Save money for your study abroad trip!

Savings and budgeting for study abroad programs- many students do not choose to study abroad because they are under the impression of ridiculous costs and are afraid that they cannot afford the experience. This is not 100% true. Study abroad is doable with great planning and here are some tips that may help students save for their trip:

  • Look at what you’re spending and calculate where you can cut back
    • Needs versus wants
    • Morning coffee, snacks, dining out, whatever else you spend money on frequently
  • Cancel memberships that you don’t use
    • Gym memberships, online subscriptions
  • Do more free stuff
    • Hanging out with friends leading up to your study abroad trip? Look for free events to attend, cook dinner at home, have movie nights/game nights at home
  • Ask family members and friends for hand-me-down travel goods
    • Don’t stress about travel gear. Chances are, your friends and family have a lot of basic travel gear such as a suitcase, travel pillow, travel bags etc.
  • Search for flights in advance
    • Incognito mode on your browser
    • Cheap flights calendar
      • Cheapest days
      • Most expensive days










  • Find a bank that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees or reimburses you for ATM fees–major US banks are your best bet. You can also apply for a credit card with no foreign transaction fees like Capitol One or Bank of America (travel card)
  • Budget according to your personality. What do you prioritize?
    • The travelers- train ticket to Paris
    • The partiers- night out dancing in Spain
    • The shoppers- new shoes in Milan
    • The food critics- tasty meals from the hippest spots in London

Street food is the best food for you (and your wallet)

I am incredibly indecisive when it comes to food, and London doesn’t make it any easier! No matter what you are craving for, you will find it in a dine in restaurant or on the streets of London. My favorite way to satisfy my cravings is to hop on the tube to the nearest street food market and weave my way through the crowd to wherever my nose leads. Dining in a restaurant every day quickly adds up, so you will find many food stalls and chains at these markets that sell big portions for cheap (under 10 pounds). There is also something about seeing your food being prepared and cooked right in front of you that makes it even better.

Leather Lane is the go-to location for my classmates and I since it’s a short walk from our classroom. The street is lined with food stalls on both sides, along with the actual restaurants behind them. Here you will find naan wraps, shawarma, pasta, rice and vermicelli bowls, noodles, sandwiches, salads, fruits and more (that I haven’t discovered because I have yet to walk down the entire street).

My favorite place to go to is Yum Bowl. I order crispy pork with rice and steamed veggies, and it’s only for 5.50! They also have honey grilled chicken and the option to have your bowl with stir-fried egg noodles if you don’t want rice. You can also order your bowl with half chicken and half pork if you have a hard time choosing between the two. The vegetables include broccoli and Chinese cabbage steamed with a light soy based sauce in front of you. There is also someone chopping the meat into portions, then gives it to the last person who asks if you want sriracha sauce (which then you say yes!). I highly recommend going here if you want rice, meat and veggies that will definitely fill you up for a good price!

 (Rice, both meats, steamed veggies)

If your stomach craves pasta, then head on over to The Cheese Wheel at Camden Market to satisfy those cravings. What is a better way to make the cheesiest fettuccine alfredo than in a real wheel of cheese?! Yep, these guys HAND MAKE their noodles (right in front of you), cooks it, then the noodles are tossed into the cheese wheel to be thoroughly coated with the perfect amount of cheese. I added pancetta to my dish, but you can have to plain or add other toppings to it as well. The pasta-bilities are endless!

Here’s another cheesy favorite of mine if you prefer mac and cheese. I believe this place was rated one of the must eats in London by Buzzfeed or something. It was definitely worth the hype though!

Korean Burrito is another place to go to when in Camden Market. Yep, you read it right. I was jumping with excitement when I found a place that fused my two favorite foods together; Korean food and burritos! In this toasted tortilla wrap, you will find kimchi fried rice, cheese, Korean hot sauce, red cabbage, choice of meat (or no meat for the vegetarians) and some more ingredients that I cannot think of at the moment. It wasn’t as messy as I expected, but this definitely satisfied my cravings of Korean food at that time. The ladies there were incredibly nice and helpful since I didn’t know which ingredients to add in my burrito. Either way, it was delicious!

