Frequently Asked Questions

What is British Studies?

British Studies is a four-week summer study-abroad program based in the UK and Europe.  British Studies is based on the concept of an active learning community, using immersive teaching by local experts and professors, combined with in-depth student research.  Our program resides and teaches in London and at least one other major UK or European city.  Students earn 6 hours of university credit.

How many students will be on British Studies?

British Studies usually has 170-190 students each summer.

Where do students on British Studies come from?

Students on British Studies will come from colleges and universities all over the United States.

Who are the professors that teach on British Studies?

Professors responsible for the courses on the program have all received recognition for excellence in teaching, have experience in study-abroad programs, and are currently professors on a college or university campus in the United States. In addition, scholars from the UK and Europe will make keynote contributions to every British Studies class.

How long has British Studies been in existence?

The British Studies Program was created by The University of Southern Mississippi and its consortium partner schools more than 35 years ago.

How many courses do students take on British Studies?

All students take a single course for 6 academic hours. Three of the credits are related to the work you will do in London and elsewhere on the program.  The other three will be based on the research project you begin abroad and complete by the end of September, back in the states.

Do most students on British Studies have experience traveling abroad? If I do not, will I be able to make it?

Some British Studies students will have done another study-abroad program already, but this is by no means always going to the case. The new traveler will do fine on British Studies, especially since the program makes travel easy by building it right into our academic curriculum.

Nobody in our family has traveled or ever done anything like British Studies before. Is this program really for me?

Absolutely. The majority of students on British Studies will come from families who have never had a study abroad experience. Several are first generation college students. Most have not traveled outside of the USA.

My parents never say yes to things like British Studies. How should I even bring it up to them if I really want to go?

British Studies is a big thing for parents to understand and support. Most of our British Studies parents are concerned about the price of the program, whether the classes will be relevant to your college degree and your future, and how safe you will be when you are abroad. Further, parents want to know for sure that this program really is right for you and is something you are passionate about. Even if many parents do share the same concerns, each family situation is different. Our staff and professors will always tell you this: speak to your parents early in your thinking on British Studies and ask for their support and encouragement. If possible, speak to them as soon as you know that this program is what you want to do. Discuss why you want the kind of experience British Studies offers, how you will pay for the program, and what you can commit personally to make the experience happen. And be sure you are clear with them about how British Studies will help you academically and in your career plans.  Finally, our alumni report that it’s always worth taking the time to assure parents that London is considered one of the safest large cities in the world and that British Studies helps a student learn how to travel safely, economically and with confidence.

Do I need a passport to do British Studies? If so, how do I get one?

Yes. All travel to Europe requires a valid passport. Go online as soon as you apply for British Studies and apply for a passport, if you don’t already have one. The delivery time is about six weeks.

My parents are worriers. What can help ease their minds so that they know I will be OK on British Studies?

British Studies has (at least) three full-time staff people, and more than a dozen full-time professors for the 170-190 students who participate each year. We work 24/7 to ensure that you are well taken care of, and we work with you to help you gain more confidence and self-reliance. Our professors and staff won’t be your “mom” and “dad” for the four weeks of the program, but we will never treat you as a number or as someone we don’t know well. Meanwhile, we will also work to provide that extra (gentle) supervised “push” to get your confidence and competence up when it comes to managing yourself well while abroad. Our alumni report that parents often notice a big jump in a student’s self confidence and self reliance after British Studies.  Your parents may proclaim you to be a “new and improved” version of yourself after just one month away!

Will there be help my parents and I can get as I count down to starting British Studies?

Absolutely. In fact, we require you as a student to join our orientation sessions either in person or online.

What about once we get to the UK? Will there be a lot of help for me in my first few days settling in?

Yes. You will join all of your fellow students and faculty in an extensive orientation weekend we call LondonALIVE. You will get help on everything: how to succeed in your classes, how to budget and travel safely, how to handle conflict if it comes up among your fellow students, and how to increase your own sense of confidence when facing new challenges and opportunities. Plus you will head out into the city with your new classmates and our professors, meeting London head on from day one! The best part of all this, though, is that our goal with our first days on the program is to give YOU the tools that YOU need to learn how to succeed in London and beyond on your own. Alumni often tell us that they came home from British Studies feeling like a they’d become new and far more savvy versions of themselves than they had ever thought possible.

How will I get to British Studies dorm in London? Am I going to get lost the very first day?

