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GUIDE Singapore Shopping Spree


99 Cost of living in London 99 Things to buy and prepare BOOK

– for yourself – for college – for daily living 99 Packing tips





HI THERE! Feeling lost like a sotong? Daunted by all the things you have to prepare before heading off to a whole new experience in London? Don’t worry!

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Published by Imperial College Singapore Society Prince Consort Road London SW7 2BB United Kingdom ©2013 Imperial College Singapore Society All rights reserved. No part of this publication shall be reproduced, stored or transmitted by any means, whether electronically or physically, without the prior written permission of the publisher. The publisher shall not be liable for any damages as a result of the use of the information contained herein. All care is taken to ensure that the contents of this publication are free from errors.

The Imperial College Singapore Society Sotong Guide is a series of four guidebooks which we have specially prepared to guide you through your journey to London, from pre-departure to settling down. This is the second book in the series. In this book, find out exactly what you should grab before leaving Singapore, and what you should get after you arrive in London. As the living costs are somewhat higher in London than Singapore, we have prepared some information to help you maximise your baggage allowance. More information regarding our upcoming events are found on our Facebook page. Also, don’t forget to register with us so that we can contact you on any latest updates. If you have any queries or comments, feel free to get in touch with us via email. Lastly, we hope that you’ll find this guide useful and we look forward to seeing you at Imperial College London! 31st Executive Committee Imperial College Singapore Society




04 self 05 r u o Y r Fo lege 10 l o C r o F iving 13 L y l i a For D Else 15 g n i h t y Ever Tips 16 g n i k c a P tion 19 Informa

ondon L n i g n ivi

L Cost of







Cost of Living in London


he living costs are somewhat higher in London than Singapore, but that does not mean that everything is more expensive in London. The next few sections are filled with information to help you decide whether to buy certain things in Singapore or over in London. Common items you will need can be divided into three main areas:

ÔÔ For yourself (see page 05) ÔÔ For college (see page 10) ÔÔ For daily living (see page 13) In fact, most of the things you’ll need can be bought either in Singapore or in London. If you want to travel light, you may wish to get the things over in London, but be prepared to pay more. In addition, we will provide our recommendation (denoted by a megaphone:  ) for selected items, so that you can decide for yourself what items to take with you over to London.

SHARE THIS BOOK! If you have friends who will be joining you at Imperial College next year, do help us spread the word about the Sotong Guide series! ÔÔ

04 | Sotong Guide Book Two

Register Now! For us to send you updates and information on any upcoming events, register with us now! ÔÔ Don’t forget to join the freshers’ Facebook group. ÔÔ Lastly, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries.

For Yourself


here’s always a great temptation to lug your entire closet of clothes over to London. But this isn’t quite practical as most of the clothes you wear in Singapore are not too suitable for the cooler climate in London.

Clothing in London is not as expensive as you would have imagined. You just need to visit the right shops at the right time to get the best deals, such as the Boxing Day sales which kicks off on 26 December. Just like in Singapore, random sale periods are also held frequently throughout the year, and these are excellent opportunities for you to stock up your closet with clothes at affordable prices.

autumn COLLECTION & winter When you arrive in London in late September, the temperature will be somewhere between 8 and 16°C. There will be a higher than usual amount of rainfall in October. During the coldest months of winter, the temperature drops below –5°C. Layering is the way to go during winter, as it would help keep you warm outdoors while allowing you to adapt to changing temperatures in and out of buildings. Here are some of the items which you may want to prepare before leaving Singapore.

Sweaters, wool jumpers Wool jumpers are useful for the cold outdoors, while cotton ones are more suited for indoor use. You may wish to take one or two sweaters with you over to London and put them on before walking out of the airport. We advise buying the bulk of your sweaters in London for the variety, suitability and quality. For as low as £10, you can get an acrylic sweater. A typical wool jumper costs around £30 in London.


