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Scottish Parliament Internship, UC Center Edinburgh - Fall and Spring
 
 
This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
 
Remember to also visit the Participants section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
Click a heading below to see section content.
Your UCEAP Network
 

Contact Information

Operations Specialist
Michelle Bobro
Phone: (805) 893-3246; E-mail: mbobro@eap.ucop.edu
 
Academic Specialist
Andrea Nuernberger 
Phone: (805) 893-2810; E-mail: anuernberger@eap.ucop.edu
 
Program Advisor
Liam Brenner
Phone: (805) 893-3246; E-mail: lbrenner@eap.ucop.edu
 
Student Finance Accountant
Rachel Wilson
Phone: (805) 893-5927; E-mail: studentfinance@eap.ucop.edu
 
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
 
Phone: (805) 893-4762; Fax: (805) 893-2583
 

UCEAP Online

Bookmark your Participants program page. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your Predeparture Checklist, UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Program Calendar, UCEAP Student Budgets, and payment instructions.
 
Connect with us! Join our Facebook network UCEAP United Kingdom page.
 

Study Center Abroad

This program is administered from a UCEAP Study Center with a UC faculty consultant and local staff.
The Study Center is your first point of contact for advice or assistance during the year.
 

Contact Information

Edinburgh Study Center
50 Buccleuch Street
Edinburgh EH8 9LP
 
Scotland, United Kingdom
Phone (calling from the U.S.): (011-44-131) 662-8988
Phone (calling from the U.K.): 0131-662-8988
 

Phone Number Codes

U.S. international code ............ 011
(dial this to call from the U.S.)
 
United Kingdom country code ...... 44
 
Edinburgh city code ............... 131
 

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Academic Information
Program Overview
This program is designed for students who are interested in furthering their political knowledge and experience by working closely with a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) in Edinburgh, Scotland. While those from all disciplines are welcome, this challenging program is best for those with at least some coursework in political science, and/or internship experience with governmental or similar organizations. Strong communications and writing skills are essential, just as they are in the world of politics.
 
As part of this program, you will spend a minimum of 25 hours per week at Parliament and will also participate in two internship seminars (directed readings) organized by the UC Center in Edinburgh and led by an academic coordinator. Although this is not an academic-intensive program, and your primary role will be that of intern, you will be expected to produce and will be graded on a number of assignments as outlined in this chapter.
 
Your primary role while on the Scottish Parliament Internship (SPI) is that of intern, with additional directed readings and assignments to help you better understand your SPI experience and assist your assigned Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP). However, you are earning 18 UC quarter units on the program, and these units are subject to the critical academic information and policies found in the Academic Information chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad. Included is information on unit requirements, taking less than the program requirements, the MyEAP Study List registration process, petitions, and grades. While abroad, direct all academic questions to the Edinburgh Study Center staff first, with one exception: direct any questions regarding satisfying home UC department degree or major requirements through UCEAP coursework to your home UC department or college advisor.
 

Expectations of Your MSP

Scottish Parliament is a fast-paced environment, with challenges and priorities that change with the morning’s news and the afternoon’s debates. This is a fantastic opportunity for motivated, skilled, and prepared interns to gain significant experience that will make their portfolios stand out from the crowd. Your MSP, their small staff, and the SPI coordinator will be there to make sure you know what’s expected, but you’ll need to jump right in and show your MSP what you can do. MSPs are glad to guide and support interns who can independently handle multiple priorities and tasks, and who after initial guidance can work with minimal supervision after each project is explained. However, there isn’t a lot of room for daily hand-holding or constant close supervision.
 
Those with outstanding organizational and communication skills will excel in this opportunity, and gain a true understanding of this demanding but rewarding work. Expect to write a lot, and quickly. Your MSP may want you to draft press releases or language for bills and motions, and will not have time to constantly revise your work.
 
The purpose of the directed readings, described in the Course Information section, is to help you understand the governmental body and arena you are working in. But don’t wait until arrival at the Parliament. The more you know about Scottish politics before the program begins, the more successful you will be in the program. Interns who have taken the initiative to learn more on their own may be given more challenging assignments to develop their skills, and their résumé.
 
