Nearly 400,000 international students study abroad in England every year. It’s the perfect blend of living abroad and immersing yourself in a new culture with students from all over the planet while still having English as the dominant language.
Your school options aren’t bad, either: England is home to some of the most prestigious universities on Earth, including Oxford, Cambridge and University College London.
This guide breaks down all the reasons – from the opportunities of London to the rigorous academic culture to all the great day trips just a train ride away – that studying abroad in England may be the right international experience for you.
Home to Shakespeare, the Royal Family, Harry Potter, pubs, castles and cathedrals, bangers and mash, the Beatles and English Premier League football, there’s something for everyone. As the fifth largest country in Europe by population, England projects enormous cultural, political and economic influence. And with so many top universities, England is an ideal spot for any student looking to study abroad.
England’s headline attractions
There’s so many must-see attractions in England. Here’s a quick list of our favorites:
Buckingham Palace: Buckingham Palace is still worth a stop if you’re spending time in London – even if you don’t care about the latest royal gossip or feud. It’s the headquarters of the United Kingdom’s monarchy and the epicenter of most royal cultural events. Visit when you can see the changing of the guard in front of the palace, which takes about 45 minutes. You can find the schedule here.
The British Museum: This London institution is home to the world’s largest curated museum collection – 8 million objects in total. Built in the late 1700s, it’s top attraction is the Rosetta Stone. Fun fact: The museum grounds are patrolled by a lot of cats. Its most famous main gate guard was a tabby named Mike, who patrolled from 1909 to 1929. His obituary was published in Time Magazine.
Stonehenge: Arguably the most famous landmark in the UK, the origin story of this 5,000-year-old stone circle – thought to be a cremation site, given the number of human remains and fossils found in the area – is still a mystery. How did these stones (that way tons!) get here? How did they erect them to coordinate movements of the sun? Traveler’s tip: Stonehenge is almost 90 miles west of London, so carve out a full day to see it depending on your mode of transportation.
An English Premier League Match: Catch a match from one of the 20 clubs that compete for the English Premier League title each year. There are seven clubs in London alone, but some of the best fan experiences can be found in small college towns like Newcastle (a three-hour train ride from London).
White Cliffs of Dover: If you’re looking to escape the hustle of London, head to Kent and walk the miles of white chalk cliffs overlooking the English Channel. Those lucky enough to catch a clear day may see the French coast in the distance. Beyond the beautiful wildlife and countryside, the cliffs were also a major defense location for World Wars I and II. If you have time, make your way to Dover Castle and tour the tunnels built into the cliff that were used as a hospital to treat wounded soldiers.
Big Ben and Parliament: What the Washington Monument is to D.C., Big Ben is to London and the UK. A symbol for democracy, the large clock tower is the most famous landmark in London. While it serves as the Houses of Parliament today, it was previously the royal residence, known as the Palace of Westminster. Bonus: Westminster Abbey is just a block away.
Tower of London: A fortress built on the River Thames – just steps from the Tower Bridge – this iconic landmark represents both royal power and gruesome death. Its first towers were built in the 11th century and housed the royal family, a mint, the crown jewels and an infamous prison. The Tower of London was the site of many executions, including that of three Queens of England. Make sure to give yourself a few hours to tour this top London attraction.
Let’s put it all on the table (pun intended): British food has a bad reputation. Some of the criticism is deserved, but the cuisine has evolved over the years, mainly by Brits adopting other international dishes as their own (chicken tikka masala, anyone?). Authentic British food consists of everything from large gut-punching breakfasts with sausages and baked beans to roasted birds, potatoes and the world-famous fish and chips. But don’t let this breakdown nix England from your study abroad list. In fact, many people come here to eat Indian food, and Italian, Greek and American-style cuisine is prevalent, too. Vegans and vegetarians will also have several choices in most college towns.
Here’s a list of can’t miss dishes we think you should try:
Fish and chips: The unofficial national dish of England. Locals recommend finding a spot that serves fresh (never frozen) cod or haddock. The fish should be crispy and paired with freshly cut fried chips (i.e. – French fries).
