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Why I chose to study in London

SOAS University of London

There are many beautiful green spaces for students to enjoy in London

MA student Ankur Desval Fehrani is studying for a degree in Iranian Studies and Intensive Persian. Here he highlights why he chose to move to London, which has been ranked the world’s best student city (QS Rankings 2024).

As the age-old adage goes, ‘There is London, and then there is everywhere else in Britain’. I grew up reading Victorian novels, and Modernist poetry, and the idea of London was always there, it just needed an opportunity. And surely London did not disappoint!

London carries multitudes, you can find the cobblestone pathways within the heart of Bloomsbury, where Dickens and his characters walked but there is much more to London than that: From Roman walls to the sky bars on the strand, the views of the city from the top of the shard competing with St Paul’s golden gallery.

Bird's eye view of British Museum with people walking around
The British Museum is one of the attractions close to the campus

A lively arts and cultural scene

Every street hosts museums and galleries, many free for the public. Starting from Russell Square, you start with SOAS Gallery at SOAS, British Museum, which is barely two minutes away, and then you can head to Brunswick Centre, which is 5 minutes away, where the Brunswick Art Centre is, then Dickens Museum, Foundling Museum and on.

But the major contemporary art scene is along the strand: Tate Modern is a behemoth, there is always something going on. Of course, the Barbican Centre is quite a joy as well; I once ran into Soheila Sokhanvari at her ‘Rebel Rebel’ exhibition in the curve room and she ever so generously gave us a short tour of the exhibition. It is such a London phenomenon. 

The city is full of professional opportunities

If it exists, you can find it in London, including jobs. There are always career fairs going on, within SOAS and elsewhere. There is also the careers mailing list at SOAS, which keeps identifying local jobs at museums, galleries, tutor and admin jobs, amongst a billion other things.

Whatever your interests, however narrow and eccentric, you will find something for yourself. I believe last year, I got a week-long internship with a local artist whom I helped in setting up her exhibition.

People here are from all over the world

Imagine, on an evening, you are getting an ice cream at Covent Garden with friends and decide to walk to Trafalgar Square: the sounds, the voices, the colours all concentrated in one little spot from every corner of the world, as people dance away at the tunes of the street performers.

But more than that, you will find people of all sorts, from every corner of the world working in every field. London metropolis is truly a cosmopolis, a world city.

Green spaces are everywhere

When I first arrived in London, the cab driver let me know that technically speaking, London has so many trees that it could qualify for being a forest (he also warned me about the hay fever in the summers). However, I have never officially determined the factuality of the statement myself, mostly because I have been very happy with this little factoid.

Nonetheless, there are so many trees, and open spaces and parks and gardens, everywhere in London, and more so in the central part. Almost every square has a park, which is open to the public; the one at Russell Square has a very lovely, rustic café as well.

And of course, you can make a Sunday Hiking trip to the Epping Forest and have fun at the First Elizabeth’s hunting lodge in Chingford.


When the pandemic came, I decided to pack my books from Ireland and move back to the Indian countryside, taking a break from academics for a while. I had just finished my undergraduate in English and Classics, and I was still aspiring to become a Hellenologist, dedicating my years to the Ancient Greek epic cycle.

But during the pandemic, I rediscovered the romance of Classical Persian poetry, and I actively started looking for a university where I could bring this big change to my field of study satisfactorily. SOAS is perhaps the only institution in the world, which offers such an intensive program to learn a language ab initio, from absolutely nothing, and you start reading classical poetry by the beginning of the second year.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to have a short chat with Narguess Farzad, and I have become a devotee of Persian poetry ever since. Of course, SOAS being right in the heart of London helped me convince myself much more swiftly.

I am studying for an MA in Iranian Studies and Persian, so, if you are considering coming to London, I will end this with a famous line of Persian poetry:

Baaz aa, baaz aa, har anche hasti, baaz aa
… Een dargah-e ma dargah-e na-omeedi nist…

(Come again, come again, whoever you are, come again. …Our home, our city will not disappoint you…).

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