If you plan to travel outside the U.S., you'd be wise to arm yourself with an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which offers substantial savings on rail passes, plane tickets, and entrance fees. It also provides you with basic health and life insurance and a 24-hour help line. The card is available for $22 from STA Travel (tel. 800/781-4040; www.sta.com), the biggest student travel agency in the world. If you're no longer a student but are still 25 or younger, you can get an International Youth Travel Card (IYTC) for the same price from the same people, entitling you to some discounts (but not on museum admissions).
Travel CUTS (tel. 800/592-2887; www.travelcuts.com) offers similar services for Canadians and U.S. residents alike. Irish students should turn to USIT (tel. 01/602-1906; www.usit.ie).
The International Student House, 229 Great Portland St., W1W 5PN (tel. 020/7631-8300; www.ish.org.uk), lies at the foot of Regent's Park in London, across from the Tube stop for Great Portland Street. It's a beehive of activity, with discos and film showings, and rents blandly furnished, institutional rooms. Laundry facilities are available and a key deposit is charged. Reserve way in advance.
University of London Student Union, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY (tel. 020/7664-2000; www.ulu.co.uk; Tube: Goodge St. or Russell Sq.), is the best place to go to learn about student activities in the greater London area. The Union has a swimming pool, fitness center, gymnasium, general store, sports shop, ticket agency, banks, bars, inexpensive restaurants, venues for live events, an office of STA Travel, and many other facilities. It's open Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 11pm, Friday 8:30am to 1pm, Saturday 9am to 2pm, and Sunday 9:30am to 10:30pm. Bulletin boards provide a rundown on events; some you may be able to attend, others may be "closed door."