Afternoon tea (with a scone or sandwich): Every country’s afternoon pick-me-up varies. Americans love coffee, the Spanish love their siestas, but Brits love their tea (or “hot brown water” as Ted Lasso refers to it). The traditional full afternoon tea experience – including scones and sandwiches – may be rare for locals, but you can still experience it during your visit. Tea tip: A full tea experience can cost over 100 euro per person (yeah, that’s not a typo). If you’re looking for budget options, try The Wolseley.
Shepherd’s pie: Savory meat pies are England’s thing, and Shepherd’s Pie may be the most popular, due to its mashed potato topping combined with minced meat and vegetables. You can easily find vegetarian options of this classic dish.
Full English breakfast: Sure, we poked fun at this dish in the intro, but breakfast lovers and meat eaters should try this British specialty at least once. With eggs, bacon, tomato, baked beans (the weirdest part), sausages and toast on the plate, there’s little need to eat again until dinner.
Chicken tikka masala and butter chicken: Authentic British food? Not exactly. But it’s oh so good. In fact, many travelers feel the best take on Indian food can be found in the UK. Dishoom is very popular with students and has an excellent vegan, gluten-free and dairy free menu. They have multiple locations around London.
The sights of England
There’s so much to explore beyond the walls of London’s museums and churches. Here are a few stops only savvy travelers will know about:
Explore the Lake District: The northwestern corner of the country is a beautiful mountainous region, where many locals spend their holiday exploring stunning natural lakes and forests.
Tour the Roman remains in Bath: Take a day trip to Bath — one of the most beautiful spots in the UK. Its top attraction is the Roman Baths, a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprised of hot thermal springs that were once used as a religious spa to worship Goddess Sulis Minerva. Its Georgian architecture, combined with its water views and quaint streets make you feel like you’re in a scene of a Jane Austen novel (which makes sense, as she wrote a few of her books here).
Stroll through one of the eight royal parks: The Royal Parks of London are some of the largest, green public spaces in the country. Take an afternoon and stroll through two of our favorites, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, which should be on everyone’s list when visiting London. Pro tip: Pack a picnic lunch.
Visit the Jurassic Coast: The Durdle Door limestone arch in Dorset is one of the most recognizable landscapes on Earth. The arch was formed by erosion from the ocean waves over time. Visit during the colder months to avoid crowds, and don’t forget to squeeze in a visit to the caves.
Improve your English language skills
If English is your first language, then you’re already set to study abroad in England. However, there are subtle differences to be mindful of. For example: soccer in America is football in England, a line of people is a queue, French fries are chips, a vacation is called a holiday and garbage is rubbish. Also, there’s no Z in the words like “realize” and “santize” (it’s realise and sanitise in England).
For those who aren’t fluent in English, you’ll need to take a test when applying for your student visa. You can refer to this UK government website for details, and be sure to check with the university you plan to attend for any additional requirements.
English people are generally well-mannered and polite – except when watching their favorite football club – and they’ll expect the same from you. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
Queue patiently: English people are accustomed to quietly waiting in line for their turn, without making a fuss.
They’re socially polite: They’re not known for striking up conversations with strangers, unless you’ve had too much to drink at the pub. This applies to public situations, as they won’t typically cause a scene or disturbance, unless the situation is dire.
But they’re also seriously funny: British people have dry and sarcastic humor that most Americans find quite funny. Expect back-and-forth banter and feel free to play along, it will help you build connections and make new friends.
Royal family sentiment is generational: While locals respect cultural traditions, there’s a noticeable generational gap in feelings towards the British Monarchy. Older generations tend to appreciate them more than younger generations, who tend to see royal traditions as outdated and a financial drain on society.
Embrace pub culture: Pubs will play a central role in your study abroad experience here. They’re a place to hang out with your friends, socialize and have a drink. (Yes, the drinking age in England is 18.) Many only have beer on tap (ales, lagers, etc.), so don’t plan on ordering dirty martinis.
An academic focus: England takes their education system seriously, especially at the university level. Tests are typically worth a larger portion of your overall grade and professors can be quite rigorous with coursework.
Football (soccer) obsessed: English football fandom is next level, and attending an exciting match can be an unbelievable experience. Choose a club to root for and join the fun, you’ll be a fan for life.
