Last Updated: November 17, 2021
Life and Living in the UK
Many students dream of studying internationally for the entirety of the college experience. Moving to a different country, experiencing a new culture and lifestyle is a chance that is rarely offered past college studies. However, living in a completely new country can seem daunting and unnerving, even to the most prepared student.
The United Kingdom (UK) is situated in the northwestern part of Europe and is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is also known as the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". The UK is widely known for its unitary system of government. London is the capital city of the United Kingdom, as well as the largest city.
The UK is renowned for various aspects such as the Education System, Music, Sports, and most importantly, Literature. It is through Literature that people around the world are familiar with great minds like William Shakespeare, Keats, Jane Austen, and of course, J.K. Rowling. This is reason enough for the UK to be a very popular destination for international students looking to study abroad. However, before starting college life in another country, prospective students should plan their budget, not only for the university but lifestyle and residency as well. Read along to know more about living in the UK.
Languages in the UK
English is the official language of the UK. However, the dialects may vary based on the region. Other major languages include Welsh, Cornish, Gaelic, Scots, and so on. There are about 14 different indigenous languages spoken in the United Kingdom. Given that the United Kingdom attracts several students from across the group, there are also a variety of international languages (about 300) spoken here. These include Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi, Portuguese, Cantonese, Italian, Polish, French, Greek, Urdu, Arabic, and Turkish.
Cost of Things in the UK
To successfully move to the UK as an international student, tuition is not the only cost that should be considered. Before moving, international students should look into their chosen university's housing accommodations and determine if on-campus accommodation would be a good choice, according to price.
Very few universities would provide no accommodations on-campus. However, if the university provides housing, especially to international students, then the decision comes to whether the student would like to live within the walls of the university or decide to venture out on their own to find their living arrangements.
Students living on-campus might be able to save on food expenditures and at the same time, students living off-campus would have to create a budget for themselves.
Tuition and Fee Expenses
Once students have completed the application process and have been accepted into a university, they will come to the point of the college admission process where tuition and other expenses come into play.
As with most universities, there is no set rate for tuition on a yearly basis. Each university and college charges a different rate per credit and different overall fees. The maximum that universities typically charge students from UK and EU countries is £9,250 and the minimum they charge is around £6,000.
The tuition fees for international students are on a spectrum, depending on the university and the course the candidate has chosen. But the average fees for undergraduate students begin at £10,000 going up to £38,000; whereas for the postgraduate degree, the fees begin at £9,000 and can go up to £16,000.
It all depends on the location of the university, the course the candidate has enrolled in, and other factors. Once candidates have an idea of the tuition fees, they can set aside the amount needed for housing.
Accommodation and Utility Expenses
Remember: Housing concerns can be addressed by looking at the university's website and viewing costs of on-campus housing.
|Cost of living in the UK|| (per month average)|
|In London || University accommodation - £750; Private housing - £850|
|Outside London|| University accommodation - £520; Private housing - £500|
However, if an international student decides to find residency elsewhere, costs can grow immensely. When looking for a place to live, students should know that prices increase the closer locations get to the heart of cities (like London). The average price for renting a 1-bedroom apartment in London may range from £1,700 to £2,300 every month. For a 2-bedroom flat, it may be around £2,400 to £5,000. Sharing the room with flatmates is always the most feasible option to make housing less expensive.
Landlords may also want the tenant to apply for a 'Rental Insurance Policy'. The value of the policy may be around £10 per month and may increase or decrease based on the value of the tenant's belongings. Gas and electricity are generally provided by certain companies or energy providers. The price varies depending on the size of the apartment and the consumption. Prices can also be compared online to choose the best company that provides energy at the most affordable rates. On average, the cost of energy every month may be around £70 to £100. The price of electricity is higher than gas, so one must regulate the usage accordingly.
