The Vaughan Library, Harrow School, London, England – Photo Courtesy: Robert Cutts
For the 270,000 or so American college students who study abroad every year, the United Kingdom is the most popular destination by far. According to CBS Money Watch, 12 percent of all study abroad participants head for England, Scotland and Wales, particularly.
There are plenty of reasons for students to be drawn to Great Britainâ€™s rich culture and natural beauty, but one reason that often goes overlooked is the abundance of resources offered to promote the security, healthcare and general well-being. Going to the UK can be an easier transition for many students, not only because the language and lifestyle is most similar to America but also because there are often safety nets in place, if you know where to look.
1. Embassy Services
The American Embassy can be your number one resource for any and all issues that can arise while youâ€™re living abroad. They offer help with passports, taxes, voting, and security precautions when traveling in and out of the UK. They can help you find an American lawyer, get a marriage license, or notarize documents. And they provide a comprehensive guide to living in the UK which includes everything you need to know about your legal obligations and rights. If youâ€™re struggling with money transfers, accommodations, or driving, or if you are the victim of fraud, they can point you in the right direction for support.
2. Doctors and Healthcare
While citizens of the United Kingdom enjoy the services of the National Health Care system, which they pay taxes to fund, visitors to Britain should know that their doctor visits are not free of charge. Since 2010, the NHS no longer provides for anyone living in the country at least 3 months and requires strict eligibility criteria for most services.
You may have to search online, through the American Embassy or other private healthcare providers, for alternatives. There are many non-profit centers that help residents with ongoing conditions and diseases like diabetes, HIV, and cancer. There are also extended-stay travel insurance packages that may give you access to more facilities than the schoolâ€™s plan.
3. Counseling and Other Resources
The UK has a wonderful collection of social programs and charities that reach out to people in need of mental health counseling, career or financial help, or support for womenâ€™s issues. They even offer the Citizens Advice Bureau, where residents can go to simply find help with a problem â€“ almost any problem.
A plethora of websites and hotlines are available, whether youâ€™re struggling with addiction, grieving a loved one while abroad, or coping with the aftermath of a violent crime. Itâ€™s especially great for female students who might often feel less safe in a foreign country. Multiple organizations dedicated to womenâ€™s rights, womenâ€™s therapy, and preventing and recovering from sexual abuse or rape abound in England and Wales. When you need help, it is almost always available to you.
Itâ€™s easy to see why the UK is the number one choice for study abroad programs. Parents can feel a lot safer about letting their children cross the ocean when they know how many resources are available for them in case of an emergency, or just because they need some extra support adjusting to life in a new country. According to the Guardian, lack of information is the number one reason students avoid studying abroad. But itâ€™s all out there, if they just know where to look.
Colby Hetrick is an avid business professional writer. If you’re planning a trip to the UK, find resources through the Aviva Directory – UK.