AIFS Partnership Programs: Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs

Northern California Study Abroad Consortium

Northern California Study Abroad Consortium
not your school?

London, England

Fall 2018

Frequently Asked Questions

Housing
Where will I live?
How many roommates will I have?
Can I choose my own roommates?
If I choose a homestay, what will my family be like?
Can I move into my accommodations before the program starts if I am arriving in London early?
What are the meal arrangements?

Culture
What activities will be included?

Money
How much money will I need?
How can I get money in London?

Communication
Will I have access to email?
How can people contact me when I am in London?
Can I buy a cell phone?

General
Do I need a passport?
Do I need a visa?
What should I take with me?
What happens if I get ill abroad?
Will my hairdryer/iron work in London?
Can I buy textbooks and course-related materials in London?
What sports facilities are available?

Housing

Where will I live?
You will have the choice of living in a homestay with a British family or, for a supplement, a shared apartment. The homestays are typically in residential areas of London north of the AIFS Student Center. The apartments are typically in residential areas west of the Student Center. Typical travel time to the AIFS Student Center is 30-45 minutes by tube or by bus. Please read the apartment and homestay information with comments from previous students to help you make your choice.

How many roommates will I have?
If you choose to live in a homestay, you will typically be in a twin room with one other person. Typical apartment rooms have 2 or 3 beds and the apartments may have 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms.

Can I choose my own roommates?
Yes. You each must request one another, either on the AIFS application form or by emailing AIFS at studentinfo@aifs.co.uk.

If I choose a homestay, what will my family be like?
All the homestay families are different; they will not necessarily be a traditional family with a mom, dad and 2 kids. They are just as likely to be an older couple or a single person. All of the families are very experienced at hosting international students and have been carefully chosen and assessed. A small gift from your home town for your host family is usually much appreciated.

Can I move into my accommodations before the program starts if I am arriving in London early?
AIFS cannot provide you with accommodation before the start of the program. However, we can provide you with a list of accommodation options for the local area, so please contact AIFS in advance for advice if you believe you will be arriving early.

What are the meal arrangements?
Meals are not provided in the apartments, but they have fully equipped kitchens, and you will be able to cook your own meals.

In the homestays, breakfast will be provided Monday to Friday by your host family. It is possible to accommodate those who are vegetarian or who have particular allergies, although we advise you to notify AIFS of this as soon as possible. Homestay families cannot provide for exceptional dietary needs that will incur extra expense. If, for example, you require certain organic foods, these are much more expensive in the UK, and you will be responsible for purchasing them yourself.

Culture

What activities will be included?
There will be an academic and cultural program of subsidized events arranged by AIFS during your time in London. The events will be posted on the AIFS website approximately 3 weeks before your departure and will include guided day trips to places such as Oxford, Stonehenge and Brighton, theater visits, walking tours and sporting events. AIFS will also provide details of events occurring in London which you might like to join.

Money

How much money will I need?
This very much depends on individual tastes. However, AIFS recommends that students budget $700-$1000 per month for day-to-day needs. This would allow for some activities and excursions but not extensive overseas travel or expensive purchases.

How can I get money in London?
Before departure please make sure you get PIN numbers for credit cards (Visa and MasterCard, preferably not American Express as this is not accepted in as many places in the UK and Europe). If you do not already have a credit card, we suggest you get one before you leave.

For checking accounts, try to get the CIRRUS or STAR system on your ATM card. You can ask your bank for a list of overseas banks that will accept your card. Do not take their word that it will be accepted everywhere – this is often not the case. Also, double-check their charges for withdrawing cash abroad.

It is also advisable to bring Visa Travel Money (a pre-paid credit/debit card) with you in case your card becomes demagnetized or is lost. Accessing your money with a combination of all three options mentioned above is the best way.

If you run short of money, or in the unfortunate event you have your wallet stolen, AIFS on-site staff can give you details of how to have money wired to you in an emergency situation from friends and family.

Communication

Will I have access to email?
You will have access to the computer labs at the AIFS Student Center, which is WIFI-enabled. Basic Internet access is provided in both housing options however wireless Internet access is not as prevalent in the UK as it is in the U.S. and download speeds can be much slower so this is to be used for e-mail and web browsing only rather than downloading. There are also Internet cafés and many coffee shops with WIFI access in London.

