FAQ

What currency is used in the UK?

The United Kingdom uses the pound sterling.  There are eight commonly coins (1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, £2) and four commonly notes (£5, £10, £20, £50) used.  Do not be alarmed if you travel to different countries within the UK and receive notes or coins that look different from what you are used to.  Banks outside of England may produce their own currency, but as long as it is pound sterling, the money is still valid anywhere in the UK.

I heard the UK uses a different clock…

The United Kingdom does use the 24-hour clock.  An easy way to learn how to convert to back to the 12-hour clock is to subtract two from any hour above twelve.  The second number is the time.  For example, if it is 20:00, it is 8PM (20-2 = 18).  If it is 16:00, it is 4PM (16-2 = 14).

What about the date?

Indeed, the United Kingdom does write the date differently than the United States.  You write the date, then month, then year.  If it is July 13, 2013, you will write 13/07/2013.  Easy enough, right?

So what kind of government does the UK have?

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, meaning the Queen is in charge, but has limits placed on the control she has.  The head of government is the prime minister, and the legislative branch is called Parliament.  You can visit the Houses of Parliament or Buckingham Palace (the Queen’s main residence) in London.

houses-of-parliament

Is the UK diverse?

Although 85% of the population is described as “white” by the 2001 Census, one in eight people in the United Kingdom were born overseas.

But they all speak English!  This will be a piece of cake…

Although English is the national language, the differences between American English and British/Irish/Scottish/Welsh English can be overwhelming.  Words have different meanings, phrases may sound foreign, and interactions will surprise you.

How much money should I expect to spend while abroad?

As with any spending, the amount differs per person.  I spent about $80 on groceries every month, and close to $30 on additional food (take-aways, coffee, on campus snacks).  Plan on spending about $5 per load for laundry, and $3 round-trip for the city bus fare.  And do not forget to factor in other travel expenses.  All in all, I would say to bring anywhere from $1000-$3000 spending money.

Can I get scholarships to study abroad?

Yes.  There are numerous websites dedicated to study abroad scholarships.  Don’t forget to take advantage of your home campus funding as well.

What is the drinking age?

The legal drinking age in the UK is 18.

Can I drive a car?

To drive a car in the UK you must be at least 17-years-old, hold a valid driver’s license, and own insurance.

Do I need a visa?

If you are studying in the United Kingdom for less than six months, you do not need a visa.  If you are planning on staying for longer than six months, you will need to obtain a Tier-4 visa.  You need a Tier-4 visa to work in the UK regardless of how long you plan on staying.

When should I apply?

Most programs require applications at least one semester prior to the intended study start date.  Once you have selected a program, visit their International Student page to obtain more information on the specific application requirements.

How is the weather?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not always raining in the United Kingdom.  The weather can change very rapidly, so be prepared for anything.  Be prepared for cold in the winter and spring (about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, possibility of snow).  The fall and summer months are mild, so don’t expect anything too hot or humid.  I suggest packing a variety of outfits in order to be prepared for whatever the weather throws at you.

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More questions?  Feel free to post them in the comments!

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