A Student guide – Winters in the UK
British winters can be cold and wet, and if you’re not used to chilly weather, they can definitely seem daunting for overseas students! However, there’s something magical about the UK in the run-up to Christmas… the dark evenings, the fairy lights, the decorations, the ‘nip’ in the air and the general all-round excitement of the season. A British winter can be really enjoyable – just follow our top tips and you’ll have the time of your life alongside your studies!
Aside from drinking as much tea as possible, here are some of our favourite ways to ensure Winters in London are great:
Pack an umbrella
‘Tis the season to wrap up warm, but you’ll need dry clothes as well as warm ones in the UK too. There’s no need to leave your jumpers and scarves behind but consider too a small umbrella and a roll-up rain mac (or pack-a-mac, as the Brits call them!). If you’re lacking on suitcase space, most high streets have budget brands that offer both for just a few pounds.
Invest in a reusable cup
Takeaway tea and coffee is expensive in the UK and making a hot drink at home and taking it with you is much more environmentally friendly anyway – and you can make drinks for your hosts, too! If you do find you need to buy something to warm you up when you’re out and about, most cafes will give you a discount for using your own cup.
Plan extra time for commuting
If you use public transport to get to work or study sessions, leave some extra time to account for bad weather. The British aren’t the best nation in the world at dealing with inclement weather and it’s not uncommon for buses, trains and trams to be late or to run to different schedules, so be prepared and factor in extra time for your travels. Being late is impolite in British culture, so try not to be if you can help it.
Avoid opening windows
Typical older British homes need heating during cold weather to keep them cosy. If you’re feeling warm as a result of your host’s central heating, open a window for 5 mins when you wake up to allow any humidity out, but then close it. Don’t open windows to try and cool a room – the central heating will only turn itself up higher to try and mediate the temperature!
If you have a traditional winter or Christmas dish from your hometown or country, offer it up for your hosts. It’ll be great to share with them and enjoy together, and you can ward off any homesickness by celebrating the season your way.
Attend free Christmas events
Local councils often host free events in the run-up to Christmas in their local area. Christmas markets, the ceremonial switch-on of Christmas lights (often by a local celebrity) and street parties aren’t uncommon in the UK. Ask your hosts or look online for local events and go along after your studies or placement sessions to enjoy!
There’s lots to do and see in the UK over winter; even if it is a little colder and darker than you may be anticipating! It’s truly a beautiful season to visit and you’ll sense excitement in the air; even if you are studying hard and working late to fit everything in before the beginning of the new year.
HFS London have host families across all areas of London who are willing to share their homes with students so that they can really ‘live’ in the city rather than just stay, even during the cold British winter months. Students can experience the British winter like a local; get in touch to discuss available accommodation with our team now!