How can people contact me when I am in London?
You should have your mail sent to the AIFS Student Center at:

Your name
AIFS Student Center
Dilke House
Malet Street
London WC1E 7JN.

Please be sure to give your friends and family the program start and end dates so that they do not mail things to you which will arrive after the program has ended.

Can I buy a cell phone?
You will be able to purchase a pay-as-you-go cell phone once in London, which you top up with credit as and when necessary. AIFS will give you information about buying a phone when you arrive. Most homestay families will let you use their phone to receive incoming calls, but do not assume this will be the case; always ask permission first. There are no telephones in the apartments.

General

Do I need a passport?

You will need a valid passport to travel abroad. If you have a passport that will expire during your program or within four months after the end of your program, renew it now. You will not be able to board your flight without a valid passport in hand.

If you are applying for your first passport, go to www.travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_830.html.

If you need to renew your passport, go to www.travel.state.gov/passport/renew/renew_833.html.

To obtain a passport you will need:

  • Passport Application Form DS-11
  • Proof of Citizenship
  • Current Identification and Photocopy
  • Application Fee
  • Two Passport Photos

The automated appointment number for all passport agencies is (877) 487-2778. For general passport information, you may dial the Federal Information Center at (800) 688-9889, or visit their website at www.travel.state.gov.

Do I need a visa?
If you are planning to do any unpaid work (internship or volunteering), you will need to obtain a prior entry clearance visa (Tier 4) before leaving the U.S. in order to enter the U.K. Please contact Sinéad Sheehan, the AIFS Head of Academic Services/Internship Director, at ssheehan@aifs.co.uk for detailed information on how to apply for the Tier 4 visa as soon as you decide to apply for the London program, as the process takes some time.

Students who do not intend to intern or volunteer will be provided with a letter by AIFS which you may need to show at UK immigration on arrival – this confirms that you are enrolled in one of our programs and that you are not enrolling in a U.K. university during your stay. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please talk to the nearest British embassy or consulate for entry requirements in case you do need to arrange a visa. Do not forget to obtain visas for other countries you may wish to visit. It is not possible to do this once you are in the UK.

What should I take with me?
Not too much. Every year students find that they bring clothing that they never wear or toiletries that they could have easily bought in London.

If you are on medication you should bring enough to last you for the programs as well as a copy of the prescription in case you need a refill.

The weather can be unpredictable so bring warm clothes. It is best to bring clothes that you can layer to be appropriate for all kinds of weather. You should also bring a waterproof coat. You will do a lot more walking than you are used to, so bring comfortable shoes.

Remember to leave space in your suitcase for souvenirs you will buy.

What happens if I get ill abroad?
Your host family or AIFS staff will make a doctor’s appointment for you if you are ill whilst abroad. You will have to pay all expenses up front, including the doctor's visit and any medication, and then you will make a claim on your AIFS medical insurance. For this you must make sure you have filled in all the medical forms correctly and have kept all receipts. You will receive a refund back in the US for all costs exceeding $50 (the amount of your deductible). No pre-existing conditions are covered. Please read the AIFS insurance brochure for other conditions that may be excluded. There are also pharmacies in London where you can buy over-the-counter medication for minor coughs, colds, sore throats, etc.

Will my hairdryer/iron work in London?
Yes, if you bring the correct plug adapter and voltage converter. Appliances designed to operate in the U.S. may not operate in London unless they are fitted with a dual voltage switch or used with a transformer. Electrical sockets are different in Europe, so you will need an adapter plug to fit in the appliance. To save space, inexpensive hairdryers can be purchased upon arrival for approximately $25.

Can I buy textbooks and course-related materials in London?
You can buy paper and other materials in London. London has many large bookstores, but unless your professor has asked them to order your books specifically, they may not have the exact edition your professors require. Please check with your professors regarding any books / reading materials they might require you to purchase in advance.

What sports facilities are available?
London does not have as many sports facilities as you may be used to back at college in the US. However, the University of London Union, of which you are a member, has a well-stocked health suite with treadmills, cross trainers and bikes as well as a weight room, steam room, sauna and climbing wall. They also have a sports hall, floodlit hockey pitch, dance studio, fitness classes and squash courts. AIFS students may join the gym whilst in London for a reduced student fee.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact AIFS at studentinfo@aifs.co.uk or call 1-800-727-2437.