Customized London Pre-Departure

What to Expect

What/When to Expect Emails with Key Information Before You Depart
What to Expect During the First Days
What to Expect When You are in Country FAQs
What Your Parents/Loved Ones Should Expect FAQs

What/When to Expect Emails with Key Information Before You Depart

Your Program at a Glance Email: This email will be sent about a month before you depart. It will include a calendar of your schedule for the term. Course schedule, break dates (if applicable), and some excursion dates will be provided as well as information about logging into CANVAS, your learning management system.

CAPAcket: This email will be sent to you about 2 weeks before you depart, it will contain:

  • Housing information (roommate assignment and address)
  • Instructions on how to travel from the airport to your accommodations
  • Internship placement (if applicable)

Read more about when to prepare what under our Checklist section.

What to Expect During the First Days

The first few days of any student’s experience abroad are often the most daunting. What will it be like? How will I find my way to my accommodations? When will I start classes? The CAPA London Team will work with you to ensure that the transition is as seamless as possible, but it is completely normal to feel anxious about this new stage in your life. You might experience higher or lower levels of homesickness relative to your peers. You might feel immediately elated in your surroundings, or feel initially uncomfortable with them. Don’t compare your own personal adjustment to that of the people around you – there is no “normal” way to transition into studying abroad. Do use your resources, however, to ensure that you are speaking with CAPA student advisors, and even professional counselors if you are having a hard time coping.

Arrival at a London-area Airport:

  • Go through customs and immigration with your UK Entry Letter provided by CAPA one week before departure (if you are doing an internship, your visa will be examined).
  • Collect your luggage.
  • Travel to your accommodations – the CAPAcket will outline how to get to your residence/homestay from the airport.

Arrival at your Residence:

  • A CAPA team member will check you in.
  • You will receive your “Landing Gear” – this packet of information will outline important details such as your schedule over the next few days.
  • You will take a walking tour around your local area. Our CAPA London team will point out the closest tube station, pharmacy, grocery store, and other points of interest.
  • The rest of the afternoon is yours until the next morning. Try to stay awake until at least 8 PM, even if you’re exhausted from the overnight flight. This will help you to fight jet lag.

Arrival at your Homestay:

  • Your homestay family will greet you at their home upon arrival.
  • You will receive your “Landing Gear” by e-mail a day or so before you depart for the UK and a hard copy will be posted to your host residence for your arrival– this packet of information will outline important details such as your schedule over the next few days.
  • Your homestay family will be able to answer questions about the neighborhood.
  • CAPA staff will call your homestay family to make sure you have arrived safely and see if you have any additional questions.

Orientation (first few days after arrival):

  • Mandatory Orientation sessions – covering topics such as academics, your internship, cultural expectations, health, safety, and more.
  • Internships – Students participating in internships will find out when their internship interview will be. It will usually be scheduled several days after arrival.
  • Arrival reception – After the orientation period, the reception will mark the beginning of your time abroad!

First full week:

  • Courses will start the first Monday in London.
  • Internships – Internship placements will commence for many students that week, pending a successful interview with the internship site.

Slowly but surely you will ease into the rhythm of being abroad. You will feel comfortable and want to begin to explore further. Challenge yourself to stay in London. Save your international travels for a post-program tour, and don’t fail to truly experience this incredible city for the length of time that you have. Many Londoners can spend their whole lives discovering their city, it’s important that you take full advantage of the time that you are given.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_2012_Leonard Chew2

What to Expect When You are in Country FAQs

Where is the CAPA London Center?

The CAPA London Center is in the lively area of Kensington. Centrally located near the Gloucester and Earl’s Court tube stops, the CAPA London Center is only steps away from pubs, shopping, a supermarket, as well as Kensington Palace and Gardens.

The classrooms in which most of your courses will be taught are frequently located in and around the CAPA London Center. This provides you with easy access to the CAPA computer lab, and allows you to touch base with the CAPA support staff when necessary.

Who is the local staff?

The CAPA London Team staffs the CAPA Center in London. They are true experts in their field, and you’ll find them to be a great resource on many British subjects, from the best place for fish and chips, or for directions to the closest metro station.

Are there internet facilities? Should I bring my laptop?

The CAPA London Center has a computer lounge with wireless access and computers for student use. Student apartments will have wireless access. Be prepared for the fact that it will be slower than what you are accustomed to in the US, and the amount of data you may use will be limited.  Bringing a laptop is a personal decision, as CAPA does not require the use of a laptop for anything. If you do bring one, you may want to consider purchasing additional insurance on it.

What will I eat?

London is an international center, and you’ll find foods and flavors from all over the globe. If you are living in an apartment or a residence, you will be responsible for your own meals. In addition to the many supermarkets, try shopping around outdoor markets for local delicacies and the best that London and England have to offer.

