As Oxbridge Applications goes international we started thinking about all the reasons someone might want to come and study in our “green and pleasant land”. Below are our ten favourite things about England which we hope international students will enjoy when they come here to live and study.
It’s no secret that England has a rich and exciting history. From bloody battles to overly amorous kings there’s something to intrigue everyone. The best part is that so many of the places where key historical events took place are still standing and can be visited, including in Oxford and Cambridge! In Oxford, head to Broad Street to see where Thomas Cranmer, a vocal opponent to Henry VIII’s reformation was martyred. Or visit King’s College Chapel in Cambridge and marvel at it Gothic architecture. Outside of Oxbridge you can visit Hadrian’s wall in Cumbria, or take a trip to Stonehenge to ponder its mysteries.
2. Royal Family
Endlessly fascinating, albeit occasionally embarrassing, the Royal Family are a British Institution. This year marked the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, having reigned since 1952 and the whole country went Royal-mad. Add that to the excitement from last year’s Royal Wedding and we all have monarchy-fever! They receive constant media coverage and you can visit their palaces and homes in London and Scotland. Of particular note are the tours run by Buckingham Palace.
For any outdoorsy types, or those who just like a nice view, you can experience the places which inspired literary classics such as Wuthering Heights and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Highlights include the Yorkshire Moors, the White Cliffs of Dover and Sherwood Forest. For those of you who are really keen, you can have a go at hiking the Pennine Way or go camping in the Lake District. There are pleasant pastures and mountains green to be explored galore!
There are museums on every corner full of fascinating objects and facts about history, nature science and culture. The British Museum in London is a world-class institution with objects from virtually every country in the world. It’s also often the setting for some intense debate over the ownership of its collections. Check out the Newsletter we wrote about the Elgin Marbles. Other museum highlights include the Victorian and Albert Museum (London) which displays contemporary and modern art, The Science Museum (London) which holds fascinating events year round, the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford) full of art and archaeological wonders, the Pitt Rivers (also Oxford) with its “cabinets of curiosities” and the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge) filled to the brim with antiquities and manuscripts.
5. Great British Weather
Rain, rain and more rain. That’s what most people think of when they think of British weather. Although it does seem true at times, we do get a lot of beautiful days, particularly in the summer and there’s no better place to be than Oxford or Cambridge on a beautiful day! Also, the benefits of all that water can be seen when exploring all the green and rural areas I’ve already mentioned.
We hope everyone takes the time to explore London for at least a day or two. As one of the most multicultural and dynamic cities in the world, you can never want for something to do. Visit Camden Market for clothes and trinkets, Museum Mile for your cultural fix, get all political at 10 Downing Street or see it all from above at the London Eye. As the latest Olympics host, London is a large and welcoming city with a limitless array of activities to do and sights to see!
No list about England would be complete without one of our favourite national past times: the Cuppa. We think it’s the perfect antidote to pretty much any problem, and a great way to start your day. Don’t forget to try out some English biscuits and scones alongside it, or even take yourself out for a Cream Tea – a delicious English tradition!
As the home of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Berkoff and Lloyd-Webber, England has an exciting and vibrant theatre scene, not just in London’s West End (although this is spectacular!). You can catch a Shakespeare tragedy at the Globe Theatre or a comedy at the Bristol Old Vic. Oxford and Cambridge both have huge drama scenes and have produced some of our top entertainers. Stephen Fry, Emma Thomson and Hugh Laurie are all Cambridge Footlights alumnae, and Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) was an active member of Oxford University Dramatic Society. You’ll have chances to catch various productions at the OFS and Burton Taylor theatres in Oxford or the ADC in Cambridge.
9. English Grub
We know we’re not well known for our food but there are certainly some national dishes we recommend you try during your time here. The good old fish and chips is a British staple; every town has its local “chippy” and Oxford and Cambridge are no different! Bangers and Mash, Hotpot, Cottage Pie and pasties are also all traditional choices for the English. Also, our sweet tooth means we have produced all different types of delicious cakes and biscuits. Be sure to try a Victoria sponge cake and bourbon creams during your time here.
Of course we know the big pull to England for you is the fantastic education you can receive at these top universities. Undeniably, they are wonderful places to live and work, surrounded by medieval architecture and bright minds. Also, many traditional Oxbridge activities are still going strong, such as punting and Pimms, formal hall dinners and rowing at 6am. There is so much to see and do just within these cities so, if you are lucky enough to have a chance to study there, we hope you take the opportunity to explore everything there is on offer.
We hope this list has inspired you even further to put in the best application possible! Have a look at our International Support for expert advice on your application or get in touch at +44 (0) 207 499 2394!