The average monthly costs for groceries may be around £100 to £250 per month based on the consumption and lifestyle. Grocery stores/supermarkets in the UK are all on a spectrum of price points. The price for basic grocery items are:
- Milk (1 liter)- £0.55 to £1.40
- White Bread (500g)- £0.65 to £3.00
- Eggs (1 dozen)- £1.20 to £3.80
- Banana (1kg)- £0.80 to £2.30
- Potato (1kg)- £0.50 to £2.50
- Chicken Fillets (1kg)- £3.50 to £10.00
- Tomato (1kg)- £1.50 to £6.00
- Bottled Water (1.5 liter)- £0.50 to £2.00
There are great choices and varieties of grocery stores to choose from as per one's budget. Furthermore, getting a grocery card or a student discount card would be a huge benefit as it would save plenty of money. Some of the most budget-friendly supermarkets include Iceland, ALDI, and Lidl. Morrisons and Co-op are supermarkets that are economic and also offer student discounts. International students can also apply for the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) to avail several discounts. Buying frozen fruits and vegetables, tinned food items, whole meat items, and frozen food items are some of the best ways to save up on food and groceries.
One of the most important factors that international students must be aware of is the transition of currency between their home country and the UK. This information is not always consistent as the rates seem to be affected by a lot of factors, hence, it is advisable to check the conversion rate frequently. The official currency of the United Kingdom is 'Pound Sterling' (£/GBP). It is also called the British Pound or even Quid. The denominations for Banknotes come in £5, £10, £20, and £50. The denominations for coins come in 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. To exchange foreign currency, one can go to the bureaux de change or any post office. The most recent conversion rate is: 1 U.S. dollar is equal to about 0.73 Pound Sterling.
Things to do in the UK
The United Kingdom is a place that is not only known for its high-quality education system, and infrastructure, but is also known to be grand in terms of natural diversity, art, literature, architecture, museums, and so much more. International students who come here to pursue education must surely set aside time to thoroughly explore the extraordinary beauty of the country.
Places to Visit in the UK
Some of the major and most popular cities in the United Kingdom are:
- London: Most of us are familiar with the famous nursery rhyme "London Bridge is Falling Down". That's how popular the city of London is as well. London is the capital city of the UK as well as the largest city. The city is also a major business, commercial, and transportation hub. London is also a major center for tourism. Some of the best tourist attractions include Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, British Museum, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, Tate Britain, and Tate Modern, Churchill's War Rooms, Hyde Park, and a lot more.
- Birmingham: This is a vibrant city with the second-largest population. Due to the presence of several canals, the city slightly resembles Venice, which is why it is popularly called the “Venice of the North”. Birmingham is also a major industrial epicenter which is why it also has the popular nickname, “City of a Thousand Trades“. Popular sites in this city are Victoria Square & the City Center, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, The Birmingham Botanical Gardens, National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham, St. Philip's Cathedral, and several others.
- Manchester: The city of Manchester is extremely famous for football, all around the world. It was popularly known as “Cottonopolis” because the city used to have a predominant cotton industry. The city also has some of the best bars and restaurants. Some of the most appealing tourist attractions in Manchester include Castlefield, Science and Industry Museum, Manchester Cathedral, National Football Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, Heaton Park, Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden, and more.
- Liverpool: Liverpool is another one of the best cities in the UK and is widely known for sports and music. It is also famously known as the "World Capital City of Pop" because of the famous band 'The Beatles'. The city is a major tourist destination with the presence of several tourist sites such as the Royal Albert Dock, The Beatles Story, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Victoria Gallery and Museum, St. George's Hall, Walker Art Gallery, Birkenhead Park, and so on.
Cuisines to Relish While in the UK
The UK has a wide range of amazing dishes for food lovers to relish. Be it a local dish, or a fancy one from the best restaurants, food out here will make anyone crave for more. These are very popular dishes. Some of the most popular cuisines available in the United Kingdom are Bangers and Mash, Yorkshire pudding, Black pudding, Toad in the hole, Bakewell Tart, Full English Breakfast, Shepherd’s Pie/Cottage Pie, Eton mess, Steak and kidney pudding, Faggots, Spotted Dick, and a lot more.