Academic Culture

Past Interns Say…

I conducted research on comparative federalism to make a case for an independent Scotland. Most of my daily work was prompted by constituent concerns: I tracked wind farm development projects, and responded to letters on individual legal cases and same-sex marriage legislation concerns. I conducted administrative work, writing motions, speeches and press releases, and even launched my MSP’s website. I attended meetings and receptions to discuss pending legislation or to launch a campaign to save Scotland’s radio programs. I attended the annual SNP (Scottish National Party) Conference in Inverness, and the excursion to London with the other UC interns to visit the Scotland Office and the Houses of Parliament. The Westminster excursion was an effective chance to contrast the history, political debate, parliamentary procedure, and physical atmosphere of Westminster from our own experiences in Holyrood.  - UCEAP Intern, 2011
 
The Scottish Parliament Internship program gave me hands-on training in the professional world otherwise not obtained in a classroom setting. This internship is a once in a life time opportunity. I personally appreciate the freedom to research a topic of personal interest – mine was the politics of healthcare.  - UCEAP Intern, 2011
 
I think anyone would agree that an internship is a big step toward achieving a career goal. An internship in another country, however, is an experience that combines the values of working in an office and becoming immersed in another culture. I believe that the internship program at the Scottish Parliament with EAP is unrivalled in its ability to provide both kinds of experience. The personal and practical skills that I gained from this internship are skills that I will use for the rest of my professional life. I now have confidence in my abilities to work in an office, whether it is for government, for business, or a non-profit. I have this confidence not only because I worked in an office for six months, but because I did so in a new environment. Along with the challenges of the internship, I had to deal with the challenges of living in a new country; which included finding a place to live, meeting people to create a new circle of friends, and learning the cultural norms of Scotland and the United Kingdom. The internship was a challenging and fulfilling experience.   - UCEAP Intern, 2012​
 
Interning at the Scottish Parliament is a fantastic opportunity that I would highly recommend to anyone wishing to learn about Scottish or UK politics, a parliamentary system of governance, or politics more generally. I've helped to draft parliamentary motions, coordinated press releases with the constituency office, and assisted with events sponsored by my MSP. I can take a lead on projects and see them through in my four months here. During the parliamentary recess, UCEAP arranged for the interns to spend a couple of nights in London and witness the House of Commons and the House of Lords in action. While we were not expecting to see Prime Minister David Cameron, we were pleasantly surprised by his presence in the House of Commons!  I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here in Edinburgh.  - UCEAP Intern, 2013
Course Information

UCEAP Minimum Load and Unit Structure

While participating in this program, you are required to enroll in a total of 18 UC quarter units for the semester, broken down into three Special Study Projects:
 
Special Study 187 (10 units, Letter Grade or P/NP): Internship, working closely with your assigned MSP for a minimum of 25 hours per week. Interns submit a short self-evaluation at the close of the program, to be endorsed by their MSP.
 
Special Study 182A (4 units, Letter Grade only): Directed readings designed to contextualize your internship experience, focusing on the history and functioning of the Scottish Parliament. The academic coordinator will facilitate readings, varying each term, and group discussions. In addition to several short assignments based upon the readings, interns will complete an internship report, based upon a cumulative journal connecting academic readings to their daily Parliament experiences.
 
Special Study 182B (4 units, Letter Grade only): Directed readings through which interns explore contemporary Scottish legal and political institutions in the historical contexts of Scottish nationalism, the U.K., and the European Union. Consulting with the academic coordinator, interns will explore one topic in depth, culminating in a 10–15 page research report.
 
