Information on weather, money, insurance and travel
Weather in the UK
The weather in Britain changes from day to day and season to season, so you may need some new clothes. Temperatures can go below 0ºC in winter and up to 30ºC in summer, but these are extremes. The average high temperature in London, for example, is 21ºC and the average low is 12ºC.
It often rains, but not every day, and strong winds can make it feel colder and wetter. However, Britain is not a cold country compared with, say, Sweden, Norway or Russia in winter. In cold and wet weather most people wear a pullover or fleece and a light waterproof jacket. A small umbrella that you can carry in a bag is often useful.
You can see the latest weather in Oxford by visiting the BBC Weather website: www.bbc.co.uk/weather. The BBC also has an excellent free weather app. Go to the App Store or to Google Play to download it and have a look at it in the mornings for a fairly accurate forecast of the weather across the day.
The currency in England is £ (pound) sterling, unlike most of Europe which uses the Euro. You can see how much items cost in England by using an online currency convertor.
If you are long-term student you can open an account at certain banks. We will help you do this when you arrive.
You should exchange money or cash travellers’ cheques at a main bank. Alternatively, you can use a travel agency which has an exchange desk. Small exchange bureaux usually charge a high commission or have a lower rate of exchange. We can tell you which are the best to use in the city in which you are studying.
- Find out how much money you are allowed to take out of your home country for your stay in the UK.
- It can take time to transfer money from one country to another. Ask your bank how long it will take. Give yourself enough time to start and complete the process in time.
- Don’t forget to bring evidence of your transferred funds with you. Carry the bank documents in a safe place. Immigration Officers may ask to see them when you arrive.
- Carry enough cash for your journey and for a short time after your arrival until you can access your money at the bank. Do not carry a lot of cash. You may lose it or it may be stolen.
- If you carry a credit card, keep it safe.
- Do not let anyone else know or see the personal identification number (PIN) for your credit card.
The prices you see in the shops are fixed. You cannot ask to pay a lower price. If you don’t like a price, you may find it cheaper somewhere else. ‘Discussing the price’ in English is called bargaining. The British do not bargain about the prices in shops. However, you can do this in some open-air markets and car boot sales, or when you buy something which is used or second-hand. But don’t try to bargain with staff at college or with your host family. It may upset or embarrass them.
Cost of living
The cost of living varies in the UK, with the south of England usually more expensive than the north. For most items, it is more expensive in London that anywhere else in the country.
There is some useful advice at the Education UK website about how to make your money go further during your time in the UK.
Travel in Britain
Kings Oxford is within easy travelling distance of the main international airports, London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Luton and London Stansted.
The rail network in England is very extensive and trains are operated by several different train companies. Long distance train journeys in the UK can be expensive, especially at certain times of day. We can give you advice about how to get cheaper tickets. You will usually need to buy one week or more before you travel. Also, as a student, you qualify for a ‘Young Persons Railcard’. This will give you a large discount on standard train fares. Our Student Services staff will be happy to give you more information. You can view a list of all train destinations at the National Rail website: www.nationalrail.co.uk
There are coach services to all major British towns and cities. These are generally good value. The main coach company in England is National Express: www.nationalexpress.com
Local bus services operate in all towns and cities. The cheapest and most flexible way to travel by bus is by using weekly or monthly ‘Saver Bus Tickets’.
Local public transport in Britain is reasonably priced and you will be able to buy tickets for the day, week or month, which is cheaper than buying tickets for each journey. When you arrive, ask your host family or staff at the college for advice.
For detailed local transport information for Kings Oxford see The Local Area: Transport Links.
You may be able to hire a bicycle, motor scooter or car. Ask staff at College for advice on getting a good price. However, if you drive a car, motorbike, scooter or moped, make sure you have the necessary road tax, driving licence and insurance. It is illegal to drive without these. In the UK you must be 17 to drive a car and 16 to drive a motor scooter, to rent a car or a motor scooter you need to be older than this (usually 25) and you will probably need an international or EU driving license. Punishments include large fines and, in some cases, even imprisonment.
Insurance during your time in the UK
When you travel to the UK to study, you need to be confident that everything is done to make sure you are protected and safe. It is important for you to have health insurance during your stay.
Check if there is an agreement between your country and the UK to provide health care for each other’s nationals. This is called a ‘reciprocal health agreement’.
If there is not an agreement, you can take out Kings’ student insurance before you leave your country.
Kings student insurance
We have developed an insurance policy which is especially designed for international students in conjunction with Endsleigh, a major UK insurance provider.
Student insurance will cost £6 per week.
The insurance policy gives a very high level of cover and will protect you against loss of possessions as well as accident or emergency.
To include insurance cover, complete the student insurance section when you apply online or when you complete the Academic Courses Registration Form or the English Courses Enrolment Form.