The United Kingdom is made up of four nations: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Each nation has its own culture, its own cities, and its own vitality – some even have their own 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, which means that there are four distinct seasons, yet it is never too hot in the summer and never too cold in the winter.
Student life in the UK is exciting and varied. University cities have a diverse and
buzzing nightlife with many different restaurants, bars, and clubs to suit everyone. Ancient cities like Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh are full of history with famous summer festivals of food, music and theatre. 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, 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 subsidised fees for students. All cities and towns have good bus or tram networks. Galleries, museums, country houses, castles and historic places are discounted for students and many of the national collections are free. The UK is obsessed with sport, particularly football. Each town has a football club (some world-famous), most have sports centres, swimming pools and lots of gyms. A good way to keep fit and explore at the same time is hiking. There are trails on the coast, through the mountains, across the countryside and even through cities.
British culture is different in each region. To an outsider it can be difficult to understand at first 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 of the peculiarities of their way of life, and yes, the British do talk about the weather because it is always 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 eating too much food and drinking lots of alcohol – although nobody will be upset of you decline the alcohol. There are also national holidays, known as Bank Holidays, throughout the year which are usually on a Monday and celebrate 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 and some, like London, Manchester and Brighton have an annual Pride festival for their LGBT+ communities.