Archive for Countries/UK

Student Life in the UK: An Insider’s perspective

I have lived in the UK my whole life and have been a university student here for the past two years at the University of Stirling, Scotland. During this time, I have lived and studied away from home and fully immersed myself into the culture that you would call ‘student life’. Of course, student life will vary from place to place but I think there are a few basics that can be applied to all British universities. Personally, I really enjoy all aspects of my life at university here in the UK and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

First – the technicalities. In Scotland, the length of an ordinary honours degree is four years, and in England, it is three. Three year honours degrees are also common in other parts of the UK, in Wales and Northern Ireland. There is the option to do a normal degree without honours for a three year period in Scotland, however the four year honours option is more common.

Also, it is likely that if you are coming from abroad to study in the UK you will have to pay. However, if you have lived in Scotland for a certain amount of years before applying, you will not have to pay anything in tuition fees. There are also other discounts available if you live in the EU as the university will cover up to 50% of your tuition fees. Of course, there is always the option to apply for a scholarship or have a company sponsor you throughout your degree.

Next – a day in the life of a typical UK university. A week’s timetable will include a mixture of lectures and seminars (also called tutorials). For each semester, you will be required to pick a pre-set amount of modules (classes) – anything from 2 to 10 depending on how intensive they are. When picking modules, there will be a few that are compulsory in relation to your degree but often students get some freedom in choosing what additional subjects they would like to take. Also, unlike other university systems in Europe, you are not required to pick up a language class unless it is essential to your degree.

Now, we move on to halls (university accommodation). It is advised by all universities that for your first year you move into halls. That way you can meet new people, make friends and learn how everything works. University halls are hugely varied in size, design and how many people you are sharing with. Personally, in my first year I lived in a corridor with fifteen people and we all shared a kitchen, which I loved because I got to meet so many people. Living in halls is such a great experience – everyone is in the same situation, all finding their feet and trying to make friends and also it is great for your social life, all the best parties happen in halls!

Another huge aspect of student life in the UK is going out on weekdays. Often bars and nightclubs will have student nights in the middle of the week with low entry and drink prices. For example, at my university Tuesdays and Thursdays are the big nights out of the week. Of course the aim is still to make your lectures the next day, but it is a great tradition that means you don’t have to wait until the weekend to go out and have fun with your friends.

Finally, a huge aspect of British student life are university societies and sports teams. Often many universities will have funny societies such as ‘the chocolate appreciation club’ that you can join, meet new friends and sit around joking with each other. There are also more serious societies such as the business club which are beneficial towards your degree. Sports clubs are very good to join to make friends and have a bit of light competition. For example, I joined the Cheerleading sports club for some fun and it really is a great way to meet new people.

While coming abroad to the UK to study for a degree is great for the CV, it will also be a great personal experience. Along with student culture comes a great social aspect where you have the opportunity to meet new people all the time and develop a wide circle of friends. British universities are a great culture to immerse yourself in, having done it myself I would highly recommend it.

Key Advice on Overcoming Culture Shock in the UK

If you are coming to the UK for an internship, while it is almost certain you will have a great time, it is important to be clued-up on British culture to avoid the development of culture shock. First of all, we have to address the question – what is culture shock? It is the feeling of confusion and anxiety which a person might feel if they come to a country which is not familiar to them. It can be hard to adjust to different cultural norms and values, and the stark contrast from their own country may be an initial shock for some people.

There are a few main things that confuse people when they arrive in the UK for the first time from different countries. For example, when British people meet someone for the first time, they will often greet them with a handshake, not a kiss on the cheek. Generally, the British people are more reserved with issues of contact and personal space than people from other European countries. Another thing to be aware of is that people in the UK drive on the different side of the road, which can feel quite weird if you are in a car or bus as you feel like everyone is coming towards you. Furthermore, the food is different – the traditional British fry-up for example with sausages, eggs, bacon, toast etc. which is eaten in the morning may not be like anything you are used to.

Here are some pieces of advice to avoid feelings of anxiety and unfamiliarity arising when you come to the UK:

Keep an open mind
It is important to be objective rather than judgemental when you are learning about the culture in the UK. Everyone has grown up with their own cultural norms and values just as you have in your own country and just because they are different, doesn’t mean they are wrong. If you keep an open mind it will be easier to learn and understand why things are the way they are. Having a closed mind and resisting acceptance will only make you more anxious in the long-term. Try not to compare it to your own country, just treat everything you learn as a valuable insight into the culture of the UK.