England has several hidden gems. Don’t miss these experiences:
Churchill War Rooms: This is one of the best museums in London. Winston Churchill’s underground cabinet rooms served as headquarters for the British Government during World War II. The bunker is impeccably preserved and the museum dedicated to Churchill’s life is fascinating. Traveler’s tip: Reserve your tickets ahead of time or prepare to wait in line.
See a play in William Shakespeare’s birthplace: Travel to Stratford-upon-Avon (2.5 hours via train from London) and see a show from the famous playwright at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, not far from where the bard was born. Traveler’s tip: Walk down the street to Holy Trinity Church where he was buried in 1616 (however, some believe his final resting place is in question).
Attend England’s largest street festival: The Notting Hill Carnival is a Caribbean festival hosted annually over two days in August. The musicians, food stalls, cultural performances and more attract over 2 million people per year to this trendy neighborhood just west of Hyde Park.
Which British city should you study abroad in?
Studying abroad in England will not be your cheapest option, especially since the British pound is worth more than the U.S. dollar (more on currency later). However, England has a reputation for academic excellence, and having that on your resume will likely provide value after you graduate – in addition to unforgettable experiences and new friends. While London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, there are other options to consider that will be more budget friendly.
Here are six cities in England to consider as your study abroad destination:
London is the capital city of the United Kingdom and one of the largest and greenest cities in the world. It’s also a multicultural hub with a rich history, attracting students from all over the globe, and this diversity is represented via the languages spoken, religions practiced and festivals celebrated. The British education system is among the best in the world and the classroom opportunities for students are significant. There are more than 40 universities within the city limits, including Queen Mary University, London School of Economics and Political Science, St. George’s and King’s College. London universities are particularly known for finance and business. Finally, there are endless things to do: visit historical landmarks, catch a show in the West End, tour top art galleries like the Tate Modern, stroll through Greenwich Park or grab a pint at the local pub. And if you’re looking to travel in your spare time, it doesn’t get any better than London, with so many accessible airports (i.e. Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted) and high-speed trains. You simply can’t go wrong by choosing London as your study abroad destination.
Population: 8.8 million
Average temperatures (high/low): July 74°F / 59°F; December 48°F / 40°F
Location: Southeastern England
If you’re looking for similar qualities to London, but more affordable, you should consider Manchester. It has the highest population of international students outside the capital city, hosting over 20,000 per year. It’s also a linguistic hotspot, with more than 40 percent of students being able to speak more than one language. Manchester has a bustling social scene: it has many nightlife options and is one of the premier spots in England to see live music. It’s also a football haven, with clubs Manchester United and Manchester City separated by a 10-minute drive. There’s a handful of top universities that are popular with American students, too, including the globally ranked University of Manchester, University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University. Just a two-hour train ride from London, Manchester is the perfect combination of a university town feel and big city ammenities.
Average temperatures (high/low): July 69°F / 54°F; December 46°F / 36°F
Location: Northwest England
Leeds is gaining in popularity as a great study abroad destination. The University of Leeds hosts almost 15,000 international students per year and is one of the highest-ranked (and most popular) universities in the UK. People often praise Leeds for delivering both a supportive academic culture and a world-class education. It’s considered a large university town, with a great nightlife and will be kinder to your budget than other major UK cities. And with Liverpool and Manchester close by, you won’t run out of things to do. The city center is a hub for British culture, featuring great shopping, beautiful architecture and museums. It’s also close to the Yorkshire Dales — a chain of beautiful rolling hills, with picturesque stone walls, farms, waterfalls and woodlands to explore. The only downside to Leeds is the weather. It can rain a lot – and snow a bit – in the colder months and will be cloudy for a good portion of the year.
Average temperatures (high/low): July 69°F / 54°F; December 46°F / 36°F
Location: Northern England
Newcastle upon Tyne
Nestled along the River Tyne, Newcastle is the northernmost major city in England. This university town is a great choice for students looking for prestigious academics, a vibrant nightlife (one of the best) and affordability. Newcastle University and Northumbria University are top institutions, especially for those pursuing degrees in medicine, business-related fields, architecture and law. While the town has a blue-collar reputation, it’s morphed into a multicultural hub with an amazing city center, a buzzing art scene and some of the most dedicated football fans in the world, who cheer on the black-and-white army of Newcastle United.
