QS World University Rankings released a list of the ten things to do in the UK as an international student.
The UK is one of the world’s most popular study destinations (second to the US) so most of its universities makes an effort to allow international students to feel welcome. While each university has its own vibrant community, it would still be a waste to not go out and explore the country.
1. Visit London
Even though you don’t study in the city, be sure to visit London. It has a lot of tourist sights, such as the Big Ben and London Eye, and a lot of culture hubs as well, such as West End and the Tate Modern. There’s more to see beyond the city center, such as Stratford, Camden, Little Venice and Notting Hill.
2. Explore the British Countryside
After touring the busy streets of London, it’s time to see the British countryside. Some of the areas better known for their natural beauty are Lake District (England), the Antrim Coast (Northern Ireland), the Wye Valley (Wales), and the Scottish Highlands.
3. Get to know the cities of Northern England
UK’s best known universities are in the so-called southern “golden triangle”, formed by London, Oxford, and Cambridge. However, the cities of the north are worth a visit. For sports fans, Manchester is a must-see. For music-fans, Liverpool is a must see. For general lovers of the UK culture, there’s Newcastle, Sheffields, Leeds, York, and Durham.
4. Go punting in Oxford and Cambridge
Oxford and Cambridge are home to the UK’s oldest and best known universities. Fondly known as “Oxbridge”, the towns are both highly historic and picturesque, with punting as one of its traditional activities. The activity uses “punts”, a type of flat-bottomed boat, steered with the use of a long pole pushed against the bottom of a river (Cherwell and Isis Rivers in Oxford, and the River Cam in Cambridge.
5. Soak in culture at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Scotland has a lot of sights, such as the Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat, and the supposedly-haunted vaults underneath the city. However, every August, the city hosts an array of arts and culture festivals known collectively as the Edinburgh Festival, the oldest two of which are the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is the world’s largest arts festival. For over three weeks, the city’s streets and venues are filled with various theatre, comedy, music and dance performances.
6. Party at London’s Notting Hill Carnival
Also in August, the Carnival is a celebration of Caribbean culture, dancers and performers dance to booming reggae, dub, hip hop, grime, dubstep, and drum ‘n bass music played through huge sound systems.
7. Take on the 4 Peaks Challenge
The 4 Peaks Challenge is simply attempting to climb the highest mountains of the UK’s four states. Admittedly, the UK’s mountains are not really that high when compared to international standards, however conquering the challenge gives you a sense of accomplishment, as well as the opportunity to see rare sights.
8. Go to Glastonbury or one of UK’s many other music festivals
Glastonbury is the largest outdoor music festival in the world, with around 175,000 people joining annually. However, there are many more music festivals, such as the Reading and Leeds Festivals, V Festival, T in the Park, Latitude, and more, which covers all genres of music.
9. Visit some of the smaller islands
If you’re into exploring the more peaceful and rural side of the UK, there are plenty of smaller islands to choose from. Some of the most popular islands to visit are the Channel Islands (between UK and France), the Isle of Man (in the Irish Sea), and some islands off the coast of Scotland, like Skye, Orkney and Rum. Some islands are self-governing, others very remote.
10. Go to a Sports event
While Manchester, Chelsea and Liverpool are well worth a visit for football (soccer) fans, other popular sports in the UK include rugby, tennis and cricket. It doesn’t have to be a big stadium event, at least be able to watch your local teams or university teams.
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