Learn the local language
People will really admire you for making the effort to speak in English as it shows your interest and willingness to learn. Do not hold back on trying because you are afraid of the mistakes you might make. Of course, no one will expect you to have perfect English, it is a learning process and your colleagues/friends will respect that. Nothing is more admirable than trying and eventually it will get easier until you do not even have to try any more. It may even become a second nature to you!

Get to know new people
There is no better way to learn about a culture than to ask a native, and if you make a friend out of it that is a great bonus! Having friends in the UK will help with your English skills and also help you settle in to your new environment better. It is always great to find people to share your experience with and improve the social aspect of your internship.

Have a sense of humour
It is likely that during your internship you will say the wrong word or do the wrong thing in a social situation and when this happens it is important not to be too hard on yourself. Just laugh at your mistake and others will laugh with you. It is a learning process and it can be fun, you will pick things up easier if you have a relaxed attitude to making mistakes and other’s will respect you for having a positive attitude.

If you follow this advice and take everything in your stride as you progress through your internship, you cannot go wrong. Most importantly – just have fun!

Finding an Internship

In September 2013, when my friend and I were looking for an internship, we found that it wasn’t very easy to find one. Because internships are mandatory in our education system and we wanted to do it abroad, we spent many hours and sent many emails while trying to find a place to do one. The fact that our school didn’t have any overseas connections that interested us made finding an internship even harder. So we decided to start searching through the internet for good options to do our last internship before our graduation.

We are both very interested in the travel and tourism industry, and we both want to improve our language skills, so the decision that we definitely wanted to go abroad was very easy to make. Because of our mutual interest in travel and tourism and the fact that we both wanted to be provided with accommodation, we decided to start to sending emails to different hotel chains and hotels around the world. In total, we sent nearly one hundred emails. At some points, it felt as if we wouldn’t find any placement abroad and we feared that we would have to stay in our home country. But instead of giving it up, we continued searching for new places and continued sending many more emails to hotels around the world.

When it started to seem unlikely that we would acquire an internship in the hotel industry, we decided to extend the range of fields that we would like to work for, and so we stopped focusing on just hotels. Instead, we started to look for other possibilities like marketing and international business. Still, even though we were no longer focusing on merely hotels, it was very hard to find an internship opportunity. We spent hours and hours trying to find a suitable place for us.

Finally, after weeks of searching and sending emails, we found a place where we both thought we could apply. After applying, we received individual emails concerning interviews for the internship. Before our interviews, we both felt very nervous about what to expect, but once it was over we were very relieved. On the day that we got our acceptance letters we were very excited about it, and after that we were able to start the preparation for the internship. Luckily, we didn’t have to take care of accommodation or food because the company provides them. The only responsibility of ours was to book the flights, get all the paper work done and pack our stuff, and we would finally be ready to leave.

After we had booked the flight tickets and got all the paperwork done, we were very pleased with ourselves. The fact that we finally had an internship was a really calming feeling, for we didn’t have to worry about it any more. Everything was now ready for us to complete our last internship before our graduation.

Finding an internship took some time but it was worth it. The experience you get by carrying out your internship abroad is indispensable. It’s so different compared to doing an internship in your home country. But after all, how you spend your time and what kind of attitude you take towards your internship is all up to you.

10 things to do before going to England

Doing an internship in England is a very enriching experience for all of us on both the professional and human sides. Though, this could quickly become complicated if we don’t prepare well previously. Indeed, going abroad for several months is not something that can be improvised, a certain preparation to avoid several and annoying inconveniences is required. Preparing a list of all of the necessary things to do before your departure will help you preparing more serenely. Although, for this, you must do the following tasks :

The European Health Insurance Health Card is the essential tool to get. For this, you have to call or to go to your Health Insurance centre, or to order it on Internet. The period before receiving the card is about ten days long. It is an individual and free card, valid for one year.

Remember to bring with you your health book and let it in your luggages in case of allergies (There is no mandatory vaccine).

999 : it is the phone number in case of emergency (you have to precise the unit you want to talk to : Police, ambulance or firemen).

