Life in the United Kingdom

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British culture


There are a huge range of British accents, and people from different parts of the UK can speak quite distinctly. If you don’t hear what someone says, don’t feel embarrassed to ask someone to repeat themselves.


Social behaviour in the UK may differ from what you’re used to. The United Kingdom is a very open, socially accepting nation so you may see differences in public displays of affection, clothing choices, and attitudes to same sex relationships. Although this might seem new or strange, it’s important not to stare, point, or laugh at things that may seem different or odd to you.

It is also considered rude to spit in public when in the UK and you can be fined. Spitting is seen as antisocial and carries similar penalties as littering, which is also not tolerated.

Remember, smoking in public places is illegal in the UK, and many establishments enforce fines for doing so.


The United Kingdom may have a very different climate to what you’re used to, so it’s important to prepare before you arrive. During autumn and winter (from September to March), British weather is often cold and wet, so make sure you have warm clothes and a waterproof coat. During the summer the UK can experience high temperatures, so it is important to stay hydrated and not spend too long in the sun.

You can find more detailed information on the weather in Hatfield by visiting the BBC Weather Centre website.

British cuisine

British food is a mixing pot of global cuisines. Here's some of the more traditional dishes that you might expect to see in the UK during your studies.

Sunday Roast

Sunday Roast
A traditional main meal eaten on Sundays; consisting of roasted meats, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, assorted vegetables, and gravy.

Shepherd's Pie

Cottage/Shepherd's Pie
A (non-pastry) pie generally made with a minced red meat cooked in a sauce with various vegetables, topped with a layer of mashed potato that is then baked. Shepherd's Pie refers to a lamb filling, while Cottage Pie has a beef filling.


Pie and mash
In the UK, the word "pie" most commonly refers to savoury pastries; generally filled with meat and vegetables. These are often eaten with mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Jacket Potato

Jacket potato
A "jacket" potato, is a large potato, baked until the skin is slightly crisply - often filled with butter, cheese, sour cream, or baked beans.

Full English Breakfast

Full English Breakfast
A "full English", also known as a "Fry up" typically consists of pork sausages, bacon, fried eggs, baked beans, black pudding, tomatoes, beans and toast.

Fish and Chips

Fish and chips
Generally bought from shops known as "chippies", the meal consists of battered white fish (mostly cod or haddock) and chips (known elsewhere as "fries").

Finances, bank accounts and phone contracts

You will need to arrange to set up a bank account for your time in the UK. You may also choose to take out a mobile phone contract or pay-as-you-go SIM. We recommend you research the various companies, plans and offers to ensure you take out the right type of account and plan for your needs.

Understanding British currency


1p/One Pence
The smallest iteration of British currency; commonly referred to as "a penny".


2p/Two Pence
This coin - along with the 1p - is sometimes referred to as "shrapnel" or "coppers" due to the low value and colour.


5p/Five Pence
The smallest British coin, and the lowest value of the four silver coins.


10p/Ten Pence
Equivalent to one tenth of a pound sterling. Generally pronounced as "ten pee".


20p/Twenty Pence
Equivalent to one fifth of a pound sterling. Generally pronounced as "twenty pee".


50p/Fifty Pence
Equivalent to half of a pound sterling. Generally pronounced as "fifty pee".


£1/One Pound
One Pound Sterling, colloquially known as "a quid".


£2/Two Pound
The least commonly circulated coin, singularly equivalent to two Pound Sterling.


£5/Five Pounds
Often referred to as "a fiver".


£10/Ten Pounds
Often referred to as "a tenner".


£20/Twenty Pounds
Not as common as the ten or five pound notes - occasionally called "a score".


£50/Fifty Pounds
The least commonly used note, not commonly accepted at some smaller shops.


Navigating your way around the UK is easy using the public transport network. We have put together a few tips to help you get started.

Visiting sights and cities around the UK

Sightseeing around the UK is fantastic way to spend your free time during your studies. There's lot of places to visit using public transport!


The second largest city in the UK, famous for Manchester United F.C. and the splitting of the atom.


A historic walled city known for it's impressive cathedral and Roman/Medieval architecture.


A prehistoric ring of standing stones, each stone stands around 13 feet high and weighs 25 tons.


The birthplace of The Beatles, and home to Liverpool F.C. and Everton F.C.


A Medieval/Victorian city known for its cathedral and castle; which houses a copy of the Magna Carta.

Lake District

Lake District
A mountainous region famous for its lakes, forests, and mountains, as well as associations with poets.


The capital of Scotland, home to the scenic Edinburgh Castle, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.


The capital of Wales, famed for the shooting location of BBC shows; Doctor Who and Sherlock.


A world-famous university city, home to seven colleges and two universities, as well as multiple museums.


A seaside resort town known for its nightlife, arts scene, and regency-era buildings and arcades.


A city that primarily grew in the industrial revolution; now home to a huge arts subculture.


Known for its incredibly Roman-built baths, and the canal system that runs all the way to Oxford.

Exploring the local area

Don't want to travel far to visit some landmarks? Hertfordshire and London have some amazing places to visit during your studies. If you're looking to get around the Hatfield area, there's lots of transport links provided by the University's bus company as well as easy access to a National Rail train station.

You must ensure you have completed your required quarantine before you begin exploring.

Tower of London

Tower of London
A historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London.

The Shard

The Shard
The Shard is a 95-storey skyscraper in Southwark, designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano.

Stanborough Park

Stanborough Park
A 126-acre park on the border of Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City, known for its two large lakes.


Emirates Stadium
Located in Royal Holloway, London, the Emirates Stadium is one of the largest football stadiums in England and home of Arsenal F.C.

St Albans Cathedral

St Albans Cathedral
A beautiful cathedral in St Albans comprised on ancient Normal architecture, situated in a large park.

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus
The famous central London junction connecting Regent Street and Piccadilly, known for the iconic LED screens and the statue of Eros.

London Eye

London Eye
Located on the South Bank, the London Eye is Europe's tallest observation wheel, and the UK's most popular tourist attraction.

Hatfield House

Hatfield House
A country house set in a large park on the East side of Hatfield. Hatfield House is frequently used in films and TV, including recent Oscar winner, The Favourite.


The Galleria
A designer outlet centre within walking distancing of both campuses. The Galleria houses clothing, household, leisure, and coffee shops.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace
The London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom (currently Queen Elizabeth II), located in Westminster.

Big Ben

Big Ben
Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the Elizabeth Tower at the north end of the Palace of Westminster.


Bayfordbury Observatory
Located just six miles from the campuses, our observatory is one of the largest teaching observatories in the UK.

Staying safe in the UK

  • avoid displaying expensive items such as watches, jewellery or mobile phones in busy public places
  • try not to carry large amounts of money with you, most places in the UK accept card payments
  • be aware of potential scams – only make tuition or accommodation payments directly to the University
  • if you have lost a key or just moved to a new property, it is a good idea to change the locks after speaking with your landlord
  • make sure your phone is charged when going out in case of emergency, or if you lose the people you are with
  • always know how you're getting home, especially when going somewhere you don't  know - let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back
  • register your belongings on, a free UK property register used by the police, insurers, and the second-hand trade - register items like your phone or your bike, anything that may be stolen, in order to assist the police

Safety and emergency contact numbers

  • 999 Emergency (police, fire, ambulances)
  • 112 Emergency (UK mobile)
  • 111 Non-emergency for health
  • 101 Non-emergency for police
  • +44 (0) 1707 281010 On-campus security
  • +44 (0) 1707 285555 On-campus emergency.

Next steps

Please continue to the 'Life on campus' section.

Life on campus