Average temperatures (high/low): July 67°F / 55°F; December 45°F / 37°F
Location: Northeast England
Coventry is an underrated study abroad destination. A quick one-hour train from London puts you in the heart of this old industry town that was bombed by the Germans at the beginning of World War II. Home to Jaguar Land Rover headquarters and the legendary nude Lady Godiva, Coventry hosts roughly 13,000 international students per year. There are two popular universities to consider: Coventry University and University of Warwick (which is highly rated globally). Both offer modern facilities and affordable living. The city’s increase in popularity is largely due to its student-friendly environment, with museums, recreation and lots of parks close by. More importantly, it serves as a transportation hub to easily access other parts of England.
Average temperatures (high/low): July 71°F / 57°F; December 45°F / 37°F
Location: Central England
Cambridge and Oxford
For those considering Cambridge or Oxford, congratulations. These two institutions consistently rank in the top five universities in the world. They’re very difficult to get into and offer a more rigorous academic focus.
Let’s start with Oxford. The university is made up of 44 separate colleges. What you choose to study will determine the type of experience you have, as it’s a self-directed learning experience. Oxford – the school of choice for multiple monarchs and world leaders – is a stunning place, with a quirky cultural heritage. There’s a dress code for final exams (and subsequently getting clobbered with food when you complete them), participate in Formal Hall – potentially multiple times per week depending on your college tradition (these are sometimes fancy, multi-course dinner sittings) – and you’ll operate on Oxford Time, which is five minutes ahead of GMT.
Cambridge University is located in a small, student-run town (more like a village with cottages vibe). It’s made up of colleges similar to Oxford. With respect to tradition, Cambridge is slightlyless formal, but still has its quirks. Student’s aren’t allowed to have a job during the academic year, they assemble a “college family” and can get fake married (we’re serious) and they get to attend fancy college balls when exams are over in May.
How to plan your trip to England
Timing your study abroad trip
Our biggest piece of advice about your study abroad in England adventure is to not wait until the last minute to finalize key pieces to your stay such as housing, flights and packing. To avoid last-minute scrambles, our first action item is for to understand exactly what your study abroad program covers.
Aside from location, fees and flights, a lot of students ask how they should time their study abroad program. Most students will target study abroad programs their junior year of college. There’s a few reasons for this: (1) you’ll be well into your degree requirements and will have a better idea of how a semester abroad complements your overall degree and (2) you won’t miss out on any senior year festivities with your classmates back home. Here are a few other considerations:
Timeframe of attendance: Study abroad programs have different timing formats. While most study for a semester or a full academic year, don’t rule out a summer or winter session if that fits better with your budget.
Availability of courses: Starting at your current university makes sense. However, if your current institution doesn’t offer an English program, you can still opt for a study abroad provider that better meets your academic requirements.
Eligibility, program requirements and credit
Checking the boxes on your GPA and language prerequisites is the obvious place to start. Once you clear those hurdles, your next step is to make sure your study abroad credits fulfill your degree requirements back home. Do all of this before you start dreaming of your destination to avoid disappointment.
Planning tip: The most popular areas of study in England for international students at UK universities are business management, political science, law, economics and STEM fields.
Find a flight to England
Study abroad programs won’t cover your flights to and from your destination. Securing your itinerary is the same process as booking any other trip abroad, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
Ask your program leaders for advice: You’re going to get tired of us saying this, but your program coordinator has probably coached dozens of students through this situation and may know which airlines have the best discounts. In fact, the institution you’re studying at may have a deal of their own. It’s worth checking with them!
Rack up those frequent flier miles: Sign up for frequent flier accounts and push alerts for the airlines you think you’ll use. If you need a travel-friendly credit card, it may be worth signing up for one to increase the amount of miles you accrue.
Look online for student discounts: Websites like ScholarTrip and Student Universe offer travel deals to students. Some may have a buy now, pay later plan.
