Why Study Abroad in London? London is a sophisticated cosmopolitan city with a thriving international population, economy, and culture that puts it on the list of one of the world’s most beloved cities.
Locals and visitors alike find in London a lifelong friend with whom they share the most treasured of memories and experiences. When you study abroad in London, you’ll become hip not only to the city’s touristy (but awesome) landmarks, but also to the city’s colorful, dynamic, and ultimately cozy and friendly places, neighborhoods, and people. Studying abroad in London will deliver an all-around outstanding experience.
London study abroad programs enable you to partake in a city that values intellectualism as much as it does culture and tradition. When you study abroad in London, you’ll have an opportunity to receive high quality education from well-respected schools located throughout the city. You’ll be privileged to connect your studies to your explorations, and by the end of your program, you’ll add a meaningful experience to your life and your resume.
Geography of London
London is the capital city of both England and the United Kingdom. It is a large, culturally dynamic urban city located in the southeast of England, just across the English Channel from mainland Europe (France specifically). London’s metropolitan borders span far and wide but are up for debate by people who ponder the difference between “London” and “Greater London”. For students who study abroad in London, the city is wide and wonderful no matter the actual boundaries.
Encircling London’s urban sprawl is the Metropolitan Greenbelt, a statutory greenbelt designed to prevent the city’s urban sprawl from taking over England’s lovely countryside. Within the Metro Greenbelt, the famous River Thames divides north London from south London and establishes a less formal central London. Within these official and unofficial divisions, London is parceled into beautifully multifarious and eclectic neighborhoods with distinct architectural, political, economic, and cultural characteristics and personalities. Several long walks through London will reveal its charismatic geography.
London’s climate is oceanic, and the city’s temperatures range between very cold in the winter to quite hot in the summer. It is not uncommon for the city to see snow, and the summer sees rainy days throughout. Also, because of the moisture in London’s air, the city can be quite humid in all four seasons.
Language in London
The official language of England is English spoken with a Cockney accent. When you study abroad in London, the majority, if not all, of interactions and transactions will occur in English, and colleges and universities in London are English-language schools. Because of this, study abroad programs in London offer English-language curricula and support.
Despite English’s spot as England’s official language, you will likely hear numerous other languages spoken throughout London. London is ethnically diverse with a large number of immigrants from other countries. This infusion of international influence allows for a more culturally stimulating city and means you will likely partake in the cultural and linguistic practices of other countries. Multilingualism, even if not officially, is an integral part of London’s culture and identity.
Cost of Living in London
The United Kingdom and therefore England and London are part of the European Union. However, London uses the British Pound Sterling, not the Euro, as its official currency. In early 2014, one pound was the equivalent of approximately $1.70.
As is the case in most cities, the cost of living in London depends on where you live. One to three-bedroom apartments in the heart of London cost approximately $2,500 to $4,780 per month. Apartments outside of the city center cost approximately $1,600 to $2,900 per month. On average, Numbeo found the cost of apartment housing in London just slightly less expensive than in New York, New York.
At nearly $250 per month, Numbeo found basic utilities in London, such as electricity, heat, water, and garbage, to be quite a bit more expensive than the same services in New York. In-house internet, at approximately $30 per month, costs slightly less than it does in New York. The average cost of basic groceries (milk, bread, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and chicken, for example) is more or less expensive than similar products in New York, but the actual cost of groceries of course depends on your needs and preferences. Eating out and enjoying various beverages in London is relatively expensive even for lower quality meals such as fast food.
London has an excellent public transportation system with the oldest underground rail system (the Tube) in the world and plenty of aboveground options (including the famed red, double-decker buses). A monthly transportation pass costs approximately $220. Many people in London also depend upon taxis that charge relatively expensive starting, kilometer, and waiting fees. Gasoline in London costs approximately 2.30 per liter. Many Londoners, for whom public transportation is too expensive, walk to their destinations as often as possible. The city is indeed walker and biker friendly one. The costs of entertainment, clothing, and other non-essentials vary depending on your needs and preferences.
Culture in London
There are so many ways to explore, enjoy, and celebrate London’s dynamic and expansive culture. When in London, open London’s gifts by doing (at least!) these fun things:
- Dip your toes in London’s cultural hotspots to become as cultured as the city itself. The list of options is endless: Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, the Old Spital Market, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the London Dungeon, Buckingham Palace, and the Royal Opera House are just some of the hundreds of cultural hotspots awaiting your arrival. Add to these hotspots the countless hidden and less touristy cultural neighborhoods, places, and spaces throughout London and you’ve got yourself a cultural feast.
- Explore and enjoy Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. The once playground of King Henry the VIII, the park and gardens stretch from Kensington Palace to Oxford street. Hyde Park is wonderfully designed with meandering foot and bike paths, gorgeous greenery and lush landscaping, and wide stretches of open space for picnicking and playing. Plus, the park has beautiful fauna and pays tribute to Princess Diana in numerous ways. The park is a delight for the soul and senses.
- Grow your intellect and cultural complexity by visiting as many galleries and museums as possible. London is chock full of galleries and museums memorializing a variety of artists, events, and circumstances. Some of the must-sees include the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery, the Tower of London, and the Churchill War Rooms. These places and others will engage you in a fascinating and intellectually stimulating exploration of London’s history and culture.
- Take long walks and get lost. London is full of interesting neighborhoods, each with its own character, personality, and atmosphere. Pay particular attention to the ethnic and cultural textures that infuse different areas. London is very much an international city and to know and love London is to know and love its people. Stop in neighborhoods to enjoy streets fairs, markets, specialty restaurants, and other cozy delights. Most importantly, stop to talk with people.
- “Mind the gap” in the Tube. The Tube is the world’s oldest underground railway. It’s much like the subway system in New York City. Grab a map and take the Tube throughout the city to explore London’s many sights. After spending numerous hours in the Tube you will have a better feeling for the expansiveness and accessibility of London and its outlying areas. You will also understand what it means to “mind the gap” (said with a lovely British accent).
Why Study Abroad in London?
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