Your Frequently Asked Questions…Answered!
How far is the GEO in London Centre from, well…everything?
The Holborn Public Library is around the corner from us, as are many sandwich eateries (ideal to grab a quick lunch), and a very reasonable and well-equipped gym. We are also a few minutes’ walk away from the British Museum, British Library and Covent Garden. We are on the route of many buses that will take you to Angel, Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus and the South Bank/Waterloo in minutes. Holborn, Chancery Lane and Russell Square Tube stations are close by and you can also walk to King’s Cross or Euston Station. See here for exact location.
Do I need to bring a suit or formal clothes with me?
Not really. Jeans and a shirt, even a T-shirt, are perfectly acceptable in London theatres and even at the opera. However, if you are planning to do an internship during your stay, you may want to bring a suit or more formal wear. Just be mindful that in general Londoners do dress more smartly than people from the USA. Students often describe the style as ‘put together’ as you see fewer people in loungewear or super revealing clothing.
Should I bring my laptop computer to London with me?
In short: yes. We have wireless internet at the London Centre so you can use your laptop to research papers or book your next flight to Barcelona! We also have a few desktops but having your laptop with you will allow for more freedom. Please note that GEO is not liable for your personal belongings so carry your laptop responsibly, e.g. do not use it on public transport in full view of other passengers and don’t leave it on the train!
Can I travel every weekend?
You can use your free time to travel as you please, but don’t forget that this is a study abroad programme and your visa has been granted on the basis that you will be attending academic classes and activities fulltime. Going away every weekend can be very tiring and will affect your studies, so we would suggest spending some weekends in London! Programme excursions are obligatory, so before you book anything, check your GEO calendar and ask London staff to make sure the date is free! We do not excuse you from classes or activities because of personal travel. Also, you must inform us of your plans by filling in our online weekend travel form. Semester students will be given an opportunity for extended travel during the mid-term break, and the occasional Friday will be free on most programmes to give a long weekend.
Could you tell me more about the Oyster (travel) card?
Your Oyster card is included in the programme fee. You can use it during the entire duration of the GEO programme, from the first day of orientation to midnight on the last day. The card is valid 24/7 on the London transport system: buses, underground trains (tube) and mainline trains. The funds on this card will not ‘run out’ – you can use it 100 times a day if you want to! These will cover zones 1-2 at least and will include around £20 PAYG for programme-related journeys outside of these zones. We’ll give you instructions on how to register this card, because it makes it a lot easier to replace it if lost – if you lose it without registering it you are responsible for all your London travel from that point till the end of the programme.
I’d like to do some work experience with a London-based company. Are internships included in the programme fees?
We provide opportunities for students to take part in academic internships in a variety of industries all over London. You have to apply for the internship programme in a slightly different way to the normal programme and the fees are higher to cover the placement process. University of Oregon students will receive 1 credit for the academic seminar (10 hours split over 3 sessions per semester or quarter) and further credit for the placement itself, depending on how many hours you work. Other universities have their own policies on credits for this so you should check with your adviser at home first. As a Registered UKVI Sponsor, GEO in London can provide you with the mandatory certificate and information to apply for a Student Visa (previously Tier 4 Visa). With the help of our internship placement coordinator here in London, you will arrange your placement prior to arrival. Please note that UK Visa and Immigration rules are very strict and you are not permitted to do any volunteering, interning, shadowing work, or work experience in the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa.
What else do I have to pay for?
If you wish to make your own bookings for plays, travel, or anything else that we’ve not arranged as part of your course, you will have to pay for this yourself. You must also arrange and pay for your flights to and from the UK. Please see the main GEO page for what’s included in each programme fee.
I like to carry mace spray back home to feel safe; can I bring it to the UK?
No, I’m afraid not! Mace, organic mace and pepper spray are technically section 5 weapons in the UK and only the police are permitted to use them. If found in possession you can be fined up to £10,000 and sent to prison!
Do I need a Visa?
If you are a US citizen you can get your Standard Visitor Visa at the border without having to apply in advance. To make the arrivals process as smooth as possible, GEO will issue you with a UK border entry letter which states the purpose of your visit and contains information on your programme of study. Keep this with your passport at all times and be sure to show the border staff at immigration. You should also keep copies of bank statements and return flight details in your hand luggage as staff may wish to see these.