Getting into central London is totally simple, and we will have a good many of our professors and staff waiting at the airport to help coach you on your way into today. The Heathrow Express is a direct over ground train to Paddington Station that takes about 20 minutes. From there, you will line up at the taxi stand with other BSP students to take the 15 minute ride together in your first London Taxi. Then you will unload at our dorm and get checked in for your adventure.

I have no experience traveling at all. Can I do British Studies?

Although many British Studies students will have had experience traveling before, some will be totally new to the experience. By the time they have done the program, they will have “the travel bug” for life and be able to go anywhere they want. One key lesson of British Studies is about knowing how to “keep calm and carry on” like a travel pro when things inevitably get frustrating.

My family isn’t rich, but we don’t qualify for great financial aid either. Is British Studies out of my reach?

Most of our students will finance all or most of their British Studies summer through financial aid. Our average student will spend no more than $3000 more for British Studies than the program price of $7499/7799. The extra funds will pay for travel, foods and the rest of your expenses.

What if the financial aid office at my home school seems clueless and not helpful. Is there someone I can turn to for help?

Many financial aid offices are new to working with study abroad students. The staff associated with British Studies is not new to this work. Contact us to get help if you feel like your own school’s office is giving your questions a “brush-off” answer. Every year, students who are told at first that they cannot go are able to afford programs like British Studies. You can make it work, too!

Beyond traditional government student loans that I have heard about through my financial aid office, are there other loans I can get to make British Studies happen for me?

Yes. Look into “parent-plus” and/or other study abroad program loans online. There are products tailored to what you want to do on British Studies. You may need your parents to co-sign a special loan to make your British Studies dreams come true. But remember: they are probably the same folks who went to every one of your piano recitals and football games. They were at your ballet recitals and took pictures at your prom. If you are serious about British Studies and want it with all of your heart, you will be able to finance the experience.

What will I need to spend money on beyond the program price?

Beyond the program price, you will need to spend money on hostels and meals during mini-break travel and other times you traveling on your own, and on your own miscellaneous living expenses.

Does everyone spend about the same amount of extra money, beyond the program price?

No. Student budgets vary widely. Some students will live well on British Studies for $1900 more than the program price, because they are careful budgeters and are frugal in making decisions regarding where they want to eat, drink and travel during their weekendEXPLORE and mini break periods. They also exercise discipline when it comes to their “going out” money. Others can spend $4000 or even more beyond the program fee if you factor in the cost of discretionary expenses like tattoos, piercings, parasailing in the Alps, scuba lessons in the Mediterranean—not to mention Paris handbag shops where a tiny purse is said to be a “deal” at $10,000.

Do the staff or faculty of British Studies help me to manage my budget, so that I can do what I want and not come home having spent beyond my means?

Yes. Our program orientation looks closely at your budget challenges and helps every student to set up a good budget that will allow for an affordable and well-planned “dream” summer in Europe.

Are there scholarships or other “free money” opportunities out there to help me fianance this program?

Yes, but these are competitive and usually award small amounts of money only. Talk to your home institution’s financial aid counselor for help here, but also do your research online to widen the net you are casting as you look for scholarships. Each year there are a wide array of scholarships that go unfunded, because nobody applied for the money. Look, find, apply, get! You can start your search for additional scholarships by visiting:
www.studyabroadfunding.org
www.studyabroad.com/scholarships
www.iie.org/Students

What about money while abroad? Will I need a bank account over there?

No. Just like in the USA, Europe has ATM’s everywhere. Just put your debit card in, enter your pin as you do back home, and voila! You will have brand new Euro or Pound notes shot out into your hand, ready for use. Debit cards are definitely the way to go when traveling in Europe.

 

What will London be like to live and learn in? Is it safe?

London is known to be among the most exciting, dynamic and safe urban centers in the world. Public transportation abounds, and the famous Tube is never far away. We will walk you all over the city, too, just like Brits do every day. And while we will remind you regularly about basic safety guidelines for life in major urban areas, London and Europe generally are known to be far safer than our own cities in the USA.

What will my class schedule be like on British Studies?

We do not keep to a “normal” academic calendar on British Studies. Your academic calendar will be posted for you to review and plan around well before we leave for Europe, but do not be surprised to find your classes sometimes meeting on Saturday but not meeting on a Thursday or Friday. Similarly, there may be days when your class meets for only a couple hours…and other days when your class will meet all day and well into the evening.

What’s our London dorm like and where do we stay when we are on LondonAWAY?

