Public Transportation: US vs. UK

While studying abroad, we have found that there are many differences between American and British culture. One of the most prominent differences is how easy it is for people, especially students, to travel within the country. Traveling is obviously a big reason why studying abroad is appealing to college students. It gives them the opportunity not only to study in a new country but also to visit and experience the culture of several other countries.
For students studying abroad in the UK, it is so easy to travel to neighboring areas and countries due to how close they are. Although the United States is viewed as interesting and vast by most other countries, most people we’ve met are only really aware of New York, California and Florida as primary travel spots. It’s often difficult for people to understand just how large America is and how long it takes to travel between states.
Because the UK is so small that it would almost fit within Texas, the public transit options are more affordable and accessible. For instance, we often took a three-hour coach ride from Cheltenham to London and back for 10 pounds. In comparison, taking the Amtrak from Elizabethtown to Philadelphia is about an hour and a half ride, which costs 50 dollars round-trip. The reason behind such cheap public transport may be that more people use it the UK than in the U.S.
In addition to buses, the train system also offers reasonable rates. If transportation via buses was not possible, the train was the next best option. In addition, we often used the London Underground, which is similar to the New York subway system, when traveling around the city. This offers a quick way to move around at a decent cost.
We also often used an airline called Ryanair to travel cheaply. The planes are cramped and small, but the service offers affordable options for students to travel to other countries. It allowed us to travel to places like Spain and France without hurting our wallets too badly.
Overall, if there is one major privilege to studying abroad, it is access to the public transportation system. We were able to see so many places we probably would not have been able to if it were not for the UK transportation. In the U.S., having a car is a ticket to freedom.
In the UK, it is much easier to branch out without one. While studying in places like Elizabethtown College, it is often easy to feel as if you’re living in a bubble within your campus. While studying abroad, however, the public transportation opportunities are so accessible that you can leave your campus, city or country as often as you’d like. British transportation makes traveling one of the best parts about studying abroad, although even I’d agree that staying in one place for a while does sound pretty appealing after eight months of transit.

Please note: This article was originally written for The Etownian published on March 27, 2014. The Etownian is Elizabethtown College’s student newspaper. Click here to view the original article.

About the Author – Jazmin De Jesus

Jazmin studied abroad with BCA Study Abroad in Cheltenham, England for the 2013-14 academic year. As an Elizabethtown College student, she majored in mass communications.

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