Life in the UK
The UK has a very varied climate. From November to March it is typically cold and wet with the possibility of snow. Average temperatures are between 0º and 10º C (50º F). The temperature in June, all the way up to September, can reach up to 32º C (90º F).
London offers a wide range of cuisines. Whatever your culinary desires may be – you will surely find it here. Whether it is American, Mexican, Indian, Chinese or Thai – London gives you many tasteful delights.
British people are generally reserved and value their privacy. It is customary to shake hands when meeting someone for the first time, whether male or female. Good manners (“please” and “thank you”) and personal hygiene are valued very highly.
With the wide variety of cultures in Britain, please try to respect all beliefs and customs. Smoking is generally allowed in public places but banned in restaurants and public transport. Please respect this and refrain from smoking. You must be 18 years old to drink alcohol in the UK.
Life in London
London is recognised as one of the world’s most diverse and cosmopolitan cities. Spending time in London as a student is a truly unforgettable experience. Although London has always been at the forefront of world cultural developments it is once again enjoying an exciting renaissance. With over seven million people living in London, it is an incredibly metropolitan and cosmopolitan environment. Contemporary popular culture in the U.K, and London especially, has always been at the vanguard of Western youth movements. London’s reputation at the cutting edge of contemporary youth culture is an important educational phenomenon. Fashion, popular music, the visual arts, comedy and clubbing are vibrant examples of this expressive energy.
Britain’s rich historical legacy has resulted in a culturally diverse megalopolis with one in every three Londoners born outside the U.K. This important fact has added to the cultural wealth of the capital. London is a tolerant city that celebrates the individual, and a city which provides a sense of personal safety. These two important factors allow study abroad students to make the cultural adjustment and to fulfil and exploit the true potential of being abroad.
For newcomers London is full of exciting discoveries. You will also enjoy the sense of excitement that comes from living in a thriving center of international trade and the seat of the national government. Living and studying here is a unique opportunity that is not to be missed.
London is a very vibrant city from the many museums and galleries to famous historical sites. And yes, in the evening there are various clubs, bars and theatres to enjoy. The best bird’s eye view that you can get is by taking a ride on the iconic London Eye. One of the most popular landmarks in London allows you to see the majestic beauty of the city from an enclosed capsule. Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the British Royal Family can be visited in the summer months. The Change of Guard ceremony takes place in the forecourt of the palace all year round.
The Tower of London is a historic monument, which has served as a fortress, a royal palace and a prison. Tours throughout this site offer an entertaining way to learn English history and bear witness to some amazing artefacts.
Madame Tussauds is a very popular tourist attraction, where you can pose with the waxwork of your favourite character from history.
The London Planetarium offers an enchanting view of the Universe and a fascinating audio visual-show that will capture your imagination.
London’s rich heritage can be seen at a multitude of museums and art galleries. The Tate Modern is full of international and contemporary art with visiting exhibitions throughout the year. Walk along the River Thames on the South Bank to visit locations such as Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, The National Theatre and the Southbank Centre. Visit the Kensington area and see the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the National History Museum, all with free entry to visitors.
Travel and Transport
London is renowned for its public transport system, and you’ll find that far fewer people own cars in London than you’ll be used to back home; once you get to know the busy streets of London you’ll realise why it’s far easier to travel by public transport! Use the following section to help introduce you to public transport in London – it’s a way of life that will be very much a part of your time here as well as a method of getting from place to place! Oyster Cards
Firstly – let’s talk about the precious gem you shall be carrying around with you everywhere you go – your Oyster card! This little blue card will be your key to the city (the clue’s in the name!). To use your Oyster card, touch it on the yellow discs you see at barriers at tube stations and as you board buses. On the underground you will need to touch in when you enter the station and touch out when you leave/or finish your journey (if you do touch in but do not touch out £6 will be taken off your Oyster card balance), on the buses you just touch in once.
London Underground (‘The Tube’)
The London Underground is the rail network that runs trains reaching all corners of the city. All lines have their own names and distinct colour used on the Underground map (see your Welcome Pack or the map section of this book). When planning your journey, locate which line(s) your stop is on and then follow the signs for that line at interchanges. It can be a bit tricky at first working out the fastest or most efficient route to your destination so use the route planner at www.tfl.gov.uk – this will tell you the routes to your destination and the length of time they will take, along with any possible maintenance work that may affect your journey.
London Buses, unlike the underground, do run all night. Most buses coming back to Heathrow at night will be a night service with ‘N’ before the bus number, however, some buses do not run all night so you may find yourself going along a different route. If you are unsure of your route use the Transport for London route planner at www.tfl.gov.uk
Where Are You?
Nearest tube station: Hatton Cross
24 hours bus to the City and other parts of London.
Protect the Oyster!
We urge you to keep your Oyster safe and try your hardest not to lose it, as it can be irritating and costly should you need to wait to get a replacement.
Watch the Clock
The London Underground does not run throughout the night– lines close around midnight, so after this time you will have to use other modes of transport, like the bus system.
The iconic London Black Cabs run on a meter and can be flagged down if the orange ‘Taxi’ light is on. Black Cab drivers (or ‘cabbies’ as we call them) undertake a rigorous training course on London’s geography known as ‘The Knowledge’, which means they know every street, landmark and attraction in London! This means that they are a safe bet should you not be wholly certain of your destination, however, you should be aware that Black Cabs do not run as frequently late at night. Alternatively you may get a minicab. These are ordered over the phone, or going into a minicab office (you can see these with yellow lights outside the door). It is illegal for licensed minicabs to pick up passing trade, and therefore they cannot be hailed down like Black Cabs. All licensed minicabs have their documentation displayed in the window and have the London Transport sticker in their windows.
Minicabs can be cheaper than Black Cabs, but they may not be familiar with the route so research your destination before jumping in. It is also a good idea to get a quote on your journey and verify this quote with the driver before setting off.
There are many mainline rail stations over London providing overland rail services both throughout London and national services. These are known as ‘National Rail’ services. If you are travelling around the UK via train check which station you depart from when you purchase your ticket. For information on overland services, both in London and the UK, check www.nationrail.co.uk or www.thetrainline.com or phone National Rail Enquiries on 0845 7 4849 50. It is worth noting that if you are planning travel by rail you can often get cheaper tickets by booking in advance.
These are a very affordable way to travel around the U.K. National Express coaches and Megabus coaches operate from Victoria Coach station and offer multiple intercity routes, which maybe longer than train journeys but are often a lot cheaper. Check out destinations and prices at: www.nationalexpress.com and www.megabus.com/uk.
The best buses to and from Heathrow Airport to the school are the N9, 111 and 105. The following busses will also bring you to and from the school:
- 222 from Uxbridge
- H98 from Hayes
- 81 from Slough
- 105 from Greenford
- 140 from Harrow
- 90 from Hayes and Harlington
- 423 and 285 from Hatton Cross (these are FREE buses to and from the school, if coming from or going to Hatton Cross).
FIE recommends Regent Carriage Services Minicab Company: 020 7584 5566 (number also on your FIE ID). If you are not in Heathrow and need a taxi number then use the service Cabwise and text ‘HOME’ to 60835 and they’ll text you back with local cab numbers for both minicabs and Black Cabs.
The closest tube station is Hatton Cross and you can get buses 285, 90 and 423 for free from the station to the college.