If you’re considering studying in the UK or the US but aren’t sure which continent to call home, then look no further. We’ve put our heads together to come up with a comprehensive guide to student life on both sides of the Atlantic. There are no winners here (although if there was, it would be decided by wrestling in inflatable sumo suits).
UK | In the UK, you’ll study just one subject throughout your university career – so choose wisely! The good thing is, you get more free time to study by yourself wherever you like (at your favorite coffee shop, for example) with fewer hours of classes and tutorials than in the US. Exams in the UK are usually held once a year in the spring and early summer. It takes three years to get a bachelor’s degree in the UK, with an additional one or two years for a masters.
US | You’ll begin your studies in America by completing around two years of required classes in subjects like history, math and science (these are core classes). At some point you’ll have to declare a major – which is the subject you’d like to get your degree in. Exams are held at the end of each semester, so twice yearly. Studying for a bachelors will take four years in the US, with an additional two for a masters. Whatever you choose, be prepared for some all-nighters and extra coffee on the way to class!
UK | The UK is known for its old student cities (our guide to the best student cities here), so residences can range from red-brick city-center apartments to ultra-modern out-of-town complexes. Either way, transport for students is usually pretty good and with towns so close together, you’re never far from all the services and entertainment you need. (For more, check out our guide to studying in the UK.)
US | It’s all about being on campus in America. You’ll live, go to class, eat breakfast, pick up your mail, get a late-night snack and do laundry all within a couple of blocks. Sharing a dormitory room (what we call a dorm room) and not getting to choose your roommate is totally normal – and makes the campus experience all the more fun.
UK | Unlike sprawling US metropolises, cities in the UK – particularly London – have many different “downtown” areas. Looking for bowling, dinner and a movie? Head to the out-of-town mall. Trendy bar? Try the financial district. Hip underground nightclub? Look to the city center. The good thing is you can pick the area that’s totally your scene.
US | Sports dominate student life in America – from football to basketball, baseball to dodgeball. Game day starts with tailgating in the stadium parking lot (which means grilling hot dogs and playing cornhole) and ends with celebrating victory (or lamenting a loss) with a night out. When there’s not a game, check your university calendar – there’s almost always something fun going on.
UK | The UK’s famous pub culture is a big part of student life. There are three kinds of venues: traditional pubs, so-called “gastropubs” and really fancy gastropubs featuring fancy food with prices to match. You can get traditional, hearty and not-too-pricey food at traditional pubs and simple gastropubs and – if you’re over 18 – you’ll find a good range of (usually) cheap drinks too.
US | Local businesses know that students are pinching pennies and want to help – just flash your university I.D. at almost any local shop, restaurant or bar for great deals and discounts. When getting ready for a night out on the town, keep in mind that the legal drinking age is 21 (although many places will let you in for a little dancing if you’re 18).
And there you have it. We hope this answered your question and made the choice a little easier!