Thermal wear

Wet days are not uncommon in London. While the rain is much lighter than the storms you’ve been experiencing in Singapore, the wind can potentially make the temperature a few degrees lower than the thermometer reading. You’ll probably need to put on your jacket the moment you step out of the airport, so you might want to place it in your hand baggage. You don’t need take too many jackets with you, as London’s shops offer a wider choice in terms of functionality and design. If you are getting a jacket, make sure you get one that is waterproof and windproof. Hooded jackets are recommended for an occasional unexpected showers or when the strong wind gusts renders umbrellas impractical. You may consider investing in a good leather jacket as it is lighter to wear during the warmer autumn days.

Winter coats

For those who might be more sensitive to the chill, do not fret. There will be a wide variety of Heat Tech thermal undergarments at affordable prices from Uniqlo once you’re in London too. They would probably come in more useful for winter ski trips. It might be good to consider bringing a set of woollen long-johns too for when the weather gets a lot colder.

Nylon tights For ladies who would like to wear skirts and dresses, you may wish to bring a few nylon tights over. Again, there is no need to bring too many pairs as you can purchase them after you arrive in London.

Scarves, gloves

Winter coats can be bought after you arrive in London. The gap of a few weeks gives you sufficient time to do so. Therefore, you shouldn’t need to buy thick puffy winter coats from Winter Time in Singapore, especially when a more reasonably priced and fashionable range of winter coats awaits you in London.

For those who are more sensitive to cold environments, you may wish to buy a scarf and a pair of gloves in Singapore. Put them on before leaving the airport.

Take one of each item over and buy the rest in London. 06 | Sotong Guide Book Two

spring &COLLECTION summer When the cold season is finally over in April (or March if you’re lucky), it’s time to switch over to a lighter set of clothes. If there is that extra bit of space in your luggage, you could throw in some of your favourite T-shirts.

Although there are not a lot of occasions where formal wear is required, you may want to buy it in Singapore as it might be difficult to find affordable formal wear on a short notice. Some occasions that require formal wear include freshers’ ball, various boat parties, alumni nights and internship interviews. Medics may require formal clothing on a more frequent basis, as there are patient visits and simulated patient interviews.

London prices for comparison... Item


Long sleeved shirts

£15 – £30


£6 – £30


£15 – £30

Jumpers, cardigans

£8 – £35


£10 – £50

Bermudas, shorts

£15 – £30

formal COLLECTION For the gentlemen: a formal suit, a few long sleeved shirts, ties, leather shoes.

For the ladies: a few evening dresses, dress shoes.

Buy in Singapore. For Yourself | 07


Casual shoes Most students studying in Imperial College travel by foot. When buying shoes, ensure that they are sturdy and comfortable enough for walking. As the first few months in London tend to be quite wet, you may want to consider getting something waterproof!

Waterproof boots During the wetter months of the year, you may find leather boots or hiking boots useful in keeping your feet warm. If you don’t have one yet, buy them when you get to London as they are quite reasonably priced.

You should probably buy them in Singapore and wear them on your flight.

Sports shoes A mere five-minute walk from school, Hyde Park is a scenic place for sports of all sorts. For those who enjoy an active lifestyle, you may wish to buy your cross trainers, soccer boots, etc. in Singapore, unless you don’t mind waiting for a good deal in London. Buy in Singapore so that you can use it straight away.

08 | Sotong Guide Book Two

Slippers, sandals Take your slippers or sandals with you, as there is less variety in London. When moving about in halls, slippers are very convenient. Furthermore, you can wear them during spring or summer! You’ll be able to get more comfortable and better quality ones in Singapore for the same price.

ÔÔ Shampoo ÔÔ Soaps


ÔÔ Shower gel ÔÔ Toothbrush ÔÔ Toothpaste ÔÔ Face and body moisturiser

Toiletries take up a lot of luggage space and weight, so you might just want to take a weeks’ worth with you to London. All of these are readily available and reasonably priced in supermarkets or convenience stores in London. Often cheaper in Singapore, buy only if you have the excess weight to spare.

