For those who are interested in studying abroad, one of the first countries students think of is England and its wealth of universities and other higher education institutions. However, there are some important things you’ll need to know before you land.
The currency in England is pounds and pence sterling, written as £/p or GBP. Some of the denominations have slang names; for example, a one pence piece is called a penny, a five pound note is a fiver, and a ten pound note is a tenner.
For an idea of value, a pint of milk will be around 50p, a loaf of bread will be around £1 - £1.50, and a pint of beer can be between £2.50 - £5 depending on where you are in the country. As you may already know, London is the most expensive city in England, but there are plenty of discounts and deals available for students.
Scotland and Wales also use this currency, though the Scottish have their own unique designs on the notes – cashiers in England may look confused if you offer them a Scottish fiver!
One of the main features people think of when they think about England is the rain – but whilst there is plenty of wet weather, the real problem is the unpredictability of the weather.
The weather forecast might predict sunshine and showers, but the actual day may bring torrential downpours; but, in the same way, it might predict thunderstorm before being proved wrong by sunshine.
There are also noticeable differences in weather from one end of the country to another. As you might expect, the north is colder and rainier than the south.
Everyone has an idea of what an “English” accent sounds like, but there are huge regional differences in accents.
The most obvious difference is between north and south – one easy way to tell is listening to the way people pronounce words like “grass”, “bath”, or “pass”. If they are from the north, they are likely to use a short “a” sound; if they are from the south, they will use a longer “arr” sound.
However, accents differ even between cities. Some of the most famous accents are Brummy (Birmingham), Scouse (Liverpool), and Geordie (Newcastle and other places in Tyneside), but there are also distinct accents from Cornwall, the home counties (the areas surrounding London), and throughout Yorkshire.
If nothing else, your English listening skills will improve a great deal if you travel around England!
Entertainment and going out
The main feature for a students’ night out in England will be visiting the pub for a few beers. It’s important to note that a pub is not the same as a bar.
Pubs are more relaxed, homely places, where the main purpose is to socialize and sometimes watch sports, whereas bars are more explicitly for drinking and dancing.
Sport is a huge feature of English life. Technically, the national sport is cricket, but football is usually seen as more popular, as well as rugby.
England also has a thriving music scene – this is the country that The Beatles, David Bowie, and Elton John came from, after all – so there will always be plenty of live music gigs to attend.
The most important thing to remember about the English transport system is that cars drive on the left side of the road. This catches out people from all over the world, so take extra care when you cross the roads.
There are hundreds of miles of railways in England, so it’s usually fairly easy to get from one place to another by train. Locally, there are buses and taxis – though in more rural areas, these are more difficult to find.
In London, the quickest way to get around is by taking the Underground; take your time studying the map, because it’s easy to get confused.
Find out if studying English at our London school might be the place for you.