Administrative formalities:
An ID or valid passport is mandatory to get into the English territory.
If you come by ferry or by the tunnel under the English Channel with your car, don’t forget to bring your driving licence, the vehicle documentation as well as your Certificate of Automobile Insurance.
For foreign people outside European Union, a visa application has to be made to the British Consulate.

Student card:
The ISIC card allows you to prove a student status worldwide, and to get all of the advantages, services, discounts in terms of public transports, accommodations, culture, hobbies, shopping, and so on…
More infos on :

An internship has a certain price that is not affordable for everybody. By having the student status, you can benefit from different scholarships. You should though get all of the informations as soon as possible, as it often takes some time. There are :
Erasmus scholarship
Scholarship based on social criteria
Leonardo Da Vinci scholarship
Mobility grants of local authorities

More infos on :

The pound Sterling is a currency used only in United-Kingdom. It is also recommended to get some informations from your bank to know if you will not be charged regarding exchange rates while withdrawing or paying with you card. You can get a special card in your bank. The cost of the new card depends only to your bank (Remember also to change some Euros before).

The preparation of a departure to an internship should be done as soon as possible in order to avoid a too strong prices increase. You can use several transports to get into England (Ferry, tunnel under the English Channel, planes). At your arrival on the British ground, it could be wise to get a cab.

It is important to pack your suitcase around one week before your departure. In this way if you forget something you have a safety margin. Do not do everything at the last minute to avoid an excess of stress.

For your stay, bring pull-over and rain clothes, whatever the season it is. The umbrella is necessary, as a shower can occur quickly.

Conversation guide:
This is always useful in times of need, and will let you totally enjoy your holiday.

Good bye:
It is the departure day, but also the time to say goodbye to all of the close people. But don’t forget, it is just a good bye !

How to spend your free time in New Romney during the internship?

The online booking company Studio Solution welcomes each year many students coming to achieve their internship for one semester. Obviously, by coming to England, most of them hope that they will go to the English capital that makes them dream so much with its numerous shops, pubs and streets. However, the small town of New Romney also has a unique charm and can allow them to live a unique experience that they will not forget.

New Romney is a small town located in Kent, on the south coast of England. During their internship in New Romney, the students can appreciate the typical English sceneries and enjoy the serene atmosphere of the town. Even though the town is not as big as some English cities, the students quickly learn how to spend well their free time. Moreover, they have a sports room at their disposal right next to the office (around a 5 minutes walk), were they can practise a lot of sports, such as body building, but also many other activities, the whole at a reasonable price thanks to a partnership with the company. The students also have the beach, which is located a few kilometres far from their accommodation, where they often gather during the weekend to enjoy the wonderful view.
The pastime during the working days is organized this way : after a long working day, the interns like to go to the sport room, where everyone can spend energy and relax their brain. On the contrary, some others rather like to go to the common parts of the accommodations in order to enjoy a moment of relaxation with other foreign students. Most of the students really like this part of their internship, because on one hand, they have to speak English, and in the other hand, thanks to this experience, they can get to know other cultures for example. Furthermore, the company provides them table football, pool tables, and ping-pong tables, and has equipped the video rooms with huge material (big screens, CD and DVD players, etc).

Thus, the students who come to achieve their internship in New Romney do not have the time to get bored. If everyone likes to have fun and socialize a little, they could appreciate and live entirely their internship.