In comparison to the rest of Europe, British breakfasts are more similar to those of the United States. It may consist of anything from eggs, to toast or cereal. Lunch, again, is similar to what you’d be accustomed to in the United States. A sandwich, soup, or salad is the norm. If you go to the pub, you might order the Ploughman’s lunch, which is a platter of a hard roll, different cheeses, and pickles, or perhaps the British standard of fish and chips. This is more typical dinner fare. If you are living with a host family, you can expect a light breakfast and balanced dinner to be provided.

Please be forthcoming about any dietary restrictions you might have on your CAPA application, especially if you are living with a host family. CAPA will always do it’s best to accommodate these needs, but be advised that you may need to purchase some grocery items yourself if they will not be used by the host family.

When can I travel and what are the holidays for my program?

Please speak with your CAPA Program Manager for the specific dates of holidays during your program, such as semester breaks or long weekends. As these vacation dates can be subject to change, we suggest that you not make any lengthy travel arrangements until you arrive in country.

The CAPA London Center also organizes day and weekend long excursions through a travel provider at special rates for CAPA students. You will learn more about these trips at orientation in country, and you can sign up for them at that time. It’s a fun and easy way to travel!

How will I get to know the locals?

You will NOT be taking classes with local students. The CAPA London Center is not affiliated with a university in London. You will, however, find that CAPA’s My Global City program will provide you with many opportunities to immerse yourself in local culture. Additionally, the CAPA London Team can recommend a number of individual opportunities, such as volunteering, cooking classes, or language exchanges that you may want to get involved in overseas. Ultimately, the study abroad experience is as rich as you want it to be. The more you put into it, the more you will take away.

How can I find out more information on how to prepare?

The US government has created a very useful website for students preparing to study abroad. It contains information on obtaining travel documents, staying healthy and knowing what to do in an emergency, safety tips, how to find the nearest embassy, how to vote while overseas, and more. Visit their website here.

What Your Parents/Loved Ones Should Expect FAQs

Read about one CAPA parent’s expectations for study abroad by clicking on the image above!

I haven’t heard from my student in awhile, should I be concerned?

Unfortunately for parents, many students get so caught up in the whirlwind of being abroad that they can be a little slow to keep in touch. Please keep in mind that this is normal and shouldn’t raise any immediate concern. Many families find that e-mail is the preferred method of communication as it enables the student time to respond when it fits into their busy schedule.

Also, keep in mind that when your student contacts you to talk about a problem, they can often forget to follow-up. If your student expresses concern or unhappiness about a conflict or a dilemma, it may be a good idea to let a day or two pass and then contact him or her to make sure that all issues have passed. If the problem persists, be sure to keep in touch and monitor the mood of your student. If your student begins to behave uncharacteristically, this may be cause for concern and he or she should be encouraged to contact the CAPA staff in-country.

Students are encouraged to discuss any problems they might be having with CAPA staff. While many parents want to know everything affecting their student or may wish to help them resolve their problems, allowing students to be an active participant in any resolution enables them to grow in terms of independence – one of the primary goals of study abroad.

What else might I need?

There’s never really any way of predicting everything you could need while your student is abroad, but some precautionary measures can make everything easier.

  • Keep a photocopy of your student’s passport on hand. If it gets lost, having a copy of this will expedite the process of getting a replacement.
  • Keep a photocopy of any credit cards your student is bringing. Again, in the event of an emergency, this information can be useful.
  • Make sure you have an active passport!! Should there be an emergency and you have to travel overseas, it is imperative that you have an active passport on hand!

Discussing Safety with Your Student


CAPA has created an official study abroad safety app, Guardian (available via Android and IOS devices), which can be downloaded by students to use as a resource that will help ensure that they have a safe and healthy experience abroad. With the use of Guardian, during an emergency CAPA staff can send notifications to students, and when students check in, CAPA staff are informed of their safety and location.

Travel Logs

Another feature of Guardian is the Guardian travel log, which prompts students to log in their travel details when they plan to travel outside their program city. This information will be used by CAPA to determine their whereabouts in the event of an emergency. If you can, encourage your students to keep you and CAPA informed of their travel plans.

What CAPA does in the event of an emergency

We understand that when anyone travels abroad, there is always the risk of an emergency incident occurring. In the case of a crisis, CAPA has a crisis communication plan and teams in place to lead the plan, track students to confirm their location and safety, and relay this information to their home institutions.

We work together with Docleaf, a professional crisis response organization with over 15 years of experience in global crises management and communication support to determine a plan of action while providing us with around the clock support for dealing with a student emergency or large-scale crisis.

In the case of an emergency, CAPA prioritizes ensuring student safety first, therefore we don’t directly notify emergency contacts unless there is a reason to be concerned about the student’s whereabouts. We strongly encourage students and their parents/emergency contacts to be in touch with each other throughout the program and request that students immediately notify their emergency contacts in the case of a crisis.