The academic coordinator will draw readings for 182A not only from the core texts, but also from Scottish and U.K. newspapers, journals, public policy papers, and online resources, depending upon the issues faced by Parliament during your internship. For 182B, the academic coordinator will also work individually with each intern to develop their final research report. Topics explored by past UCEAP interns include:
 
  • National Identity in Modern Independence Movements (comparing Scotland and Taiwan)
  • The Third Time’s the Charm: Scottish Devolution Movements in the 20th Century
  • Has Devolution Made a Difference?
  • The Scottish Electoral System as Scottish Culture (comparing the Scottish, U.S., and U.K. electoral systems)
  • Healthcare in the U.K. and Russia
  • Scottish Growth through Home Rule
  • The Iceland Model (examining economic policies adopted from Iceland, and also used in Ireland and Norway)
  • Comparative Analysis of the U.S. Healthcare System and the European Healthcare System
 
Extending UCEAP Participation
​Extension is not possible on this program. However, you can participate in back-to-back programs by applying to both and following all predeparture processes for both. Be sure to check the progam calendars first.  Also check the visa processes for both, to find out if you can obtain the second visa in the correct timeframe and from the location where you will be at that time.
Cultural Awareness
​Educate Yourself
​You are encouraged to become as acquainted as possible with Scotland prior to departure. Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers and magazines, and by watching films set in contemporary Britain. UC libraries subscribe to the main daily newspapers published in London, and weekly or monthly magazines of news and commentary also should be available.
 
Adjusting to Life in the U.K.
While Great Britain has changed much in the past 15 years, class stratification is still a part of its society, and you are likely to be aware of some degree of class consciousness among your British peers. A smaller percentage of the population attends university in the U.K. than in the U.S., which means that a given university may be less representative of the population as a whole. But because students traditionally leave home to go to a university just as in the U.S., the political and social character of a university cannot be predicted by its location. Try to be open to a variety of social and political attitudes on the part of your peers in Britain.
 
The United Kingdom is most emphatically a multiracial society and has experienced, and continues to experience, many of the racial tensions that beset American society. Political correctness is as much a part of discourse in Britain as in the U.S., but it means different things and elicits a variety of attitudes.
 
The mix of races is quite different in the U.K.; in addition to Africans and Afro-Caribs, Britain has a sizable population from the Asian subcontinent, including Indians and Pakistanis, but in relation to California, a smaller number of East Asians. Moreover, ethnic minorities represent quite different cultural experiences, deriving their place in contemporary Britain from the nation’s comparatively recent colonial past. British people are very much aware of the need for racial tolerance and sensitivity, but as ethnic groups are unevenly spread across the country (minorities typically concentrated in London and the large cities of the Midlands and North), they vary a great deal in their actual experience of racial diversity. While Britain’s differences from the U.S. should not affect the degree of acceptance and friendliness toward non-Caucasian American students, it may mean differing assumptions, even misunderstanding at times, about the backgrounds of such students. For example, most Asian-American UCEAP students report a significant amount of stereotyping by local citizens (e.g., students are assumed to be Japanese tourists and locals speak a few words of Japanese to them). This was unexpected behavior for most participants.
 

Culture Shock

Much has been written about culture shock and you will no doubt hear much about it in your UCEAP campus orientation meetings. Some may eventually feel the term overstates the matter, others may feel that shock is just the right term to describe how it feels to adjust to a location where everything can seem cold and gray. In any case, adjusting to life, even in a country where the language is the same and much of the popular culture is shared, can present significant challenges.
 
Though many returnees describe their UCEAP year as “the best year” of their lives, they admit that genuine effort is required to make the adjustment.
 
To begin with the obvious, Californians need to adjust to a significantly cooler, darker, damper climate. In fact, compared to much of North America, the British Isles experience a mild climate, warmed by the Gulf Stream. But this may seem increasingly irrelevant after weeks of overcast skies and temperatures in the 30s and 40s. Few Californians are prepared for the increasing dark of November and December. Because of the latitude of Britain, the days approaching the winter solstice grow very short, and darkness last from approximately four in the afternoon until eight in the morning. Even when it can be seen, the sun is low on the horizon. The compensation, of course, is the impressive explosion of spring and the relatively longer days of May and June.
 
Getting to Know Locals
Making friends with the local people is clearly important to the process of adjusting to daily life. Returnees report that the best way is to join some of the clubs and sports teams that are available. The fabled British reserve is more than just a stereotype, even among young people; they find that friendships are slower to form than they expect, and some effort is frequently needed to get to know local people. But people are as different in different parts of the country as, for example, Californians are from New Yorkers, and Scots and Northerners insist that they are more outgoing than the reserved Southerners.
 