Moisturiser and lip balm are highly recommended during the windy and cold winter season. ÔÔ Sanitary pads For the ladies, sanitary pads in London are of lower quality. For those who are particular, you may wish to stock them up while you are in Singapore.

For school: A small bag for your daily commute – large enough to fit your files, notes, laptop and the occasional textbook. For travel: A backpack for short holidays – not too small to fit your clothes, not too big as a hand baggage (see page 16).


Bags in London are not cheap, so you may want to get them Singapore.


Some halls of accommodation provide a few hangers, while others don’t. You may want to take a few hangers with you over to London and buy the rest there when an opportunity arises. Some shops such as Topman or Primark give out free hangers with any purchase. Just let them know that you are a student in need of hangers. If you’re lucky, you can get as many as 10 hangers per transaction.

For Yourself | 09

For College Stationery


hile it may seem convenient to purchase stationery from the college bookstore, you might want to consider preparing an adequate supply whilst you are in Singapore. Here are some items which you may want to put in your luggage.



Pens are readily available in London, but you might not be able to find the brands which you are used to. If you are lucky enough, your trusted brand of writing instruments (including their refills) can be bought in London at twice the price.

For those who love to colour their notes, you may wish to buy a few highlighters in Singapore. Highlighters are also given out for free during fairs.

However, if you are not picky with the type of pen you use, free pens are available at various fairs held throughout the year. If you collect pens from each booth, you’d probably have enough to last you for the entire course. It is also worth noting that some of these pens are of high quality.

A 30-centimetre ruler will be suitable for most students. If you prefer tearing paper using a ruler, a metal one would be recommended.

Pencils and Erasers If you are studying in Imperial College, chances are that you’ll need pencils and erasers for your occasional graphs and sketches. The price of a tiny eraser in London is equal to the price of a large white soft eraser in Singapore. Include a few boxes of pencil lead if you are using a mechanical pencil. Throw in a sharpener if you are using a traditional wooden pencil.

10 | Sotong Guide Book Two


Sticky Notes Free sticky notes are given out for promotional and publicity purposes at a number of fairs and events.

Writing Pads Writing pads (or paper of any sort) can drastically increase your luggage weight. While they are more expensive in London, prices are still reasonable if you buy them in larger stacks. If you want to bring a writing pad, you may wish to put it in your hand baggage.

Files, Ring Binders and Dividers While these are useful in keeping your notes in order, you may wish to get them over in London due to their weight.

Correction Tape or Fluid Correction tape or correction fluid can cost a few times more in London, as these items do not seem to be quite popular with the local community.

T-Squares, Flexi Curves and Scaled Rulers Certain courses including Civil, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering require drawing equipment such as T-squares, flexi curves, and scaled rulers. It is not necessary to buy these as you can borrow them from your seniors. You may consider bringing a set of drawing pencils as those sold in London are much more expensive.

Textbooks and Notes Textbooks are generally more expensive in London than in Singapore. Check with your department or with seniors who are studying the same course if there is a list of recommended textbooks.

Second Hand Books

Library Loans

Some departments organise a second hand book sale at the start of the term, where you are able to grab textbooks at a fraction of the price.

You may also loan textbooks from the college library. If you plan your loans and renewals properly, you could potentially borrow the book for the entire year.

More information will be given by your department during the few first lectures.

A-Level Notes

Grab your textbooks in London.

Take your A-level notes with you if you find it useful and relevant to your course.

For College | 11

Electronics In general, electronics are more expensive in London than in Singapore. If are thinking of buying big-ticket items such as laptops or cameras, the next electronics trade show in Singapore should give you the best cost savings.

Scientific Calculators

Electronic Storage

For examinations, calculator models are specific to each department.

Thumb drives or external hard disk drives are useful for transferring large files between laptops and college terminals. These will be very useful for projects.

Before buying a calculator, you should check with your department or with seniors who are studying the same course.

Laptops Ensure that your laptop is in a good working condition. Laptops are generally more expensive in London if you have to replace them for any reason. Buy in Singapore.

