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From London, a city that seamlessly blends the old world with the seductively modern, to the York countryside, England is a must see for any traveler and a great destination for taking a gap year. While England is not an ideal country for sun-tanners or surfers (the weather can be rather dreary) its influential cultural history makes it a prime location for those looking to gain a fuller understanding of how our modern world developed. England gave rise to artistic and scientific revelations that will never be forgotten, and seeing them first hand is an experience of a lifetime!
Volunteer opportunities include working with children, the disabled, the homeless and troubled families. Volunteers can also wander through England's pastures, contemplate Stonehenge, and visit the parliament. Volunteer projects happen all around the island and volunteers can choose to be placed in a quaint, village, or in the buzz of London town. Working in such a diverse community and culture will expose volunteers to a rich recipe of experiences. Volunteers will experience excellent training that will benefit any career they pursue. Programs generally run between 6 and 12 months but each program is unique, so search through volunteer providers and find the best match for you.
England has always been a popular tourist destination. Due to its rich history, diverse culture, and exciting current events (such as the London Olympics) England is now, more than ever, a premier destination for students looking to intern abroad. Internships can be found in a variety of fields such as business, economics, communications, and politics. Interning in London will gain you respect, earn unmatched experiences not accessible back home, and have meaningful contacts for life. A letter of recommendation and listing an international internship make interning in London all the more worthwhile.
Living in England, particularly London, is very expensive when compared to many places in the World. While the strength of the pound has decreased in recent years, it's still around 1.6 times stronger than the U.S. Dollar. A single room in London can cost as much as 650 pounds. That's roughly $1040. The cost of living will of course depend on the situation (and tastes!) of each individual, but you should still plan effectively. It's important to be aware of the costs you will be facing as a traveler, but don't let it put you off! Plan carefully and think about cost-saving strategies. The cost of living in England shouldn't be too overwhelming if you are willing to make small sacrifices. While in England, look for shared housing and utilize the excellent public transport networks. You can also avoid excess fees from your bank by opening a UK Bank Account.
Politeness is highly valued. Always say "please" and "thank you" and "sorry". Touching is usually kept to a minimum and the English tend to keep a 2-3 feet distance while speaking. In a business environment, touching is very minimal and personal space should be respected much more than in a family setting. At a first meeting, both men and women generally shake hands. Work opportunities for women are varied and available, yet women still make less money on average. The English value being well dressed and nicely groomed. Make sure that you're prompt and ready to go, the term "time is money" is taken seriously in England.
England has stood as a beacon of democracy and a bastion of ideological freedom, and yet has maintained its ancient traditions. In a single day, a visitor can see the ancient ruins of an aqueduct, a medieval castle, and the Charles Darwin exhibit. England has a rich history of renaissance art and, of course, was home to the most influential writer in literature, William Shakespeare. The English are proud of their rich history of storytellers and social thinkers.
England, a first world country, has strong health and safety regulations. The water is safe to drink and restaurants must adhere to strong health codes. Vaccinations are readily available, but England does not have widespread cases of disease to worry about.
From the ancient megaliths of Stonehenge, to the Magna Carta, to the space-age domes of the Eden Project in Cornwall, traveling through England is like taking a trip through history. Spending a gap year in England provides you with great resume building opportunities and also gives you the rare chance of gaining new perspectives on the evolution of western civilization.
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