Nearly all returnees report that they encounter the most difficult times in late November and December, that the combination of gray weather, shortened days, adjustment to a new academic system, and homesickness bears down the hardest.
 
The Study Center will organize a Thanksgiving lunch event. All interns are invited and strongly encouraged to attend.
 
Social Conduct
Drinking & Smoking
You will also find quite different practices and attitudes toward drinking and smoking. In general, the British use pubs for socializing a great deal, and a night out may be more frequent and involve the consumption of more alcohol than you may be used to. You are not required to adopt this cultural practice and should note that pubs do serve a range of nonalcoholic beverages. Coffee shops are becoming increasingly popular. Smoking, while more controlled than a few years ago, is still quite common. Smoking is illegal in all public, enclosed places.
 
Sexual Orientation
Although the British are not as open about sexuality, especially in the smaller cities, you will find that larger cities, especially London, have well established Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) communities. Publications such as Time Out list GLBT-friendly events and venues in London and UCEAP staff will have further contact information. In addition, most universities offer GLBT clubs. The age of consent for gay males is 16 years. There are no legal prohibitions against lesbianism.
 
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation

Arrival in the U.K.

UCEAP Start Date and Program Calendar
You must arrive at the UCEAP orientation site by the Official Start Date. If you fail to appear on the date indicated, you will be subject to dismissal from the program (Student Agreement, Section 10).
 
The start date of the program can change due to unforeseen circumstances. You are responsible for making modifications in your travel itinerary to accommodate such changes. In addition, flights are routinely changed or canceled. Confirm your flight schedule with your airline about two weeks before departure. UCEAP is not responsible for any unrecoverable transportation charges incurred for independent travel. In order to be kept informed of any program changes, you must update MyEAP with any changes in your address, e-mail, or phone number.
 
Mandatory Orientation Abroad
Detailed instructions on transportation from various airports to the designated arrival point are found in the Arrival/Orientation Information in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist.
You are required to attend a mandatory orientation abroad, which will take place at the UCEAP Study Center or other designated venue in Edinburgh. You are responsible for traveling directly to your prearranged accommodations, then meeting the group at the orientation venue at the designated time. A map and local transportation instructions from various airports are found in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist.
 
The one-day orientation includes information on academic matters, health, personal safety, banking, and other topics, as well as some activities. A lunch voucher and dinner will be provided. Other meals will be your own responsibility. You will also attend an orientation provided by the Scottish Parliament, usually within a few days of the UCEAP orientation.  There will be a tour of the parliament building in the morning and a meeting with your MSP in the afternoon. You are required to attend all orientation sessions, meals, and activities.
 
If the UCEAP orientation conflicts with a religious observance, individual accommodation is possible. E-mail your request to the UCEAP Systemwide Office so appropriate arrangements can be made ahead of time.
 
Travel Planning
Travel to Your Host Country
UCEAP Program Calendar
Refer often to the program calendar for this program. Dates are posted as they become available.
 
Purchasing Airline Tickets
Before you make any travel plans, see the entry clearance warnings in the Travel Documents section of this chapter.
 
No group flights have been arranged by UCEAP. You are responsible for making your own travel arrangements to the UCEAP orientation site. Even if you are on full financial aid, you are responsible for reserving and purchasing your own airline ticket. Your Financial Aid Office is not responsible for purchasing tickets. You are strongly urged to purchase a changeable airline ticket. Standby tickets are not appropriate.
 
You will not be met at the airport, but will meet UCEAP staff and other interns at the UCEAP orientation. The program calendar on the UCEAP website lists the specific orientation schedule.
 
 
Customs Fees
Do not ask anyone else to carry any items abroad for you (laptop, camera, extra bags, etc.) and do not volunteer to do so for others. Airlines may not allow you to carry items for others. If you are allowed to board the plane with the items, customs abroad may charge you a high duty for those items. They will assume you plan to sell them, especially if you already have similar items of your own. This is particularly a concern with electronic goods.
 
Travel Documents
Make photocopies of all important documents and keep the copies in a separate location from the originals. Also recommended is to have accessible an electronic list of passport and credit card numbers, and any other personal information that can be stolen or lost and will need to be replaced.
 

