Before you leave:
If you don’t already have one, get a passport. If you already have a passport, make sure it will not expire while you are overseas studying. You should seriously consider scanning a copy of your passport and emailing it to yourself as well as someone who will NOT be traveling with you.
Students are responsible for all travel arrangements. You should buy your plane ticket as early as possible to ensure the best price. We recommend researching a few travel search engines to find the best price.
What to pack...
Power and Computers.
As you probably know, voltage and outlets are different in Europe (220 Volts). You will therefore need the proper adapter to use electronics (including laptops, camera/phone chargers, shavers, etc.). If your device can run at the higher voltage (the back of the power supply will tell you how many volts it can withstand), you can use just a plug adapter; otherwise, you will need a voltage converter (sometimes called a transformer). Either can be bought at electronics or travel stores in the US or online, or at electrical and hardware stores in Europe. Carefully consider your needs for appliances when you travel in Europe, however, especially the high wattage ones. Hair dryers are a special case, as their power requirements are enormous. If you want to be a good citizen, consider leaving all hair appliances at home. Also, there is the possibility that they may get fried if you are not careful. If you can't, make sure you buy a heavy-duty converter that will handle as much as 2000 watts (2 kilowatts).
It is advisable to determine which countries you'll be traveling in and then choose the adapters you'll need for those specific countries.
Please also note that Tulane does not offer any printing for study abroad program participants. Should you decide you need to print your outlines, notes, etc. you will have to find printing facilities at local copy shops, etc.
If you want to bring a mobile phone, you should make sure it is equipped to operate on European frequencies. This is not recommended, as is it the most expensive way to communicate with the States. Ask your US phone provider what the international charges are, and carefully consider if using your US phone in Cambridge is an appropriate expense.
You may also consider using your phone from the States and purchasing a SIM card in Cambridge to insert in your phone. The main mobile phone networks in England, all with either accessible with monthly subscription or pay-as-you-go systems are: 3G; T-Mobile; O2; and, Vodafone.
Cambridge is a beautiful University City. The city center is filled with traditional shops, historic buildings, large green areas, and many pedestrianized roads, so there is no better way to appreciate all the beauty and nature than to walk or bike around for hours!
The weather in Cambridge in July and August is normally nice. It tends to come in spurts, with a few days of good dry sunny weather but also a few days of rain... Cambridge is on the drier side of the UK. Temperatures should be between 60°F and 70° F; they can get into the 80’s occasionally. We suggest that you plan for nice weather most of the time, but pack a few warmer items as well.
The most important things to bring are: (1) a good pair of walking shoes (Summer months are perfect for walking around the city), (2) a sweater or sweatshirt, (3) an umbrella, and (4) a lightweight jacket (and it won't hurt if it's waterproof).
All your clothes should be breathable, on hot days, it will keep you cool. On wet days, you'll dry out faster!
Additionally, students must bring business casual attire for visits to the courthouse and other such occasions.
You are advised not to bring travelers checks. Your ATM card should work in the ATM in the city, and Visa and MasterCard are accepted almost everywhere. Check with your bank to see what sort of foreign transaction fees, if any, are charged so you can plan accordingly.If your card does not have a “chip,” you may also want to ask your bank to replace it with one that does, as this is a common added security measure and some European card readers are only equipped to read this type of card. Please be advised that, as a security measure, you must call your credit card provider or ATM issuer to inform them of your summer itinerary, otherwise they may block your card.
A lot of European countries have changed their currency to the Euro, but the UK has not yet joined. The UK unit of currency is the pound sterling (£).One pound is made up of 100 pence (p).
If possible, try to travel with 100£ ‘emergency’ cash as a backup to pay for trains fares to get to the city, food in the airport, etc.
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Things you might not expect...
Cambridge University is made up of several different colleges, many of which have some of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in the UK. The colleges' buildings are usually arranged around courts. It is possible to walk around some of these and visit chapels and halls.
Cambridge also has a market, open 6 days a week. It sells food, clothes and other goods, with souvenirs in the summer. On Sunday, there are craft stalls and a Farmers' Market.
Bicycles are a common form of transport and you can rent them for the period of time that you are there.
