International students: getting started in the UK

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Starting university can be a daunting experience for anyone, especially if you’re an international student who has travelled across the world to study here in the UK. Not only is the whole student experience new, but so is the country, the language and the lifestyle. So, if you’re an international student and have just arrived in the UK, here are a few things to help get you started with living here.

Staying connected
Now that you’ve arrived in the UK, you’ll probably want to let your family and friends know how you’re getting on and that you’re settling in ok. But can you use your mobile phone to contact them? If you have a mobile phone, then yes, it is likely that it will still work in the UK. However, if you use your current international mobile service provider in the UK, there will be extremely high call and message charges when contacting home and even ringing local numbers.

So, if you’re staying in the UK for a long period of time, you’ll probably want to purchase a UK SIM for everyday use. But if you want to make international calls, you might find it cheaper to use a provider such as LycaMobile or RebTel as they offer low-cost international calls.

And remember, at The Curve, we offer free internet and Wi-Fi in all rooms and throughout the building, so you can make free calls and video calls via apps such as Skype, Whatsapp and FaceTime.

Opening a UK bank account
If you are staying in the UK for a long period of time, it’s worth setting up a UK bank account. Having a UK bank account will make it easier for you to pay any bills, help keep your money safe and it will also mean you’ll avoid having to pay any foreign currency charges.

There are lots of banks in the UK that you can open an account with including HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest, Santander, Halifax and Barclays. To open an account, you will need appropriate identification and documentation. Click here for more information about UK bank accounts.

Registering with a doctor
When you arrive in the UK you should register with a doctor at a surgery or health centre in your local area as soon as possible; don’t leave it until you are unwell to register. The local doctor – also known as a ‘GP’ (General Practitioner), will be your first point of contact if you are ill and require medical treatment. See these lists of local doctors in England.

Once you have registered, and have been added as a patient on the NHS (National Health Service) list, you’ll be able to access medical care free of charge.

Travelling in the city
Travelling in a new country can be daunting. But the UK is well connected and offers various forms of transport, which makes getting about quick and easy.

For shorter journeys, you can travel by road in a taxi. Taxis are a convenient way to get from A to B, such as from a train station to The Curve, or back to The Curve after a night out.

To get around London you can travel by bike, bus or the Underground. A lot of roads in the city have dedicated cycle lanes or special cycle routes so you can ride your bike safely.

Travelling by bus is often one of the cheapest ways to travel around your local area. You will find bus stops located in various places around the city centre, with many universities having dedicated bus stops and bus services running to the university campuses.

But as a student living in London, you’ll more than likely use the London Underground rail network (or The Tube as it is also known). The tube is a quick and easy way to travel in and around London. You can pay to travel on the tube by buying a ticket or buying an Oyster card which you top up with money. If you’re a student studying in London, you can apply for an 18+ student Oyster card which gives you 30% discount.

Eating and drinking
In some countries, it might not be safe to do so, but in the UK, it is safe to drink the water from the taps. However, if you prefer not to drink the tap water, bottled water is readily available from all supermarkets, cafes and coffee shops.

In the UK, you’ll find a variety of large, 24 hour supermarkets to shop in. Some of the main UK supermarket chains include Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s Aldi, Lidl, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. In London, you’re more likely to find these supermarket chains as smaller, more convenient, express stores which offer extended opening hours and are conveniently located on street corners and busy high streets.

Many of the supermarkets have aisles dedicated to international cuisine, where you can find foods and ingredients that you are familiar with back home.

But if you want to try some traditional British dishes, fish and chips, sausages and mash, a full English breakfast, a Sunday roast and afternoon tea are favourites in the UK.

If you’re looking for student accommodation in London for 2017/18, stay with us here at The Curve. Contact us on +44 (0)20 7377 5372 or email us at thecurve@host-students.com for more information about our stylish en-suite rooms and studios and our comfortable and spacious communal areas.

Top 5 events and activities in London this summer

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Summer has finally arrived in London! And with so many activities and events going on in and around London, we’ve created a top 5 list of things to do; providing you with a quick snapshot of some of the best places to be this summer.