Find a place to stay in England
Student housing will likely be your biggest challenge when planning your study abroad experience. You’ll need to consider a number of factors such as personal preferences, affordability and availability. There’s a shortage of student housing in the UK, and you won’t have the luxury to take your time with this decision. In an ideal situation, your university program provider will have options available, but don’t count on that. While you should check with them first, here are other options to consider in order of most expensive to cheapest:
Apartments/flats: Secure a private apartment or find roommates to share accommodations. This will be your most costly option in England (especially London), but it will give you the most flexibility with respect to your choice of location and privacy. This is an especially attractive option if you’re studying abroad with people you know.
Private dorms or studios: This is similar to campus housing, except your residence won’t be managed by the institution you’re attending. It’s more costly than a traditional university dorm and you’ll share facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms, but there will be more availability.
University dorms: This is a solid choice if safety and socializing are top priorities for your study abroad adventure. You’ll have little-to-no privacy, but single rooms will likely be available. Also, you’ll be near campus, which is a positive for getting acclimated to your new home.
Homestays: Staying with a local family in a private room will be one of your cheapest options. You’ll be immersed into the local culture every day, with the comfort of a local support system and home-cooked meals.
How to get around in England
England’s rail system has a strong reputation, an it’s the most efficient way to travel around the country and to other parts of Europe. More good news: Many of England’s cities are quite walkable. These options mean you likely won’t need a car while studying abroad in England (which helps you avoid driving on the left side of the road, too).
Here’s a deep-dive on your England transportation options:
Rail: The trains in England are convenient and safe. Whether it’s intercity travel or you’re trying to get to other parts of Europe, you’ll have plenty of options on popular rail operators such as LNER, Northern and Eurostar. If you plan to study in cities such as London, Newcastle, Manchester or Liverpool, you’ll benefit from efficient light rail systems to get you around locally. Traveler’s tip: Look into a student rail pass for some major savings if you plan to travel a lot during your free time. While not your cheapest option, Trainline is a great source for trip planning and tickets, if you need to take different rail operators across Europe.
Bus (or “coach” as they say in England): We get it: buses aren’t sexy. However, you’ll quickly learn that rail operators in the UK love to go on strike. And that might mean taking a few long bus trips to make your weekend plans a reality. National Express and MegaBus (online ticket sales only) will be your most reliable options. And don’t forget about regional services on Stagecoach and Arriva to help get you around as well.
Air: England is home to over 40 commercial airports, and London Heathrow (LHR) is one of the most popular transportation hubs in the world. There’s six airports in London alone. Also, you have the luxury of budget airlines such as RyanAir, easyJet and other low-cost carriers that can take you to European destinations at a ridiculously low price (just be careful of those hidden fees). If you’re short on time or you can’t reasonably reach your destination by train, air travel is a smart option.
Car: Again, people in England drive on the left side of the road, which can be extremely dangerous if you have zero experience doing this. Plus, you’ll likely need an international driver’s license. If you need to take a car, rely on a friend that already knows their way around UK roads to avoid any major accidents.
Ferries: England is an island country, and many sail across the English Channel to destinations like France, Amsterdam and Spain regularly. You can also take a ferry to Ireland! This is a popular option if you have the time. Check out Direct Ferries to see maps and book tickets.
Safety while you’re in England
U.S. News & World Report ranks the UK the eighth safest country in the world. Pickpockets and petty theft will likely be your biggest threat. Our best advice: Try to avoid looking like a tourist and know where you’re going before you leave your residence.
Here are some other things to be aware of to keep you safe during your stay:
Theft in transit: Pickpocketing and theft occurs frequently while people are traveling. You’ll be especially susceptible on trains during rush hour. Travel light, keep your personal items close by and do not fall asleep. Criminals will target places that are highly congested with people and look for easy targets.
Be aware at night: If someone is going to rob you, it will likely be at night. Traveling in groups can significantly lower this risk.
Low risk of gun crime: The UK has very strict gun laws, so knives tend to be a bigger threat. But don’t worry, violent crime is very low in England and most stabbings are gang-related and happen late at night.
Terrorism threats: Again, the risk is low, but you can never rule out terrorism and civil unrest threats while traveling abroad – especially in major European cities. Register online at the U.S. State Department’s website to receive alerts and document your study abroad travel dates in the event of an emergency.
