The United Kingdom, consisting of Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) and Northern Island is a vibrant multi-cultural place. From the bustling city of London, its rich heritage sites and museums, to the Scottish countryside, there is something for every traveller or new immigrant. Being on the door step of the European continent, it makes an ideal location for people to conveniently travel to the continent.
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The climate in the U.K. is largely varied depending on your location. Northern Ireland, Wales and western parts of England and Scotland, being closest to the Atlantic, are generally the mildest, wettest and windiest regions of the UK and generally don’t experience too much fluctuation in temperature. During the summer there can sometimes be very pronounced difference in temperature between the far north/north-west of Scotland (including the Islands) and south-east of England – usually around 10-15°C but can be as much as 20°C or more. An example of this could be that in the height of summer the northern isles could be sitting at around 15°C and areas around London could be enjoying the heat at 30°C.
The U.K. has one of the highest population densities in the world, as well it’s population is made up of a diverse group of people with varied lifestyles. British cuisine was at one time recognized by simple, hearty meals made from local products, but with time and the huge cultural influx due to immigration, it has evolved many hybrid dishes using culinary styles from all over the globe.
Humour is one of the foundations of British society; it is used often and for a variety of different reasons, to establish a positive atmosphere, to create a sense of togetherness, to bridge differences, to introduce risky ideas, to criticize, to show appreciation or contempt of a person. Although the British have a reputation for being reserved, you will find that all over the country, people are usually quite friendly. You might have to get used to the fact that many (older) people address you as “Love”. Don’t worry, they don’t have any romantic intentions, it’s just a common turn of phrase.
Due to the extent of its connections and its relatively low cost, public transportation in Britain is very impressive. However, the British trains are notorious throughout Europe for showing up late or not at all. Nevertheless, any traveller should take note that many Brits use public transportation on a daily basis in lieu of a car. Therefore, after the initial shock and scramble of figuring things out, a visitor to the United Kingdom (meaning: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) will find the public transport system quite useful.
London has the Underground (AKA “The Tube”), which is a vast underground transit system, although most British transport travels above ground. In London and other cities, for example, taking a city bus or a taxi is quite common. Even smaller cities have an extensive city bus system. Though much of Britain is rural, you can get a bus to most places.
England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own system of private and publicly-funded healthcare, together with alternative, holistic and complementary treatments. General practioners are used to provide primary care; their referrals may lead to further services as necessary. Hospitals provide specialized care and access to accident and emergency departments. Pharmacies (other than those within hospitals) are privately owned but have contracts with the relevant health services in order to supply prescription drugs to patients.
Each NHS system also provides dental services through private dental practices and dentists can only charge NHS patients at the set rates for each country. Patients opting to be treated privately do not receive any NHS funding for the treatment.
Recreation and Sports
The U.K. has a huge and dedicated fan based for its preferred spectator sports. Football (a.k.a. soccer) is by far the most popular and highest grossing sport in the U.K. Rugby and cricket follow closely in terms of popularity but athletics, motorsport, golf, horseracing, tennis, swimming, and cycling all play vital roles in the makeup of sports and recreation in the U.K.
The U.K. has a rich culture based on thousands of years of history. Galleries, museums, castles and historical sites dot the land showcasing the brilliant history of the land and it’s people. The architecture alone is enough to draw crowds to the U.K. As it rains so often, most of the attractions and activities have been tailored to the wet climate, so don’t fret. There are theme parks, interactive museums, busy beaches, playgrounds, established parks, horseback riding and more.
England is a cyclist’s dream. Despite the 60 million people crammed into a fairly small land, there is still mile after mile of bike tracks through sweeping hills and along picturesque coastlines. Hundreds of miles of cycle paths also go along major roads with dedicated bike lanes. London also has many green spaces which are best enjoyed on two wheels and many places rent out bikes by the hour or day.
Being invented in Scotland, golf is naturally very big in the U.K. There are superb courses all over. The latter are generally easy enough to get into and just require a green fee and club hire. The Lancashire coast in the north of the country has some of the best courses, such as the Open Championship venues of Royal Liverpool, Royal Birkdale, and Royal Lytham St Anne’s. Stapleford Park in the East Midlands is another venue with championship courses and lots of other activities available.
Part Time Work
Students from outside the European Union, can work for a maximum of 20 hours per week in term time and up to 40 hours during vacations, provided that the stamp in your passport does not include a prohibition on working.
There is a compulsory government tax that is automatically deducted from your pay if you earn more than £110 each week. You will usually have to pay about 11% of your pay.
If you don’t already have a National Insurance number, your employer may issue you with a temporary one so you can start work, but you will need to get a permanent one. Some employers will ask you to get a National Insurance number before you can start working for them.
There are several types of part-time jobs that are available the most common type of part-time job worked by most foreigners living in Britain is in a restaurant or a bar. Most restaurant businessmen are always searching for workers who can be hired for compensation. Other part-time work can include loading containers or boxes, a sales clerk at a shop or departmental store or to manage the books of a company. Front desk managers, receptionists and phone dealers are also always in demand. Online jobs are another option of employment and can be much more flexible as you can create input any time. The pay may also be better with consideration to the duties. Skill in writing, expertise in computer graphics and use of computer software programs can be fundamental in getting a good Internet based part-time job.
The following rates apply for 2013:
- The main rate for workers aged 21 and over is £6.31 an hour.
- The rate for 18-21 year olds is £5.03 an hour.
- The rate for 16-17 year old is £3.72 an hour.
- The minimum rate for an apprentice is £2.68.
London has one of the most vibrant nightlife scenes in Europe. Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester are not far behind. Although pubs close at 11.00 in England, clubs stay open well into the early hours of the morning. The UK has an excellent music scene that’s very much alive in the clubs today. Some of the most popular dance music; techno, electronica, house and drum n bass originated in the London clubs.
Glasgow has many pubs and bars well worth checking out. Most of the bars are friendly places where the locals are very likely to strike up a conversation. Liverpool, home of the Beatles, has a very diverse nightlife. There’s a wide range of bars and nightclubs to choose from. Manchester has a superb nightlife. You’ll hear some with some excellent live music in the many bars, pubs and clubs.
You are legally allowed to drink in the UK at 18. However some bars don’t allow drinking until 21.