1. Notting Hill Carnival
Get yourself ready for Notting Hill Carnival – London’s biggest street party! The carnival takes place every year, bringing the streets of Notting Hill alive. As always, the carnival will take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend which falls on 26th, 27th and 28th August this year.

The carnival is famous for its elaborate floats and colourful costumed performers, who wind their way through the streets to the sound of steel bands and traditional Caribbean music – it’s definitely an experience not to be missed. With a real carnival feel, join in the fun by dancing and laughing the day away. And when you need a break, there are lots of food stalls serving traditional Caribbean food to keep your energy levels high all day long.

Located in West London, Notting Hill is easily accessible via London transport, and the best part about the carnival? It’s completely free to attend!

2. Underbelly Festival on the Southbank
Located in the heart of London on the Southbank, the Underbelly Festival started at the end of April and runs all the way through until the 30th September. Underbelly Festival brings together the best in live circus, comedy, cabaret and family entertainment for all ages.

Sitting on the banks of the River Thames, you can take your pick of international street food to indulge in, and wash it down with a drink or two at one of London’s largest outdoor bars. Office workers, tourists, students and the like all come together to bring a relaxed and vibrant atmosphere with a true festival feel.

Underbelly Festival opens at 12pm on weekdays, 11am at weekends, and closes at 11pm Sunday – Wednesday and midnight Thursday – Saturday. The Shows are short, sharp and very sweet. And with most of the tickets available for less than £20, it’s a relatively low-cost way to stay entertained in London this summer.

3. Rooftop Film Club
Fancy watching a movie whilst taking in the panoramic views of London? Then the Rooftop Film Club is for you. It’s one of the most up and coming events in London and is expected to be in high demand – so don’t miss this unique opportunity!

With a choice of four venues across the city, all showing a mix of all-time classic films and the latest blockbusters, you’re sure to find a place and film to suit you. Choose from the Bussey Building in Peckham, Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch, Roof East in Stratford or The Roof Gardens in Kensington.

With all venues serving drinks and snacks before, after and during the films, you’ll have plenty of time to grab a light refreshment and soak up some of the best views across the city. And their big screens, high quality wireless headphones and comfy seats mean you can sit back, relax and experience film like never before in these completely unique urban environments.

4. Escape Rooms
If you’re up for a challenge and want to get your brain ticking, give the unique experience of Escape Rooms a go. A real-life escape game experience based on the Japanese online game, players are locked inside a themed room, and need to work together as a team to solve a series of puzzles, riddles and hints to escape. But time won’t be on your side – you only have 60 minutes to escape!

Sounds like fun, right? You’ll be pleased to know that Escape Rooms have two venues; one in the London Bridge area and the other, Angel, in North London. With prices averaging around £20 per person, it’s a great way for you and your friends to have fun whilst bringing a bit of healthy competiveness to the day or night. Both London Bridge and the Angel have a bar and restaurant for some well-earned refreshments afterwards.

5. SW4 Festival
Going into its fourteenth year, this August will see one of the largest festivals in London return for a weekend packed with electronic music.

Showcasing the greatest DJs and live electronic artists to ever step foot on the planet, it’s one of the biggest events in London’s clubbing calendar. With acts such as Pendulum, Tinie Tempah, Eric Prydz, Sigma, Solomun Deadmau5, Knife Party, Sven Vath, Loco Dice and The Martinez Brothers, plus arena hosts which no other UK festival can match, it’s the place to be this August Bank Holiday weekend.

Set within the beautiful surroundings of Clapham Common on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th August; immerse yourself within a parallel universe where electronic music always prevails, the perfect end to an amazing summer.

So, there you have it, a snippet of just some of the big events going on this summer. So, don’t spend your days indoors, be adventurous and see what London has to offer!!

If you’re looking for student accommodation in London for 2017/18, stay with us here at The Curve. Contact us on +44 (0)20 7377 5372 or email us at thecurve@host-students.com for more information about our stylish en-suite rooms and studios and our comfortable and spacious communal areas.

Student accommodation at The Curve, London

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Whether you’re getting ready to fly the nest and leave home for the first time, or you’re heading into your final year at university, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a student (apart from choosing your university and degree of course), is where you’re going to live throughout your studies. If you’re still in need of accommodation for the coming academic year, then look no further than The Curve.

