Studying Abroad in the UK

Studying Abroad in the UK: The Challenges, Differences and Lifestyle Changes

6th August 2018

Jenny Jones, a U.S. Exchange Student from Columbia University discusses her five top tips for ‘Studying Abroad in the UK’ based on her experience as an American student living in the UK. Read on for great advice applicable to anyone coming to live in Great Britain.

Studying abroad is one of the more rewarding and overwhelming experiences you can pursue as an American undergrad. It opens up the world beyond our American borders, full-scale immersing you in another culture, society, community, and custom. While learning that football doesn’t really mean football, you slowly fall in love with the universal British charm.

For those considering studying abroad in the UK, although they also speak English, there are still some challenges, differences, and lifestyle norms you should prep for before you call Great Britain your new temporary home.

Here is our quick crash course on surviving a study abroad program in the UK:

1. The Pound

Right now, the Pound is at an all-time high value, coming in at 1 pound = 1.31 USD. It’s pretty easy to blow through your money when you’re dealing with that type of conversion rate, which is why it’s wise to plan accordingly and consider some budgeting before you go live in the UK.

2. UK Guarantors

Different from other study abroad destinations, in the UK, to rent, you will be required to provide a UK-based rent guarantor. You’re probably thinking to yourself: how on earth is that possible? Some accommodation providers offer the option to pay 6-12 months of the rent upfront if you do not supply the UK guarantor. As you probably don’t have the means to do that, you should speak to the leading UK Rent Guarantor Service – Housing Hand. For as little as £42 a month over 8 months, you can use them as a rent guarantor to reduce the risk of paying 6-12 months rent upfront. 

3. Reversed Dates

Aside from military time, do remember that dates are reversed in the UK (as well as driving on the left-hand side of the road). So if someone tells you they will see you on 11/12, it means they are planning to hang out with you on December 11th. This can be confusing and cause many foreign students to miss out on first classes, appointments, and so forth.

4. Car Rentals

No matter how proficient you might be at driving the US, you have to understand that driving on the left-hand side of the road is a whole new experience. Thousands of US students end up British car accidents every year trying their hand at driving a rental car there – especially through London. If you’re going to really attempt driving in Great Britain, please take a class or read a book on the traffic changes.

5. The Lingo

Lastly, the Brits like to use words differently on their turf. For instance, biscuits aren’t the buttery fluffy rolls you eat with chicken – they’re hard cookies dipped in tea. And underwear doesn’t mean underwear – it means pants. Don’t worry, it’s easy to grab hold of, and Brits are more than happy to show you.

Preparing your Studying Abroad in the UK

Most importantly: the UK is full of a hard-working, warm, and welcoming person that wants you to come experience their home country. Through the company Housing Hand, they understand the UK guarantor system can trip up Americans easily, which is why they make it seamlessly accessible for you to secure their services without paying upfront rent.

This article about ‘Studying Abroad in the UK’ was written by Jenny Jones from Columbia University for the use of Housing Hand – the Award-Winning UK Rent Guarantor Service. Please contact Housing Hand to find out more about how we can help you secure your rented property in the UK.