The Life or Death Guide to being a Student in the UK

The UK is a beautiful country full of many charms, kind and polite people and a rich heritage and culture. But life in the UK can throw-up many surprises for the overseas student! So if you are considering studying in the UK this list is just for you.

First some definitions:

'UK' means United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is made-up of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands.
Britain is the main island composed of England, Scotland and Wales.

1. British people like to form orderly queues.

Believe it or not, Anthropologists have documented the fact that practically any group of British people will naturally form an orderly (and patient) queue.

Beware that you will certainly feel the wrath of the queue if you try to push-in. Strangely, although the people in the queue may be seethe with indignant rage at a queue jumper, it is unlikely that any of them will let you know how angry they are.

2. The Understatement and Daily Humour

This situation contains a very important truth about British people ? they do not like to make a fuss.

Therefore overseas students should not assume that if someone is not complaining they don't mind what is happening ? often that is far from the truth. Furthermore, English people are well known to have a somewhat dry and ironic sense of humour. Indeed, much conversation has an undercurrent of humour

3 British people value punctuality

Never be late for an appointment, especially a dinner invitation. Brits are very fond of punctuality and will take it as a personal insult should you arrive late.

If you are going to be late it is vital that you telephone your hosts and explain the problem, as soon as possible.

4. Drive with care

Like one thirds of the nations of this world, cars in the UK drive on the left side of the road so always be mindful of that, especially when crossing the road ? always look right first! UK drivers tend to be very polite. In many countries, a driver who flashes his headlamps means 'get out of my way' ? in the UK it means the opposite and is used to signal to an on-coming driver that you are allowing him to pass.

Britain is a relatively small island and the cities tend to be buys, therefore driving laws are tough and strictly enforced particularly drink driving (which is a criminal offence).

5. The Weather

The weather in the UK is very changeable and it has been said that the UK can have four seasons in a single day.

Many overseas students will have heard that it rains a lot in the UK. This is unfortunately true, and there can be quite a lot of wind, especially in Northern towns such as Manchester, so remember to bring warm and waterproof clothing. However, the sun does follow the rain and the UK weather is very much liked for it's variety.

6. Security and Personal Safety

The UK is relatively safe but some simple rules can help keep you safe. Always lock all doors and windows.

Collect money during day light hours. Women should try to travel with others. Taxis are often the best form and safest of transport, but always use a company that is well known.


Many overseas students enjoy their time in the UK so much that many of them choose to live there for life! It is a civilised country with a very long tradition of welcoming people from all over the world. Try the UK ? you are sure to enjoy it greatly.

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For a full list of facts, figures and very helpful advice about student life in the UK, visit the web page: 'Living in the UK' page for overseas students on the MMU web site. . .

By: Tony Radford

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