Finding myself with Internship-UK

I have spent the last six months in New Romney, a small town located on the English south coast, doing an internship. The purpose to do it was to improve my English. And this was the only thing I expected from the internship and the people around me. But I got a lot more…
Before coming here, I have always been a very busy person. I have been studying, I had a second job and three honorary posts where I had a lot of responsibilities and people were relying on me. Last summer I just quit everything and went to England. I felt like putting my whole life into boxes, tidying up very thoroughly and stopping my life. And I felt good to be here, not having any really important responsibilities and no one expecting anything from me. I just had to be here and do what I have been told to. And after the first three weeks, another intern who already had been here a bit longer said,“I really don’t understand why you are not the supervisor of the translation department.” And I answered, “Oh, it’s fine with me. I don’t need to always be in charge!” But it turned out that she saw something that I had not seen yet. Two months later, I became the supervisor. I took more and more tasks like introducing the new interns, I was the events manager for a few days and finally the house manager of the house where I lived in. I had become a person that is asked for advice, an opinion or just for help. And someone who had not been here very long said when I told him that I was the house manager now: “Finally!” Another person who had seen something that I had not… So I think that quitting my life and starting something new was just a way of proving to myself that I am the kind of person who always needs to be in charge of something. It seems that from time to time we need a little reminder of who we are!
Another example: before Internship-UK I always said that I was not able to cook (I mean: real cooking!) but then here I had to be the cooking leader and to arrange the lunch for 30 people… And guess what? The others liked what I cooked. I was surprised by myself and so were my parents when I told them, that I actually know how to cook. But I just do not like it!
I started going to the gym here again and did some sports that I had not done for a long time (like Zumba and boxing exercises), or sports that I always wanted to try but never had the time for (like Yoga). It showed me how much I had missed the last years and I already checked if there was a possibility in my town to continue all those things.
And there is something else that I learned about myself: I can share my living space with 15 other people! I was a bit spoiled by living alone for a few years before I moved into a flat-share with three other students a year ago. But here, you share a house with at least 15 others and not only this. You live with the same people you work with, and these are the people you also spend your free-time with. Sometimes I was really annoyed by this, especially as you have not chosen those people and there are some you might not like so much. But other times I really enjoyed having those people around me and never being alone in the house. And I saw a lot of people coming and leaving during the past six months, amongst them some really amazing people that I admire and that I learned from. I got used to sharing my living space and it is because of them that it is now so difficult for me to leave, but I have to.

To sum up my internship experience here, I can say that I learned a lot of things about work, about leadership, about communication, about life, about people and finally about myself. It reminded me of some things that I had just forgotten because I had been too busy the last few years to really recognise myself.
I now know again what I expect from life, what kind of people I would like to spend my time with, which things I like to do and what place I belong to… As hard as it is: this place is not here and I really need to go home, where my people are, and where some new tasks are waiting for me!

Why do they drive on the other side of the road?

Everyone knows the strange English tradition to drive on the left side but it is not only this: there are other consequences involved with this.
When I just arrived in Ashford, I met George, a Greek who has been working in the same company where I was supposed to do my internship; once outside the station, to my big surprise, I noticed that George’s car was a “normal” European car and not an English one. I must confess that I was disappointed because I was looking forward to seeing a real “strange” English car but my curiosity was placated by seeing the equally strange English roads.
Indeed English people use to drive on the left side and for Europeans this is disorienting because we have always the sensation that the others are coming against us.
This happens not only when you are in a car but also when you are walking because you use to look at the wrong side first, and thinking that the road is free and you cross it risking that some cars appear and run over you.
The reason why English people use to drive on the left side dates back to the French Revolution. Indeed before that, everyone used to drive on the left side because it was the best way to unsheathe the sword. Around 1300 Pope Bonifacio VIII turned this tradition as a rule for all the christian world. Nothing changed until the French Revolution, when Robespierre wanted to reverse this rule to challenge the Church. After him, Napoleon (he was left-handed) wanted to spread this rule all over Europe but, having failed the conquest of England, he could not change the typical left-side drive. The english use to say that those with a strange driving are us because it is better to drive a car with the right hand which is stronger than the left one. If so, someone has to explain me how they can apply the handbrake with their left hand.

Discovering life in England

The UK is one of the most chosen destinations for students around the world, particularly the French ones because it is only two hours far from France by train.
Generally, we are very excited thinking of going in a foreign country, discovering another way of life, while we improve our English.
During our training we have to make an internship abroad in order to validate our academic year and England welcomes every year many students to improve their English. I noticed that it was not so easy to find an internship in London, but it is easier to find it in small towns because there are many organizations for students which are perfect for doing an internship.
When I arrived in England for the first time, I had to go to Kent which is a city located two hours from London. I made a mistake because I put London instead of Kent on my ticket, but it was not a bad experience because it allowed me to visit London of which I had heard so much.
At the beginning I was disappointed because it was raining the whole day, the walls in London are usually colourless, and I had the impression that all the Londoners were sad especially when I took the London Underground.
In London the prices are higher than in France and we do not have the same system: here you can pay the rent weekly and not monthly, cars move on the left side of the road, students have many advantages such as free transportation services until they are 16.
I had to go to my internship place in Kent, more precisely in New Romney, and when I arrived, I was totally depressed because there was almost nothing around us, as we were in the country side, which was a shock for me because I grew up and used to live in big cities and I just wanted to go back home. Over time I got used to live here and began to enjoy the place and the city because there are so many things to do, places to visit and it is only a 10-minutes walk to the sea.
Internship UK is a unique experience with a lot of students who come from all over Europe. We live together and we can learn the habits of other countries, discover new dishes which are prepared for the lunch time and this is the opportunity to discover dishes from their countries. The best thing is that you can speak only in English with other students, otherwise we can not understand each other.
You also have the possibility to make real friendships thanks to the workshops, which are organised every day. That allows us to know ourselves better, to learn important things about the work environment in a funny way that facilitates us to participate, reveal and express ourselves in front of several people about what can happen when we maintain a job. Student life here is very funny and exciting because all of us generally have the same age, we work from Monday to Friday with managers and supervisors who are really nice, they listen to you and they are always available when we have a problem. During the weekend we organize many trips (one of this was to London), we visit various attractions in cities such as monuments, churches, and there are also many places where you can go shopping and do sightseeing at the same time, such as Canterbury and many other places. Student life is rich because it is a good experience and we always have good times. When I came for the first time I only wanted to return home but now I have a wonderful time with wonderful people around me.