Alright, I don’t know how to make curry in a box look flattering, but don’t let looks deceive you! Pictured below is lamb curry with their house spicy sauce from the Soul Food stall at Borough Market, and it was absolutely delicious. This is Caribbean cooking with strong earthy flavors and sweet spices that is loved by many. If you’re not looking for box food, they also have the option of wrapping it up for you in a toasted tortilla with the same great ingredients just in wrap form. They also have different meats to choose from, as well as chicken curry if you don’t want lamb. It is very easy to pick and choose what you want to fit your liking. The people are are super nice and are willing to answer any questions you may have!

This is the end of my food post. I hope this gives you some idea of your options for food in London! These are just a few of my favorites that I have tried during my time here, so I hope this encourages you to try them too, and discover your own favorites!

“Distance means so little when someone means so much.” – Unknown

I find it uncommon among students to talk about being in a short term “long distance relationship” while studying abroad. Before I left, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether or not my boyfriend and I will stay together while I’m in London. I found the question strange because why would we break up if I’m only going to be gone for three months? I learned that there are couples who actually do that, but my boyfriend and I decided to stay together while I’m away. Three months is the longest time we’ve ever been apart from each other, so it was definitely hard to break away from our hug at the airport. Although this distance is temporary, I think it is important to think about your relationship with your significant other while you study abroad whether it’s for three months, six months, or even one month. Some relationships weaken with distance, but others get stronger. I believe that two people can overcome this challenge if both are willing to put in the same time, effort and love to make the relationship work.

One of the biggest challenges we’ve had is time. Guess what? The world has time zones and the difference from Seattle and London is eight hours. When I’m awake, my boyfriend is asleep and vice versa, so the time we have to talk to each other is limited. I sometimes catch myself getting annoyed at how long it takes him to respond to me, but then I remember we are not in the same time zone and he also has a life at home. It is tough to go from constantly seeing and talking to each other to a few hours of texting back and forth and facetiming every once in a while. One thing that we do to get our minds away from the time difference is to keep ourselves busy. We are currently both in school, so any time spent on homework and/or studying helps. I am constantly doing something here in London, therefore, it is easier for me to keep busy while I wait for my boyfriend to wake up or finish with his classes. Being busy will kill time and getting that “goodmorning” text in the middle of the day always lights me up.

We live in a time in which technology (more or less) dominates our lives. Social media and smartphones especially make it easier to communicate with anyone, anywhere. I am grateful for FaceTime because 1. I don’t have to rack up my phone bill with minutes and 2. looking into each other’s eyes and hearing their voice makes everything feel alright again. It is hard to find time that works for the both of us just because I’m usually busy 10-12 hours a day doing London things, and he has both this personal and school life to live. I also live in a room with two other people so when my boyfriend and I do FaceTime, it has to be a time that works for us all. Usually, neither of my roommates mind since we each do our own thing when we’re laying in bed, but some nights are short depending on what we did that day, so obviously we would be tired and head straight to bed. It’s easier for him to squeeze an hour or two in his day to FaceTime me, which is usually before bed, so that would happen every couple of day or so. Remember that it is okay to not FaceTime every night, or text each other constantly throughout the day just because it isn’t so practical. As much as it kills me, I have learned to be patient and to simply look forward to his name popping up on my lock screen. Time works differently for everyone of course, so it is best to communicate possibly even more than usual with your significant other while abroad.


Here are a few things that I like to remember and have helped us these past couple of months:

