Alex: Dos and Don’ts of Studying Abroad in London


I can’t believe it’s already that time of year again: the leaves are changing, students are bundling up just to go downstairs and pick up their Postmates, and we’re still living through a middle of a global pandemic of apocalyptic proportions. I just love fall, don’t you?

Last semester, I had the pleasure of studying abroad in the U.K. It will definitely be one of my most cherished memories of BU, but there are some things I wish I’d known going in that might have changed my experience a bit. Hopefully, I can impart some of this knowledge on you and live vicariously through your perfectly curated Instagram photos.

DON’T: Go in the middle of the biggest worldwide epidemic of the century.

This one’s pretty self explanatory. Even if there’s just an inkling, save yourself the heartache of buying tickets to Romeo and Juliet at the Globe only to go home days before.

DO: Bug your EUSA contact about internship updates.

This one isn’t as bad as it sounds. BU outsources the heavy lifting of finding an internship abroad to a company called EUSA. Good news? That means there’s very little work to do on your end to obtain gainful employment. Bad news? They’re dealing with about 30-40 other students at the same time. It’s easy to get lost in an email chain, so don’t be afraid to speak up about a) what type of internship position you want and b) when you can expect to hear back about whether or not you got it. The internship can make or break your abroad experience. Take a lesson from the 5 year olds I babysit: never settle.

DON’T: Talk on the tube.

Yes, I still catch myself calling the MBTA the tube. No, it doesn’t make any sense. If Londoners love one thing, it’s silence. Well, maybe also tea. And beer. And a good English breakfast. But silence is definitely in the top 5. The easiest way to out yourself as a tourist to the locals is through boisterous discussion on the tube. Anything above a whisper is taboo. And if you’re whispering, you better have an absolutely incredible reason, like a fire, or seeing Robert Pattinson. Besides, if you were talking, how could you hear the absolute gems schoolchildren drop on their way home? (“Nah, mans, it ain’t like that. I’m different, mans want bodies, I’m built different.”)

DO: Learn a few basics about tea.

I’m by no means an anglophile, but it’s pretty universally known that the English love tea. I’m not a big drinker myself, but regardless, in an office space, it’s an easy way to make friends and win goodwill. A few important points:

  • Try different kinds, as your employer will surely have a bevy. Try different teas at different times of day; it might improve your workflow. Show your boss you’re ~adventurous~.
  • Always offer to put the kettle on. Even if you’ve never done it before, I promise it’s not that hard, and it’s a guarantee to make you an office favorite. Maybe practice at home before your trip if you’re a little nervous.
  • Bring a pack of biscuits (cookies, for you American heathens) along for sharing. For the cost of a single biscuit, you have just made a lifelong friend. My recommendations are Digestives and Hobnobs.
  • There are specific preparations for different types of tea based on who’s consuming it. Learn how your office mates like them, and they’ll do the same for you. One I became intimately familiar with is builder’s tea: heat water to a boil, put the teabag in for the minimum amount of time possible, then add milk until the tea becomes cloudy. Never order your tea this way.

DO: Call it football.

We all know you mean soccer. Just take one for the team and do it so we don’t get bum rushed by the lads outside the pub, okay?

DON’T: Root for Arsenal.

You know, unless you like heartbreak.

DO: Bring a European passport (if you have one).

Brexit is a reality (and no one seems to like it), but that doesn’t mean you won’t have access to the rest of the EU! I’m fortunate enough to be a dual citizen to Spain, so my Spanish passport has gotten me around some long lines in the airport. Be sure not to burn yourself out travelling too much, though. It’s unlikely that you’ll have weekdays off, so your window of travel is probably Friday evening to Sunday evening. Those are tough trips to make. More than a few consecutively, and your bunk bed might seem a little more inviting than mandatory attendance in statistics.

DON’T: Get a cast if you intend to fly home.

How did I break my wrist, you ask? Oh, you know. Just a nasty petting zoo accident. I know, the NHS just seems so inviting. But as blood vessels swell at higher altitudes, your injury might get stuck in the hard plaster and keep blood from your extremities. A really sticky situation 30 minutes into your 8 hour flight home. Finally,


I really cannot hammer this one home enough. My time in London was absolutely life changing, but I still can’t shake the feeling that it would have been better somehow if I just, I don’t know…wasn’t there in the middle of the end of the world.

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