Length of Stay

If the British consulate (before departure) or an immigration officer (after arrival) asks if you are “leaving the U.K. within six months,” be sure to answer “No” and explain that you will be an intern for the full term. You are not being asked about your vacation or travel plans, although the question may sound like that. Different stamps are placed in the passport depending on the length of time you will be an intern.
 

Entry Clearance

Detailed information about the appropriate entry clearance can be found in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist. All interns must obtain a Tier 5 Work/Internship visa before departure. For British government purposes, you are not considered a student.
 
Rules About Traveling to the U.K.
The United Kingdom is part of the Common Travel Area Arrangement (CTA), which also includes the Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man. The first entrance into CTA dictates the type of entry clearance stamp or entry clearance activation you will receive. This means that if you arrive first in Ireland on your way to the U.K., you will receive an “in transit” stamp even if you already have a U.K. entry clearance from the British consulate in your passport. If you receive an “in transit” stamp, a U.K. entry clearance for an internship will not be activated upon arrival in the U.K.
 
U.K. immigration officers may not be present where passengers deplane from flights via CTA locations into the U.K. Immigration officers elsewhere in the airport will not and cannot activate an entry clearance to persons who have already entered the CTA. This means you would have no status in the U.K. immigration computer records and your internship status in the U.K. would be nonexistent (your stay would be illegal). If this occurs, you must immediately regularize your status if possible, and you will be denied reentry if you travel.
 
If you must regularize your status, you will have to apply for the correct entry clearance after arrival. It will cost at least $590 to apply by mail and at least $1,000 to apply in person. In addition to the high cost, applying by mail requires you to submit your passport to the British Home Office for a number of weeks, during which time you cannot travel out of the country.
 
Purpose of CTA
CTA has been in existence for decades to allow ease of travel to British and Irish citizens between their two countries. The European Union has adopted and continues to fine-tune several similar arrangements for various groups of European countries, the most well-known being the Schengen Treaty and its offshoots. However, Europe compensates for ease of border crossing with more internal controls, such as identity checks and shared immigration databases. How does this affect you? If you arrive in the U.K. through Dublin, you will not receive the entry clearance stamp or visa activation you need.
 
Packing Tips
​The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for the purchase of clothing abroad.
Identify all luggage on the inside and outside with your name, address, and destination. Luggage restrictions vary by airline.
 
Objects such as scissors, pocket knives, knitting needles, etc., must be packed in your checked luggage; they will be confiscated if found in your carry-on luggage.
 
Essential
  • Clothing that is washable and quick drying
  • Clothing that can be layered (T-shirt, fleece or lined vest, cardigan, or pullover sweater)
  • Jeans and fleece-lined pants
  • Lightweight jacket and warm jacket
  • Warm socks
  • Flip-flops, walking shoes, casual footwear
  • One dressy outfit
  • Coat (U.K. thrift shops sell good quality coats appropriate for the weather)
  • Umbrella
  • Rainwear and rain boots (available at all U.K. department stores)
Optional
  • Bathrobe and slippers
  • Beach towel
  • Lightweight blanket
  • Seat pad (good for train and bus travel)
  • Travel-size sleeping bag
  • Empty backpack (to bring home items purchased abroad)
  • Travel alarm and flashlight
  • Small gifts for new friends (with UC Logo or California designs)
  • Family photos
 
Do Not Bring
  • Pharmaceuticals that are illegal in the U.K. (prescription medications are the exception; see Health chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad)
  • Fragile items unless they are bubble wrapped
 

Insurance for Personal Possessions

The UCEAP Insurance Plan includes a personal property benefit; however, it is your responsibility to determine if it will suit your needs. Look into the benefits prior to departure and decide whether or not you will need to purchase additional coverage, especially if you are bringing anything of value like a laptop or camera.
 
In addition, your parents may already have insurance coverage for personal possessions, though it may not cover items that are in transit or abroad. Find out if your parental policy, combined with the UCEAP policy, is sufficient to cover the items you will be taking with you.
 
