Studying in the United Kingdom – What US College Students Need to Know

Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity for any student; it gives you a unique chance to truly immerse yourself in another culture. The United Kingdom is the most popular destination for American college students to study abroad, with 12% of American students choosing to study there – according to the Institute of International Education. The UK is a great place to study on a year or semester abroad – has a great history (many cool places to visit), everyone speaks the same language as you (attending college level classes in a different language requires you have advanced language skills) and the rest of Europe is a short plane ride away. If you’re interested in studying in the UK, here are some key differences you might want to be aware of:

college students studying abroad in the United Kingdom coming from U.S.A.


Possibly the biggest difference between US and UK colleges is that students in the UK don’t have majors or minors – they just pick one subject when applying to college and that’s what they study. How flexible your course is will depend on which university you attend but studying a diverse range of subjects is not the norm. Another large difference is that UK universities generally have less lectures and timetabled activities, there tends to be a higher expectation of independent learning. This is great because it gives you more free time to explore the UK and a chance to further improve your self-discipline. Although, if you are lucky enough to be studying at Oxford or Cambridge then your workload will probably be increased or at least equivalent to your current one.

college students in the UK university campus studying


Most UK universities require, in the second and third year, students to find their own off-campus housing. However, as an international student it’s easiest to go into halls (accommodation specifically for students) because you will be surrounded by people in a similar situation to you and finding independent housing before you move is difficult.

When choosing which halls you want to live in there are a few options to consider; whether you want halls on or off campus, if you want your own bathroom or to share and choose catered or self-catered. Prices will vary depending on what you want. For example, with on campus accommodation, catered halls and rooms with an ensuite bathroom, tend to be the most expensive. If you do not want to go into buy levitra australia catered, you will have to cook for yourself – your university card will not pay for discounted food in a student canteen. Sharing a kitchen and cooking together can be a great way to get to know your new housemates and you can develop some impressive culinary skills.

uk college student living and accommodation in the United Kingdom

London is a particularly population location for students from abroad to study with 20,000 North American students who study abroad choosing London. Living in London is an amazing experience; it’s a great place with endless things to do and several universities to choose from. However, finding accommodation here can be a lot trickier than in other smaller UK university cities such as Exeter or Norwich.  Non-university halls for students can be good option in this situation and generally you’ll be in good company with a lot of other international students– for instance, Touchstone student living (who specialise in student accommodation in London ) find that 85% the students that rent their halls are international. Going into halls with other international students means that you get to meet people from a range of cultures and who are all in the same situation as you, which can be helpful when facing the daunting situation of moving to another country.

Reading suggestion: The Pros and Cons of Being a Travel Nurse

Cultural Differences

The UK has a wide range of sub-cultures, so depending on where you study there are sure to be different customs and phrases etc. However, here are a few generalised cultural differences it might be good to be aware of. Football (as in Soccer) is a very large part of UK culture – from playing it in real life, to watching it at the pub and playing it on the Xbox (the Fifa games are particularly well-known). Other sports that are also population in the UK are rugby, cricket and Formula 1. In the UK the legal alcohol drinking age is 18 and drinking can be a large part of UK student culture. There is no Greek system in the UK (no sororities or fraternities) however are a still a large range of societies based around mutual interests and activities.

cultural differences for US college students studying abroad in the United Kingdom

The UK has a lot to offer any international student and hopefully this guide has given you idea an of what to expect when studying there.

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One Response to “Studying in the United Kingdom – What US College Students Need to Know”

  1. judy anish

    Jul 19. 2014

    its realy wonderful

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