10 Unexpected Joys of Studying Abroad in England

by Danielle DeSimone

Spending a semester studying abroad in Jolly ol’ England will give you more than you bargained for. Speaking from experience, my semester studying in Bath impacted me beyond an affinity for breakfast beans and an appreciation for “minding the gap.” While I knew it was going to be a fun, adventurous, learning experience, I had no idea about the euphoria I was in for.

Bird's eye view of the Parliament building in London, England

Studying abroad in England, whether in London or somewhere further a-flung, yields a hoard of long and short-term benefits. Don’t believe me? Read on!

1. Academic Prowess.

England’s educational system is ranked second in Europe and sixth worldwide. The country has a long history of prestigious universities, a few of which were some of the first in the world and are still in existence today. England claims six of the top 20 universities in the world, as well as an impressively large group of alumni, from Stephen Hawking to J.R.R. Tolkien to Margaret Thatcher. If you want an international academic experience rivaled by no other, England is the place for you to study abroad.

2. Dreaded Weather.

No, really, you may actually enjoy this part of study abroad in England. Although England is certainly prone to a lot of rainstorms, you’ll grow to love the light drizzle that makes the rolling hills of the British countryside bloom into a vibrant green scene. When the sun does emerge from the clouds, the weather is very temperate, the perfect sunny day with just a bit of a breeze. With the constant rain, you’ll also learn to appreciate the sunshine and always be prepared with an umbrella on hand, just in case.

3. You want it? They’ve got it.

Since England is a pioneer in various industries and fields, many of which span international borders, you can study just about every subject imaginable in England, as almost every university will provide a diverse and comprehensive amount of subjects and courses to choose from. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some majors that are ideal for study in England, too.

Stonehenge, England

4. Varied History.

England has made its mark in the history books, touting a list that ranges from the Magna Carta to Prince Harry. However, the history is not just in the textbooks, it’s in the buildings where you’ll take classes, streets you’ll walk through, and in the traditional food you’ll eat. The past is appreciated and commemorated in modern culture, as England is entrenched history that still influences day-to-day life and traditions. 

5. English Language.

If you speak English, you should be able to navigate your way through England with relative ease. However, don’t expect to understand everything people say; Standard British English is its own dialect, and there are many accents throughout England that may be difficult to understand at first. Someone from Liverpool will sound completely different from someone who has lived in London their whole life, but in some ways the language barriers are an exciting challenge, almost as if you’re relearning a language you already know. You will also become accustomed to a different way of communicating. When it comes to humor, the British sense of humor is extremely distinct and leans heavily on sarcasm and a deadpan delivery. Just laugh along and you’ll find the humor in it soon enough.

6. Fabulous Cities & Gorgeous Mountains.

Whether you’re hiking through Yorkshire or exploring Bath’s crowded, crooked alleyways, in England there is a place for everyone. You’ll find massive music festivals in the quaint countryside and humble farmer’s markets in the heart of London’s metropolis.

The beauty of England is the seamless combination of city life and the great outdoors. There is always something to do and and somewhere to go, no matter your style of living.
The London Eye, England

7. Cosmopolitan Vibes.

With England’s many educational and professional opportunities, students and young professionals from all over the world find themselves drawn to England’s shores. As a result, there is a huge amount of cultural diversity in England (and especially in London), which fosters a dynamic, multinational society entirely unique to the small island. Additionally, it has brought a large amount of diverse cuisine to the country (and again, to London especially), as well as the opportunity to make friends with students from all over the world. 

8. Pubs, baby!

There are NO bars, there are pubs in England, and once you start going to them, you’ll never be the same. England approaches going out in the evenings differently than in the United States, and many other countries. Your local pub is not just a place for drinks, but also a place for locals to meet, grab a bite to eat, and get together after a long day. Once you’ve chosen your favorite neighborhood pub, you’ll soon find yourself becoming a part of a very loyal local community. 

9. Ease of Travel.

Your dreams of taking a train to Hogwarts can finally come true, sans the classes in charms and potions. England has one of the most well-connected and efficient train systems in the world, making it easy to travel all around the country. Also, because of England’s close proximity to mainland Europe, France, Switzerland, Greece, and even North Africa are just a short, inexpensive flight away.

Crowded street in London, England

10. Personal & Academic Growth.

Studying abroad in England will change you deeply, by showing you a completely different way of learning and living.

One of the biggest benefits of studying abroad in England (or any country for that matter) is that your worldview will be completely altered and you will inevitably grow both personally and academically. The first moment you navigate the tube without a second thought, the day you realize you understand your flatmate’s narration of a futbol game, or the day you get on the plane to leave this rainy, green-hilled island for the last time, you’ll realize just how much you’ve changed for the better.

This is just a short-list of the joys I experienced during my semester of study abroad in England. Fellow study abroad alumni out there, what unexpected perks would you add to the list?