Pune To LSE: Navigating London And Learning Each Moment

Pune To LSE: Navigating London And Learning Each Moment

My journey from Pune to London has been an adventurous and fascinating experience.

Satyam SuranaUpdated: Monday, May 27, 2024, 03:30 PM IST
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Satyam Surana |

My journey from Pune to a new part of the world was an adventurous and fascinating yet challenging experience. The biggest shift that I had to make for myself was adapting to the public transport system & new food habits. Both of which were quite difficult yet exciting. A person like me who constantly relied on fresh home-cooked food, timely meals, and using scooters or cars to commute even a short distance has now transformed into one who would walk the city, take busses or metros and be happy to have meals at any hour of the day.

Inspiration to choose the UK 

The UK has always been a hub for advanced learning. Especially for London and in a field like Law, not only India but some of the global legal legends & reformists have been crafted here. The LSE is one of the top-ranking global institutes where legends like Dr. Ambedkar have been shaped. For Law, LSE is and has ever been on the list of top 10 ranking universities across the globe. This is also why, particularly I have always put LSE at the top of my lists ever since. I was fortunate enough to have gotten an offer on my first attempt and to be able to learn at this great academic space. 

University Experience and UK Education system 

Talking about my experience in LSE. I indeed received a warm welcome. Being amongst a group of bright young minds from almost every part of the globe, sharing a space with some of the greatest academics in the field, and getting an opportunity to interact, exchange thoughts, and learn from this diverse, intelligent, and notable set of individuals around you is indeed a blessing. What feels more satisfying is that you are representing your motherland India, in such a dynamic group of people. Today when India is achieving milestones in geo-politics and world economy, and leading the world towards peace and success, the perception of the world 

towards us Indians has also indeed changed for the better. It gets highlighted when you step into a new nation, new to the land, and are welcomed with utmost courtesy, dignity, and friendliness from the people around you in a global city like London.

But It was challenging to get used to the education system here. It is a very different type of learning than what we are used to back home. The most important difference that I may point out is that academic learning is a two-way process between the faculty & students in the true sense here. The faculty is often open to learning from students as well. The focus is on learning and gaining knowledge for self-growth and understanding, rather than mere exams. What caught my mind was the concept of seminar-based learning with a very small size of class capped at 30 students and not ‘lecture’ based learning. Every seminar is a full-fledged interactive session between the teacher and the student with loads of academic & intellectual discussion and at times debates. We need to level up ourselves when it comes to the education system, education policy, decolonisation of education, and the way we look at academic examinations.

Highlights of my journey so far 

My entire journey is full of highlights. Every new day is a new experience, exploration, and realisation. At times, it feels like you are living the SRK Bollywood Dream when walking through the streets of London and there are times when you are sitting in a pool of academia surrounded by possible future world change makers & researchers. There are times when you feel like you are no less than a master chef and there are times when you satisfy yourself by saying ‘Beggars can't be choosers’. The best highlights from my time here in the UK though would not be my academic journey, but my wanderlust travel that has prompted me to explore. Having visited more than 10 British towns and tourist spots and more than 3 other countries in Europe and around, I am often questioned as to whether I’ve gone for studying or traveling around. There's much left to explore, though which I endeavour to tick off my bucket list in the next couple of months after my exams now. But all I want to say to international students like me is – Make the most of it! Travel & explore as much as possible; this is the only chance you’ll get until the near future.

Now let me tell you about the place I stay. I stay in the heart of London. Zone-1, just opposite Great Britains' busiest train station, from where almost every part of the city is a matter on one London underground tube journey. A locality with the infrastructure of Koregaon Park Pune or BKC in Mumbai, with the walkability of London, & of course the ever-unpredictable and slippery British weather. It may next the next minute. So never step out without an umbrella or raincoat. Also, carry your sunglasses and a sweater just in case there is a bright sun or a swirly breeze within the next few minutes. But, Trust me when I say it….Staying in Zone 1 of London is one of the best experiences of a lifetime!! Don’t miss an opportunity if you get one.

It has now been almost nine months since I have been staying here. There's a lot to learn and discover always every day. One thing that is most important to realise soon is that – Human Mind and the human heart are the same – everywhere. You are good, and people are good to you. You give respect, you get respect. Your perspective shapes your experience. Live to the fullest and keep yourself your priority no. 1. Another thing that I would appreciate & attribute to the city of London is its reliance on its equally efficient public transport system. Even a billionaire is comfortable travelling by bus or tube and makes no fuss about it. This one aspect of urban life and infrastructure here has an impact on multiple other aspects ranging from road traffic to parking to pollution! High time We need to get positive learning from here in both aspects – infrastructure, town planning as well as individual mentality & mindset.

Homesickness & challenges of staying in the UK

Indeed, there is a point where homesickness gets hold of everyone. For me, fortunately or unfortunately, it was just my first day here, when I experienced a taste of it. Since then, till today, homesickness has been limited to mealtimes without fail though. Keeping in touch with as many people as possible regularly is the key to keeping your spirit high.

Now talking about the challenges and accommodation part, which is crucial in every international student's life. I stay in accommodation provided to me by the university so that is not a problem at all. With regards to food, there is ample availability of reasonable options for catering in London as well as other cities in the UK. There are indeed multiple food joints and Indian restaurants in operation here. Household food delivery services and tiffin services run by Indian households are life savours for students in times when they cannot afford the time and effort to cook. For a person who wants to self-cook food, here in London, there is the availability of almost everything we get back in India, right from spices to fresh vegetables. So, if you are willing to research well, know the local Indian store, and adjust to some variations, food, and accommodation should never be a problem, at least for Indians, owing to globalisation & the worldwide fascination and demand for Indian food and cuisine.

Now managing living costs and lifestyle expenses, the key to striking this balance for me is accounting and budgeting. Though, with the grace of god, I am blessed with generous parents who are willing & ready to fund my needs, I make it a point to ensure I don’t overspend or underestimate the value of money. After all, each pound I spend here bills me 105 Rupees back home. Budgeting can be a bit difficult in the in initial days, but it is strongly recommended to keep some amount reserved for your initial settling expenses & one-off purchases. Once you have made yourself comfortable & settled, it is advised to keep track of expenses. Another thing that helped was the comparative pricing of the same items amongst stores because here there is no concept of MRP. Last thing – Always carry your student ID, there are student discounts everywhere. Every store, chain, or brand has special student discounts on their apps. Even for daily travel & commutation, there are special cards & prices for students. If you are in the UK, make sure you get a railcard if you are aged between 18-25 which gives you a flat 33% discount. Link the railcard to other travel cards for similar savings. Get memberships, collect points, collect stamps, and redeem them. Apps like Student Beans & unidays have ample attractive discounts all over.

The author is currently pursuing LLM (Master of Laws) at The London School of Economics, Political Science, London

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