Life in the UK

We think that York is a great place to live - but we know that life in the UK could be different to life in your home country. On this page you'll find lots of information, practical tips and fun suggestions to help you settle into life in the UK and get the most out of your time at York St John.


Things To See & Do

York is famous for its tourist attractions - you’ll never run out of things to see!

  • York Minster
  • Jorvik Viking Centre
  • National Railway Museum
  • York Art Gallery
  • Yorkshire Museum
  • York Castle Museum
  • Clifford's Tower
  • York Dungeon
  • York's Chocolate Story
  • York City Sightseeing bus
  • City Cruises York

Visit York has all the information you need about what to do, locations, prices and opening times!

You will find plenty to entertain you in York, whether you want to learn about our spooky history on a ghost tour, cruise down the river on a self-drive boat, or challenge yourself and your friends at an escpae room!  

We are lucky to be located close to many different and interesting places which are easy to get to on public transport. Have a look in our UK section for ideas on Yorkshire and the rest of the country. 

Places To Eat

There are lots of different types of places to eat in York. 

Indpendent coffee shops - Usually serving coffee, cake, and light lunches.

Tea rooms - Afternoon tea is a lovely treat - it comes with a pot of tea, a selections of scones, cakes and sandwiches. There are plenty of places to choose from with Betty's Tea Rooms being one of the most famous!

English pubs - Try some British pub classics like sausage & mash, fish & chips or a Sunday roast.

Large restaurants - from chain to independent, vegan to steak house, buffet to tapas, York has plenty of choice for dining out. French, Polish, Caribbean, Brazilian, Korean, Thai... Try something new, or find places to eat that remind you of home!

Here are a few of our suggestions for international cuisine International restaurants map (PDF, 8MB)

Check out the Eat & Drink page at Visit York

Festivals & Events

york is known as the City of Festivals. There is almost always something happening in York, especially in Parliament Square, the main square of the city. This is a popular place for international food markets, craft fairs or street entertainers. 

Key dates for 2019/2020

14 Nov - 22 Dec York Chirstmas Fesitval

1 - 2 Feb York Ice Trail

15 - 23 Feb Jorvik Viking Festival

29 -31 May Eboracum Roman Fesitval

Find more information about what's on at Visit York. You will also find a York tourist guide in your free welcome pack when you arrive at York St John!




In the UK the working week is Monday to Friday. Shops are usually open 9.00am – 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday.

It's a good idea to check opening times before you go as many shops have shorter hours or are closed on Sundays.

York has a lot of shops in a small area. You will not have trouble finding clothes shops or shops that sell things for your room. It is well known for its small independent businesses and interesting shops, so have a look out for something different and unique. 

For household goods, like clothes hangers and kitchen equipment, there are plenty of affordable places in the city centre such as Boyes (Goodramgate) or Poundland (Low Petergate) and Barnitts (Colliergate).

More information on shopping.



Big supermarkets are usually open from 7am until 9 or 10pm on weekdays, and 11am-4pm on Sundays - at the weekend it's best to check the opening times before you go.

Tesco at Askam Bar or Clifton Moor is open 24 hours (except Sunday), but it's a long walk so you will need to go by bus, car or taxi.

If you need a large shop, or a group of you need food, it may be worth ordering online. Most large supermarkets allow you to do this, and for around £2-£5 your shopping is delivered to your house.

Here are some of the bigger supermarkets that are close to York St John:

  • Sainsbury's: Foss Bank, York, YO31 7JB 
  • Morrisons: Foss Islands Retail Park, Foss Islands Road, York, YO31 7UL 
  • Asda: 77 Layerthorpe, York, YO31 7UZ 

 There are also small supermarkets in the city centre which stay open until 11pm, even on Sundays:

York has many international and specialised supermarkets:

  • Regency Chinese Supermarket: George Hudson Street, York, YO1 6LP
  • Sunshine oriental Supermarket: Walmgate, York, YO1 9TJ
  • Red Chili Supermarket: George Hudson St, York, YO1 6JL
  • Oriental Express: Hull Road, York, YO10 3JW
  • Bua Yai Thai Supermarket: Hull Rd, York, YO10 3JL
  • Makkah International Food: Hull Rd, York, YO10 3JW
  • Amma's Oven: Lowther St, York, YO31 7NB
  • Rafi's Spicebox: Goodramgate, York, YO1 7LW
  • Baltic Shop: St Thomas' Pl, York YO31 7NB
  • Polski Sklep IZA: Walmgate, York YO1 9TL

Food shops map (PDF, 8.1MB)

The Shambles market is located between Parliament Street and the Shambles in the city centre. It is great for cheap, fresh produce, and is open Monday – Saturday all day.


