Study Abroad in London
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Let’s get one thing straight: London is HUGE—138 square miles bigger than New York City—and dense. With over 600 musical performances a week, 20-something universities and roughly 200 museums, there’s never a lack of activity. Like New York, this city never sleeps. Londoners work, party, eat and repeat—and they always look good doing it.
London competes with Milan, NYC and Paris for the title of Fashion Capital of the World. When packing for a semester in London, you need to seriously critique your wardrobe. Bring sharp, versatile pieces and leave the sweatpants, camp tees and scrubby sweaters at home. (Ok, maybe bring one camp tee. For luck.) The goal is to blend in with your fashion forward peers without dragging the entire H&M inventory with you. When it comes to clothing, pack less than you think you need — there’s plenty of shopping to do overseas. On a similar note, London has some of the most versatile nightlife in the world. Bring a couple generic “clubbing” outfits, then fill in your wardrobe once you know what you like. London has everything from burlesque shows to kitschy 80’s discotheques, but maybe you and your friends are all about that bar crawl. Who knows!
Exploring the city isn’t terribly difficult, as Central London is located in a flat river valley, and you’ll have the tube at your disposal. As long as you’ve got a comfy pair of shoes, all you’ll have to worry about is getting lost, so keep your phone charged wherever you go. The UK uses 3 pronged power outlets with an average voltage 230v. American outlets deliver 110v, so you’ll need a small transformer for any device that isn’t dual voltage.
Need a break from the hustle and bustle? Take your pick of Central London’s eight Royal Parks, all former hunting grounds that have been transformed into incredible public gardens. No matter where you study in London, there’s definitely a park nearby. Pack a cute tote bag to bring a book and some lunch— these will soon become your favorite study spot in the city. Pro tip: If you have a lightweight picnic blanket that can fold up tight, bring it! Invite your friends to picnic on the garden lawns and become the queen of budget brunch.
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Study Abroad London Forecast
London is known for being gray and rainy, but that doesn't mean you'll never see the sun! Take advantage of London's cool weather, perfect for studying outside and weekends adventures.
London’s just starting to cool down, so you’ll enjoy 60°F temperatures throughout September and October, sometimes warmer. Early in the semester you can totally go out without a coat, but you’ll want something to cover up in November, when the London chill starts to rattle your bones. Protect yourself from the wind with an insulating, waterproof jacket, or invest in a nice wool pea-coat. As December rolls around, you’ll really get a taste of London winter—windy, wet, cold and cloudy. Temperatures dip to 35°F, where they’ll remain until March. It’s chilly, but far from unbearable, especially when you’re all caught up in holiday cheer!
January and February are London’s coldest, wettest months, with the tiniest bit of snow. But don’t worry! In late February, you’ll definitely feel the temperature rising, and daffodils will begin to sprout. Sudden bursts of rain are common throughout March and April, but so are sudden bursts of sunlight. Often in the same day! Temperatures float around 55°F. Don’t worry about rain boots—they’re clunky and unnecessary. Simply waterproof your shoes and keep an umbrella nearby.
With the sun shining until 10 pm and temperatures hanging around 65-70°F, London summers are gorgeous. Be prepared for a couple heat waves, when temperatures rise up to 90°F, and carry those sunglasses on the reg. Stay hydrated, apply sunscreen (even on cloudy days) and don’t throw out that umbrella! It wouldn’t be London without a couple of summer showers.
Study Abroad Day Trips from London
The UK isn’t all that big, so there are dozens of London day trips that should be on your radar. The Beatles & Liverpool tour is a popular experience for any music lover studying abroad in London. About three and a half hours from the city, you’ll reach the serene Lake District (bring your camera for some insta-worthy shots of Lake Windermere). And you really can’t miss Stonehenge! This prehistoric monument is one of the most mysterious sites near London.
For these trips and many others, you’ll need light, comfy shoes and a daypack filled with essentials: headphones, scarf, sunglasses and money for tacky souvenirs. Pro tip: With cheap flights in Europe, “study abroad London” basically means “study abroad Europe.” Take advantage of school breaks to plan unforgettable (and affordable) European adventures!
10 Must Pack Items for Studying Abroad in London
Comfortable and stylish shoes (Docs, Creepers or Chucks)
Leather jacket (a style staple that works night, day, fall and spring)
Versatile scarf (lighter for spring, heavier for fall/winter)
One pair of quality sunglasses for London’s brightest daysweekend excursions
Lightweight tote bag for spontaneous shopping and trips to the park
Guide book to organize your sightseeing (bonus points if it includes a tear-proof map)
Travel-size umbrella for sudden bouts of rain
Hand sanitizer to use after traveling by tube
Electrical adapter and a portable charger
Knapsack or large purse for day trips