Preparing for London
Once students are registered, faculty will set up their course on Canvas, where the syllabi will be posted. Try to get as many as possible of your readings, outlines, and essays finished before the trip so that you can best enjoy your time in London without having to do work that could have been done at home.
There is always the risk that your baggage will get lost, but taping an address card on the outside of your checked bags will increase the chances that it will get back to you. On the card, put your name, 23-24 Courtfield Gardens, Kensington, London SW5 0PD. You should also place a similar card on the inside of your checked bags. We also recommend everyone flying Delta set up their own frequent flyer account before we depart. Once you’ve done that, you might want to download their smartphone app, so that you can see where your luggage is. To do this, go to the “Track My Bags” tab, then touch the “Bag Tag #”. If you do this on an iPhone, the camera will be activated, and you can take a picture of the bar code on your checked bags before it goes on the conveyor belt to the plane.
There is a free laundromat at Courtfield Gardens. We recommend bringing around 10 days worth of clothes and doing laundry about every week.
Make sure you bring anything you want to guarantee makes it to London, like your money, medicine, and electronics (computer, phone, camera) in your carry-on bag. You should always assume that the airline will misplace your bags, so bring three to five days worth of clothes in your carry-on bag. Most years at least one student loses baggage. Given the group’s size, we always expect at least 1-3 students’ bags may get lost in the shuffle (it’s even happened to Professor Fiorelli a few times), though we should be able to get your bags back within three to four days.
Pack all your carry-on liquids that are under 3 oz. in a clear plastic bag. Beware packing large shampoo, conditioning products, or other liquids greater than 3 oz. in your carry-on bags, because TSA will not allow you to take it with you and will require you to throw it out.
Small cosmetics and toiletries, electronics, and magazines are all good carry-on items.
Between laundry services and grocery stores for toiletries, there is no need to overpack.
We will be doing a large amount of walking, and in the past have seen the disastrous effects the wrong pair of shoes can cause. Even though flip-flops are comfortable, they should be kept in the shower. They don’t provide any support, take up space, and are unsafe to use walking through the city. Ballet flats may be stylish, but with the amount of walking we do, your feet can blow up to the size of tree limbs (London MBA class of 2010). Bring comfortable shoes with good support. Cross trainers (sneakers) or hiking shoes/boots are appropriate, though you also might want to consider having something a little dressier for our plays, fancy dinners, and business briefings. Professor Fiorelli brings Rockport “Dressport” shoes for the briefings because they are lightweight, comfortable, and passable in a business setting.
If you use wash cloths, bring them, because Courtfield Gardens does not provide any. Please also bring a towel or two, as these are also not provided. You will be responsible for laundering your bedroom and bath linens.
Finally, speak with your health care provider and ask for any medicines you normally use to make sure you’ll have enough to get through the trip without a refill. You may also want to talk with your health care provider about bringing some additional medicines. If you get sinus infections several times a year, you may inquire about getting some antibiotics, and if you think you might have trouble with the time change, you might ask about using a sleep aid. We also recommend bringing naproxen (not available over the counter in the UK) or other remedies for aches and pains.
Contact your credit card companies and banks before you depart for London. Inform them of the dates and countries you’ll be traveling, so when they see charges from the UK they won't freeze your card.
You should also make a copy of the front (card number) and back (contact information) of your credit cards, ATM cards, and debit cards. Keep this, along with a copy of your passport, in a safe place, and make sure your parents also have a copy. You might want to use credit cards for large purchases because they provide the best exchange rate, but keep in mind your credit card provider may charge a transaction fee. When using cash, withdrawing money from UK ATMs will give you a better exchange rate than you’ll get in the US, however your bank will most likely charge a withdrawal fee, so you should take out what you need for several days, keep what you’ll need for the day in your wallet, and leave the rest in your room.
Take a look at what the British coins look like so you can ensure you’re getting proper change.
Here are the British coins. From left to right it 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2.
You’ll be getting lots of coins, and in the US we tend to disregard them. Imagine each £2 coin is worth $2.88, and you’ll tend to take your coins more seriously. You may want a small change purse to organize all of your loose change.
Here are a few simple things to know that will make your time easier.
You will be in charge of cleaning your flat. We have a grocery store nearby, so you don't need to bring cleaning supplies from home, but you might want to share items amongst your flatmates.
‘Air-con’ is not the prequel to the movie Con-Air— it is the sign you’ll see outside some restaurants, theatres, and public places, and is a fairly big deal, because most of Europe, including England, doesn’t use air conditioning. Usually, the temperature is very comfortable in London and the UK (between 70-80 degrees), but some years it can get quite warm.
If you go into a pub for food, there may be a metal plate with a number somewhere on the table. This means there is no table service, and you need to decide what you want, then go to the cash register, order your meal, and give them the table number.
If a waiter/waitress does come to your table and asks you if you want water, they typically mean, “Do you want to pay for bottled water?” And if so, do you want still (non-carbonated) or sparkling (carbonated water, like Perrier). If you don’t want to pay for water, you typically ask for “tap water”.
You may need to queue to order your food at a pub.
There are typically NO FREE REFILLS of soft drinks. If you order a soft drink, they probably won’t give you a lot of ice. Americans feel like we’re being cheated without the ice, but Europeans think they are being cheated out of their drink if they get too much ice.
Though there may be bread and butter at the table, oftentimes there’s a charge for eating it. When in doubt, ask
Finally, tipping is not as common in the UK as it is in the US. 10-12% would be considered a very good tip. If a group goes to dinner together, look at the bill to see if there’s a “service charge”. If it's on the bill, you don’t need to tip any more.
When taking the escalator, stand to the right, so others can pass on the left. If you stand on the left, or you have your luggage on the left hand side, it won’t take long for a Brit to bump you.
PLEASE REMEMBER, IN LONDON CARS TRAVEL ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ROAD. This is confusing at first, but most walkways have reminders (e.g. look left, or look right.) Professor Fiorelli’s rule of thumb is to wait for the “green man” (go symbol), then look left, then right, then left again. Then quickly cross. Also remember “Green is clean.” and “Red is dead.” Only cross on the green man, never on the red man.