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Once you’ve chosen your UK English Language school, it’s time to get ready for your study holiday! 

But what things do you need to consider before you grab your books and pack your bags?

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered so you can do the most important piece of prep: getting excited to enrol at your English Language school. 

Read on for a handy list of ways to prepare for your trip to study English in the UK. 

Let’s go!

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What do I need to enter the UK to study English? 

Getting your paperwork prepped before you travel is super important: if you have any specific questions about entering or travelling to the UK, reach out to your language school – they will have the most up-to-date information about travel requirements and support you to ensure you are travelling with the correct documentation. 

Visas for English Language Programmes

Whether you require a visa depends on:

  • The length of your English course
  • Your nationality 

International students from many countries studying English in the UK for less than six months do not require a visa: this includes study travellers from the EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals. Check your nationality on the ‘non-visa national’ list here

  • For English language programmes lasting longer than six months and up to 11 months, you can apply for a Short-term study visa to study English in the UK.
  • Students from Gulf Cooperation Council countries require an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVV). Find more information here
  • For students from countries not on the above list, you must apply for a Standard Visitor visa, allowing you to study English in the UK for up to six months. 


A significant recent change is that travellers from the EU now need a passport to enter the UK. An ID card is no longer an accepted form of identification at Border Control. 

All nationalities require a passport to enter the UK. 

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Other documents required (for ‘non-visa nationals’)*:

  • Confirmation of attendance on your English Language programme from your language school – carry this in your hand luggage!
  • You might be asked to provide evidence that you have sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your English programme. 
  • Students under 18 should travel with a letter of Parental Consent for their independent travel and attendance at the language school. Your school should provide you with a template for this.
  • For students from the EAA, travel with your European Health Insurance Card.

*Please check your individual circumstances with your government and language school, as requirements are subject to change at short notice 

What happens if I need medical advice or treatment while in the UK?

The National Health Service (NHS) is here to help you if you’re poorly while in the UK. Your language school should support you to find the appropriate treatment – whether it’s a headache, tummy bug, or more serious injury… don’t worry, there will be help close by. 

Visitors from the EEA

  • You can call 111 for advice on non-urgent medical concerns 
  • You can call 999 for emergency medical attention in life-threatening situations 
  • You can see a doctor at a ‘General Practitioner’ (GP) surgery: you will need to fill in a form to register as a temporary patient. Treatment will be free of charge, but make sure you present your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) 
  • You can access free primary healthcare – such as at an accident and emergency department at a hospital (you will pay for prescription medicines, just as UK residents do). 

It’s important to have sufficient personal or medical insurance for the duration of your visit. 

Visitors from outside the EEA

You can access the above primary health services for free, but if you’re visiting England from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), even if you’re a former UK resident, you’ll be charged for NHS secondary care at 150% of the standard NHS rate. More information can be found here

It’s important to have sufficient personal or medical insurance for the duration of your visit. 

How to travel around the UK 


The UK is a relatively small country, so even if you are based in the South East (where most of the UK’s language schools are located), you can get out and explore the rest of the country after studying hard all week. 

  • It takes 2.5 hours to travel by train from London to the northern city of Liverpool – the home of the Beatles.
  • Hop on a train to Brighton for the day to experience the British seaside: head to the fun fair on the pier and eat fish and chips on the beach. 
  • For longer trips, the UK is well-served by long-distance buses and often the cheapest way to get around. 
  • The UK is connected by many regional airports – including one only a fifteen-minute drive from our language school in Newquay, Cornwall, where two flights a day arrive from London. 

For almost all travel, booking ahead rather than on the day is the best way to save your pennies!

This is a good site to plan your UK train and bus trips. 

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What’s different about the UK? 

There are some things about the UK that you might not expect! As you arrive for your study trip, you’ll soon spot some of them, but others are less obvious.

  1. We drive on the left: unlike many other countries and our European friends, we drive on the left side of the road, and our cars have the driver in the right seat. The main thing to remember is to LOOK LEFT as you cross a road (ideally, use a designated crossing!)
  2. We measure distances in miles, not kilometres. If you’re heading out for a walk or a cycle and relying on road signs to navigate, calculate the distance correctly: a mile is 1.6km… hopefully, you can avoid taking a journey longer than you thought! 
  3. We use unique plug sockets. You will probably need to buy a travel power adapter to charge your phone, tablet or camera from a UK power source. All of Europe operates on the same 2 round-pronged outlets: the UK and Ireland use their own unique 3 flat rectangle style plug. 
  4. Shop opening hours might be different. Unlike many countries, smaller retail shops, including many cafes, are open 09.00 – 17.00, Monday-Friday – they don’t close in the middle of the day and are not open in the evening. Some shops will open on a Saturday, and almost all will have shorter Sunday hours. Supermarkets are often open later at night. 

Myths about the UK!

There are many things that make us laugh about visitor expectations of the UK. Here’s a few of the common misconceptions we hear from students on our English programmes

“It always rains in the UK.”

It does rain a bit, but only sometimes, we promise! 

The UK’s climate is changeable – and as we’re an island on the edge of the Atlantic, we get a fair bit of rainfall from the ocean. It rains more in the north and west, and rain is often concentrated in the mountainous regions such as the Scottish Highlands. 

Scotland receives the most rainfall annually. In 2021, there were 148.7 days in which 1 mm or more of rain fell… so it rained on about 40% of the days in that year. 

Our advice: bring a raincoat, or buy an umbrella and enjoy jumping the occasional puddle and the lovely green landscape the rain gives us. 

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“The food in the UK is awful.”

This is not true! 

If you’re eating out in the UK, you can find a variety of cuisines and restaurants – even in smaller towns. 

If you’re staying with a host family, you will eat the food they typically cook at home. 

  • Breakfast – cereal, toast and jam/honey, tea/coffee/ fruit juice, yoghurt/granola
  • Lunch – A typical lunch for a student in a host family will likely be something they can eat on the move – a packed lunch of sandwiches, fruit, biscuits/cake, and crisps.

(Here in Cornwall, pasties are popular!)

  • Dinner – British people eat a range of foods for dinner – expect pasta, stir-fries, vegetarian dishes, or stews. Most people ‘home-cook’ and eat only minimal processed food, and many of our hosts are also chefs. 

Our advice: don’t worry about the quality of food, but make sure your language school knows any dietary requirements you have so your host can prepare. 

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We hope you’re now more ready to head to the UK for your English language course – if you haven’t yet chosen your school or programme, perhaps our handy guide could help you with this decision. 

For more on studying with us here at Babel Fish Language School, follow us on Instagram and TikTok – @babelfishlanguageschool – or send us a message… we’d love to chat. 

Alex Trumble

Director, teacher, surfer, food-lover, guitarist.

Learn more about studying with Babel Fish
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Learn more about studying with Babel Fish
Download your free brochure now!
By submitting your email address you agree to sign up to news and updates from the Babel Fish Language School Newsletter.
For more information on how we use your data, please see our privacy policy.