During a crisis, CAPA will continuously update our website and all social media pages. We encourage parents to follow us on social media channels and save the link to our website in order to receive periodic updates on the status of students abroad. If CAPA has a reason to be concerned about the safety of a student, we will take the necessary steps to reach out to parents/guardians.

What can we (parents) do before our student departs?

As parents, we know just how important it is to you that your students are safeguarded during their time away. There are a few things that you can do to help us ensure that your students remain safe and in contact during their time abroad. You can:

  • Encourage your student to keep in touch with you throughout their time outside of the United States
  • Ask your student to provide you with their up-to-date local contact information at all times (international number, email, CAPA center number)
  • Talk with your student about immediately notifying you in the case of an emergency, accident or other serious mishaps
  • Ask your student to share any other contact information with you, such as text app username, skype, social media information, etc.
  • Have a conversation with your student about the locations they plan to visit while abroad and encourage them to provide you with a list of the places and dates that they will be away.


My Global Education

CAPA’s unique My Global Education Program was developed to offer you, the student, a unique opportunity to make decisions about how you will learn about culture according to how you enjoy learning. Compiled by local CAPA education abroad advisers, the calendar offers a menu of different activities, events, volunteer opportunities, lectures, visits, and self-directed tours to help teach you the most about London.

With My Global Education in London, you and your new CAPA friends will be able to:

– Go on the street art walking tour and attend curry night in Brick Lane
– Tour the BBC Broadcasting House
– Attending the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London
– Witness a Victorian Amputation and the Old Amputating Theater
– Attend a Mendhi (Henna) Workshop
– Visit the Victorian Jurassic Park

– And many more!

You will have the opportunity to choose from a range of activities with varying styles of presentation. This allows you to pick a session that speaks to you and your way of learning.

Click on the photo above to learn about one student blogger’s favorite My Global Education events!

What will I be able to do with My Global Education?

CAPA presents a My Global Education Calendar to all students and faculty. The events, reflective sessions, and activities listed are designed around significant academic themes such as Diversity, Social Dynamics, Globalization and Urban Environments. Participation in these activities will give you an intelligent, well rounded, and in depth view of London and the UK.

Some CAPA professors integrate My Global Education activities into their courses and assessment, so that you may have an opportunity to reflect upon, write about and present your experiences. My Global Education is also an excellent way to develop areas of interest that may be extended into an application for the CAPA Record of Achievement.



Students may have the option of living in homestays or shared student apartments/residences depending on their specific program. Check with your CAPA Program Manager to confirm which housing options are available to you.

Student Apartments/Residences


General Information


*Please note that any changes you would like to make to your housing preferences (e.g. roommate requests) must be communicated directly to your CAPA Program Advisor within 60 days of your program start date.

Student Apartments/Residences

CAPA housing is located in various areas throughout Greater London. As many buildings within London were built in previous centuries, there is a great variety in terms of building exteriors as well as interiors. Some apartments will be in modern, purpose built blocks while others may be in apartments that have been carved out of large Victorian homes – these tend to have layouts that are a bit quirkier and less efficient, but with a bit of character!

Standard requirements:

  • Located within a 45 minute – 1-hour commute via public transportation from the CAPA London Center
  • Single beds/bunk beds
    • Pillows and bed linens are provided
  • Kitchen with an oven and stove, a refrigerator, basic cookware and utensils
    • Pans, saucepans, knives and cooking utensils are provided
  • A bathroom with shower/bath
    • Towels are not provided
  • A place to store your clothes whether it be shelves or a closet
  • No desks are included but dining table and chairs can be used as study space
  • Landlines except when the apartment block has a manned 24 hrs. reception desk (Landward Court and Conway Hall)
  • Internet access for general browsing, not meant for heavy downloading and uploading or streaming
  • Washing machine and hanging racks for drying clothes
  • Iron and ironing board
  • It is not typical for UK residences to have air conditioning

Expect to…

  • Share a bedroom with one or two or in some cases three other participants on the CAPA program
  • Give common courtesy to your roommates and apartment (space issues, noise level, sleep schedules, etc.)
  • Live in distinct and diverse neighborhoods throughout the city of London (over 300 languages spoken in London)
  • Have a longer/shorter commute to CAPA London Center or internship (if applicable) than others
  • Gain a genuine understanding of the city itself through exploration and understanding
  • Have a different apartment layout/style than peers, it is impossible to have the same apartments throughout the city
  • Be responsible for purchasing basic toiletries and housekeeping supplies (soap, etc.)
  • Receive an additional charge if there is an excess use of utilities
  • Practice common safety guidelines
    • CAPA’s primary focus is your safety and the neighborhoods have been fully vetted but this is still important since you are living in a city

We will provide specific information about your housing approximately two weeks prior to departure. Please contact your program coordinator for specific details about your housing arrangement.


