How to Prepare for Study Abroad in England

by Katie Pietras

Studying abroad is an amazing experience, as anyone who has done it will gladly tell you (and probably at length). But one of the most important parts of having an amazing experience is spending an adequate amount of time preparing, and even more importantly, in the right way.

View of the London Eye in London, England

1. Do Some Research

Even after you’ve chosen the country in which you want to spend your time abroad, there is still more decision making to be done. Do you want to study abroad in a big city, like London, or somewhere a little more off the beaten path? Do you want to study during the summer term for six weeks or spend your entire junior year abroad? Do you want to join a unique program that involved lots of traveling, or settle into one city for your stay?

You should check out all the study abroad programs available in England, through your own university, other universities, and even third party providers, before making a decision. Sometimes it can really help to make a decision if you see all of the information and options available to you spread out in one place. You can make a day of it, and share the process with your family and friends to narrow down your choices.

2. Pack Smart

When preparing for study abroad, pack what you think you will need and a handful of things you think you might not need, because chances are you will need some things you wouldn’t expect. However, you don’t want to bring your whole closet or only the most basic survival necessities. Find a happy medium and do consider practicalities when packing for study abroad.

The most important thing to remember is England’s temperamental weather. It doesn’t rain all the time as many students expect, and when it does rain it isn’t usually heavy, but it can and will rain with almost no warning. So make sure you are prepared with climate appropriate clothing, and never forget to pack an umbrella, rainboots, and a raincoat!

Last, but not least, don’t forget to bring some things that will remind you of home: pictures of your family and friends or even a flag so you can show your national pride.

Phone box in London, England

3. Ask For Help

The hardest part of preparing for studying abroad will probably be figuring out your visa application. It will take some time researching online and reviewing England’s immigration website to determine what is needed and you will probably feel a bit terrified by the many steps are necessary to complete the process. However, there are always more resources available than you see online right away.

if you’re stuck on something to do with your study abroad planning, visit the study abroad office at your home university or try asking some students who have studied abroad in the past how they went about completing the visa process. People are always willing to help out, you just have to remember to ask. 

4. Learn the Lingo

England may have a reputation as a “safe choice” for study abroad experiences, especially if you’re from an English-speaking country like the United States, but it is still a foreign country. There are clear differences in the language and the culture.

You may have trouble understanding the various local accents, especially at first, but you’ll get used to them pretty quickly. It’s especially important to know some of the slang; you wouldn’t want to be talking about your “pants” in public in England, that’s for sure (because pants refers to American underwear).

You’ll also need to know the difference between England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom, and the British Isles. England is just England. Great Britain encompasses England, Wales, and Scotland. The United Kingdom is Great Britain plus Northern Ireland, and the British Isles is the United Kingdom plus Ireland.

5. Plan Ahead

We all know that no one plans to lose their ID, credit cards, or worst of all their passport. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a back-up plan just in case. Take advantage of resources like Google Drive and make copies of all your personal information so you can access it from anywhere if it becomes necessary. Make sure to mark all of your luggage with your name, your address in England, and an email address, because you won’t have a working phone number immediately.

What are you waiting for?