, and will only result in studying here becoming something for the elite (financially, not academically) and that’s fundamentally wrong. Rent caps are the only real answer. It’s irrelevant that I am a student. I have friends here who work and struggle to rub two pennies together come the 20th of the month despite being in a full time job earning over £20kpa and not wasting cash. It’s frankly obscene.
I guess this takes me back to something a friend said to me not long after moving to London. If you can afford to live in London, you can’t afford to LIVE in London. It couldn’t be more true.