words Al Woods
When it comes to higher education, a lot of students tend to move away from home when they attend university. It can be a really hard decision to choose where you want to live. It’s never easy to uproot your life, leave everything you’ve ever known behind, and begin a new journey all by yourself.
There are places in the world that are especially welcoming of students, while there are others that are not. Whether a city is ideal for students or not is ranked on certain specific criteria:
- University rankings – The quality and number of institutions in that city
- Student mix – The number of students in the city, particularly international students
- Desirability – How appealing a city is, based on things like safety and opportunities available
- Employer activity – Whether top graduate employers tend to recruit students from the city
- Affordability – Based on the cost of tuition fees and living costs
- Student view – The experiences of other students living in that city
In 2022, after examining all the criteria, the city that was determined to be the most student-friendly is London, England.
London has a lot of high-quality universities that provide students with centuries of great education. In addition to high-quality education, London is really a melting pot of diversity. It is highly desirable for students because when you walk the streets of London, you feel like you’re traveling all around the world.
There are different eateries with different ethnic cuisines on every block, boutiques and shops for anything you can possibly imagine looking for, teeming with students, tourists, restaurants, clubs, pubs, malls, arcades, museums, theaters, art galleries, and so much more. London is highly diverse and is flowing in culture, activism, politics, religion, and so on. There is no other city like it when it comes to a fully immersive experience.
London thrives in every aspect of the ranking criteria except for one, affordability. Affordability is the downfall of London when it comes to a student’s experience. London is one of the most expensive cities in the world and a lot of students who are fresh out of high school are not able to afford to live there.
Rent is egregiously expensive, transportation fees will burn a hole in your bank account, eating out in restaurants is not an option unless you can afford to spend half your paycheck on a meal with drinks, and if you want to spend $12 on one shot of cheap tequila at a club with a $20 entrance fee, be my guest.
There is an upside, however, finding a job and London is not that difficult. Especially since the pandemic, many boroughs surrounding London have been desperately looking for people to hire. There is always employment availability in the service sector, the NHS, office temp jobs, and retail work.
While London is a wonderful city full of wonderful people, you really have to make sure you are ready to make hefty monetary sacrifices if you plan on moving there for university.
The runner-up for the best city for students to live in in 2022 is Munich, Germany. Munich is a beautiful city that has welcomed foreign students with open arms. Unlike London, Munich scored the highest in the affordability criteria. Undergraduates don’t have to pay tuition for public universities, as they are funded by the government.
The city is also affordable on a day-to-day basis, with plenty of student aids and services that make life manageable on a student budget. Similarly to London (just on a smaller scale), Munich has a diverse environment due to its Erasmus and exchange programs. Life in Munich is, for the lack of a better expression, super fun. If you know anything about German culture, you know that they are an outgoing people who know how to party.
This makes it highly desirable for undergraduate students who are looking to blow off some steam after many years of focusing on their grades in high school. In addition to Munich being a really fun environment, it is also rich in German culture.
Just like in London, rent in Munich is very expensive. The only upside is that unlike in London, not everything is crazy expensive so it is not difficult to live on a low budget and still be able to experience new restaurants, clubs, and travel throughout Germany as transportation fees are cheap. In addition, it is pretty simple to run a successful job search in Munich and walk away employed as there are plenty of service sector jobs that need young people full of energy.
Seoul has recently gained the spotlight of students for the city’s vibrant qualities and excellent universities. With more universities offering courses in English, students from all around the world have been moving to Seoul creating a more diverse community. However, the amount of universities providing English courses is still limited making it less accessible. Seoul is a lively city and allows students to have a very active social life.
There are various restaurants of multiple cuisines, unique shops, bars and clubs, cinemas, and shopping malls that don’t only have shops but also arcades or sports centers providing their visitors with entertainment and activities. One of the great ups of living in Seoul is that it can be very affordable.
There are various options for eating out which are often cheap, transportation is also affordable compared to cities like London, and drinks at bars or clubs can be compared with prices in most European cities. However the housing market is quite competitive and can be very expensive, but to combat that, universities in Seoul provide their students with accommodation or dorms.
Although Seoul can provide students with unique experiences and quality education there is one aspect in which it falls. Korea is still relatively new when it comes to accepting people into their country and only recently has the international community grown. Though Seoul is a more open and accepting city, Korea as a country is still quite conservative and has issues such as racism, sexism, and homophobia.
Seoul is a booming city, with more and more diverse communities joining for the unique experience it has. It is an affordable city filled with activities to enjoy, however it should be noted that it can be difficult to live in Korea as an international student as views and values may clash.