Bottom line: Students — especially women — who take reasonable precautions should be safe traveling around England. A good rule of thumb is to operate with the same amount of caution as you would back home.
Know your emergency contacts in England
Emergency numbers in England are different than the U.S. Plug the following numbers into your phone before you arrive:
999: UK emergency hotline – if a crime is in progress, a fire ignites or any other life-threatening emergencies that require immediate assistance happen, call this number right away.
112: This is the emergency hotline for all of Europe and can still be used in England post-Brexit for life-threatening emergencies.
101: Non-emergency hotline to report crimes or other situations that don’t require immediate assistance.
111: National Health Service (NHS) hotline for urgent medical advice that is not life threatening.
988: Suicide, crisis and support line
U.S. embassy website: The embassy is located in London. There are no other U.S. consulates in England, but there are locations in the UK such as Belfast, Hamilton, Edinburgh and Wales.
What to bring on your trip to England
We finally made it to the fun part — it’s time to prepare for your departure to England. Besides clothes and gadgets, you’ll also need to consider what kinds of documents are required to live abroad for an extended period of time. Refer to the sections below on what you need to remember.
A flexible wardrobe is necessary for England
We have some good news and bad news about the weather in England. We’ll start with the good: Overall, the climate is fairly mild, meaning that it doesn’t get unbearably hot or extremely frigid. The bad: The weather can be unpredictable and you’ll experience slight differences if living in northern England (e.g. Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester) versus southern England (e.g. London, Cambridge, Bournemouth). You’ll find southern England warmer in the summer months and more dry in the winter. You’ll want to be prepared for different forecasts throughout the day (translation – wear layers!). Also, rain is common regardless where you live, so we recommend investing in a good umbrella (they call it a brolly).
The British go for a polished casual look, as some would say, but they do love vintage as well. And since people do a lot of walking, jeans, waterproof shoes and light jackets are a staple.
See our full list of packing advice for studying abroad in the UK here.
Technology and plugs
You’ll need different plugs and adapters when traveling to England; specifically, Type G is the standard (a triangle with 3 rectangular pins). Since you’re likely to travel to other countries aside from England, we recommend purchasing a worldwide power adapter — you can get a good one for about $20 — that ensures you’ll always have a charge. It’s also important to check any electronics you plan to bring (hairdryers, hair straighteners, etc.) to make sure they match the electrical requirements. One adapter won’t be enough if you’re bringing a handful of devices that need converting. Purchase a multi-pack of Type G plugs in addition to your worldwide adapter or you’ll drive yourself crazy (trust us). The standard voltage is 240V, while the standard frequency is 50Hz.
Travel documents for England
First things first: Do you have a passport? If not, you need to stop what you’re doing and apply for one right now, especially if your trip is within six months (pay to expedite if this is the case). Thankfully, the UK is not as rigorous with documentation as other countries when it comes to studying abroad. Here’s what you need to do to make sure you’re prepared:
Student visa: Requirements are constantly changing, but you’ll likely need a student visa in order to study abroad and work in England. Check with your program coordinator first. If you’re going on your own, start here. The UK government website walks you through detailed steps, but you’ll need to be prepared to go to your local application center to prove your identity (including fingerprints), pay your visa fees, show proof of finances, and possibly present a negative Tuberculosis test, your acceptance letter and your passport.
Passport: See the first two sentences of this section. With recent U.S. backlogs in processing, passports aren’t as easy to attain as they were in the past.
Driver’s license: You’ll need it if you plan on driving a car while in England.
University acceptance letter: You’ll need this at Border Security when you arrive in England and show them your approved visa.
A note about health insurance: England has a government-run healthcare system called the NHS (National Health System). This allows any person — regardless of immigration status — to access basic healthcare (e.g. not based on ability to pay). However, NHS coverage is not free. Check with your program coordinator on this matter specifically to ensure you’re covered upon arrival. It’s possible you’ll pay a subsidy when applying for your visa, but again, specific programs may have alternative arrangements.
How much does it cost to study abroad in England?
