Tag Archives: international

A Poppy to Remember

12 Nov

You have probably seen people in Britain wearing paper poppies over the last few weeks and may have wondered why.

The poppies are a symbol of Remembrance Day which commemorates everyone who was killed during the two World Wars and other conflicts. It is held around this time each year because on ‘the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’ (11 a.m. on 11th November) in 1918, the Armistice was signed that signalled the end of World War I.

To remember the dead, memorial services are held and there is a two minute silence, both on 11th November and the second Sunday of November (this Sunday coming) each year.   

But why wear a poppy? Well, it all comes from a poem written by a Canadian doctor serving in the army in WWI, named John McCrae. He wrote In Flanders Fields, which describes how poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields during the War and how, because of their bright red colour, they came to symbolise the bloodshed of the battles.    

 From 1919 onwards then, poppies began to symbolise the loss of soldiers during war and slowly, more and more people started to wear one to show their support. In the UK these days, paper poppies are sold by volunteers of the Royal British Legion (a charity dedicated to helping war veterans), for people to pin on their clothes. They have no particular price but are exchanged in return for any donation you like.

So now you know the reason for the poppies, why not donate some money towards a very worthy cause, wear a poppy on your chest and join the two minutes silence this Sunday.

New to the UK and want to learn about other British traditions? Have a look at our Guide to British Culture.  

Images: ahisgett and comedy_nose on Flickr


Student Tuition Fees Protest Turns Violent

11 Nov

Protests in London yesterday turned violent as students marched against the proposed increase of university tuition fees.

It all started peacefully when an estimated 50,000 students and lecturers arrived in the capital from all over the country on Wednesday morning. They converged on Westminster to demonstrate against tuition fees rising to £9,000 a year and against plans to cut higher education funding by 40%.

However, violence broke out when a small group began to gather around the Conservative Party headquarters, burning placards and banners. This then quickly escalated as protesters began to force their way into the Conservative headquarters, smashing through the large glass front before destroying anything they could inside the building.

The police were heavily outnumbered and failed to cope with the sudden outbreak of violence which resulted in 14 injuries and 35 arrests.

The violence has been roundly condemned by politicians and student leaders. National Union of Students (NUS) president Aaron Porter (who helped organize the original demonstration) criticised the actions of the violent few, saying:

“we’re now having to spend time talking about the rights and wrongs of violence and criminal damage, so actually in many respects I think it undermines our argument rather than allowing us to concentrate on the devastation to our universities and colleges.”

Similarly, Prime Minister David Cameron slammed the attacks, whilst saving praise for the “brave” police officers. He insisted that the protests would not cause him to abandon the plans for increased tuition fees, arguing that the reforms would create “a more progressive system than the one that it will replace”.

Image: Manfred Werner on Wiki Commons

‘Universities UK’ President Joins David Cameron in China

10 Nov


Relationships between British and Chinese universities are being strengthened this week as Professor Steve Smith- President of ‘Universities UK’, has joined senior figures from the UK government in Beijing.

Prime Minister David Cameron has spent the week in the Asian country with Vince Cable, George Osborne and Michael Gove among others, forging business relationships.

Steve Smith was full of praise for the growing relationship between the two countries, and particularly their higher education systems:

“There has been substantial progress in recent years in strengthening links between universities in the UK and China. Our research collaborations with China are increasing in number more quickly than with any other international partner. These partnerships are very important to the higher education sector in the UK…Education and research are central to our increasingly close relations.”

China already sends more students than any other country to come and study in the UK- with numbers reaching 47,000 in 2009- and judging by Steve Smith’s words, that number is going to continue increasing. Here at ForeignStudents.com we’re sure that it will continue to be to the mutual benefit of both countries, and to the students themselves.

Thinking of coming to the UK to study next year? Read our easy step-by-step guide to help you break it down into to simple, achievable stages.

Image: Francisco Diez on Flickr

Celebrities Turn Out to Turn On Christmas Lights

8 Nov

Rihanna turned on the Westfield Christmas lights.

‘Tis the season for celebrities to turn on the Christmas lights in towns and cities across the UK.

Over the coming weeks, this very British tradition will be ‘delighting’ crowds up and down the country who turn out to see their favourite actor speak, or their beloved band perform, or, more likely, a D-list ‘celebrity’ press a button. We’ve selected some of the highlights of the 2010 Christmas Lights Switch-On Ceremonies:

             –  Westfield Shopping Centre, London (4th November): Representing the truly A-list celebrities, Rihanna turned on the Christmas lights at Westfield after a performance that wowed her many fans. The bad news: if this is the first you’ve heard about this performance, then you missed it.

