Before You #StudyAbroad in the UK: A To-Do and Don’t-Do List

“Before You Study Abroad in the UK: A To-Do and Don’t-Do List”

by Roslyn Kent via “Huffington Post

Failing to prepare is like preparing to fail; get organized, check off that list and do your research before you go overseas to the United Kingdom–you won’t regret be over prepared.

It’s normal to be overwhelmed by all the check lists, packing lists and shopping lists that you’ll undoubtedly be inundated with prior to leaving for your exchange in the UK. Emotions aside, the last thing you’ll want to deal with before you leave is the logistics of your exchange; unfortunately, your mom can’t do it all for you. Not sure what you’ll need while overseas? Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do prior to leaving for your whirlwind study abroad experience:

Don’t:

1. Overpack: You won’t be wanting to bring all your unnecessary bulky toiletries. You will be able to buy almost all of them there (unless you need to use specific brands) and chances are, they’ll be even cheaper overseas (hello Poundland!).

2. Buy a roaming package for your phone: Phone plans are dirt cheap in the UK (the cheapest you’ll pay is £5/month or at the most, £15/month, which will probably included unlimited data and lots of texting and calling). If you extend your phone plan from home it will still cost you more, especially for data–you’ll want data in case you get lost. Try to get a month by month plan so you’re not tied down to anything. If you can, sign up with Three Mobile, that way you can use your phone for free in 10 other countries in Europe!

3. Pay for unnecessary visas: Make sure you’re aware of exactly which visa you’ll need while in the UK. It’s likely your home university’s study abroad office will assist you in this, but avoid seeking advice elsewhere (i.e. from friends who’ve never studied abroad). If you’re a citizen of a commonwealth country then you won’t have to pay for a visa at all if you only plan to stay in the UK for six months. Research the different options and be wary of paying for a visa you won’t need.

4. Bring your hair dryer and straightener: If you want to avoid bringing home a broken hair dryer/straightener, it’s highly advisable that you buy a cheap one over there and share with your roommates. Oftentimes, North American hair dryers and straighteners aren’t equipped to handle the voltage of a UK outlet. If you’re certain yours can handle it then go ahead and bring it with you, if not, it’s better to be safe than sorry! . . .

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50 Things College Students Should Know About London

“50 Things College Students Should Know About London”

by Emma White via “Huffington Post

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Tips from a study abroad student in London

1. London is expensive- save money. The first thing that people will tell you about London is that it’s expensive. Between the exchange rate, going out and if you’re like me and can’t walk by a gelato shop without walking in get ready to spend some serious money. Before you go try to save up as much money as you can because whatever you think you’re going to spend, you’ll probably spend more. Things like a security deposit, buying books or forgetting something small will add up. And of course you want to have a little fun while you’re here too!

2. Show your student ID. Showing a student card can get you discounts at retail stores, restaurants and clubs. In terms of going out in London, most places have a cover charge but there are ways around it! For a lot of places, something as simple as adding your email address to a mailing list will get you free entry! Also, many bars and clubs have free cover if you go earlier before it gets crowded. You might be the first ones there but after seeing the cover charge add up over the weeks you won’t mind after a while.

3. Get an Oyster Card. One of the best student discounts London offers is the oyster card. It is a discounted card for the London Underground System. I thought that I would hate taking the tube to class everyday but it is essential to getting around London. A student rate for a monthly unlimited pass is about £80 and it will pay for itself in about a week. Almost everywhere is accessible by the tube so this card will become your new best friend.

4. Don’t let the weather/being lazy spoil your plans. It’s easy to let the weather or the excuse of a lazy Sunday intimidate you from going through with plans you may have had. Some days you’ll be tempted to stay in and watch tv or movies but there’s so much to do in the city it’s important to force yourself to get out.

5. Apps to get. There are a bunch of apps to get that will make your time in London a whole lot easier, whether for staying in touch finding a restaurant or catching a cab.

• Viber is great for texting (and calling as long as you have wifi.)
• Whatsapp is for texting. Download these two apps before you go as they will send you a confirmation email to register.
• Citymapper tells you how to get to any address via the tube, bus or walking. This app has been a lifesaver!
• Hailo finds cabs nearby and allows you to pay for in through the app with a credit card if you’re running low on cash.
• Tripadviser lists the top attractions and will give basic info like how much it costs, the hours and a general description.
• Zomato uses your location to find restaurants in your area. When looking for places on a budget it’s a lot easier than walking the streets and settling on a place out of hunger.
• WeHostels If you’re heading off exploring for the weekend, check out this easy to use app to find affordable accommodations. It’s easy to use on the go with great reviews of concerts and festivals.

6. Pub life. If you want to meet local British people your best bet is to go to the quintessential London pub. You will see people out drinking at pubs at noon and all throughout the day. With the lack of open containers laws at night people will linger outside of pubs spilling onto sidewalks and the street. Throughout the week, pubs are the place to be. Also, by going to bars and pubs by local British universities you can ensure you will meet British people your own age.

7. Commit yourself to a football team. You might not be a fan of a particular team before you come but you will be by the time you leave. Even if you don’t go to a game, watching one at a pub with friends and cheering on your team can be a great way to experience London culture. I was able to take a tour of the Chelsea football team stadium, locker room and press room through a school trip so now I have dedicated myself to Chelsea. GO BLUES!

8. Walk a new way home everyday. This tip was told to me by one of my flat mates’ brother who studied abroad in London a few years ago but I liked it so much I am passing it on. By walking a new way home, to class, to a different tube stop or even just walking to walk, you pay more attention to your surroundings. By walking places, you’ll see more of different areas or neighborhoods and find hidden spots you may want to go back to.

9. It’s okay to be a tourist. The London Eye, Tower Bridge, Big Ben etc. are sights that you need to see. What’s great about London is that many of the sights are free. Most of the museums and main sights you can see for free and if not, that student card I mentioned before can get you in at a discount rate. London has a history dating back over 2000 years, there’s so much to see that no one should miss!

10. Do all the touristy stuff right when you get here. When you first get to London everything is new and exciting and you’ll be motivated to take it all in right away. The longer you let pass, the less likely you’ll be to go out and see the city. Within the first few weeks of getting here, go out and see all the cliche stuff. You can always go back another time too but don’t leave London without seeing all the major attractions!

11. Write down your experiences. This one may seem corny but it’s a good idea to write down the places you go or travel to, what you see and how you’re feeling throughout your abroad experience. You’re going to want to be able to look back and remember everything you did. Whether you write in a journal, a word document or go as far as to write a blog to share with others, you’ll be happy you have it to look back on. Better yet, share your experience with the College Tourist. Create an author’s profile here.

12. Force yourself to take pictures. I am not a person who usually takes pictures but since being abroad I have tried to force myself to document everything I see and do. As a general rule, if you think you’ve taken enough pictures, take more. That way, you’ll guarantee you have at least one good photo from everywhere you go. You might think you’re taking way too many but you’ll be happy you did when you have good pictures to show from your travels. . . . .

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