Moving to the UK – what to expect

Moving to a new country can be daunting, but doing a little bit of research can help you with your expectations. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing what it’s like to live in the UK, so hopefully you will find this a useful guide of what to expect when you get here!

Cultural diversity

As the UK is one of the most diverse countries in the world, you will be able to find all kinds of food such as Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and so on. The city has many restaurants as well as international supermarkets where you will find snacks from home – so don’t worry too much about bringing food with you. Students from the University of Exeter come from over 140 different countries, so you won’t be alone! There are also numerous cultural societies and events where you may meet other students from home.

Bananas grown on campus


The weather

The UK is typically associated with grey rainy weather, but in fact, summer can be quite warm in Exeter – temperatures can go as high as 30 degrees celsius. As we’re located in Devon, Exeter students enjoy slightly warmer weather to those up North. We even grew bananas on campus last year!

The food

Another misconception people tend to have is that British Food is bad. I haven’t found this to be true at all! Of course there are classic dishes such as fish and chips, but one of my favourites has to be bubble and squeak! It’s made with potatoes, cabbage, carrots and peas. Yorkshire Pudding is also a favourite and has a crispy yet light texture. So, don’t believe British food is bad until you’ve tried it!

Cultural differences

Coming from Hong Kong, the “city that never sleeps”, I was shocked by how early shops close in the UK. Most shops tend to close at 7pm, which is quite early in comparison to where I’m from. So be mindful of the opening hours when you’re shopping here in the UK!

Another cultural difference I’ve noticed since moving to the UK, it’s quite uncommon for Brits to have dinner out on Sunday evenings. Restaurants tend to be busier on the weekdays.

Helpful YouTube channels:

‘Anglophenia’ is a YouTube channel run by BBC America featuring videos about British Culture. My favourite videos include “Britain vs. America: Vegetable Names” as I had no idea ‘Zucchini’ is ‘Courgette’ in the UK. “Confusing Things About British Homes” is also a favourite because I did not know separate hot and cold water taps are quite common in the UK. These videos helped me with learning more about British culture, so I definitely recommend watching their videos.

Evan Edinger is an American YouTuber who lives in the UK. He has a series of videos about ‘Britain vs. America’, exploring the differences between universities, holidays, food, and even driving! His experience as a foreigner in the UK definitely shows you what it’s like living here.

The University of Exeter’s YouTube channel has a lot of videos ranging from information about courses to information about the types of accommodation. To find what you need, I recommend looking at the playlists to find exactly what you need.

Videos I found particularly useful were the “How-to Accommodation” videos (playlist). They show you how exactly to set up an accommodation account when you are applying for halls. “What to bring to University” is also a very helpful video, as you might not need to bring as much as you think!


This might sound silly, but sometimes it’s good to not have too many expectations! People have different experiences living abroad, and may enjoy certain aspects of living abroad more than others. It’s also important not to have too many unrealistic expectations, so take resources and information you read with a grain of salt!

   February 1st, 2018    International, Life in the South West, Life on Campus, Preparing for University

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