             Braehead Shopping Centre, Glasgow (4th November): Last week, Glasgow became the first of the cities to invite an X-Factor reject to turn on their lights, except there was a bonus…there were two X-Factor rejects turning on the lights! They were the ridiculous twins that call themselves Jedward.

             Regent Street, London (9th November): Continuing with the X-Factor theme, Regent Street has last year’s winner, Joe McElderry turning the lights on. He is fresh from doing absolutely nothing in the music charts for the last year so it should be a good show.    

            Cardiff City Centre (10th November): Cardiff has gone against the X-Factor trend by impressively snagging two real celebrities in Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. They are of course best known as Dr. Who and his red headed assistant.   

           Sheffield City Centre (21st November): And finally, possibly the most exciting of all the celebrity Christmas lights appearances, Sheffield have managed to persuade the Zingzillas (!) to perform at their ceremony. We don’t really know what they are but it sounds exciting doesn’t it?   

Impressed by any of these celebrity endorsements? Know any others in your area? Let us know below.

Learn all about the traditions of the various festivities in Britain with our Guide to British Celebrations.

Image: MiKeARB on Flickr.

Are the Brits Finally Tired of Queuing?

5 Nov

The British are known across the world for our supposed love of queuing. At post offices, banks, supermarkets, airports, theme parks…the list is endless. However, a new survey shows we may finally be losing our patience.

A Payments Council survey has found that it takes 10 minutes and 42 seconds before British adults start to get fed up, though this figure varies depending on age and location. Surprisingly, Londoners are the most patient and are prepared to wait for over 12 minutes, whilst unsurprisingly, people over the age of 55 become restless the fastest.

To fight the one long queue that life can sometimes seem like, the British people have started to use ‘queue dodging tactics’ according to Sandra Quinn who helped carry out the survey. Such tactics include paying bills online, shopping at night and even taking time off work (!), though jumping the queue is of course never an option for us mild mannered Brits.

Personally, here at ForeignStudents.com, we still think that 10 minutes and 42 seconds still sounds like quite a long time, but then again, maybe that time can be used productively. Next time you’re in a queue, why not try making a new friend, coming up with an invention worthy of Dragon’s Den, or simply imagining you’re on a tropical beach. Anything to make the time go faster eh?

Is a love of queuing starting to become a misconception about the British? Read about some other common misconceptions in our light hearted guide for foreign students.

Image: Gadl on Flickr.

Is British Food the Best in the World?

3 Nov

The Good Fashioned English Breakfast (Image: Avlxyz Flickr)

Traditionally British food has been mocked by other nationalities who see it as boring, unhealthy and badly cooked. However, over the last few decades there has been a revolution in British food and people from around the world are starting to realise that the days of overcooked meat, mushy veg and greasy side dishes are long gone.

VisitBritain recently did a survey asking 26,000 people from 36 countries about British food and the results show that perceptions of British food are starting to change.

When asked if they had always wanted to try that most classic of British dishes, the full English breakfast, the majority of nations answered with a resounding ‘yes’. The keenest were (quite randomly) the Russians, Brazilians and Indians who all started to salivate at just the thought of the eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, fried bread and whatever else you like to include in a good fry up.

They were also asked if they agreed with the statement “British food is very bad”, to which the vast majority said no. Here, those from Russia (again), Estonia and Egypt (the three well known foodie countries) were the most enthusiastic about British food, whilst Spain, Italy, Japan and France still have their doubts.

What do you think? Have you moved to the UK from abroad and love/hate the food? Let us know below.

Don’t know your Spotted Dick from your Bubble and Squeak? Have a look at our Guide to British Food and Drink.

UK International Students

29 Oct
Foreign Teacher with students.

Image via Wikipedia

UK International Students


ForeignStudents.com has established itself as the leading web site for all foreign students contemplating or currently studying in the UK.

We provide foreign students with essential information about life in the UK includingBankingCurrency ExchangeInsurance,Entertainment and Eating Out. All our guides include useful links to reputable service providers and we also use these relationships to get you premium, exclusive Student Discounts.

We also provide a comprehensive student guide to UK universitiescolleges andlanguage schools covering courses,rankingsapplication information and costs as well as the ability for members to post listings for accommodationjobseventsand travel.



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