Life in the UK will almost certainly be different from what you are used to. It is difficult to say what our way of life is as attitudes and outlooks vary considerably according to where you are in the country. The UK is a very cosmopolitan country with residents from many countries and ethnic backgrounds. When you first arrive you may notice differences in the way people behave compared to your own country.
You will find that people are generally quite tolerant - they like to help if they can so don't be afraid to ask. They sometimes seem a little reserved and it can take time to establish close friendships. However, most people respond politely and positively to offers of friendship. Don't forget that if they are not familiar with your culture, they won't understand your needs and concerns unless you explain them.
On campus you might be surprised by the lack of formality. In this relaxed atmosphere, most members of faculty and staff enjoy being approached by students and participating in conversation whether or not it is directly related to academic work. The café/common rooms around the University will usually comprise a mixture of staff and students informally chatting over tea or coffee.
Alcohol is available to anyone aged over 18. In the UK it's perfectly acceptable for adults to drink alcohol in moderate amounts. For many, drinking is an established part of their social life - 'going out for a drink' is how they relax or spend time with friends. This doesn't mean that you have to drink alcohol. If you don't want to you can always ask for a non-alcoholic drink instead. If you don't feel comfortable going to places that serve alcohol, explain this to your friends - there are lots of other places where you can meet. Pubs in the UK are open to anyone and usually close at 11pm, although some have extended hours, particularly at weekends.
Please be aware that drink spiking (where alcohol or drugs are added to your drink without your knowledge) is becoming an increasing problem in the UK and the rest of the world, so never accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink unattended.
Although many people in Britain smoke, in some ways smoking is less acceptable than drinking. From July 2007 a smoking ban came into effect in all public places in England, including pubs, clubs and restaurants (similar bans are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). If you're caught smoking in a banned area you can be fined £50. Smoking is still allowed outdoors and in private homes but many non-smokers find smoke unpleasant. If you are eating or drinking with friends at someone's house it's polite to ask before you light your cigarette.
Racism is a global problem and no society, including the UK, is perfect. The University, however, has a proud reputation for welcoming people from a variety of backgrounds, promoting equality and diversity, and offering an inclusive and supportive environment for all. We therefore hope that you never encounter discrimination in the University environment. If you think you have suffered from discrimination, whatever its form, confidential services on campus are ready to assist you. Further details, including a copy of the University's Equality and Diversity Policy, can be found on the University's website
'Culture shock' describes the emotional upheaval many people experience when they move to a country with a different culture from what they are used to. You are probably excited about coming to the UK, meeting new people and starting your course. However, once the initial enthusiasm wears off, you may begin to feel overwhelmed. Things that you found exciting at first could seem strange and a little frightening. You may experience sudden mood changes and strong reactions, feeling lost, disorientated, and even irritated and resentful. Above all, you may wish you were back among the familiar people and places at home. All international students can experience culture shock in some form - even those coming from countries with similar lifestyles to those in the UK. It's important to understand that these kinds of reactions are normal and that they will pass. You do need to give yourself time to adapt.
To reduce the effects of culture shock, here are a few ideas that may help:
Specialist and international foods
There are many shops and restaurants in the Brighton area that sell these foods and a list of some of them can be found at website You may also find that some of the larger supermarkets stock some of the products you require.
The organisation 'Host' is a charity that helps international students by arranging accommodation with UK families throughout the country for short periods of time. This is useful for students who would like to see more of the UK but have limited finances, or who may otherwise be lonely during the holidays. You will have to pay for travel expenses to the area you are interested in visiting and although this can be expensive, the accommodation is free of charge. You will also be asked to contribute an administration fee when you submit your application. If you wish to take part in this scheme go to www.hostuk.org where you will find more information and an online application form or contact Louise Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Climate and clothing
You will soon find out that one of the most frequently talked about subjects is the weather. That is because, in Britain, it is quite possible to be warm, cold, sunny, raining and windy, all in the same day! The average temperatures of each month are provided below.
When you arrive, bring a warm sweater or coat in your hand luggage as late September can often be quite cool. You will need warm winter clothing and it may be cheaper for you to purchase this on arrival. There are plenty of 'second-hand' shops which can offer cheap clothing, and often some really good bargains can be found.