The British Studies dorm is located in central London, just a block from the Thames River and only steps from the great theater district of the city. You will live in an individual room, with its own shower/toilet/sink. Linens are changed weekly, as are towels. You will share a kitchen with your 6 or so suite mates. The dorm is secure and features a front security desk as well as controlled entry points for each wing of the building. Our BSP housing on LondonAWAY varies. Depending on your destination, you may be staying in a 400 year old castle or a brand new hostel. Prepare for adventure and fun, and be sure to pack a very open mind. Your room will never be a major point of this experience. Rather, your focus will be on everything waiting for you outside of your room.

Is there WIFI at the British Studies dorm or at other important places we will go and see in Europe?

Yes. But be prepared to use facebook and the Internet in general less than you do at home. Not only will your classes and travel plans keep you busy, but the cities will call loudly to you and ask you to leave your room, get out and meet your new neighborhoods.

Should I take my U.S. phone on British Studies? What about my laptop?

Whether you want to bring your phone to Europe depends a lot on the kind of costs you will have to incur in order to do so. Contact your U.S. cell carrier and find out about what plan you can get for basic coverage overseas in case of emergency. Remember that when you have access to WIFI that you will be able to access skype and facetime with any tablet or laptop you bring along. This may make having your phone in Europe an expense you can do without.

If I get sick on British Studies or something happens to me health wise, what do I do?

Our faculty and staff will help you to get medical attention. We will offer you help remotely if a medical issue arises while you are traveling.

How safe will we be in general while we are in our cities and traveling?

British Studies will ask you to take your own safety very seriously. Our professors and staff will work with you over the course of your five weeks in to think carefully and smartly about how to be safe when you are on your own. We will help you to understand how to be safe in a group, how to manage yourself in cafes and bars, where to watch for possible safety issues and how to make careful travel plans. Our goal will be to teach you awareness and vigilance, as you move with us in and prepare to travel on your mini break. Beyond the counsel and coaching you will get from us, British Studies will also insist that you carefully fill out your “away” travel forms, so that we know where you are going when you do travel. Finally, we will counsel you carefully about what to do in the event of any international incident that might occur while you are traveling.

When are our two free travel times and what do we do on them?

Travel breaks on British Studies occur at the end of week one, from Thursday afternoon until Sunday night, and during the third week, from Wednesday night until the next Monday afternoon. The first of these periods is called weekendEXPLORE, and there will be multiple options for you to think about with this time. Usually British Studies offers a supplemental trip to Paris for about 70 students. Similarly, we usually offer supplemental daytrips to Dover, Canterbury, Stonehenge and other great places. The second of these is your mini break, from a Wednesday until a Monday.  You will make your own plans and do your own trip, usually with new friends from British Studies.  Otherwise, you will have general “free time” most days of the program in the afternoon and all evening.

What is a visa and do I need one to study on British Studies?

A visa is a government document that allows you to live, study and sometimes work overseas for an extended period of time. Because British Studies is a program that does not exceed 90 days in Europe, you do not need a visa.

How difficult is it to learn how to travel in Europe if I’ve never done it before?

Travel in Europe is easy to figure out and affordable to execute. Take a look at www.raileurope.com just to get a quick idea about the range of travel destinations you can choose with the train as your mode of transport

What about flying around Europe? Do people do that a lot or do they mostly use trains?

The UK and Europe are now linked all over with low-cost air service, so many students now travel both by trains and by plane. If you are planning traveling longer distances during your travel times, paying for a plane ticket may be your best choice. The following sites can help you get an idea of the options and prices available for air travel: Ryan Air – www.ryanair.com, Easy Jet – www.easyjet.com, and Aerlingus – www.aerlingus.com

Where will I stay when I travel on my own? Are there hotels or what?

There are hostels all over Europe, and students can stay in them for usually not much more than about $25 a night, sometimes less and sometimes a bit more. British Studies will help you learn how to book hostels and figure out the most inexpensive ways to use them well. Start with some of these helpful websites to scout out accommodation while you’re traveling:
www.hostelworld.com
www.hostels.com
www.hostelbookers.com

 

 

Where are our classes held?

British Studies classes are held in traditional classrooms and in streets. They are held in museums, in hostel lobbies and in cafes. Be prepared for class each day by scouting out weather conditions and the likelihood of rain or other inclement weather. You will want to have a raincoat, umbrella and good shoes.

Are British Studies classes harder than normal classes back home?

British Studies classes are intense and require a great deal of academic work from students every day. Yet the ratio of students to professors—about 10 to 1—allows for a high degree of academic interplay among learners and with their faculty.