Study Abroad in London, England

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Study Abroad in London: Social Identity & Access

One of the best things you can do before departure is enter into the experience knowing that your time abroad will be different than on your home campus. The resources, community and support available to you abroad will likely be different than your home campus as well. Your Resident Director will provide you with more details pre-departure and during orientation.

When abroad, let your Resident Director know if you are experiencing challenges. Being able to speak to someone about your experience can often be helpful. They can provide tips and resources for navigating this new environment. Please notify AIFS staff immediately of any incidents that make you uncomfortable or if you should happen to feel unsafe at all.

Our student resources website features additional information and accommodation forms for you to communicate any specific support you need during your time abroad. We encourage you to download and complete the appropriate form(s) from the site and return them to the Admissions Officer for your AIFS study abroad program. Letting us know before you arrive abroad will allow us to better assist you throughout your study abroad experience.

If you have mobility limitations or concerns, please let your Program Advisor or Program Manager and Resident Director know before your arrival so they can work with you directly. Students who require access to medications should ensure their prescriptions are legally permitted in country and should bring all required medication with them for the full duration of their program. The UK has a long history of not discriminating against anybody with a disability. London is fairly accessible, and most buildings have been outfitted with accessible entry, restrooms and elevators/lifts for those with mobility concerns. The U.K. offers a great deal of services for people who are mobility, sight, or hearing-impaired including advice centers, transport services, and travel aids. Crosswalks are common and often accompanied by warning sounds / flashing lights. All buses and taxis are accessible in a wheelchair, and some tube stations. Due to the age of the buildings on the London campus there are lots of steps and few elevators in many buildings, so if you are in a wheelchair, access can be difficult. However, there are classrooms which are accessible and there are a limited amount of accessible studio apartments available for students who need them so informing AIFS of your access needs will help staff plan your classes and housing. Homestays are not accessible for students using wheelchairs.

Students of a mature age may be one of the few within their program, although your participation is welcomed. There are many opportunities to engage with other students and locals throughout the program. History, music, art, architecture, gardens, theater, sport, language and film are just some of the activities that you can find yourself drawn towards while abroad. AIFS staff can help students find a club or organization according to their interests and are available to support you with any questions or concerns you might have.

Students who have a service or emotional support animal should connect with their Program Advisor or Program Manager to get the most current information related to animals being permitted in housing, classes, and in the city.

Being a first-generation college student is not a recognized designation in the education system in England like it is in the U.S., so specific resources related to this in-country might be harder to find or non-existent. All students will receive an on-site orientation led by the Resident Director to help you to navigate the new academic environment you will encounter and the day-to-day aspects of British life which might be unfamiliar.

Ensuring that the LGBTQIA+ community feels truly valued, happy and safe is of great importance to the London goverment. All Londoners, regardless of ethnicity, race, sexuality, disability or gender should be able to fulfil their potential in the capital, making the city a welcoming, open place for everyone. British society is generally accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community. Laws protect LGBTQIA+ individuals from hate crimes and discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity. It has recognized same-sex civil unions since 2005. There is an active LGBTQIA+ student run club at nearby Imperial College called "IQ" and they welcome all students, regardless of sexuality.

Although non-binary status in the UK is not yet legally recognized, UK society is generally accepting. Non-binary pronouns are slowly being introduced but are not widely used. Gender neutral bathrooms are slowly becoming available but most public bathrooms remain male or female. Although AIFS in London does not currently offer specific gender-neutral housing, students are welcome to express preferences and make specific requests, which will be accommodated when possible. Staff and faculty have had experience with non-binary students and will do their best to ensure that students will be protected and respected.

If you have neurological, intellectual or cognitive limitations or mental health concerns, please let your Program Advisor or Program Manager and Resident Director know any accommodations you require before your arrival so they can work with you directly. We strongly advise any students who regularly visit a counsellor at home to discuss a mental health plan before the study abroad program begins. Students who require access to medications should ensure their prescriptions are legally permitted in London and should bring all required medication with them for the full duration of their program. Students with learning disabilities should share any relevant documentation with their Program Advisor or Program Manager upon application to the program so accommodations can be reviewed and, as possible, provided. The AIFS student insurance (CISI) includes access to English-speaking professional counsellors and psychotherapists who are used to working with international students. AIFS also offers their students an English-speaking, global teleconsultation service, connecting students to experienced medical personnel via phone call or video chat, this service is included in the program fees.

London is home to over eight million people and according to data from the office for national statistics is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. There is a hugely diverse collection of religions, food, ethnicities all across the city, with clubs and societies open to all. All of us at AIFS are very confident that no matter your background, you will feel at home in London and have a fulfilling and inspiring experience. However, if students should feel unsafe or experience microaggressions or racism, they are encouraged to report the incident to on-site staff.

In the UK as a whole, Christianity has been found to be the largest religious group with 59% of the population, followed by Muslims with 5%. The proportion of people who reported that they did not have a religion is now a quarter of the population. There are thousands of places of worship throughout London. These can range from ancient cathedrals to modern community center-based gatherings. The Resident Director and the rest of the AIFS team can provide you with information on places of worship for all faiths in London.

According to recent statistics (Higher Educations Statistics Agency 2017), London is home to more than 350,000 students. In the city as a whole, there are a huge range of free and/or discounted activities from which to choose. A large number of London museums and art galleries are free. During orientation and throughout the program all students will be given advice and information on low-cost options for living in London and exploring local culture. Students will be able to join the regular cultural activities usually included in the program fee.

The Armed Forces are well respected and visible in everyday life, from the changing of the guard on Whitehall or the public wearing poppies all through November to honor the lives lost in past conflicts on Remembrance Sunday. We strongly advise students who have counselling for PTSD at home to discuss with their home doctor a mental health plan (including access to necessary medications) for while they are abroad. The AIFS student insurance (CISI) includes access to English-speaking professional counsellors and psychotherapists who are used to working with international students.

While there is no dedicated gym on campus, students pay discounted rates to use the facilities at Imperial College and can join their Student Union for clubs and societies. Near the campus and student housing, gyms, yoga studios, and more are readily available; your Resident Director will be able to provide a list and suggestions for art workshops and other clubs and societies. London is a very easy city to run and walk in, with countless green spaces and parks. Organic food, allergy-free and fresh produce is sold in all supermarkets. If you need any mental health support, we can connect you with experienced counsellors and psychotherapists. AIFS also offers their students an English speaking, global teleconsultation service, connecting students to experienced medical personnel via phone call or video chat, this service is included in the program fees.

Many individuals in the UK understand that to treat individuals differently on account of sex/gender is unfair but are less sensitive to the broad picture of sexual discrimination. The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape and prohibits sexual harassment and provides civil penalties.

During orientation, AIFS staff will discuss gender roles in English society.

England is a very safe country, but it is recommended that students follow 'common sense' safety precautions as they would in the United States, are vigilant of their surroundings, and make a conscious effort to travel in groups as often as possible. Your Resident Director will provide you with more details during orientation.

Download Study Abroad Resources!

Download Study Abroad Resources!