Here at The Curve, we offer student accommodation in central London that is comfortable, stylish and affordable. And what’s more, our team are on hand to provide a you with a welcoming, reassuring and stress-free experience during your stay. But that’s not all. Below are even more reasons why our students choose to live with us at The Curve…

1. All-inclusive living
As a student, the last thing on your mind will be remembering to pay the water bill or take an electricity meter reading every month. Thankfully, as a resident at The Curve, you don’t need to worry about any of your utility bills – the price you pay covers the bills and we take care of them so you don’t have to. You even get access to a 100Mb broadband internet connection in your room and Wi-Fi throughout the building included so you can stay connected and up to date with the latest news and trends!

2. Designed with you in mind
Whether you’ve been out at university all day or out on the town for the night, at the end of a busy day, come home to comfort at The Curve. Along with plenty of storage space and a comfortable bed to get some well-earned rest, all our rooms come with private en-suite bathrooms and are fitted with your own study space for when you need to focus your attention on work. And if you choose one of our studios, you’ll have your own private fully fitted kitchen to put those cooking skills to the test!

3. Ample social spaces
Need a bit more space to relax and unwind? Well, you won’t be short of places to do just that at The Curve. Choose from one of many common areas to spend your free time in and catch up with your fellow residents. Hang out in the friendly, open seating area at reception, have some fun in the games room, watch a film in the TV area, workout in the gym or work together with others in the study room.

4. Location, location, location
Nobody wants to be out in the sticks with mile upon mile to trek to get to where all the action is. Well, at The Curve, location is definitely one thing you needn’t worry about. Located in the heart of London’s famous East End, with the likes of the uber trendy Brick Lane, Shoreditch and Aldgate right on the doorstep, it’s the perfect place for students. And with Queen Mary University, Coventry University, King’s College, London Metropolitan, City University and many more all close by, you haven’t got far to travel for your studies!

If you like the sound of living with us here at The Curve, contact us on +44 (0)20 7377 5372 or email us at thecurve@host-students.com for more information about our stylish en-suite rooms and studios and our comfortable and spacious communal areas.

5 must-snap shots in London

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Cameras at the ready, it’s time to get snapping. If you’re in London, there are many weird and wonderful sights and skylines worthy of an Instagram or two. But forget Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye, everyone snaps these shots. Instead, capture some fun and quirky photographs in some of London’s famous spots…

1. Platform 9 ¾
If you’ve read the books or watched the films, you’ll know what we’re on about. Yes, Harry Potter. Re-create the iconic moment where the wizards walk through the walls between platforms 9 and 10 at King’s Cross Station. Complete with a luggage trolley embedded in the wall, you can pretend you’re setting off to start your magical journey to Hogwarts.

2. M&M’s World
It’s a bit of a strange one, but M&M’s World (yes, M&M’s) in Leicester Square has become quite the tourist attraction. Four floors and 35,000 square feet of chocolate, merchandise and more chocolate. But amongst the chocolate, are some life-size M&M’s statues. From James Bond and a Royal Guard, to the M&M’s Abbey Road, take a pose next to your favourite M&M’s and share with chocolate lovers around the world. After all, it’s not every day you get your photo taken with a life-size chocolate.

3. Abbey Road
Talking of Abbey Road, why not visit the real Abbey Road (and not just the M&M’s version)? Grab 3 friends and head to the sport where the world-famous photograph of Paul, George, John and Ringo was taken. As the four of you stand one behind another across the zebra crossing, get someone to take the photo and re-create the iconic Beatles moment.

4. Red telephone box
The red telephone box was once a common sight across the UK and a design associated with Britain, in particularly, London. But with the rise of the mobile phone, the need for the pay phones have massively decreased. So, if you do manage to spot one in the city – be sure to take a photo of the iconic British landmark, as they might not be around forever!

5. Supercars
If you’re a fan of supercars head towards luxury department store, Harrods. More often than not you’ll see shiny supercars descend upon the capital’s most lavish streets. From Lamborghinis and Ferraris to Rolls-Royces and Porches, it’s every supercar lover’s dream. How many will you spot and snap?