My Second Family

It was summer and I had just graduated from my business school, ready to conquer the world. After a lot of planning it was definite that I was going to England for an internship. 19 years old and I had never spent more than one week away from my family. I felt so ready, but I had no idea what I had said yes to.
Probably, I was a little too confident! Because suddenly I was alone. For the first time I had to take real responsibility. I had to think about waking up, cooking, but worst of all I had to wash my own clothes, which I never had tried before. I felt really lost in the beginning.
But I was wrong. I was not alone. Here you are together with people 24/7 – you work together and you live together. Of course it has its up’s and down’s to be so close and it can be a little intense. But there have been more up’s than down’s and great great moments. The best thing is that here I discovered my second family. I discovered what it is like to know people who sincerely cared about me and took care of me.
Even if I try to seem strong and happy, sometimes the feeling of being only 19 years old and being away from my family was a really strong emotion. Every moment I had this feeling I just had to look around and I could see these amazing people, who always tried to make me feel good and be happy. They made me call this place my home.
To have a moment alone is almost impossible here, but that is what made it so special. We have shared so many moments in the working hours and outside work, where we have been on a lot of great trips and have had the funniest parties. Even when I was in my room, I was never alone for a long time. There was always one person or more, who knocked on my door to talk, to joke, to get help, to give help or just to check if everything is fine.
Here, I have laughed, I have cried. I have been happy, I have been sad. I have felt strong, I have felt weak. One thing is sure I do not regret anything.
My time here has come to an end. Leaving this place and its people will be very difficult, they are apart of my life now. Everyone has given me something special and I have learnt so much from them all. I am extremely grateful for this experience and all the people I had the chance to meet. I will never forget New Romney and all the incredible people here, who always will have a place in my heart.

Learning who you are with Internship-UK

Internship-UK is not only a way to find an interesting internship in which you will have real responsibilities; it is also a way to learn a lot about yourself and the others, so this is why this experience is so rewarding.
When you arrive at the office you have no choice but adapting yourself. Indeed, you have to speak English even if you are not very good. Do not hesitate, because all interns are there for the same reasons: to improve their English as well as to gain work experience. You do not have to worry about doing mistakes, nobody is perfect. I emphasize this point because you have to understand that it is the key to be successful during your internship! You will learn quickly if you are involved and motivated, not only about how to do your work but also about knowing yourself.
Meeting people, communicating with them, cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry… in Internship-UK, you learn how to be independent without your family or friends, you will be ready to know who you are and for sure you will surprise yourself. It is also a good way to open your mind by discovering new cultures, ways of living and thinking.
Gaining a real work experience is of course one of the strongest points of Internship-UK, because, usually when you do an internship, you do not have important things to manage. But here, if you show your skills and if you are good you will get the chance to become a supervisor (a kind of manager), so you will be in charge of a whole department what brings new challenges. However, you will learn a lot of things, you will understand better how a company works and see that all the departments (Marketing, Human Resources, Media, Translation, IT, Customer Relationship Management) are linked with each other.
To conclude I want to say that it is an amazing experience that you will never forget. Meeting lovely people and creating a network of friends all over Europe, and at the same time improving not only your English, but also your working skills.