3 Pros to Ditching The “Big City” Life: UK Edition
Note to the reader: Picking a studying abroad program is all about personal preference. Every country and city has something unique to offer every individual. I spent a year and a half searching the internet and various leaflets until I decided on IFSA and then Leeds. I believe attending Leeds was the best choice for me. I looked at every university IFSA had on their website (literally). I looked at not going to the UK at all. These are the pros of studying outside of London that I’ve experienced.
Additionally, this information can apply to any country you’re interested in traveling to.
#1: Your wallet (and parents) will thank you
Aside from IFSA’s program prices, an important thing to consider is the potential cost of living in your new city. When you study abroad outside of your country’s capital city, the prices will be cheaper; from Ubers to groceries. A couple of pounds here and there doesn’t seem like a lot but if you consider currency conversion, GBP being worth more than USD; it all adds up. If you want exact numbers, sites like numbeo.com can compare the cost of living for various cities around the world. The cost of living in Leeds is a minimum of 10% lower than my home state of Minnesota. When you spend less on the basics you splurge a little bit without breaking the bank.
#2: Trips to the city become more meaningful
David Foster Wallace said it best, “Fish don’t know that they’re in water”. It’s easy to forget that what surrounds you is only normal because it’s what you know. I have relatives that have lived in cities like New York, D.C. and London but have never seen a fraction of the things that I see when I visit. London has a lot of culture but if that’s your everyday you may be inclined take it for granted. When you live outside the big city planning trips to the capital become special getaways to visit well-known sites.
#3: Quicker immersion into local culture
Bigger cities have greater access to international brands, so you don’t have to go too far out of your comfort zone if you don’t want to. Living outside the big city opens you up to new products and flavors that will quickly become your favorites. Universities further from the cities are more likely to have closed campuses which means less trekking from class to class. You can take quick walks into city center between classes. It’s not a sensory overload and finding your bearings earlier on is easier.
What did you do? What can I do?
When looking for a new university, I created a list of criteria to meet aside from academics. I wanted to be in a city comparable to the size of my current one. I wanted to attend a large public school because I had previously gone to a small private school. I wanted lots of societies and an opportunity to live in university accommodation. If you’re still in the process of picking a program, contact IFSA Program Advisors. They can connect you to IFSA Alum. Feel free to consult resources such as CHART to find the universities that will be the best fit for you.
Chioma Uwagwu is a double major in Communication and Cultural Studies at the University of St.Thomas and is studying abroad with IFSA at University of Leeds in England in Fall 2019. She is an International Correspondent for IFSA through the Work-To-Study Program.