What You Need To Know About Studying Abroad In The UK
Dec 18, 2014 by Bryanna Davis
I’m Bryanna Davis with InternationalStudent.com and today I’m going to give you some information on what to expect when studying abroad in the UK. For those of you who are currently studying in the US but want information on studying abroad in the UK or who are trying to decide between studying in the US vs. UK- this hangout will give you good insight.
Thank you for attending our kickin' it old school classroom series- I'm Bryanna Davis with InternationalStudent.com and today I'm going to give you some information on what to expect when studying abroad in the UK. For those of you who are currently studying in the US but want information on studying abroad in the UK or who are trying to decide between studying in the US vs. UK- this hangout will give you good insight.
We're not going to discuss the logistics of how to study in the UK today, but if that's something you're interested in learning more about please let us know and we will have a future hangout for you on that topic. As always, please send us any questions you might have through the Q&A feature and we will get those answered.
Let's dive right into what you can expect when you study abroad in the UK.
First, a change of pace in the classroom. As someone who studied abroad in the UK I can tell you first hand that you will have a period of adjustment to go through when it comes to assignments. For example- in the US throughout the semester you will have a number of essays, pop quizzes, large reading assignments, exams and other steady projects. However, in the UK that's not the case. It will primarily be lectures with one big assignment or project at the end of the semester that your grade will be largely dependent on. For me, having been used to the US educational system, not having a ton of homework really worried me the first few weeks I studied abroad- I was concerned that perhaps I'd missed something and there was a handout somewhere with a list of homework assignments I'd been missing out on. But of course that wasn't the case- it was just a different class style.
Second, an outstanding education. When you study in the UK you'll have the opportunity to get a really great education. In fact, according to the Times Higher Education two of the top five universities in the world in 2014 are located in the United Kingdom (University of Cambridge and University of Oxford just in case you were wondering which ones). So, just because you won't be swamped in homework doesn't mean you won't be walking away packed full of knowledge- you'll get a world class education when studying in the UK.
Although this hangout is speaking primarily to those of you who are directly enrolled in a school in your home country and want to study abroad in the UK for a year or semester- if you want to become directly enrolled in a school in the UK and perhaps you're trying to decide between studying in the UK or studying in the US take note that the UK will take a shorter time period for you to obtain your degree- generally. For a bachelor's degree in the US it usually takes about 4 years whereas in the UK it takes about 3. Master's degrees in the US take about 2 years while in the UK only 1 and a PhD in the US can take 5-7 years while in the UK it's usually 3. This means semesters you have to pay for and the quicker you can enter the job force. Keep in mind that this isn't always- Scotland for example has a growing number of 4 year bachelor degree programs.
Third is a new living situation. More than likely you'll be given the option to live off campus when you arrive- quite a change from many US universities regulating that you live on campus your first semester. While this could be a tempting idea, don't forget that living in the halls of residence are a great way to meet people. If you lived in a US dorm your freshmen year of college you know that it opens the doors to meeting a lot of great people- the same can hold true for your time abroad. Now if you're used to having your own room and aren't too sure how well you would do going back to having a roommate- you're in luck. Typically in the UK you won't have a roommate. Your room might be a bit smaller but you usually will be able to call it your own.
Next, you'll have fewer car rides. You will come home with a new skill- the ability to navigate public transportation! From metro systems like the tube to trains and buses you will become a master. Public transportation in the UK is very convenient, you more than likely won't even miss having a car except after grocery shopping trips. While studying in the UK I rode in a car other than a cab probably 10 times or less. It might seem odd at first but walking or using public transportation will also give you a better look at the country you're studying in.
Fifth, culture shock. You might be thinking how different can the UK really be from the US? After all, everyone speaks English in both, right?
So I'm going to test your British English language skills up against your US English language skills- we have a fun little quiz. I'll give you the question and pop it up on the screen, send in your guess through the chat feature if you'd like to participate. Let's see how well you know your British English!
Question 1: A boot is something you wear on your foot in the US, but something you what in the UK?
- Is the trunk on the back of your vehicle
- Use as a nickname for good friends
Question 2: If you're cooking something on the hob while in the UK you're cooking in the US:
- In the microwave
- On the stove
- On a grill
Question 3: If you're searching for a restroom while in the UK how do you ask?
- Where is the wardrobe?
- Where is the crusty dragon
- Where is the loo?
Answer time - if you answered to question #1 that the boot is the trunk of a vehicle in the US then you're correct. For question #2, if you said a hob is what's called the stove in the US, you're correct. And for question #3, if you said where is the loo then you are right.
Along with a few word and phrase differences you'll notice it in big things like fashions, foods, accents, driving on the opposite side of the road, but also in the little things like the street sizes, the music playing in the gym, the snacks sold in the convenient stores and sounds and smells on the street. Something that I was quite surprised by when I studied in the UK is there was a club and a pub in the student union. In the US the only thing we had in our student union that came remotely close was a smoothie stand. In my UK school it was a place where students would often mingle and relax during the week in the pub, and dance on the weekends in the club- it was a place where students went to have fun.
Sixth on the list is cheaper travel. If you're wanting to travel throughout the UK and Europe it's very possible. If you're a US citizen you know that since the US is so spread out it's not cheap or quick to travel across the US. In the UK the rail systems and access to cheap flights make travel in the UK and to nearby locations very easy and cheap. Every long weekend and holiday break you will be able to visit another country. A few really cheap travel companies include Megabus, Ryanair, Easyjet. These three cheap travel options allowed me to travel a ton during my studies in the UK, but just a warning: they aren't going to be the most relaxing modes of transportation. They will usually take a bit longer, have more stops along the way and be quite cramped. However, the price is often worth it to get to your destination. Also- you will want to ensure you get an NUS card (national union of students card) this will get you a lot of discounts- including on travel.
Last on the list, a high cost of living. Even though you'll have access to cheap travel you will still spend a lot of money just on daily items. According to a recent HSBC survey the average cost of living will be about £6,825 (US$11,034) for one year. If you're wanting to live in London you can expect to pay even more, up to £13,388 (US$21,644)!
These are just a few differences that you can expect when you study abroad in the UK. Let's take a look at questions.