To drive a motor vehicle on any road in the UK, you must hold a current driving licence. This may be one of the following:
motorcyclists: there is a compulsory basic training test lasting about two weeks before you are allowed to drive on the road. On completion of the test, a certificate is issued that will allow you to ride a motorcycle with 'L' plates. If your machine has a larger engine size than 125cc, you must take a further two-part test, the first part of which will be within one year from the date of the basic training certificate. No passengers may be carried on any motorcycle displaying 'L' plates.
Further information and application forms can be obtained from main post offices.
Certificate of Roadworthiness
Any vehicle that is over three years old must be tested each year, by law, to ensure that it is safe to drive (there is a charge for the test - approximately £50). Many garages are authorised by the Department of Transport to carry out this inspection and, if the vehicle is considered roadworthy, they will issue a certificate (called an M.O.T. certificate) to confirm this.
In addition to holding a driving licence, all drivers in the UK are required by law to be insured against damage or injury to other people or property. The minimum legal requirement is 'third party cover', which can be extended to include both fire and theft. 'Comprehensive cover' is also available, which includes all of the above and gives additional accidental damage cover for your own vehicle.
All motor vehicles need to be taxed before they are allowed on the road. Costs depend on the level of CO2 emissions from your car and its age. You can expect to pay £115-£210 per year. You can apply for a vehicle licence disc (or tax disc) at any main post office but will first need a current insurance certificate and registration document for the vehicle.
Important things to remember
You should note that it is compulsory for all motorcyclists and their passengers to wear crash helmets. It is also compulsory for seat belts to be used, where fitted, both in the front and rear of a vehicle. It is a serious offence to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
For more information on driving in the UK, visit www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring
Motoring in the UK can be quite expensive and so can parking. There are heavy restrictions on the use of private vehicles in many city centres and main shopping areas. Brighton & Hove has special resident-only zones for on-street parking, for which permits are required. There is usually a waiting list for permits, which are expensive and are for permanent residents only.
The University has a car parking policy that includes parking restrictions and charges. Students living on campus are not permitted to park cars here. The exceptions are disabled (blue) badge holders and students with families (please note, families still have to pay for a permit, see below). If you will be living on campus and you feel that you have a special case to bring your car with you, then you can request this before you arrive. You should submit your request in writing or by email to the Transport Manager at email@example.com
Students who live off campus are allowed to park on campus, paying a daily charge of £1 or 50p for four hours. This rate is reviewed annually. As Brighton has an extensive public transport system, you will however find that it is probably quicker and easier to use this in most circumstances
Many students buy a bicycle and use it to get around the Brighton area, using cycle lanes that are provided on almost every main road (including from the campus to the city centre). If you decide to buy a bicycle, please note that you must have a white front light, a red back light and a red back reflector for night riding. It is also highly advisable that you wear a cycle helmet for extra protection. In the UK, you should not ride on the pavements unless there are special signs allowing you to do so. It is an offence to ride under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
The UK electrical supply works on 240 volts/50 cycles and most buildings are equipped with sockets that take a 13-amp square-pin plug. Please check that any electrical equipment you bring from home can be used on this voltage or can be converted. You should be able to purchase an adaptor in the UK, but please note that it is dangerous to overload sockets or circuits with too many adaptors and you should never put a two-pin plug in a three-pin socket.
Always use the right sort of fuse in your three-pin plug. Items such as table lights and clocks, and appliances up to 700 watts, should be fitted with a three-amp fuse (red). Most other high wattage equipment (eg irons, electric fires, etc), need a 13-amp fuse (brown).
Important things to remember
Electricity supplies in the UK are very different to those in countries such as the USA. You may wish to buy high wattage items, such as hairdryers or hair irons, whilst you are in the UK to avoid compatability problems.
Places of worship
In addition to the facilities for worship on campus, there are many places of worship elsewhere in Brighton & Hove. Listed below are just a few:Anglican
For further information, see the University's Religion and Belief web page
Post offices offer a wide range of services including the sale of postage stamps, air mail forms, registered envelopes, postal orders and overseas money orders. Television licences and road vehicle licences can be renewed at main post offices. Most post offices are open 9am-5.30pm Monday to Friday and 9am-12.30pm Saturday. There is a post office on campus in Bramber House, now located at the back of the Co-operative store. The main post office for the area is in WH Smith in Churchill Square, Brighton. Further information about post office services can be found at www.postoffice.co.uk
Public telephones or 'payphones' are located at most train stations and post offices as well as in some streets. Payphones are usually operated by telecom company, BT. Some accept coins only (£1, 50p, 20p) and some accept 'phonecards', coins or credit cards. A phonecard is a plastic card that contains credits for telephone calls. Phonecards can be purchased from post offices and shops displaying a 'phonecard' sign. You can also buy special international calling cards at many of these shops, including on campus.