LAN Cable Depending on your allocated halls of accommodation, you may require a LAN cable to access the internet. If you prefer working from your desk, a 2-metre LAN cable should suffice. If you want the freedom to use your laptop anywhere in your room, a 5-metre LAN cable is recommended. Put it in your hand baggage so that you may use it straight away.

12 | Sotong Guide Book Two

Printers, Scanners and Monitors Printers, scanners and monitors can be easily purchased in London at reasonable prices. As printing and scanning stations are easily accessible in college, most students do not require them. Most departments provide free printing credits for students to print their notes and coursework. Save luggage space. Buy in London.

Extension Plug and Adapters As some of the electric sockets are located under the desk, you may wish to buy an extension plug for convenience. Also, buy the cheap plastic two-pin plug adapters in Singapore if you require them for any of your electronics. You may also wish to get travel adaptors if you intend to go on holiday in Europe.

For Daily Living Food

Kitchen Cutlery


s these are often sold in sets, you may wish buy them over in London and split them with another friend. 16-24 piece cutlery set costs around £8, while a 12-16 piece dinner set costs around £10. Bring your own chopsticks as they are rarer and more expensive in London.

Saucepans, Woks and Pots However, don’t buy the cheapest ones you find, as you’ll soon find yourself shopping for another one. Make sure that you buy flat-based woks as most halls use electric induction hobs. Woks from Chinatown also tend to rust easily, so be prepared to oil them after each use. Cooking will be part and parcel of your life in Imperial. We recommend buying non-stick, high quality pots that can last you through the years, rather than scrimp now and regret it later.

Seasonings You might want to take some of your favourite seasonings or foodstuffs (such as chilli, pastes or spices) over to London. These tend to be pricey and can only be found in Chinatown. Note that oyster sauce, dark sauce and light sauce can be found in London at affordable prices, so you could leave them in Singapore. Don’t forget to learn to cook your favourite Singaporean dishes – it will gain you much popularity and fame among your friends!

Comfort Food Bring along your supplies of Milo, kaya, chicken essence and Singaporean snacks because they can only be found at Chinatown and prices tend to be double of that in Singapore.


Leave these heavy items in Singapore.

Rice Cooker Decent rice cookers can be purchased in London for around £20.

For Daily Living | 13



Basic Medication We recommend packing some basic medication into your luggage. These include flu tablets, paracetamol, charcoal pills (for diarrhoea and food poisoning), traditional lozenges, inhaler etc.

First-Aid Kit It might be ideal to bring along a first aid kit containing plasters and antiseptics for cuts and bruises.

Chinese Herbs and Medicine

Bed sheets, pillows and pillow cases can be purchased over in London at affordable prices. However, bolsters are impossible to find, so put one in your luggage if you wish. Grab bolsters in Singapore.

If necessary, buy any Chinese herbs and medicine in Singapore. There are a few Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners in London, but they are very expensive.

Vitamins It would be good to have some vitamins on hand to help you stay healthy, especially during your first winter in London.

14 | Sotong Guide Book Two

Locks Take one or two small locks with you as some of you will need to lock your cabinet in the kitchen.

Everything Else

Passport-Sized Photos


Take a few passport-sized photos with you. These services are not cheap in London – four photographs for £10. It is also useful to have a scanned image of your passport-sized photo.

You may wish to have a haircut before going to London. A typical haircut will cost approximately £10 to £15 in London. A professional salon cut will cost you anywhere from £40 to £80.

Flight Booking It may work out cheaper and more flexible if you book a one-way flight from Singapore to London. All subsequent flights can be booked as a return trip from London to Singapore. If you are thinking of booking a return trip from Singapore to London, you may wish to book a open return ticket. Most students should be able to leave London as soon as their examinations and projects are over. Depending on your course schedule, this is usually earlier than the last day of term.

Everything Else | 15

Packing Tips


o you have bought a lot of stuff to take along with you to London. This section covers some packing advice, and is based on the assumption that you will be travelling by plane.