Night Life

York has plenty of options for nights out and evening entertainment - whether you like beer, gin or non-alocholic drinks, there's something for everyone.

Cinema - York has 2 cinemas in the city centre, and one at Clifton Moor, with a new Imax cinema opening soon at Monk's Cross. Check their websites for listings.

Theatre & Shows - York Theatre Royal for plays, the Grand Opera House York for comedy and touring broadway shows, Joseph Rowntree Theatre for amateur productions and York Barbican for comedy and music. 

Live entertainment- small venues like The Basement and The Crescent have regular music, comedy and cabaret shows, often from local artists.

Pubs - Many of the pubs in York host regular quizzes, open mic nights and live music - try Snickleway Inn, The Habit or the Eagle and Child. There are plenty of options depending on your drink of choice. Brew York and Pivni have a selection of local and international ales, go to The Attic and House of Trembling Madness (Lendal) for a great selection of gins, or Valhala for authentic Viking mead!

Alcohol free options - Most pubs serve a selection of soft drinks, but check out our T-total nights out map (PDF, 8MB) for our top suggestions!

The UK


York is a very well located and well connected city - you can visit many different internesting, historical and beautiful places on public transport.

The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors are National Parks with incredible scenery. They are accessible by public transport and are a great day out!

The historic market towns of Harrogate and Knaresborough are just a short train ride from York, and just 30 minutes away is Leeds, a much bigger city with plenty of shops, restaurants and museums. There is always something going on!

The seaside resorts of Scarborough and Whitby also make the perfect destination for a day out. There are beaches, beautiful views, ice-cream and fish & chips! Scarborough is easily accessible by train from York. Whitby is a little harder to get to, but well worth it. The bus journey takes you over the open moors and past steam railways. Of course you can always join our Global Campus Trip to Whitby in semester 2!

More information on things to do Beyond York 

The Global Campus programme runs trips arund the North of England every semester - find out what we have planned and get tickets here.

Further in the UK

Trains run regularly to other Northern cities which you can visit in a day over overnight. Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool are around one and a half hours away and are full of culture, food and stories.

You can get from York to London in just 2 hours or to Edinburgh in 2 and a half hours - both of these capital cities deserve a weekend visit.

Even further

The UK is close to mainland Europe so you might want to spend some time visiting other famous cities. 

Eurostar trains run from London St Pancras to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.

The UK has cheap airlines that fly from nearby airports like Manchester and Leeds Bradford to many destinations across Europe.

UK Way Of Life


The UK is rich with culture and customs, and although some of these may seem different and unusual, we hope you will be able to experience and enjoy as much as possible during your time at York St John.

The UK council for International Student Affairs have lots of useful information and advice on all aspects of living and studying in the UK. Check out their page on UK traditions and culture.



British Etiquette

Being Polite

The British use expressions such as ‘please’, ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’ a lot more than other nationalities. It is easy to occasionally misunderstand and interpret something as impolite; it might be a gesture, a different way of addressing someone, looking someone in the eye when you speak, expectations around offers of hospitality, etc.


In the UK it is polite to queue and wait your turn in a café, bank, shop or anywhere that you receive a service. You will be seen eventually, you just have to wait.

Time keeping

It is important to be punctual in the UK. Lectures and lessons will start at the scheduled time and you will interrupt the session if you are late. Punctuality is also important for appointments, for example with a doctor. If you know you will be late or if you will not be attending (a lecture or class for example), it is important that you phone or email beforehand to let the person know.


Smoking is not allowed in public buildings, including restaurants, bars, pubs and on public transport. You are also not permitted to smoke anywhere on the University campus. If you smoke in university accommodation you could receive a fine.