If you decide to purchase additional coverage, it is best to obtain insurance before departure because most theft occurs in the airport or while moving into housing.
 

Storage

You can store luggage at numerous sites, either during breaks or while traveling after the end of the program. Two storage companies are Big Yellow Self Storage and Excess Baggage Company. Storage sites are usually at airports, underground stations, and train stations. Rates and hours will vary, so confirm all details in advance. Most companies can also arrange to ship luggage.
 

Electronics

The electrical current used abroad is 50 cycles AC rather than the 60 cycles current used in the U.S., and voltage is 220–240 rather than the standard U.S. 110–120 volts for small appliances. Most electrical sockets abroad have three-pin plugs. In general, North American appliances need both a converter and an adapter for use abroad. However, travel irons, curling irons, blow-dryers, electric razors, etc., can be purchased in the U.S. with either a built-in converter or a dual voltage function. These appliances will need only an adapter to be used abroad. (Appliances without either a built-in converter or a dual voltage function will need an external converter, which can be purchased at electronics stores or travel specialty shops). U.S. clocks need to be battery-driven to operate abroad. UCEAP students recommend that you purchase small appliances once abroad, although they will be more expensive than they are in the U.S.
 
If you plan to take a laptop, be sure that the AC input of its power supply will accept 240 volts and 50hz (AC input: 100–240V; 50–60hz); if it does not, purchase a transformer before departure. The correct adapter plug (for three-pronged sockets) can be easily found in the U.S. or abroad.
 
Since the cost of electricity abroad is high, and improper use of appliances may damage electrical outlets and the appliances, ask before using the outlets. Information on purchasing appliances and accessories can be found on the Magellan’s and Distant Lands websites.
 
Return Travel
 
Financial Information
Understanding Your Finances
 
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
 
 
Handling Money Abroad

Obtaining Foreign Currency

The pound sterling, abbreviated GBP, is the official unit of currency used in the United Kingdom. The sign for the pound is £. Before leaving the U.S., exchange $200 into British pounds. The funds will be useful upon arrival for snacks, transportation, tips, and unexpected purchases. Some U.S. banks will purchase the foreign currency for you; the process may take a week or more. Dollars can also be exchanged for foreign currency at airports.
 

Initial Expenses

Take funds in an easily negotiable form to last through the first few months abroad. Even if you open a bank account, checks will take up to six weeks to clear. Therefore, spring interns should take as much money as possible in the form of travelers checks (issued in the foreign currency) in order to open a bank account with immediately accessible funds. You will initially need a minimum of U.S. $325 for basic supplies. Budget additional funds for warm clothing and travel.
 
Take a bank card that enables access to funds in a U.S. bank account at an ATM. The bank card must have a four-digit PIN. Most U.S. banks will charge currency exchange fees when money is withdrawn from an ATM. The fees can be high. However, U.K. banks will not charge currency exchange fees.
 
Travelers Checks
You can take travelers checks issued in the foreign currency to open a bank account and for immediate use after arrival. Travelers checks are not as widely accepted at retail venues abroad as they are in the U.S. You will first need to cash your travelers checks at a bank. Not all banks provide this service or cash American Express travelers checks, and some banks will charge a fee. You will need to show your passport as ID when cashing travelers checks. If you are opening a bank account, take any amount of travelers checks. If you are not opening a bank account, take only a small amount of travelers checks and rely on your ATM card for cash.
 

Banking

Fall interns will reside abroad for less time than spring interns, and may or may not wish to open a bank account, depending on their circumstances.
 
In general, banking practices in the United Kingdom are similar to those in the U.S. In order to open an account, you will need to provide proof of a local address, proof of your internship, and personal identification (passport).
 
Most large U.S. banks maintain relations with prominent British banks. Prior to departure, find out which bank your U.S. bank is affiliated with and what services they offer. Past participants have used Barclays, National Westminster, Midland National Bank, Lloyds Bank, and Royal Bank of Scotland.
 