Festivals to Attend While in the UK
No matter how busy or tedious student life gets, or how hard it might get to adjust to the cost of living in a new country, international students must make it a point to indulge in fun activities or popular festivals of the country. These are going to be some of the best things etched in one's memory for a lifetime. The United Kingdom has got many interesting festivals that are celebrated with great zeal and grandeur. Some of the most popular festivals include Notting Hill Carnival, Jorvik Viking Festival, Hay Festival, Robin Hood Festival, Camp Wildfire, Neverworld, Glastonbury Music Festival, Durham International Brass Festival, Hadrian's Wall Fire Festival, Guy Fawkes Day, and several others.
Commuting to Places in the UK
When living abroad, students need to take advantage of the opportunities around them in the short time they have. During free time, one will have plenty of chances to travel to neighboring countries. One's visa is not affected by going to travel to different countries from the UK.
Common modes of transport in the UK include bus, ferry, train, airplane, taxi, car, and coach. Buses and coaches are the most popular modes of transport, followed by cars or taxis. Full-time students have the benefit of availing discounts when traveling by bus. At times, there is also the availability of free wifi, depending on the route. In case one wishes to travel to different cities, it will be best to travel via trains. If traveling by train is going to be a regular practice, then one should purchase the BritRail Pass.
To make intercity travel cheaper, one can also opt for coaches instead of trains. When traveling short distances, one can definitely opt for cycles or they will always have the option of walking. There are also facilities in the UK to rent cycles for a day. If one chooses to live off-campus, one might have to bear the cost of traveling to their university. The average cost of public transport on a monthly basis ranges from £130 to £240.
Entertainment Options for Students in the UK
The United Kingdom is rich in its history and culture, and one will surely find numerous grand monuments that display its architectural brilliance. One can also engage in fun outdoor activities like going for the Harry Potter Walking Tour, treasure hunting in Hidden City, enjoying Disco Yoga, and so much more. Some of the most spectacular tourist attractions in the UK are:
- Natural History Museum, London
- Stonehenge, Wiltshire
- Roman Baths, Bath
- Tower of London
- The Bombay Sapphire Distillery
- Warwick Castle
- Alton Towers Resort, Staffordshire
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
- Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
- The Beatles Story and Cavern Club, Liverpool
- Cheddar Gorge & Caves, Somerset
Safety Concerns for International Students in the UK
Even though the United Kingdom is known to be a safe country, crimes are not absolutely nil here. Therefore, international students must always give priority to their safety and take necessary measures.
- Given that the pandemic is not completely gone, take precautions, maintain distance, sanitize hands, and wear masks.
- Football is a craze in this country and displaying extreme enthusiasm or support (like wearing sports t-shirts) may land one in trouble. Hence, this should be avoided at all costs.
- Make sure to be careful with the amount of cash that is carried as theft and pickpocketing are an issue.
- International students must beware of scam calls that ask for personal information or details of the bank account in the name of visa error and so on.
- Do not accept any food or drinks from strangers.
- In case if one gets lost while traveling, one can call the British Transport Police on +44 (0) 800 40 50 40 for assistance. It will be best to be aware of one's surroundings and be familiar with maps and routes to avoid getting lost.
- Avoid traveling alone, especially in isolated areas or areas that are not well-lit.
- In case of facing any form of harassment based on sexual orientation, race, religion, or disability, one can receive support through the Equality Advisory Support Service on the number +44 (0) 808 800 0082.
One of the easiest ways to become accustomed to life as a student in a new country is through international organizations and societies, typically run through the university that the candidate is attending. These organizations provide chances for international students to meet new people, attend events, go on trips, and provide support and advice. Student organizations and local groups for international students allow an easy transition into a new culture, to clear up any misunderstandings or confusion and answer any questions. In most universities, joining a society/club is free of cost and the society/club receives funds for any field trips, so overall one can get to seek great opportunities for free.