Frequently Asked Questions
Many students have a lot of questions about London, and this page will act as a list of items you should consider in preparing for the trip. If you have other questions related to the trip, email Professor Fiorelli at Fiorelli@xavier.edu.
Traveling to London
Q: Will I need a passport or visa?
A: Non-interns will only need a passport, but it must be valid for at least 6 months after our return date. If you don’t already have a passport, you should start the process RIGHT AWAY! Here’s the government website to get started.
Interns will need a Tier IV visa, which will be cost approximately $450 and is not covered in the Xavier London costs. AIFS will facilitate the visa application process.
Q: What should I pack in my carry-on?
A: Rick Steves' #1 Tip about traveling is to pack light. Although the airlines have generous allowances, you will have to deal with all your luggage once you land in London. For our flight from the USA to Heathrow, Delta allows you to bring one carry-on that weighs up to 40 pounds and an additional personal item, such as a laptop or purse. Put any medications and valuables in your carry-on bag, and always assume that your checked bag will be lost in transit, so pack three to five days worth of clothes in your carry-on. Also, pack any essential medicines, electronics, and any money you have, in your carry-on bag.
Any liquids or gels you carry on must fit into ONE quart-sized ziplock bag. Each item in the bag must be smaller than 3 ounces or 100 ml. Regulations may change before we leave.
Q: What should I bring in my checked luggage?
A: You can check one 50 pound bag. Any bag weighing more than 50 pounds will cost extra, and a second bag will also cost extra. When packing, consider that you will probably return with gifts and souvenirs that will take up room on the way home.
Courtfield Gardens has a convenient laundromat, so you don’t need to pack three weeks worth of clothes. Since we can’t predict the weather, you should bring some layers to prepare for either high heat or cool rainy weather. Pack at least one fleece pullover or a sweatshirt and a small umbrella. You might also consider bringing some type of outer shell or windbreaker that can protect you against both wind and rain. Make sure to bring two pairs of very comfortable shoes
Students don’t need formal clothes, but everyone should have at least one nice outfit for our briefings, plays, or dinners.
Click here for more information about packing
Q: How much money should I bring over from the USA?
A: We recommend bringing £50 to £100 for the first few days in London. The downtown Cincinnati branches of Fifth Third and US Bank have international desks that sell British pounds, but don’t wait until the last minute to exchange your money because they might run out. Although you can exchange money at the airport, the rates will be better at the banks’ international desks.
Here’s a quick link for a dollar to pound converter, so you’ll get a feel for the exchange rate.
Q: How can I get money while in London?
A: The easiest way to exchange US dollars for British pounds is through ATM machines in London. There is one conveniently located near Courtfield Gardens. ATM cards that have “Cirrus” or “Plus” on the back typically will work in England, but you should contact your bank to confirm that your card will work in the UK, and if so, whether there is any special process for obtaining money. Also notify them that you’ll be traveling abroad and they should expect to see international charges on the card. Learn the numeric (instead of an alpha) PIN for your debit card because many European ATMs do not have letters on their keys.
Q: Can I use a credit card in London?
A:You may want to consider having a credit card or two for use in an emergency. Again, alert your bank(s) that you will have international charges on the card. Give your parents a copy of your card numbers and the “lost card” 800 number.
For more information on money in London, click here.
Q: Will my smartphone work in London?
A: Yes, but you need to talk to your service provider to avoid roaming charges. Professor Fiorelli says:
I’ll bring my iPhone, but won’t use it as a phone, just the data for internet access and emails. I normally contact Verizon before departing, and purchase their international data plan for $25 for 100 MB of data. In the past I’ve used about 400MB for the month. This is fine for receiving emails (without lots of pictures), but I don’t expect to download the latest episode of Game of Thrones without eating up all of my data. Students have had some success buying a pre-paid sim card for their iPhone. I’m fairly confident that you need to have your phone “unlocked” before you depart for London to use this feature. There are other ways of using your smartphone without being charged thousands of dollars in roaming fees. Here’s a link I received:
I cannot validate, guarantee, or verify any of the following techniques won’t hurt your phone, or won’t cause you to be charged excessive amounts by your provider (so much for the legal disclaimer), but it may be a good starting point to address your questions. Always talk with your provider for the best strategy.
Q: How do I charge my electronics?
A: Some US electronics can automatically convert from UK (240v) to US (110v). Your device-e.g. laptop power supply or phone charger- must list both 240 and 110 on the power supply for this to work automatically. If it lists both, you will still need an adapter to fit in a British plug. If your charger does not list both, YOU WILL FRY YOUR DEVICE if you try to use the appliance without a step-down converter. US hair dryers are notorious for not working in the UK, and past students have recommended buying an inexpensive one in London.