Gender and relationships

You may experience differences from what you are used to, for example displays of affection in public, how people (especially women) dress, degrees of openness around sexual orientation, how men and women relate to each other.


It is perfectly natural and understandable to look for other students of your own nationality to mix with socially. To help you make the most of your university experience it is good to meet British students too. British students might meet up for a cup of coffee/tea and a chat, or they might go to a pub for a drink, which does not have to be alcoholic.

Joining societies and clubs is an excellent way of meeting other students, developing your skills and hobbies. and having fun! Have a look at what's on offer on the YSJ Student Union website.

Come along to our Global Cafe every monday evening to hang out with students of all nationalities. You can also join our new YSJ Global Campus forum on Facebook. This is a space for you to meet, talk and plan. You might want to ask for tips from UK students, give advice to students coming from your home country, or even meet exchange students who have studied at your home insitution. 


Another aspect of UK life which could be different, confusing or surprising! Weather in the UK is famously difficult to predict as it is always changing.

Semester 1: September to December/January

In September it can be quite sunny and pleasant, and in October the weather usually stays mild but it starts to cool off. November and December can be very misty and cold, and there is a chance of frost and snow from late November onward. It is best to dress in layers at this time of year, and make sure you have a hat, scarf and gloves.

Semester 2: January to May

January and February remain very cold and there is still a good chance of frost and snow. March is the start of spring, but it can be chilly or warm; it varies each year! April and May are when it generally starts to warm up, and spring flowers start coming into bloom. There is a good chance of rain throughout the year, but especially in the spring, so be prepared with a light rain coat and umbrella.

For the most up to date weather forecast, see the York BBC Weather website.


Walking through the city streets when it's very rainy or snowy can be a challenge, so it is a good idea to invest in a good pair of walking boots, or rubber "wellies" when you arrive in the UK.

Make sure you bring at least a couple of nice dress-up outfits for evenings out or for events like Summer Ball in May. Dress shoes are important also, because some pubs and bars in York do not allow trainers/sneakers during evenings at the weekend.


Culture Shock

"Culture shock" describes the impact of moving from a familiar culture to one which is unfamiliar. This can affect anyone and is quite normal. Your fellow international students will share the experience - but so will many UK students who are away from home for the first time.

If you experience it, this does not mean you made a wrong choice in coming to York. UKCISA provide useful information about facing culture shock

Wellbeing Support

At York St John we want to help you to look after yourself!

Wellbeing is how able a person is, or feels, to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, build strong and positive relationships with others and contribute to their community.

On our website, you can find lots of information about wellbeing, what it means and how to look after your self during your time at York St John. This could be helpful if you are experienceing culture shock or home sickness.

Our wellbeing team are also avilable to help if you need emotional and psychological support. You can find more information including drop-in times on the wellbeing team website.

Studying in the UK

Studying in the UK could be different to studying at home, from teaching styles to class sizes to exams, it can take some getting used to. Just remember, you are not alone!

UKCISA offer a good introduction to studying in the UK with explains key terms and gives useful information. They also have lots of tips to help you prepare for success.

You can also talk to your academic tutor or contact International Student Support for advice.

Study Support

Our Study Development team can help if you are having trouble getting used to studying in the UK - whether you need help with your planning process, your study strategies or avoiding plagarism. They do not offer a proofreading service, but can help you develop your proofreading skills.

York St John also offers a range of Study Skills Software free to all students, such as a note-taking app and Global AutoCorrect software. 

Have a look at their webpage for more informtaion, self-help resources, or to contact them about an appointment.

Language Support

The Language Development team can help you improve your English language skills. Their webpage offers lots of advice and tips, as well as online study materials. You can also contact the team to make an appointment. 

Report and Support

York St John values the social and cultural diversity of our community. We expect all our staff and students to treat each other with kindness and respect.

York is one of the safer cities in the UK but incidents can happen and we want to make sure students can access support if they need to.

You can find out more information about hate crime, how to report it and the support available on our website.

You can also access support, as well as information and training opportunities, through All About Respect, a student led project which aims to safeguard students.

Cookie Settings