The frustrating answer to this question is that the cost to study abroad in England varies significantly. Keep in mind, England uses the British pound sterling (£), which will inflate your costs (more on this later). This is why the UK is one of the higher-cost destinations for studying abroad. A good starting place is to answer these financial questions is to understand what your program does and does not cover. In most cases, if you’re participating in your home university’s program, you’ll probably pay your regular tuition plus an additional fee that goes toward your classes and administrative costs (those fees sometimes include student housing and/or meal plans, too). On average, it will likely cost between $14,000-$24,000 per academic year for those studying abroad in England. And that doesn’t include personal travel, flights and other variables like meals and entertainment. With that in mind, here’s a look at how to budget for your trip.
How to budget for your trip to England
Part of life after school will be credit checks – everyone wants to make sure you’re able to pay. Studying abroad is no different. As part of obtaining your student visa, you’ll need to show financial proof that you can cover the cost of your study abroad stint. Next, take time to think through what your expenses will look like, including what you’ll spend on leisure travel. Also, your budget needs will depend a lot on your location (i.e. – that budget won’t go as far in London as it will in Manchester or Newcastle). Here’s a look at seven areas student travelers need to budget for:
The basics like tuition, registration and any addition administrative fees
Housing costs are next on the list of importance, unless they’re included in your program package (make sure to check on utilities and internet costs, too)
Weekend trips and personal travel, as studying abroad doesn’t mean sitting in one city the whole time
Food costs can add up fast, especially if you’re eying up some famous restaurants or traveling a lot
Entertainment is a big consideration, too. Some museums might be cheap or free with student discounts, but those football matches and trips to the pub won’t be
International health insurance, which, as mentioned above is required to study abroad in England
And don’t forget trip insurance, though you should first look into any health insurance plan you use’s location coverage
What currency do they use in England?
As noted above, the UK uses the British pound sterling (£) (also known as the pound or quid) as their national currency. The UK government wanted to maintain its own economic sovereignty and interest rate policy, which is why they never adopted the Euro like many other European countries. One U.S. dollar holds less value than one British pound, which means you need to keep a closer eye on your spending until you get used to the exchange rates. You can see current exchange rates here.
When it comes to exchange rates and fees, you’ll get your best deals by using an international credit card or debit card (making sure there are no foreign transaction fees). You should also notify your bank you’ll be studying abroad to ensure you won’t have issues paying while moving around England or Europe. Also, you’ll want to have access to cash when traveling to smaller cities, where you’re bound to find yourself in cash-only situations.
Finally, if you plan on working part-time during your study abroad program, you’ll likely need to open a British bank account to receive your paycheck. However, look into the company Wise, which is becoming a popular financial option for international students.
What special things do people buy in England?
You weren’t coming back from your trip empty handed, right? Here are a few ideas of what gifts to bring back to family and friends:
A royal treat for your royal family-obsessed relatives: You can find a plethora of royal family and Buckingham Palace memorabilia items from tea cups, towels and other souvenirs.
Get an imperial pint-sized glass: Similar to the British pound, even the UK’s beer sizes are 25 percent larger than the U.S. An imperial pint in Britain is 20 fluid ounces, as opposed to a standard pint in the U.S., which is 16 fluid ounces.
Take advantage of student discounts in England
Now that we’ve prepared you for the cost of studying abroad, we want to give you some tips on how to leverage your student status. Even if you don’t take any of our advice below, do us a favor and carry your student ID card with you everywhere. You never know when you’ll come across potential discounts.
Ask your program coordinator about discounts: Typically, universities will have local deals setup for students. Ask your point of contact for insight into any deals that can save you money weekly.
TOTUM card (formally NUS): Rated the #1 student discount card in the UK, TOTUM gives you access to a host of discounts on clothing, entertainment and food. For those students studying abroad for a full academic year, consider the Pro tier for £34.99, which will give you a free ISIC card for 12 months and a PAss-age ID (e.g. you can leave your passport and/or driver’s license locked away).
International Student ID Card (ISIC): If there was a global student ID card, this would be it. For only €11, you’ll have access to significant discounts in over 130 countries, including restaurants, museums, travel and more.
Oyster card (London only): If you’re planning to study in London, you’ll want an 18+ Student Oyster that will save you roughly 30 percent on the Tube, London Overground, Elizabeth line and most National Rail services. You will need proof of student status when apply.