The homestay setting will provide you with a place to call home, as well as do homework and laundry. In addition, you will have a link to the local culture and customs. Though they are compensated for the providing a homestay, the families are genuinely happy to welcome international guests into their homes. British homestays are located within Greater London generally in more suburban areas outside of the city center.

Standard requirements:

  • Double or single bed with weekly change of linen
  • Closet
  • Dresser
  • Desk
  • Chair
  • Lamp
  • Two meals per day provided (breakfast and dinner)
  • Washing machine

Please refer to your specific program inclusions regarding potential roommates. Note that even if private rooms are included in your program, there may be other CAPA students or other international students within the same homestay but in different bedrooms. Most homestays do not have Internet access.

Expect to…

  • Live in a home that may be smaller and older than what you’re used to
  • Share bathroom with other members of the household, host family provides linens and towels
  • Have a diverse host family, there are no set norms and great variations
  • Be respectful of your host family and inform them if you will be late for or miss a meal and share any dietary restrictions
  • Speak to your host family about laundry arrangements and line dry clothes (dryer not common)
  • Receive calls at homestay free of charge

You will receive contact information and a brief description of your host family 2 weeks before arrival. British host families are carefully screened, interviewed and regularly visited. Hosts International meets the standards for registration with the British Council as a provider of homestay, private home and independent self-catering accommodation for adults and under-18 year olds for accredited providers in Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge and London.

The homestay coordinator has a personal relationship with all of the families and selects them with great care. Rarely is it necessary to make a change in your housing arrangements; however, the homestay coordinator is available to assist you should you have any issues with your family.

Tips on Making a Good Impression

Students who have lived with host families in London have passed on these words of wisdom for you:

  • Spend your first day getting to know your host family, they are welcoming you to their family and excited to host you
  • Bring an inexpensive gift with you from your home state for your host family
    • Candy, calendar, photo book on your state, t-shirt, small knickknack, etc.
  • Inquire about “house rules” for use of the television, phone, bathroom, washing machine, kitchen, as well as locking up at night during the first day or two of your arrival
  • Occasionally offer to buy some laundry detergent as a gesture of good will
  • Ask host family if they need help with the dishes or taking out the garbage
  • When given your house key, ask about preferred curfew hours
    • Remember: if key is lost, you will be responsible for replacing the keys and the corresponding locks.
  • Keep your room clean and presentable
  • Keep an open mind with food, try everything at least once
  • If there are dietary restrictions, tactfully talk to your host and recommend an alternative that can be easily accommodated
  • Offer to pay for your fare on outings, especially to sporting events, restaurants, movie theatres (cinema), etc.
  • Respect the privacy of the family by not asking about their religious, political or philosophical beliefs; let them be the first to bring up such topics

Coming and Going from your Host Family’s Home

Although there is no specific curfew, simple courtesy requires you to notify your host family when you will be home late. They feel responsible for your welfare and will worry if they do not know what time you plan to return. If you arrive home after 10:00 pm, be very quiet and avoid disturbing the family.

If you are going to be away overnight or for the weekend, you must inform your family in advance. Do not arrange meetings with your friends or classmates at your host family’s home. If you are dating, please do not invite your boyfriend/girlfriend to come to your room. Do not invite guests to stay for meals. Remember your living situation is not a hotel; you are considered a member of the family and should not only be respectful but also caring and courteous of your host family at all times.


General Information

Overnight Guest Policy

No overnight guests are allowed in CAPA housing. The CAPA staff will be happy to provide you with a list of inexpensive options for your friends or family.

If you are living in a home stay, please be advised that most host families prefer that you not have guests at any hour of the day. Please be courteous of this, and plan visits with friends at locations outside of the home stay.

When arranging visits from friends and family members, we suggest that you utilize the services of STA Travel. STA Travel can assist you in finding lodging close to the CAPA London Center, or your own housing, and within specific budgets. For more information, call STA at (800) 224-0371.

Gym Information

  • Students can join the Imperial College gym and all details are on the website
  • There are numerous options of gyms in London, please ask for recommendations from our CAPA staff upon arrival
  • Memberships are very expensive throughout London

Advice for Adapters and Converters

  • Make sure to take the time to research the correct adapter/converter for your travels
  • Remember you can also purchase these on site

Housing Before and After the Program

Students are not allowed to stay in CAPA housing before or after the program dates. You are encouraged to travel before or after the program but would not be allowed to utilize CAPA housing. If you are interning make sure to pay attention to your travel dates and that they do not interfere with your visa allowance, please consult with your CAPA Program Manager before making travel arrangements.


Have Questions?

CAPA Pre-Departure Services Team

+1 (800) 793 0334


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