Getting the Most Out of Studying in the UK

Written by  //  2012/05/10  //  Academics, Study Abroad  //  Comments Off on Getting the Most Out of Studying in the UK

A college education is designed to give you a great head-start in life, not just in your chosen field of expertise, but also in the social and cultural aspects. As part of this process, many thousands of American students take up the chance to study abroad every year, as an opportunity to broaden their horizons and absorb themselves in a different culture.

The UK is always a popular destination with US students, as there are cultural similarities – yet enough differences – which make it a stimulating home from home. While your college will help you with the academic side of things, such as finding a suitable course and assisting with the continuation of your existing study program, there are other things to think about when it comes to preparing for living in the UK.

Official advice comes from the State Department, which has now set up a dedicated website to help US students prepare for overseas study. This includes an access point for the Step Traveler Enrollment Program, which allows you to enter specific details regarding your time abroad and register them with the State Department. Should you need to be contacted in an emergency, or need to come home quickly, this information will help the department to provide the assistance you require. Should you be unfortunate enough to find yourself in serious financial, legal or medical difficulty, this service can prove invaluable.

If you’re studying in Great Britain, you will need to sort out a visa from the Home Office UK Border Agency. While the UK welcomes foreign students, there is plenty of information you must familiarize yourself with, relating to things such as working restrictions and stay duration. The Home Office website should provide you with all the information you require.

Once you have all of the official requirements out of the way, it pays to familiarize yourself with UK culture. While the chances are that if you’re considering a year studying Britain you’re already a bit of an Anglophile, it is a good idea to get a handle on how things work over there. The little things may seem insignificant, but they can add to the stress of leaving your family, friends and culture.

Take owning a car for example. In many areas of the US, owning a car is a necessity, but this is not necessarily the case in the UK. What’s more, gas – or petrol as it’s known over there – is proportionally much more expensive. In addition, it’s illegal to have a car on the road without insurance, whether you’re driving it or not. Yet there are special policies available such as student car insurance deals from Can Can Cover, so if you think you’ll need a vehicle while you study in the UK, do your research ahead of time and factor in these costs. The same principle can be applied to all living costs – it is a good idea to know how much things are likely to cost so you can budget for your stay. Finding out too late that you do not have sufficient finances can seriously impact on your overall experience.

With all this to think about, moving abroad can seem extremely daunting, but it needn’t be. By following this advice and planning ahead you’ll be able to focus on what is likely to prove a life-changing experience.

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