If you’d like to be close to the hot spots of central London, then look no further than our student accommodation at The Curve. Located in the heart of London’s East End and surrounded by the districts of Brick Lane, Shoreditch and Aldgate it’s the perfect place to be as a student. To find out more about our London student accommodation and living with us here at The Curve, please contact us today on +44 (0)20 7377 5372 or email thecurve@host-students.com.

3 places to visit on a day trip from London

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With revision and exams well underway, you can probably start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Work hard and get through these next few weeks, then you’ll be able to breath a sigh of relief and enjoy your summer. And there’s no better way to spend your free time than travelling the country.

Jump on a train from London and within no time at all you’ll find yourself in some unique and beautiful places to explore for the day. Here are just some of the top places you might like to add to your travel list…

1. Brighton
When the sun’s shining there’s only one place to go… the beach! And Brighton is a must for anyone looking for a trip to a lively seaside resort. A beautiful shingle beach for you to catch some rays, amusement arcades to relive your childhood memories and no shortage of shops, cafes and pubs to keep you entertained. Staying a little longer? Brighton is famous for its music culture, nightlife and festivals, so a night on the town is a must. Distance from London: 1 hour 15 minutes by train.

2. The New Forest
Escape the hustle and bustle of city living and relax in the tranquillity of the forest’s ancient woodland, open moors, heathland and cliff tops. Unwind with a leisurely walk amongst the beautiful scenery, or get active when you hire a bike or go horse riding through the forest. And when you’re done, refuel with a bite to eat at one of the many pubs, tea rooms or restaurants. Distance from London: 1 hour 30 minutes by train.

3. Oxford
Oxford is a city packed with historic buildings and beautiful architecture, which has led it to be nicknamed the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’.  And as a student in London, a visit to the home of one of the world’s oldest universities – The University of Oxford, and a city with academia at its core, should definitely make your travel list. Distance from London: 1 hour 30 minutes by train.

These are just a snapshot of some of the places you can easily reach from London. Other places include Southend on Sea, Cambridge, Cardiff and Portsmouth. So, the next time you have a day with nothing to do, hop on the train and see where it takes you!

If you would like to find out more about our London student accommodation and living with us here at The Curve, please contact us today on +44 (0)20 7377 5372 or email thecurve@host-students.com.

Travel for less as a student

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As a student living in London, you might not have a car with you to travel around the city. And if you do, is it really worth using it? If you’re off to lectures, meeting friends for dinner or heading out for a shopping spree, you’ll probably find it quicker and more cost effective to travel around London on foot or via public transport. And as a student, getting around doesn’t have to be costly with many discounts available to you…

18+ Student Oyster Card
One of the main transport networks across London is The London Underground (or tube). And getting around is made even easier and cheaper if you have an Oyster card. The Oyster card is a re-usable plastic card – the same size as a debit or credit card, which you can load money onto and simply swipe to get in and out of tube stations. Alternatively, you can purchase a monthly or weekly travel card and this will be added onto your Oyster card. But did you know as a student you can get 30% off the price of adult-rate Travelcards? All you need to do is apply for an 18+ Student Oyster photocard.

16 -25 Railcard
Whether you’re visiting family, exploring the countryside or attending a weekend festival, if you’re travelling further afield and commuting on the train, why not invest in a 16-25 Railcard? If you’re aged between 16 and 25 you can save 1/3 off rail fares, and if you’re a mature student you can apply for a discount card too. The Railcard will cost you just £30 a year, so in just a few trips the card will have easily paid for itself. Or, make even bigger savings by paying just £70 for a three year Railcard – that’s the equivalent of just £23.33 a year!

International Student Identity Card
As a student, you can even save money when you’re travelling abroad (or at home) with an International Student Identity Card (ISIC). The ISIC card is the only internationally recognised student ID card, and it gives you access to over 42,000 discounts around the world including offers on travel, shopping, accommodation, food, entertainment and transport. For just £12 a year, the ISIC card is definitely something worth considering investing in!

When staying with us at our student accommodation at The Curve in London, you won’t have far to go to travel around the city. We’re located just a few minutes’ walk away from both Whitechapel Overground station and Aldgate East Underground. If you would like to find out more about our London student accommodation and living with us here at The Curve, please contact us today on +44 (0)20 7377 5372 or email thecurve@host-students.com.

