10 things Canadian students need to know about the UK 

Photo of a woman wearing a red dress standing in front of a Canadian maple leaf

This article about what Canadian students need to know about the UK was published by the Great British Mag content team on 20 September, 2019

As a member of the Commonwealth, Canada shares close ties with the UK – but that doesn’t mean that the two countries are the same! Here are some of the biggest differences between the UK and Canada. 

1) UK universities are often less community-based than Canadian ones 

Freshers Week aside, UK universities don’t host many campus-wide events designed to foster a broad sense of community. Unless your university has an incredible sports team, you probably won’t see the entire school turning out for the big game wearing team colours. Even Freshers Week has fewer community-focussed, catered events than your typical Frosh Week does.  

2) British universities housing is self-catered 

Canadian university housing is often a catered, apartment-style flat – but in the UK, you have to fend for yourself! You’ll have to bring your own bedding, cookware, and decorations. Budget furniture stores like IKEA and Wilko are great places to pick up essentials. Another great option is UniKitOut, which lets you pick out items online and delivers them straight to your UK housing so that everything is ready to go when you arrive. 

3) UK universities are more exam-focussed 

At Canadian universities, your coursework and your exams both contribute heavily to your final grade; however at UK universities, exams are often worth more than coursework. While it does depend on where and what you are studying, UK exams can be worth as much as 100% of your grade. If you struggle to take exams, speak to your university early to make the necessary arrangements. 

4) Societies are a great way to meet people 

What UK universities lack in big campus-wide events, they make up for in societies. A society is basically a club. You pay a small membership fee, go to regular meetings, and meet people with similar interests. There are societies for absolutely every interest, from sports to politics to hobbies to religions. Be sure to sign up for a few of them! 

5) Brits are friendly, but Canadians are friendlier 

While Brits are typically friendly and polite, they aren’t nearly as polite and friendly as Canadians. You may find Brits to be a little abrasive – they are often sarcastic and gloomy, and they love to complain about the weather. 

6) There are loads of Canadians in the UK 

The UK is a sensible study abroad destination for a lot of Canadians. Canada and the UK have a great relationship, Canadians are Commonwealth citizens, and Canadians can nab a two-year mobility visa after graduation. A lot of Canadian companies also send their employees to work in satellite offices in London and other big UK cities. You’re bound to meet lots of fellow Canucks whilst you’re here, so you’ll never feel too far away from home. 

7) It’s very easy to travel 

If you want to explore Europe or North Africa whilst you’re here, good news – the UK is relatively close to these countries and the cost of international travel is cheap. Budget airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair offer cheap flights all over Europe. If flying isn’t your favourite, you can also take a train or bus to the Continent thanks to the “Channel tunnel” that connects the UK with the rest of Europe. 

8) You can’t just bring friends to a party 

In Canada it’s fine to take a few friends along to a party without asking the host first. That’s not the case in the UK. Even if you’re just going to the pub, you should ask your friends if you can bring someone else. 

9) Everything happens at the pub 

In Canada, you go to the club; in the UK, you go to the pub. Of course, the UK has clubs, but when you’re looking to socialise, your “local” (the pub nearest to where you live) should be your first port of call. You’ll spend a lot of time in the pub, chatting with your mates over a pint and a packet of crisps. Maybe you’ll even join a winning pub quiz team!

10) The UK might feel a bit cramped 

The UK is a small, densely-populated, country with a lot of old buildings, and all of these things can make you feel a bit squashed. Narrow roads, low doorframes, and local markets crammed into alleyways can all feel claustrophobic, especially if you’re used to having all the elbow room you want. If it starts to get to you, book a trip to your nearest National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Not the country you’re looking for? We also have guides for students from China, France, India, Japan, Sierra Leone, South Korea and the USA.