The United Kingdom comprises four nations: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Each nation has its own culture, cities, and vitality – some even have their language, but, don’t worry, they all speak English.
There are lively beaches in the south, glorious mountains in the north, flat fens in the east, and picturesque countryside in the west. The climate is temperate, meaning there are four distinct seasons, yet it is never too hot in the summer or cold in the winter.
Student life in the UK is exciting and varied. University cities have a diverse and buzzing nightlife with many restaurants, bars, and clubs to suit everyone.
Ancient cities like Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh are full of history, with famous summer food, music and theatre festivals. Cities like Manchester, Belfast and Glasgow have famous shopping districts alongside entertainment venues, galleries and famous sports arenas.
When you want peace and tranquillity, there are huge national parks to explore and castles to visit, and because you’re on an island, you will never be far from the ocean.
Getting around to explore is easy.
The UK has a reliable, comprehensive rail network with subsidized student fees. All cities and towns have good bus or tram networks. Galleries, museums, country houses, castles and historical places are discounted for students, and many national collections are accessible. The UK is obsessed with sports, particularly football.
Each town has a football club (some world-famous), and most have sports centres, swimming pools and gyms. An excellent way to keep fit and explore simultaneously is hiking. Trails are on the coast, through the mountains, in the countryside, and even in cities.
British culture is different in each region. It can be challenging to understand an outsider initially, and the customs, language and food can change from place to place. British people are usually polite until they know you better when they become friendly.
The British enjoy learning about other cultures and explaining some peculiarities of their way of life, and yes, the British do talk about the weather because it is constantly changing.
The biggest festival of the year is Christmas for family celebrations which morphs into New Year to celebrate with friends. Patron saints’ days are celebrated in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, but not in England.
Easter is a traditional four-day holiday held each spring, and many villages will have unusual traditional festivals around 1st May. On 5th November each year, there is a national evening of fireworks called Guy Fawkes Night, which is impossible to explain but a lot of fun.
Most celebrations involve overeating food and drinking alcohol – although nobody will be upset if you decline the alcohol. There are also national holidays, known as Bank Holidays, throughout the year, usually on a Monday and celebrating nothing in particular.
Most of the larger cities will hold celebrations of Diwali, Chinese New Year, Ede and many other festivals for their ethnically diverse populations. Some, like London, Manchester and Brighton, have an annual Pride festival for their LGBT+ communities.