Welcome, England 'Dores
Welcome to the England chapter of the Vanderbilt Alumni Association. We may be 4,000 miles away from Nashville, but the Commodore spirit knows no boundaries!
Our chapter enjoys a strong and diverse delegation of supporters, including alumni, parents, and even current students who are studying abroad. Most of our chapter lives in London, which serves as our chapter’s home base.
In addition to our annual Networking Night (usually over a game of shuffleboard!) and Commodore Classroom sessions with visiting professors, we also host a variety of one-off events, including cooking classes, London walking tours, and museum nights.
Whether you’re new to England or have called it home for years, we are always keen to see alumni get involved, so please do reach out if you’re interested in attending an event, planning an event, or just to say hello. Hope to see you soon!
Where to Live
- Chelsea and Fulham – Large ex-pat communities, full of young people; surrounded by great shops and restaurants, but can be very expensive … quality over quantity.
- Clapham – Hub for young professionals commuting into the city; great nightlife and good transport links.
- South Kensington and Notting Hill – Large ex-pat communities / families combined with the artistic scene of Portobello Road; beautiful buildings and common spaces, but definitely one of the most expensive places in London.
- Angel and Islington – Perfect for young professionals commuting into the city; great nightlife, very popular in recent years.
- Farringdon and Clerkenwell – Up-and-coming neighborhood with converted warehouse buildings and unique rental properties where your money will stretch further; good restaurants and great nightlife in nearby Angel.
- Holborn and Covent Garden – As close to Central London as it gets with great access to everything; not as residential as other locations, less space for your money.
- Living by a park is key if you are a person who needs space in such a big city. ’20
- If you have the ability, try to visit the neighborhoods you consider living in before signing a rental agreement. Most of the large estate agents have accessible storefronts with walk-in visitations, so spend a Saturday checking out the local properties on offer.
- Renting property in London can seem like an expensive prospect, but there are ways to make your British pounds go farther such as renting a house-share. Large groups of friends can often live together in a five-to-six-bedroom house, or you can find an available room in an existing house-share through websites like gumtree.com and spareroom.co.uk.
- Properties closest to transport links will often be more expensive, but commuters into the city will find that proximity to the tube can make a big difference to the day.
- Rental prices can be listed in monthly or weekly rates.
- Check all the appliances when viewing properties, as you will likely find the washing machine in the kitchen … a bit strange, but very handy in a small space!
- Especially in older buildings, have a survey done of the property to ensure there are no damp issues in the walls.
- Underground – Commonly known as the Tube, the London Underground system is a convenient and safe way to get around London. tfl.gov.uk is your go-to source for information about transport and any delays or closures.
- Buses – London’s infamous red double–decker buses are a great way to see London as you travel. The Oyster Card used on the Underground can also be used on buses.
- Taxis – Black Cabs are an iconic form of London travel, and you can hail these on the street or find them in taxi ranks outside of hotels and major attractions. London taxi drivers spend three to four years learning “The Knowledge,” the exam one must pass to become a Black Cab driver, so they definitely know their way around town. You usually have to tell them where you’re going before getting in the cab, and tipping is not expected. Beware of minicabs … unofficial cab companies which can be found loitering around bars and clubs late at night.
- Cars – Cars can be an unnecessary headache in Central London, due to limited parking, expensive permits, and the Congestion Charge (a fee one must pay for driving within certain areas of Central London). If you do need to drive, however, you can only drive on your American license for six months before you will need to apply for your UK driving license.
- Bicycles – Cycling has become a popular way of getting around London, especially with the citywide bike share Santander Cycles. tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling
Things to do
Explore!!!! It is so huge and there is so much to do and see all the time. As George Bernard Shaw once said, if you are tired of London, you are tired of life. ’12
- Accomplice London – Improv theatre meets scavenger hunt, a great day out.
- Courthauld Gallery – Small intimate gallery showcasing some of the most famous impressionist works in London.
- Football – There are many London football teams, including those in the top Premier League. Saturday is the big game day, with tickets usually available for purchase at a reasonable price.
- Greenwich – South of the river, Greenwich is home to the Royal Observatory and Prime Meridian as well as the Greenwich Market.
- Kew Gardens – The Royal Botanical Gardens provide a great escape from busy city life.
- Markets – Borough Market, (London Bridge, Thurs.–Sat.) great food market; Greenwich Market (Greenwich, Sat.–Sun.) local crafts and artisans; Portobello Market (Notting Hill, Fri.–Sun.) Go early to avoid crowds, very touristy but a must-see; Spitalfields Market (Liverpool Street, Mon.–Fri. = shops only, Sunday = shops and local stalls) Fashion, antiques, furniture.
- Proms @ Royal Albert Hall – Monthlong music concert during the summer showcasing the best of British music, a very traditional English experience.
- Southbank – Southbank Centre is the largest single-run arts centre in the world and is home to performance halls, photos exhibitions, music events and the Mayor’s Thames Festival.
- West End Theatre – There are always shows on, and discount/same-day tickets are usually available.
- Parks – All of the Royal Parks have great space to run, relax, even rent a boat or go horseback riding.
- Pure Gym – Cheap monthly rates, numerous locations around town
- Fitness First – Three price tiers which give you access to different locations and services (fitness classes, swimming pools, tanning beds, etc.)
- David Lloyd – More expensive monthly rates but great facilities
- Virgin Active – The best facilities but the highest rates!
Convenient Road Trips from London
In addition to all that London has to offer, surrounding boroughs and counties provide great places to escape the city with a quick train ride.
- Bath – Two hours west of London; original Roman ruins and Roman baths, a great spa getaway.
- Bicester Village – One hour north of London; designer outlet shopping.
- Brighton – Two hours south of London; seaside town with great nightlife and unique arts district.
- Cambridge – One hour north of London; university town with beautiful buildings and quaint passages set around the historic marketplace.
- Cornwall – Three hours southwest of London; coastal villages full of locally produced food and products; ideal to rent a cottage in July or August, necessary to hire a car.
- Lake District – Three hours north of London; England’s largest national park, some of the most beautiful countryside in the country; ideal to rent a cottage in June or July, necessary to hire a car.
- Oxford – One hour west of London; university town, visit the individual colleges.
England - By the Numbers
- Alumni: 258
- Students: 0
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