If you are a non-US citizen, are on an academic year programme (i.e. in the UK for more than 6 months) or you are doing an internship you will need to apply for a Student Visa several months before the programme starts.
You will be issued with more detailed information on exactly what you need and how to apply for it after you begin your application.
What happens if I get sick whilst in London?
If you’re sick and can’t attend class, please email the admin team first and we will alert your instructors. We can also re-direct you to any resources.
If it’s a life-threatening real emergency you should call 999 for an ambulance or head straight for A&E (Accident and Emergency; like ER in the States). This is operated by the NHS (National Health Service) and care is free at the point of use for all people, regardless of nationality.
Do not attend A&E for anything other than a serious emergency – patients are triaged in order of severity, so you’ll likely wait for 8 hours to be seen, and you will be taking valuable resources away from those who need it most.
If you need to see a doctor more routinely you can make an appointment with a private GP (general practitioner). Students often use DocTap as you can usually get an appointment the same day (sometimes witin the hour!). They have various clinics over London. You will have to pay for this up front and claim back on your GEO insurance, but although a private clinic, the appointment fees are much less than the USA. Generally speaking, people in the UK do not go to a specialist straight away. Instead they head to the GP first and they will refer you to a specialist if necessary.
Pharmacists in the UK train for 5 years and are highly regarded medical professionals. If you’ve got a minor problem, see a pharmacist first. They can’t issue most prescriptions (you’d need to see a GP for that) but they can offer excellent advice and often have stronger medicines ‘over the counter’ than you can get ‘off the shelf’.
Can I skip class?
Our classes are excellent so why would you want to? On the other hand, you’re adults, so you can ultimately do what you want, but please be aware that if you skip class there are consequences both in terms of your academic attainment and your immigration status in the UK.
- Firstly, your grade will be negatively affected by skipping class as all courses give a grade for attendance and participation. We cannot rearrange final exams and assessment, so if you miss these you will simply receive an F.
- Secondly, we will mark you as absent (unexcused), which could result in curtailment of leave and deportation.
Is London a safe city?
Yes! We experience relatively little major crime here, although personal belongings can be at risk in more ‘touristy’ areas. We give a personal safety presentation during each programme’s orientation which gives students tips on how to stay as safe as possible while here.
My parents want to post me a care package – where should they send it?
Depending on the type of accommodation you’re in, you might be able to have them send it directly to you, but if in doubt you can arrange for parcels and letters to be sent to the GEO in London Centre (address here). Just be mindful that the building is not accessible 24/7, so you can only collect mail during office hours. Also be aware that customs fees and taxes may be added to any delivery to the UK after they have entered the country, so you may be sent a surprise bill! Ask your chosen courier about any potential charges beforehand.
I’ve heard that there are differences between teaching styles and academic expectations on the London programme and those in my US campus back home – is this true?
Classes at the GEO in London Centre are a bit different and we’ll guide you through them while you’re here – that’s part of the learning experience too! Here’s what some past students think:
“I feel like the teaching styles here are more focused on making sure that I understand the material, rather than testing my knowledge on details and minutiae. We wrote lots of papers and participated in lots of discussions that helped me really explore the material, rather than just regurgitate facts and figures.” Fall 2016
“Though I have taken some small, interactive courses at home, a majority of my courses have a large number of students in them. The classes here were very personal and the professors truly demonstrated commitment to student success on an individual level.” Fall 2016
“Here in the UK I get the feeling that the student is held more accountable for their education. At home, while the education is great, many students do not take it seriously. While abroad, you learn that what you choose to get out of your education is truly up to the individual.” Fall 2016
“One major difference in the learning style is the amount of hands on learning we get to experience here. I loved going to museums, galleries, and plays together as a class and learning outside of a textbook.” Fall 2016
Is it easy to meet British people in London?
It is sometimes said that British people can be a bit standoffish! Whilst that may be true of some, most are very friendly but just take longer to warm up than Americans :¬) Just try talking! (But perhaps avoid hanging out in large groups, as you might seem like you don’t want to meet anyone from the outside.) If you’re doing an internship while you’re here you’re likely to meet people from many different backgrounds, including some Brits!
If you have any other questions that you feel we should add to this list, please contact us.