Are you an international student who has just gained a place at a UK university? Firstly, congratulations! Secondly, do you know crisp sandwiches are a thing here, and that we’ll say sorry even if it was you that bumped into us? Britain has its own quirks that set it apart even from neighbouring European countries. As well as the course you intend on studying, there’s also a lot to learn about our culture and way of life too.
Here are 5 things to expect when studying in the UK to guide you on your new chapter as a student.
The Movies Lied
Practically any movie you see shot in the UK features red buses, black taxi cabs oh and palaces. Every person knows the Queen or at least has been to Buckingham Palace. If that is your view of England, then your student digs overlooking a car park in Manchester might come as a bit of a shock. That’s not to say there aren’t some nice areas of Britain (in fact, we have several areas that are classed as ‘outstanding areas of natural beauty’!) – but be realistic that the UK is very diverse, and cobbled streets usually only appear on TV soaps.
Brits Love Their Tea
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve had good news, bad news or frankly, you’ve just woke up – a cup of tea is the way Brits do things. There’s also a process of making tea which does vary slightly whether you believe the milk or tea bag goes in first. This in itself can soon turn very political, so if you are unsure follow what your housemates do. Students, of course, are more associated with necking £1 shots in freshers week, but tea still reigns supreme in all areas of the UK. So get prepared to start drinking it if it’s not the custom in your country. When you do make a cup, be sure to ask if anyone else wants one too.
The UK Drives On The Left
Don’t let this one catch you out, as nobody needs to be starting uni with their leg in plaster. Britain is one of the few countries that drive on the left, owing to the fact most people here are right handed. When consulting immigration solicitors in London to get to the UK in the first place, they will go through any visas you need, asylum applications etc, but rarely does the legality of our roads crop up in conversation. This includes the novelty of roundabouts, which if you are from the US will seem completely alien to you. Hint: You drive around them, not over them, and yes, you do so while driving on the left.
It Mostly Rains
You might not notice this one so much as you clamber out of bed hungover, willing yourself to make that bacon sandwich but, you should know it rains a lot in the UK. Even in the summer. In the wintertime, the clocks change meaning it’s dark for most of the day. Depending on what time your lectures are, you might not even see much sunlight at all, especially towards Christmas. It’s also possible to experience four seasons in one day, so always come prepared with an umbrella. Oh, and if your student housing has a washing line to dry your clothes and not a tumble dryer, be prepared for your clothes to get soaked unless you remember to bring them in before the rain hits. Just remember, the rain in the UK is never far away!
It’s Not Going To Be Like Hogwarts
When you first got a place at a UK university, you probably imagined meeting Ron and Hermione and Kings Cross, setting off to a castle-like building on a steam train. How lovely, and so unlike the realities of rush hour on the tube. While there are some historic student buildings to be found in the likes of Oxford and Cambridge University, for the most part, your surroundings are not going to resemble Hogwarts. Instead, most university buildings are either completely modern structures or even converted council buildings. Though having said that, there will probably be someone tall and hairy to welcome you when you move in.