After arrival, go to a nearby bank and open a checking account (this is called a current account, as distinguished from a deposit account, which is the equivalent of an American savings account). Banking practices are more restrictive than those in California, and there are some differences. A typical current account should include a checkbook and an ATM card. It is not possible to cash a check in a store without a specific check guarantee card (which banks are typically reluctant to issue to new customers). A U.S. credit card will not serve as a check guarantee.
 
Banking policy is left to the discretion of the individual bank manager. A good letter of reference from your U.S. bank may ease restrictions that might otherwise be imposed by a bank abroad. If the bank is less restrictive, it may be possible to obtain a check guarantee card, which also functions as a debit/ATM card. Banks have their own names for these cards (e.g., Switch at NatWest or Connect at Barclays). The bank may be willing to issue such a card after an initial probationary period of banking, so be sure to ask about it.
 

Transferring Money

When transferring money, the larger the amount transferred, the more favorable the rates.
Wiring funds from a U.S. bank to a foreign bank is an option if funds in your foreign account run low. The sender in California can order a wire transfer from a major bank for a fee; however, most if not all major banks now require the sender to be a customer. The fee is fixed, so the larger the amount sent, the better. The money is electronically transferred to your account abroad and a second fee is charged. Money sent in this way is instantly accessible.
 
Many financial aid students request (via the UCEAP Electronic Funds Transfer form) that their financial aid be deposited electronically into their U.S. bank account (rather than being mailed as a hard copy check to their U.S. address). This large deposit can then be wired by your power of attorney in the U.S. to the account abroad.
 
Another way to transfer money is by using a banker’s draft, which can be purchased at a U.S. bank in dollars and sent abroad by mail for deposit. Make sure the foreign bank will accept the banker’s draft without waiting for collection from the U.S.
 
Communications Abroad
Internet Access
Phones
There are two types of public phones in the United Kingdom. British pay phones take coins of 20 pence and over. Card phones are the alternative. Calling cards are the most convenient method for making calls from public phones. £2, £4, £10, or £20 cards are available from the post office, travel centers, some news agents, and machines on underground platforms. Many BT pay phones take major credit cards and charge cards.
 
Dialing Collect
Collect calls in the U.K. (made by dialing 100) are expensive. Do not phone the Study Center this way unless you have an emergency.
 
Directory Assistance
Information in the U.K. is reached by dialing 118118 (Directory Enquiries). These calls are free from public phones; from other phones there is a charge.
 
International Calls
International calls are best made using phone cards, though at least a £10 card is needed for calling the U.S. The direct dialing code to the U.S. is: 001 + area code + number. You can call the U.S. collect through the international operator by dialing 155. Calls made between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. are the most expensive, those made in the afternoon are slightly less expensive, and rates go down considerably after 8 p.m. An excellent time to phone California is 7 a.m. because the rates are still low, and at that time it is 11 p.m. (the previous day) in California.
 
A wide range of commercial phone cards for international calls can be purchased in the U.K. in various denominations. One source of these cards is the Calling Cards website.
 
Mail & Shipments
​The British mail service is usually fast. Letters mailed in the evening (before the last mail collection) are generally delivered in London the next day and vice versa. Airmail usually takes from six to ten days to or from California.
 
Packages generally take six to eight weeks to send by surface mail. The Study Center and Parliament offices will not accept or store heavy or bulky packages. Have your parents or friends mail your packages to your address after arrival. You will need to time your shipment to arrive after you do. Staff will not collect luggage that has been shipped in advance, and will not pick up any luggage that must be claimed at a customs office or dock.
 
​Study Center Contact
It is important for you to keep in contact with your Study Center during your time abroad. The Study Center address is noted in the Your UCEAP Network chapter of this guide.
 
Study Center office hours are generally 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The office may be closed for lunch. You may contact the Study Center anytime and leave a voicemail message. Until you are settled in abroad, you can have phone messages left at the Study Center office. Inform callers that the time difference is eight hours ahead of California.
 
Housing & Meals
Internship Housing Options
You have the option to rent either a flat (apartment), a room in a private home, or a room in a long-stay hostel. You must make your own housing arrangements, deposits, and payments (even if you are on full financial aid). You can make housing arrangements either before departure or after arrival while staying in a hotel or hostel.
 