  • Think of this as an opportunity– instead of thinking the distance is pulling you two apart, view this short term long distance relationship as a test of love for each other. Not a lot of couples go a long period of time away from each other unless you are in a real long distance relationship of course, but treat this time and distance as a measure of how much you two are committed to one another. Like I said earlier, the distance will either weaken or strengthen a relationship.
  • Expectations– be clear and open with each other about what you expect during this time apart. None of you would want to do things that will catch the other person by surprise, so it’s important to talk about these things.
  • Know each other’s schedules– I touched on this a little bit in the last paragraph, but yes, tell each other when you are busy or free so you can text or call at the right time. Know the small and big events in each other’s lives such as midterms/finals, birthday celebrations, job interviews, academic progress etc. This is important especially when living in different time zones.
  • Communicate regularly and creatively– My boyfriend and I like to play those iMessage games with each other (corny, I know), but it’s fun to do things together when you aren’t together, yaknow? Also, sending pictures or short videos of what I am doing or eating makes it more personal rather than him seeing it on Snapchat, Instagram or any other social media platform.
  • Avoid “dangerous” situations– In London, pubs (bars) are a part of the social culture here that my peers and I have partaken in quite regularly. If you know you and a groups of friends are going out drinking or to a nightclub late at night, then telling your significant other ahead of time is imperative. Do not be careless about this matter because your partner will be extremely worried (or suspicious), and of course upset if you put him/her in a position where they feel extra powerless/lacking in control. They won’t be there to take care of you, so you need to be responsible and take care of yourself. Recognize the dangers before entering into a situation.
  • Enjoy your time alone– you might be alone, but you are not lonely (unless you chose to feel like it). You don’t have to let your world revolve around your significant other. Take this time to hang out with friends, family (for the person at home), or find a new hobby.
  • Honesty is the best policy– Talk about your feelings (yes, you have them) of fear, insecurity, jealousy or whatever else. Don’t hide these feelings from your significant other. Let them give you the support you need and this also gives points in the communication category too.
  • Stay positive– Inject positivity in this long distance relationship to keep it alive. Yes, waiting is painful and you will feel lonesome, but just keep reassuring each other. Be grateful that you have someone to love and who loves you back. Be thankful for the little things.


There’s my two cents in what I have learned during my time abroad (apart from academics). I hope someone finds this post useful, I know it’s corny and not a lot of people talk about it, but I guess I’m one of the few who do. After rereading my post, this can definitely apply to people who are truly in a long distance relationship, or starting one. If you are studying abroad and in a relationship, remember that not everyone has or takes the chance to do what you are doing. Be proud of yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone and that you are creating these life-long memories and experiences. Each day I am out and about, I always think of my significant other and how he would like to eat crispy pork belly from the street food market, shop around Oxford or Soho, take walks with me along the River Thames, and so much more. Although your partner is not with you now, there is a chance you can do these things together in the future. For now, enjoy your time studying abroad and share your memories and experiences when you get back home.

Tips and reminders

I have now been in London for roughly two weeks and have learned quite a lot. Here are a few things that I think newbies should know in the first several days in London:

Stand on the right- The tube is your best friend and you will learn how it works almost immediately. For those of you who aren’t in a rush and would like to stand on escalators, stand on the right side! This will allow the other people who are walking/running up and down the escalators some space for them to do so. If you’re standing on the left side, someone will sometimes kindly ask you to move over.

British people drive on the wrong side- You’ve grown up to look both ways before crossing the street, but in London, triple check both ways before crossing the street especially if you are impatient and don’t want to wait for the little green man to signal you to cross. Vehicles have the right of way and it will basically be the pedestrian’s fault most of the time. In case you forget which way to look for incoming traffic, look down.

Be aware- Londoners are constantly on the move. Everyone walks so fast and always seem to be in a rush. If you’re not in a rush, continue to be aware of your surroundings and watch where you’re going. As far as accidentally bumping into people, they are mostly nice about it. Just apologize and everything will be fine. Other than that, try to keep up with the crowd and be confident in what you decide to do. It will definitely be scary at first, but once you get the hang of the tube and walking on major streets, it’ll be easy! Tip: since you will be walking a lot, remember to stay hydrated! Keep a bottle of water with you so you can sip on it throughout the day. Walking around all day is tiring and sometimes the tube gets warm.

Layer up!- One thing that made me feel like I was still back in Seattle is the weather. London is practically the Seattle of England, and if you’ve lived in Seattle long enough, you will know that the weather is unpredictable. So far, it hasn’t been that bad, but there were a couple of days where I wished I had another jacket. It could be cold and windy in the morning, then by mid-afternoon, you could be sweating because the clouds have gone away and the sun is beaming down on you. Even if you check the weather the night before, check it again in the morning because it would have most likely changed.

