. Misconceptions:


These are not all the same thing.  The United Kingdom is a sovereign state that includes Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  Great Britain is the “main” island, and includes three countries: Scotland, England, and Wales.  England is the largest country within both the state of United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain.

“British” accent

There is no “British” accent.  There are nine regional dialects in England: Southwest, Southeast, London, East, East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, Northwest, and Northeast.  What’s in an accent anyways?


Sorry to disappoint, but “cheerio” is quite archaic and the English do not tend to actually use the phrase, nor do they normally say “spiffing,” “pip pip,” “fearfully,” “I say, old chap,” or “jolly good.”

Time for tea

Despite the 119,000,000+ cups of tea that have been consumed in England to date, there is no designated “tea time” in modern England.  Tea time is anytime that there is time! Now try saying that five times fast.

Bad teeth

This one is just outdated.  Picture the nineteenth century, a time that predates modern dentistry.   England is a driving force in world politics.  So, for years people are in the spotlight, and dental hygiene does not yet exist.  Get where I’m going?  An age old stereotype was born, when the reality of the situation is this: modern England is actually topping the charts for having the best teeth, with an average of just 0.6% of a tooth decaying per person.  How’s that for bad teeth?

London rain


England has gotten a bad rep for having bad weather and incessant rain, but the country actually enjoys a fairly pleasant climate, especially when compared to other parts of the world.   The United Kingdom lands spot #48 for total precipitation, lower than Australia, The United States, and Japan!

English food is bad

Even BBC is worked up about this one.  England has many culinary claims to fame, including the invention of the modern sandwich and chocolate bar, 158 Michelin-starred restaurants, and world renowned chef Jamie Oliver.  Also, despite popular belief, fish and chips is not the only (or even favorite) dish, nor is Yorkshire pudding.  It’s curry!

Warm beer

Select beers are indeed served warm, but the majority of English cider, lager, and ale is “best served cold.”

All hail the Queen!

No, not every Englishmen knows the Queen personally.  No, “God Save the Queen” is not England’s national anthem.  No, the Queen does not rule England (she is the symbolic head of the country, but not the actual leader).  Surprised?

“Wrong” side of the road

Driving on the left is not wrong, nor is it unique to England.  Australia, Japan, Thailand, South Africa, Kenya, Pakistan and India, and many other countries follow this practice.



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.


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.



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