Why You Should Study Abroad in the UK
Doing a semester abroad or even a year abroad can be a fabulous experience for any college student – many of our Orange County academic tutors have studied abroad. However, many American students wonder how they will get along in a country where English is not the primary language. Studying and living abroad is a fantastic cultural and educational experience regardless of any language barriers or cultural shock a student might feel. I chose to study abroad in the UK and I recommend that you consider it as well (READ: “Why You Should Study Abroad“).
1. No Language Barrier
If you’re American, there is not a language barrier when traveling to and living in the UK. The Queens English is a slightly different dialect than Standard American English but most travelers won’t notice much of a difference and certainly not a barrier.
2. An Affordable Transportation System
The UK has an efficient and affordable public transportation system. Students who want to see more than just the university town that they are living in can easily get around by train, bus, coach (long-distance bus) or on foot. Personally, I preferred the train to busses as most train stations put you directly in the center of whichever town or city you wish to visit.
3. History, Architecture, and Art
American students studying in the UK will have the opportunity to view 600 year old architecture, visit many historical sites that far outdate that of the newer USA, and visit a Mecca of art and history museums (CLICK: “Top 10 museums in London“).Image via timeout.com
4. International Cities
The UK is rather international these days, especially in cities like London. If you want to visit all of Europe, but don’t have the means, spend a bit of time in the city and you will likely encounter people and food from all around Europe and beyond.
5. Charming Small Towns
Live the small town experience. I lived in a small town, in which I could walk the perimeter in about 3 hours. It is very convenient to be able to get to the local café, tea shop, supermarket etc… all within short walking distance of any given university or student flat (apartment).
6. Spend Your Weekends in Other European Countries
The UK, in many ways, is the gateway to Europe. Many students that I studied with lived and learned in England but spent many long weekends on the European continent enjoying the life and culture of exciting and beautiful countries such as France, Germany and Italy. (If you stay in the big cities like Paris, Berlin and Florence, you will likely be okay with just English.)
7. Visit all the Countries in the United Kingdom by Train or Boat
The UK consists of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, all of which have different cultures and histories. Americans with a UK student visa should easily be able to visit all of these countries by train or ferry (big boat).
A Few Drawbacks
The primary drawback to studying and living in the UK is that the local currency BPS (British Pound Sterling) is so darn strong. For Americans, this means that your US Dollar doesn’t go as far as you might think. Basically ignore the exchange rate when you budget your spending in the UK. In my experience a $2 cup of coffee in the US will cost you 2 BPS in the UK. Do, however, think about the exchange rate when you plan on how much savings you might need before you go (READ: “7 Tips for Studying While Traveling“).
A Few Tips Before Arriving in the UK
– Check with your bank to see if your credit/debit card will work in the UK.England uses a different system called ‘chip and pin’.
– Buy a pay-as-you-go phone and keep at least 20 BPS on it so that you can make local calls (alternatively you can purchase an international plan from your current carrier).
– Water is not free at cafes and restaurants in the UK, so plan to pay for it.
– In smaller towns, the last train might leave or arrive as early as 5 PM so check the train schedule ahead of time.
– Trains do not ‘arrive at’ they ‘call at’ but it means the same thing.
– The UK uses the 24 hour clock so 5 PM is really 1700.
– VAT or Value Added Tax in included in anything you purchase so the price you see is the price you pay.
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