London is a bustling and diverse global city standing on the River Thames in England. With a population of 9 million, it is one of Europe’s largest cities and a leading financial center. The incredible diversity in London (over 300 languages are spoken here) seeps into every aspect of life, from food and art to business and media.
Despite its expansive cityscape, London has 35,000 acres of public parks, woodlands, and gardens. The city is connected by one of the most sophisticated public transportation systems in the world, making it easy to travel from one neighborhood to the next. Discover this lively city where heritage and tradition collide with cultural dynamism.
The CAPA London center comprises of two connected Victorian buildings with seven floors located on Cromwell Road within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, to the west of the city of Westminster.
The Center houses 11 classrooms, the CAPAccino lounge, a black box theater, and study spaces. Your dedicated student-facing teams—Program and Student Services, Internships, and Academics—all reside in the lower ground level.
Life in London is fast-paced and dynamic. There is something always going on, and everyone is on the move to their next agenda item, either for work or pleasure. The city is alive with people, noise, and light at all hours—meaning you may not find a quiet moment very often. There is constantly something going on in the city, from markets to pop-up restaurants, to museums and sporting events. It can be overwhelming at first to find your niche, but there is certainly something for everyone!
Brits are known for their indirect communication style and self-deprecating humor. So, while the city itself is clamorous, its people tend to be more reserved and seek to avoid conflict. You’ll notice this while taking the Tube and finding no one is chatting during their commute. However, the city is incredibly multicultural, so don’t assume everyone fits into one communication style.
Commuting is an integral part of life in London. The Tube moves the city, and residents are reliant on public transportation to go about London. It’s not uncommon to feel frustrated by delays or feeling overcrowded, but this is something all Londoners can relate to, and in sense, brings people together.
The London Underground is considered one of the very best transit systems in all of Europe—and you’ll see why after your first ride. Consisting of 11 lines and serving 272 stations, the Tube provides transportation to nearly 5 million passenger journeys daily. The Tube extends from Zone 1 out to Zone 9, covering nearly every corner of the city. Each line has its own name and identifying color that you will quickly come to learn as you map out your daily commute. Extending the Tube’s expansive reach are the London Overground, Docklands Light Railway, and the Elizabeth line, all of which help you carry out your journey.
It can get quite crowded on the Underground, especially during rush hour, but fortunately, the Tube is not your only transportation option. London has an extensive bus system that covers 675 routes across the city. Bus rides can sometimes be quicker than taking the Tube, and also comes with views of the city, as you are riding above ground (and sometimes, on the second story of a double-decker bus). Prepare to embrace this style of commuting, as you’ll find cars are not a common commodity in London!
The British speak English, but you’ll find you run into language barriers during your time in London. Since the arrival of the English language to the Americas during Britain’s colonization, differences in speech and spelling began to arise. First, spelling began to differentiate because at the time an established dictionary had not been created. The American and British dictionaries were compiled by different lexicographers, resulting in different spellings. Next, speech began to evolve to differentiate classes. Settlers pronounced the ‘r’ sounds in words, while the higher class back in England relaxed the ‘r’ sound, thus beginning the divide between American and British English.
Upon your arrival in London, you may notice some immediate differences, such as your apartment being referred to as a “flat, waiting in line is “queuing”, and CAPA staff will be on “holiday” and not a vacation. British English can also be more formal, using words such as “shall” and “moreover”. British English speakers and American English speakers also differentiate in their delivery of the language. You may find that the direct, and sometimes blunt, communication style used in the U.S. is in stark contrast to the indirect and reserved delivery in the UK. Despite speaking English, it’s not uncommon to feel like you must navigate a new language while in London.
The Pound sterling (or GBP) is the official currency of the United Kingdom. The Pound continues to have a more favorable exchange rate on the US dollar, meaning your money in the U.S. is worth less in the UK. This is important to consider as your prep to go to London and build your budget.
Learn the slang! You’ll likely hear the pound referred to as “quid” and coins are “pence” (or “p”), not cents. You may want to purchase a wallet with a change pouch, as you’ll get £1’s and £2’s back in the form of coins, not bills!
London has a temperate climate, with a significant amount of rainfall throughout the year. Temperatures range from a low of 39°F in the winter to a high of 73°F in the summer (though the city has been experiencing intense heat waves over the past few summers, so you may find you’re packing for warmer weather for a summer term).
Rainy and cloudy weather is quite common, no matter the season, so be prepared with a rain jacket. You may be surprised that, despite an average of 27 inches of rain per year, it doesn’t rain all day, every day! Precipitation comes in spurts, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the daily forecast. When the sun does peak out from behind the clouds, embrace it! CAPA recommends dressing in layers while living in London, as the daily weather is known to change on a dime.