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Culture Corner

Currency

England's currency is the British Pound (£) which is divided into 100 pence. Coins come in copper 1p and 2p, the 5p, 10p, 20p, and 50p are silver, the £1 is gold in color, and the £2 coins are silver with a gold-colored rim. Bank notes come in denominations of £5, £10, £20, and £50. Avoid the £50 notes, which are difficult to cash because fakes often circulate.

CASH ECONOMY: Most businesses and restaurants in England will only accept cash as a method of payment, so be prepared and have some cash on hand before heading out.

ATMS: ATM machines are plentiful in England, and using your ATM card will generally give you the best exchange rate available. It is important to note, however, that many banks and ATM machines will charge large transaction fees in addition to conversion fees each time your ATM card is used. For specific charges and procedures, please contact your personal bank. We recommend that you inform your bank of your studies abroad before your departure to inquire about conversion fees you will receive while abroad, etc. Please note that some banks will place a hold on your account if they believe their is fraudulent activity, so err on the safe side and inform your bank that you are studying abroad PRIOR to departure.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Public transportation is not included in the ISA program cost. You will most likely need to use public transportation to get from your dorm to school, from school to the ISA office, etc. Students in London can expect to spend between $100-150 per month on (basic) public transportation. To read more about public transportation in London, click here.

Conversion Rates

What is the Great British Pound (GBP) worth compared to the dollar?
With the Pound (£) in constant flux, please see www.oanda.com for up-to-date exchange rates. While traveling, it may be helpful to carry a portable currency converter (found at travel stores). Sometimes in the form of keychain, this is a handy gadget (like a calculator) into which you enter the exchange rate (depending on the exchange rate at the time and the country in which you are located) save, and then simply enter prices and the device converts the amounts into dollars.

Cost of Living

The common misconception is that England is more expensive that many other European countries. Though England can be pricey, it doesn't have to be. Your ISA resident staff will provide you with the tools to experience the most your city has to offer while keeping it on a budget.

There are many ways to live comfortably on a budget as long you pay attention to what you spend and look out for different deals and events offered throughout the city. In fact, a large number of popular museums and attractions are free of charge!

Budgeting
Former students have given us some idea of what you should expect to spend per week while in London. Due to the changes in exchange rates and vast differences in individual spending habits, we can only offer estimated figures. Based on past program participants, most students spend between $150 to $200 per week. This figure does not include extravagant traveling on the weekends, heavy shopping, or frequent restaurant dining. Please keep in mind that some students spend less and others spend more.

When budgeting, keep in mind that it is always better overestimate than to underestimate. To give you an idea of common approximate expenses and commodities a typical student will incur, please see the brief list below. (Keep in mind these prices are in Great British Pounds (GBP) to convert these prices into USD please refer to oanda.com).

Textbooks: ~£0-50
Coffee: ~£3-4
Museums/Art Galleries: FREE
Sandwich/baquette: ~£5-7
Souvenirs: ~£5-20 per item
Monthly Tube Pass: ~£90
Restaurants/cafes: ~£12-20 (moderately priced restaurant)

Additional Estimated Expenses

The ISA program cost includes items such as tuition and fees, housing, insurance, and more. To view what is included in your program price, please visit the "What's Included" section of the ISA London program page.

The Additional Estimated Expenses sheet in the "Accepted Students" section of the ISA website has the following estimated expenses listed:

  • Airfare
  • Books & Supplies
  • Meals
  • Passport (new/renewal)
  • Student Visa (if applicable)
  • Personal Travel

ISIC Card

It is recommended that students look into purchasing an ISIC card for their studies in London. The ISIC card is an internationally recognized student ID card that gives students thousands of discounts worldwide from travel to cinema, meals and more. While you will likely have a student ID from your host university abroad, it may not grant you discounts that an ISIC card could. You will likely be able to purchase an ISIC card abroad, but it is most convenient to purchase this card BEFORE you arrive, as it may grant you travel discounts, and you won't have to deal with the hassle of international delivery. To find out how to get an ISIC card, visit www.isic.org. Once there, you can find information on discounts in London, and what is needed to obtain an ISIC card.