Living in London
To be or not to be...
For many students, a basic question is whether to study in London or somewhere else in the U.K. London has magnetic appeal. While it may be the quintessential British city, that does not mean London is typical of the U.K. In the same way that an international student might be drawn to New York City for a study abroad program, American students often think London is the place to be. But just as New York is the quintessential American city, it is not typical of the United States.
The greater London area is home to approximately 7.5 million people, with an estimated 12 – 14 million living within the London metropolitan area. It is 70 miles across and over 300 languages are spoken there (including English!).
Students opting to study abroad outside of London may still decide to study in a large and diverse urban area, such as Birmingham, Leeds, Edinburgh, or Belfast. Or they may go to a more provincial location and study on a traditional campus. The British countryside is idyllic, and there is a great deal of regional variation: someone from Yorkshire, for example, is very different than someone from Cornwall. On the other hand, the smaller communities in the U.K. may not have the excitement and allure that London does, and travel opportunities may be somewhat more limited.
When deciding where to study in the U.K., it is wise to consider what experience you already have living in an urban environment. Doing so suits some students very well; others may find that adapting to big city life is just one more stressor to overcome, akin to cultural adjustment and studying in a new academic system.