Looking for a place to live in a city you have never visited (and in a different country) can feel overwhelming. However, if you follow these steps, your house-hunting should be easy.
 
Flats
Most letting agencies will require that you sign a year lease, so it is important that you communicate with the landlord the exact number of months that you will be there. Prices for flats vary depending on which area of the city you choose. The average room in a flat will cost around £80–£85 per week (roughly £320–£340 a month). Heat and other utilities are not usually included and will cost another £20, approximately. It is not very common to share rooms in the U.K., as some of them are rather small, but you must check with the landlord if you plan on sharing a room with a flatmate.
 
UNITE Housing
UNITE is privately owned, dorm-like housing in different locations throughout the city. You can opt for a room with a bathroom (en suite) or a studio with or without meals provided. Laundry, Internet, and common rooms are provided. The prices range from £128 per week to £197 per week.
 
Long-Stay Hostel
The Budget Backpackers hostel is located in the heart of the city center and offers a long-stay option at a weekly rate of around £50. Showers and bedding are free, and the bedding is changed once a week. There is a laundry facility that takes coins, common rooms, and a kitchen on each floor. This hostel offers a 4-person, 2-person, or single room. Internet is not included, but the library is directly up the street and many cafés have free WiFi.
 
Council Tax
To avoid being charged the local council tax, you must register as an intern with the local council authority. You can check with the local council for more information about this tax.
 
Maps & Helpful Websites
When looking for housing, it is important to consider what you want from your experience. Do you want to be in a location near your work? Do you want to be in an area with students and an active nightlife or someplace quieter? Provided is a map of the city with recommended areas for housing. The Parliament is located at the base of the Royal Mile next to Holyrood Palace. We suggest that you consider housing in these areas:
 
  • Blue—City Center
  • Purple—Marchmont, the Meadows, Lauriston, Southside, Newington
 
 
Daily Life Abroad
Local Transportation
Extracurricular Activities

Clubs and Social Events

You are encouraged to participate in cultural and extracurricular activities while abroad. Your internship and coursework will require you to balance your time and make sure you have scheduled time to enjoy the city of Edinburgh and the U.K. The University of Edinburgh provides a number of extracurricular opportunities that you can access as an SPI intern. Join sports, music, theater, or art groups; volunteer with social organizations; participate in athletic events and religious activities; and attend lectures, discussions, and receptions in academic and community circles.
 

Local Attractions

Read The Knowhere Guide for inside information and tips that only locals know. Popular attractions including local music scenes, shopping, cafés, art galleries, cinemas, festivals, and much more can be found at this website.
 
Every summer the city hosts the largest cultural festival in the United Kingdom. Also the site of the 1999 reestablishment of the Scottish Parliament, the city prides itself on being the center of Scottish culture. With rich offerings in music and theater, it has become a European cultural center as well. In addition, the University of Edinburgh has many fine museum collections, and some include unique artifacts.
 

Recreational Travel

The Eurail pass must be purchased in the U.S. You can select length of time and travel zones. The pass can be mailed by the issuing party only to a U.S. address. The pass is not valid in the U.K., but it is valid in the Republic of Ireland.
 
Travel Guides
Returnees report it is wise to acquire a few guidebooks before departure. There are a number of travel books that give comprehensive accommodation, sightseeing, historical, and travel information, covering practically all countries of the world. Suggested travel series include the Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, Blue Guide, Michelin Guide, and Intelligent Traveler’s Guide. Other resources are Time Out, DK, Insight, and Footprint guidebooks.
 
Students with Disabilities
Travel Sign-out Form
 
The UCEAP student budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad
Insurance
UCEAP Insurance
 
Staying Healthy
Local Medical Facilities
 
Physical Health
 
Prescription Medication
 
Mental Health
 
 
Health Risks
U.K. Health Care Glossary
Staying Safe
Minimize Risk
 
Crime & Prevention
 
Civil Unrest
Traffic & Transportation Safety
 
 
For authoritative information on road safety in Scotland, visit the Road Safety Scotland website.
 
UCEAP Contingency Planning
Emergency Services Response
 
Fire Safety
 
 
In An Emergency
 
 
 
 
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