Some useful numbers:
Operator (UK) 100
Operator (international) 118 505
Directory enquiries (UK) 118 500
Directory enquiries (international) 118 505
(police, fire, ambulance) 999
The local area code for Brighton & Hove is +44 (0)1273. If you are calling from outside the UK, you should omit the zero from the area code. To make an international call you need to dial the international access code (00) followed by the country code, which is +44 for the UK.
Many students choose to buy a mobile/cell phone to use in the UK. The 'pay-as-you-go' option is favoured by most students. You should ensure that the company you choose enables you to get a signal on campus. Please be careful when using your phone in public places as this can be a target for thieves. If you want to see which kinds of mobile phone deals are available, visit www.carphonewarehouse.co.uk, which is an independent mobile phone company and has branches all over the UK.
We want Sussex to be a safe place for all students and staff. The University is an open campus; anyone can walk or drive on to it. However, a 24-hour, 365-day-a-year security team is based on campus (York House) and undertakes regular patrols. (T 8234 or +44 (0)1273 678234). There are emergency telephones throughout the campus directly linked to the security team; if you are using another telephone on campus, you can dial 3333. Lighting is also being constantly improved and several areas on campus are observed by CCTV. Always request identification from anyone you don't recognise (eg tradesmen) if someone requests access to your accommodation.
Important things to remember
After dark there is a safety escort facility for any member of staff or student anywhere on campus as well as to and from Falmer Station. To book this service, please telephone the Security Office on 8234 or +44 (0)1273 678234 - please give as much notice as possible.
Remember that you share responsibility for your own and others' security and peace of mind: report any security problems (even dead light bulbs), and any incident at all that might constitute criminal behaviour. In an emergency off campus, you can contact the police, fire or ambulance service by calling 999.
Students and the law
International students and their dependants are subject to the same laws as British citizens (with the exception of immigration, voting and citizenship) and are guaranteed the same protection of the law and the same civil rights. One such right is that of free speech and assembly. You have the right to express your views, provided they are not illegal or an incitement to break the law and as long as you conduct yourself in a peaceful and orderly manner with due consideration for others.
If you break the law, you are liable for your actions in the same way as other UK citizens. Any legal agreements and contracts made by you are also binding. Normally this should not affect you greatly, except perhaps in the area of housing. Always make sure that you know what your obligations are before you sign any contract. If you do get into trouble with the police, you are guaranteed the same protection of the law as UK citizens. If you are arrested by a police officer, you should co-operate but you are not obliged to say anything. You must seek legal advice immediately.
All UK residents, including those here temporarily, are required to hold a licence to use a television. A licence costs £139.50 per year for a colour set and can be purchased from post offices or online. Below are some guidelines covering the rules provided by the National Television Licencing Office.
Where a number of students share accommodation, a licence will be needed for use of a set in a shared area, but separate individual licences must be held by each student for sets used in their own rooms.
Separate licences are not required if the licencee and one or more persons jointly occupy a single address, within a legally defined Joint Tenancy, living together as an integral part of one household, and sharing all facilities. Documentary evidence of such an arrangement must be supplied for this to apply.
A licence is not required for a portable set operated entirely by batteries contained within the casing of the set and not permanently installed elsewhere, but only if a licence is already held elsewhere in the UK.
Television detector vans do come on to campus and the penalty for watching television without a licence is a fine of several hundred pounds.
You should note that it is illegal to watch live television on a laptop or PC without a license but you are permitted to watch past television programmes available via the various television channels online players.
For further information or to buy a TV licence, see www.tvlicencing.co.uk
There are no fixed rules for how much and
when you should tip and the amount you give
can reflect how you feel about the service
you have received. However, the following is
meant as a guide to customary practice in
Taxis: 10 per cent of the fare
Restaurants: 10 per cent of the bill if service is not included.