'UK life is an incredible mix of international cultures and contemporary thinking, held together by a strong sense of identity and tradition. Study in the UK and you’ll find an array of exciting experiences to discover - music, celebrations, accents, people to meet, places to visit – the list is endless. As the UK is such a cosmopolitan society you’ll find that many UK customs are already familiar to you – so you’ll settle in faster than you think.'
Religion in the UK
If you follow a religion and worship regularly at home, then you can continue to do so when you study in the UK. UK religion covers all faiths and every major world religion is welcome. Most UK cities have Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist centres, as well as synagogues and churches of all denominations.
Keeping routine with your faith will provide you with a link to your life at home. It can also make it easier to meet and develop new friendships with other international students and UK residents.
The food you can buy in the UK reflects the many ethnic influences in British society. Most supermarkets sell ingredients from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as food from many other parts of the world. The British are increasingly healthy eaters and there is a very wide range of organic produce available in shops and supermarkets.
Of course, you’ll still find the famous English breakfast and fish and chips, but you’ll also see a very diverse range of meals and menus while you’re studying in the UK. Families in the UK often eat a traditional ‘Sunday roast’ on Sundays, but those same families are also likely to enjoy anything from Italian pizza to Singapore Noodles. When you become an international student in the UK, cooking and sharing a traditional meal from your home country is a great way to make new friends.
As in most other European countries, it is acceptable in the UK to drink alcohol in moderate amounts, and pubs and wine bars form an established part of British social life. All pubs and bars sell non-alcoholic drinks too, so you don’t have to drink alcohol to enjoy yourself. People also meet to drink tea and coffee, and you’ll find a vast range of different coffee shops in every UK town or city.
For a taste of traditional UK food with a twist and international recipes from some of Britain’s most famous chefs, visit the Channel 4 food website.
UK entertainment for international students
Music is a big part of UK culture. Whether you just listen or take part, you’ll find pop, rock, electro, hip-hop, classical, folk, jazz, opera and all sorts of world music. From small clubs, independent cafes and bars to international scale concert halls, rock festivals or gigs, you can listen and dance to live music all over the UK. Many big-name and independent artists and bands play at UK university or college venues too.
Apart from a wealth of clubs and societies on campus or in local communities, you can visit traditional museums, contemporary art spaces and galleries in most UK cities. Sculpture, painting, video and photography are widely available to see in the UK. The UK also has a vibrant theatre and performing arts heritage, maintaining both traditional plays and musicals, and encouraging new and alternative productions.
There are cinemas in almost every UK town and city, showing feature films from all over the world. There are also many film festivals in Britain, focusing on themes in film, specific directors or animation.
To find out more about music, theatre, films and exhibitions in the UK, visit the What’s On UK website.
UK leisure activities
The UK offers an incredible and beautiful landscape for walking, climbing, cycling, mountain-biking and running. The mountains of Scotland and Wales, the rolling hills of England and Northern Ireland, the Lake District and the Yorkshire moors, as well as the coastline of all parts of the UK will be all around you.
Many UK institutions have state-of-the-art sports facilities, but you can also use local authority or private leisure centres to keep fit and healthy. As a student in the UK, there are many opportunities to attend or participate in organised sports activities, or get involved in charitable events like sponsored walks and runs. You could even try to join the world famous London Marathon or one of the increasingly popular Bupa Great Runs.
For help and advice on keeping fit in the UK, visit the BBC Lifestyle website.