Checked Baggage A number of airlines provide extra weight allowance for students upon request. For example, Singapore Airlines may allow an additional 5 kg to 10 kg of checked baggage if you call them in advance and tell them that you are a student. Sometimes, you may need to negotiate for that extra weight, but they may give in after a few calls. Due to local health safety reasons in the UK, checked luggage must not exceed 32 kg per piece. Some airlines may also allow you to check in two pieces of luggage. If you are travelling alone, it is advisable not to have more than one trolley bag. There are a number of London Underground stations which are not equipped with lifts or escalators. If you exceed the weight allowance by a little, you can try checking in earlier. Most check-in staff would close one eye if the weight is less than 3 kg above the limit. Tip: Checked baggage allowance for Emirates flights is 30 kg. Caution: Remember to weigh your luggage before going to the airport, unless you don’t mind repacking in front of all your relatives and friends. 16 | Sotong Guide Book Two

Vacuum Bags You can purchase vacuum bags of various sizes from Daiso to maximise the luggage space. Daiso sells them for only $2 each. Remember to measure the internal dimensions of your luggage before buying!

Fragile Items Music instruments and sports equipment can be checked-in as fragile items. Check with your respective airlines for further information and fees.

Hand Baggage Pack the items which you will absolutely need on the first day in your hand baggage or at the top of your checked baggage. For hand baggage dimensions, most airlines follow the guidelines set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In general, hand baggage should have a maximum length of 56 cm, width of 45 cm and depth of 25 cm including all handles, side pockets, wheels etc. The maximum weight varies from airline to airline. Most airlines set their maximum at 7 kg. As this is not strictly enforced, you may be able to pass through as long as your hand baggage looks compact. Laptops are generally not included in the hand baggage limit and does not count as an additional piece of hand carry. Tip: British Airways has a generous limit of 23 kg for hand baggage, in addition to 23 kg of checked baggage.

Tip: If you are taking any laptops, tablets, etc. with you, ensure that it is easily removable and replaceable from your hand baggage for security checks. Any liquids, aerosols and gels must be contained in bottles placed in a clear sealable plastic bag. The bottle itself (not the contents) must not exceed 100 ml in volume.

Shipping If you are not able to bring all your items over with you by plane, you may wish to consider the option of shipping. You may wish to send your parcel around 4 to 6 weeks before you leave for London. Simply let us know if you require an address to ship your items to and we will try helping you as much as possible.

WHAT’S IN BOOK THREE? You’ve bought everything you can think of, and you’re now ready to fly over to London. In the upcoming book Life Begins in London, learn more about your banking, communication and transport needs. Find out how to negotiate your way around London’s transport network and how to get to your halls of residence when you arrive. Also, read about some events we have planned for you over in London, to help you familiarise your with your new environment. These events will be held after you arrive in London.

Comments or feedback? If you have wish to provide comments or feedback on this publication, send us an email at

Packing Tips | 17



As the annual ICSS orientation camp, Sojourn is an event that you should not miss! The 3D2N stay at Sentosa will bring freshers together, with plenty of games, fun, sweat and late nights. You will get to meet new friends who will brighten up your life in London. This camp is specially organised for all undergraduate and postgraduate students who are heading to Imperial College this coming September. For further details, visit our website and join the freshers’ Facebook group. See you at Sojourn 2013: Odyssey!


UKBound is the annual beauty pageant organised by ICSS which brings together freshmen and seniors heading to the UK. Hunks and babes from the different universities battle against one another in a contest of beauty, charisma, wit and charm. Don’t wait any longer, grab your tickets now and support your friends!

Key Information

Useful Links Upcoming Events

13.07 ICSS Pre-Departure Talk

ÔÔ Imperial College London

21.07 British Council Talk

ÔÔ Imperial College Singapore Society

16.08 17.08 18.08

Sojourn 2013: Odyssey


Warwick Summer Games


UKBound 2013

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Sotong Guide Book two  

Imperial College Singapore Society