Life In The UK


Things To See

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

  • York Minster
  • York Castle Museum
  • Jorvik Viking Centre
  • Yorkshire Museum
  • National Railway Museum
  • Clifford's Tower
  • River Ouse
  • Boat tours

Visit York has all the information you need.  

Places To Eat

There are lots of different types of places to eat in York. From small cafes to English pubs to large restaurants - there's something for everyone! Try something new, or find places to eat that remind you of home.  

More information on places to eat.

What’s On

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

More information on what's on.



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. 

More information on shopping.


In the UK the working week is Monday to Friday. If you go shopping at the weekend check the opening times before you go as many shops have shorter hours on Sundays.

Shops are usually open 9.00am – 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday, yet larger supermarkets open for longer hours and can sometimes even be open 24 hours a day!

On Sundays most large shops are open 10.00am – 4.00pm or 11.00am – 5.00pm.

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

  • Sainsbury's: Foss Bank, York, YO31 7JB T: 01904 643801 
  • Morrisons: Foss Islands Retail Park, Foss Islands Road, York, YO31 7UL T: 01904 633365 
  • Asda: 77 Layerthorpe, York, YO31 7UZ T: 01904 881410 


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.

York has many specialised supermarkets, and you can take a look where they are on our specialised supermarkets map (PDF 181.7kB).

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.

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

The Weather

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 rubber boots, or "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.

The UK


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!

Around 30 minutes away on the train is another Yorkshire city, Leeds. This is much larger than York, and 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, ice-cream and traditional fish and chips!


Further in the UK

Trains run regularly to other Northern cities, such as Manchester and Liverpool that are around an hour and a half away. These are full of culture, food and stories.

York has a great train link to London and you can get there in less than two hours! 

Even further

The UK is close to mainland Europe so you might want to spend some time visiting other famous cities. The UK has cheap airlines that fly to many destinations, including Rome, Berlin or Paris.

UK Way Of Life

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.


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 of all nationalities.

Relationships and Gender Issues

You may experience cultural 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.


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.

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.

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