You are not allowed to play tennis in the streets of Cambridge by law!
Differences between Cambridge and a major U.S. city...
Air conditioning is not that common in England. Thus, it may be warm inside. Moreover, most of the housing facilities do not have A/C nor is there A/C in public transportation and most businesses.
In England it is customary to tip at dinner even when dining at a pub, where tips are generally not given for drinks. Tips are discretionary and should only be left when the service deserves -the tip depends on the amount on the bill. A gratuity of 10 to 15 percent is standard.
Since Cambridge is flat and the historic center small, you can walk everywhere. Cambridge is mostly pedestrian-friendly - much of the central area is traffic-free. Do note that some of the pavements are shared use between pedestrians and cyclists; students should be extra cautious walking around watching for cyclists.
Once you arrive:
From the airport to the city center
From Stansted Airport - Stansted is the nearest of the London airports to Cambridge. It is mostly served by flights to and from mainland Europe and other cities in the UK.
By Bus - There is a systematic service from Stansted to Cambridge and takes about one hour depending on the traffic.
By Train - There is also a regular train service from London Stansted to Cambridge that takes approximately 30 minutes and runs every hour.
From Heathrow Airport - This is the principal London airport with an extensive variety of national, European and international services.
By Bus - There is a regular return service from Heathrow to Cambridge from both Heathrow Terminal 4 and the Central Bus Station (which serves Terminals 1-3). The trip takes nearly 2.5 hours, depending on traffic.
By Train – From Heathrow there is an Heathrow Express train service to access the London Underground railway (the tube) at Paddington. From there take the Circle Line (yellow line on tube maps) that leads to King's Cross or Liverpool Street mainline railway stations, a journey of about 30 minutes. From those stations there are frequent trains to Cambridge.
From Gatwick Airport - This airport is located south of London.
By Bus - There is a regular hourly return service from Gatwick to Cambridge takes approximately four hours depending on traffic.
By Train – Take the Thames Link Service to Kings Cross Station; from there are frequent trains to Cambridge.
Transportation in the City
Travelling around Cambridge couldn’t be simpler and all the parts of the city are easily accessible.
As previously mentioned the best two ways to truly enjoy Cambridge are by walking or biking. The city is small and flat, and cycling and/or walking offer an excellent opportunity to admire the city’s open spaces, and beautiful architecture. Cambridge has a big number of Pedestrian Zones and the city boasts over 80 miles of cycle lanes and routes that offer a quick and easy way to travel throughout the city.
A free gas-powered City Shuttle links all the parts of the city center. This service operates from Monday to Saturday, every 15 minutes from each stop, between 9am and 5pm.
Four bus lines run around town from the Drummer St bus station, including a bus from the train station to the town center. There are two types of passes that you might want to buy: Dayrider passes (£3.30) offer unlimited travel on all buses within Cambridge for one day; Megarider passes (£11) are valid for one week. You can buy them on board.
Punting is a must when you visit Cambridge – a punt is a flat bottomed boat which is poled along. You can rent punts from Silver Street or Quayside by Magdalene Bridge. There are also chauffeur punts, for those reticent to punt themselves. And this is the best way to see the Backs (called this way for being the back of the colleges), catching glimpses of the colleges through the trees.
Important Phone Numbers
Cambridge is best known for its historic university, its buildings and the beautiful Backs. King's College Chapel is the most famous building in Cambridge. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (built by the Knights Templar), also known as the Round Church, is an attractive small Norman church, known for being one of only four round churches in Britain.
To see Cambridge on a budget, there are many free events and activities. Interesting and historic buildings and most museums in Cambridge have free admission.
Cambridge has several parks and open spaces. There are green spaces most of the way along the river, that covers countryside, landscaped areas, formal gardens, and commons where you might see cows grazing.
Every summer the city organizes a series of events on the city's parks. Midsummer Fair, held on Midsummer Common, is the biggest and oldest of those summer events, starting in late June, and through the summer there are regular jazz and brass-band concerts.
The Big Weekend, which is three days of music, markets, fairgrounds, dance, sports, crafts, fireworks and more, takes place on Parker's Piece, normally in the second weekend of July.
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