Since we’re on the topic of clothes…- London is a fashionable city, therefore, you will see most of the people walking down the streets a bit “dressed up” than what you’re used to. As a college student back home, I am all about comfort. I live in my leggings and hoodies, but you will never see any Londoner wear that in public. With this being said, use this opportunity to dress yourself up and strut down the streets of London! A lot of their clothes are simple, yet well put together. I brought a lot of basic, solid color tops, along with a few pairs of jeans and leggings with me on this trip. Even if you have a cute trench coat, blazer or parka, it will definitely dress up your outfit.

No snacking!- On the second day of orientation, one of my British professors told us that we will never hear the refrigerator door open and close throughout the day because British people don’t snack, unlike us Americans. We had to get used to eating only three meals a day, which I’m still struggling with. Back home, I normally pack snacks to class and eat throughout the day. Over here, you won’t see anyone pull out a granola bar in the middle of the day. I couldn’t help but buy snacks at a nearby grocery store so I can stick to my “bad habit,” but we’ll see if I can only eat three meals a day, haha.

HAVE FUN- Yes, cliche, I know. YOU ARE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. Also, yes, if you are reading this post then you will most likely be interested in a study abroad program which means dun dun dun, you’ll still be a UW student taking classes in another country. Even if you’re in a place for school, that’s only a fraction of the experience. Use this opportunity to explore your environment and try new things. It will be scary, but you will never know until you try, and you definitely don’t want to regret anything. It might be a long time before you’re in Europe, or wherever else besides America, again, so travel around to nearby countries for the weekend with a couple of friends and have fun!

I might do similar posts in the future since I am sure I will learn a lot more things these next several weeks and I am glad to share tips and tricks. Keep an eye out for that!

Until next time,

Brittney Phanivong




Arriving in London!

Blog By Brittney Phanivong, Science Technology and Society, English London: Spring in London

The worst part of traveling for me is the plane ride. But views like this make me feel better. It was so beautiful up in the air, which made me even more excited to reach the ground again. My plane landed around 9:30am on Wednesday March 22, 2017. Going through passport control took awhile, but after I reached an officer, he didn’t interrogate me as much as what I’ve heard from other people. He asked what brings me to the UK, and I told him I am here for a study abroad program. He asked for my paperwork (which was given during our study abroad meeting back in Seattle, so it’s important that you don’t lose them!), then it was awkwardly quiet while he read the letters and tried to find a stamp to stamp my passport. Once I was good to go, I went to claim my baggage, then met up with one of my flatmates, Hailey, who arrived from Portugal. We were both starving so we stopped by a cafe in the airport called Costa and ate sandwiches. After our stomachs settled, we both freshened up because believe me, after staying on a plane for several hours, you are going to want to wash your face, brush your teeth and possibly change clothes (specifically, undergarments).

London has a significantly better transportation system than back home in Seattle, so it was fairly easy to hop on a train from the airport to King’s Cross, and ride the underground to the closest station to our homestay. It was super nice for our homestay’s mum’s partner, Claudio, to pick us up from the tube station. He was so nice and friendly, and when we got to the house, we met his nephew, Clemente, who was also very kind. Clemente and Claudio showed us to where we will be living, which is in a large attic room where there were three beds and a couple of desks and chairs. I am roommates with three other people: Hailey, Mira, and Kaden. Kaden has his own small room near our large room. Once Hailey and I settled in, I took a well needed shower and then took a nap. The nap that I took was way longer than I wanted it to be, but when I woke up, there was sad news. I received several concerned messages from my friends and family because there was a terror attack at the Westminster Bridge in London. It was terribly sad that this event occurred. My prayers and thoughts are with all those affected by this attack today. It was definitely a scare for some of my loved ones because I wasn’t responding to their messages as fast as I could because I was asleep. But everything is okay with me, I am safe and unharmed!

Tomorrow is our first day of orientation, which means I have to wake up fairly early just to give myself some time to travel to central London to the place I will be meeting the rest of the students from the program. I am incredibly excited and I will update you all about the rest of my week soon!