5 free ways to spend your time in London

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Being a student and living away from home can be tough at times. You have to do your own washing, cook your own food and worst of all, you’ve probably been faced with budgeting your money – after realising it doesn’t grow on trees!

So while you might not be able to go jet setting around the world or partying every night of the week, there are still lots of fun things you can do with your spare time in London – without spending a penny! And after all, they do say that some of the best things in life are free! Take a look…

Take a trip back in time
Revisit times gone by and learn about the historic events, monuments, people, mammals and much more at one of London’s free museums. You could soak up some British culture at the British Museum and the Museum of London, or spend the day with Dippy the Diplodocus and other pre-historic animals, fossils, rocks and minerals at the Natural History Museum. Learn about WW1 and WW2 at the Imperial War Museum, or get hands on with the latest developments in science and technology at the Science Museum.

Hit the shops
You might not have the money to spend right now, but there’s no harm in looking (and dreaming). Meet up with your pals and hit the shops for some luxury window shopping at the extravagant shops of Bond Street and Mayfair – who knows you might even catch a glimpse of some celebrities out on a spree!

Become a tourist
From Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament, to Buckingham Palace and The Tower Bridge, the city is full of iconic buildings and monuments you’ve probably passed many times – without really stopping to appreciate them. But these are attractions that people travel the world to see, so why not take advantage of the fact they’re right on your doorstep? Become a tourist for the day; take the time to stop and admire them – and don’t forget to snap a selfie while you’re there!

Be entertained
Head towards London’s West End and you’re sure to stumble upon the crowds enjoying the street entertainment of Covent Garden – for which it has become famous for. Street performers can be found outside at the Piazza, and here you’ll be amazed by clowns, acrobats, magicians, fire-eaters and many more acts performing. And if that’s not your cup of tea, check out the opera singers and musicians in Covent Garden.

Go green
Escape the hustle and bustle of the City and enjoy the tranquillity of one of London’s many parks. To name a few, you could enjoy a picnic in Richmond Park, go for a run around Hyde Park, watch the famous pelicans being fed in St James’s Park or play some sport in Regent’s Park.

Then, when you’re done exploring for the day, head back to The Curve to relax in the common area, watch some TV in the lounge or challenge your friends to a game of table tennis or air hockey in the games area!

If you would like to find out more about our student accommodation and living with us here at The Curve, please contact us today on +44 (0)20 7377 5372.

Festive fun in London’s Hyde Park

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December’s in full swing and Christmas is fast approaching. Shops are bustling, lights are shining and the drinks are flowing – tis’ the season to be jolly after all! But if that’s not enough to get you in the festive spirit of things, then how about a trip to one of London’s most adored winter wonderlands?

Hyde Park has been transformed into the ultimate festive destination, and 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the annual event. And this year, it’s bigger and better than ever before.

With over 100 rides and attractions for you to choose from in Hyde Park, you won’t be short of things to do. There’s a host of rollercoasters for the thrill-seekers, traditional funfair rides for some traditional fun, or games to test your skills for the competitive individuals!

When you’ve finished on the rides and games, grab some skates and hit the ice with your friends. Keep your balance and show off your skating skills on the UK’s largest open air ice rink. Set beneath a canopy or glistening lights, and with live music playing as you skate, it’s the perfect way to enjoy the winter season.

All skated-out? Why not sit back, relax and catch your breath while enjoying a festive cocktail in Bar Ice. With the walls, tables, sculptures and even the glasses glistening with ice make sure you wrap up warm for this arctic experience!

As if rollercoasters, games, ice-skating and an ice bar weren’t enough, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland offers you with so much more including Zippos Christmas Circus, Cirque Berserk, The Magical Ice Kingdom and even a Giant Observation Wheel.

Sounds great, right? What’s even better is that Hyde Park is free to enter! So, if you’d like to enjoy these wonderful festivities in London this Christmas, be sure to pay a visit before 2nd January 2017. The park will be open every day from 10am – 10pm (except Christmas Day). Find out more here.