For this series of blog posts, we’ve decided to show some of the different areas that students in England will be living in when they study abroad. In this first Snapshot of London, I went out to Stratford in east London to spend a day getting to know the area.
In London, less and less student accommodations will be centrally located in Zone 1, as property prices soar in the capital. Luckily, there are amazing accommodations such as Angel Lane in Stratford, only a short distance away from the city centre, yet with just as many wonderful amenities as there are offered to students in Zone 1. Not only is Stratford home to the expansive Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where the 2012 Summer Olympics were held, but it also boasts one of the largest shopping centres in all of Europe!
I myself had never visited Stratford before, but by the end of the day I was amazed by how much there was going on out there. Keep reading – I’ll walk you through everything I saw and did on my day in Stratford!
STOP #1: Stratford Tube Station
Although Stratford looks quite far away from central London if you’re looking at a map, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly you can get there! I started out from my home in Clapham in south west London, and it was only about a 35 minute trek, so if you’re coming from central London, it would only be a 15 minute journey at most. Not bad! Outside of the station, there’s the Stratford Centre, a shopping centre (not to be confused with the Westfield) with markets, a theatre, and other necessities.
STOP #2: Angel Lane Student Accommodations (Unite Students)
Only a 5 minute walk away from the Stratford Tube station lies the Angel Lane Student Accommodation, which currently houses students from King’s College London. Immediately upon entry, I was taken aback by how spacious and well designed the hall was. I was taken on a tour of the premises by a lovely staff member named Joshua, and as a previous KCL student who did not live in Angel Lane, I couldn’t help but gawk.
The common rooms at Angel Lane, which are available for students to rent out, had games, a huge widescreen TV, and lots of couches for students to spread out and chat on. The central courtyard was expansive, and the outdoor terraces were filled with deck chairs to catch the fleeting rays of London’s sun, as well as tons of flowers and plants scattered around. It almost looked like a hotel! There’s a rooftop study room located on the 10th floor available for all students to come and study in, with an amazing view of Central London, the O2 Arena and surrounding Stratford. I’m not sure I would get much work done in that room with such a view!
Other amenities included a laundry room with an additional app that lets students know when their laundry is ready, rather than having to come downstairs and check themselves, as well as a huge bike storage room. I was told this room would be half converted into a private gym within the next year. Downstairs there are huge notice boards with information about KCL and maps showing exactly how to get to each one of King’s London campuses, demonstrating that it’s not all that far of a journey at all! I thought these boards must be immensely helpful to students. Finally, the rooms themselves looked new, and had tons of storage space for students to keep all of their belongings in. In the kitchens, each student has their own cupboard and personal space in the communal refrigerators. There was a lot of window space as well, which I particularly liked. All in all, I would say that Angel Lane is an incredible place to live, but don’t take my word for it! Here’s a quote from current KCL student Katie on her experience there:
My experience at Angel Lane has been nothing short from amazing! It is a 5 minute walk from the tube, the Westfield Mall, groceries stores, and a movie theater! I share a hotel-like flat with 9 others, but enjoy the privacy of a single room with a double bed, plenty of storage, and my own bathroom! The facilities are clean, there are common areas for hanging with mates, and the study room on the top floor has a view of Central London!
– Katie Qualman, KCL student
STOP #3: Westfield Shopping Centre
Although I live next to a huge mall back in California, I had almost forgotten what they looked like until I stepped onto the seemingly endless grounds of the Westfield Shopping Centre, next to the Stratford Tube Station. Turns out, as one of the largest shopping centres in all of Europe, the Westfield Centre has almost every store you could ever dream of shopping at! Since big shopping malls are quite rare and hard to find in central London, it was fun to have a look around Westfield. If you’re ever in need of shoes or a break from Oxford Street, you know where to go! Just don’t get lost in there.
STOP #4: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
I had never been able to visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park before doing research for this post, and I’m so glad I finally got to go, because it was so impressive! There’s simply so much land and so many different arenas and facilities to explore at the Park that I couldn’t get to all of them, but here’s the ones I did get the chance to see.
When I first entered the Olympic Park, I walked past the London Aquatics Centre, where you can get a membership to swim at their Olympic pool, along with the likes of bronze medalist Olympic diver Tom Daley. From there, I saw the enormous London Stadium, which hosts a variety of sporting events, and most notably, is home to the West Ham United F. C. football team. Next to the London Stadium is the impressive ArcelorMittal Orbit (try saying that three times fast!), an observation deck with some of the best views of London, and it’s also the tallest sculpture in the UK. For the brave of heart, there’s a giant slide you can ride down once you get to the top!
From there, I wandered up through the park to the Copper Box Arena, another Olympic venue with an amazing gym, and then to the Wetlands Walk, a scenic and peaceful area of gardens and ponds that are perfect for an afternoon stroll.
There was a ton more ground to cover, but I believe I got a good grasp of most everything the Olympic Park had to offer while I was there. I imagine it would be such a lovely bonus to have these extensive grounds right down the road, so I think the residents of Angel Lane are quite lucky!
STOP #5: Hackney Wick
Finally, after finishing up with my tour of Stratford, I wondered over to Hackney Wick, which is just on the other side of the River Lea from the Olympic Park. Hackney Wick is known for being a bit more edgy, artsy, and a fun place to go out. There’s a ton of awesome graffiti around, as well as quirky cafes such as the one I saw below. It’s nice to have another interesting area so close to Stratford that’s not quite all the way in central London, and I hope to be able to explore more of Hackney Wick in the future.
Thanks for tagging along on the recap of my day out in Stratford! We’ll work on getting more Snapshots of London out to you soon. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about Stratford or student accommodation in London.