City Discovery: The Oft Overlooked English City of Reading

Reading, England is a great city for business entrepreneurs. It has the 5th highest start up rate according to Centre for Cities and is home to some global companies such as Microsoft, Cisco, Symantec, Prudential and many more.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol is a poem written by Oscar Wilde, inspired by his two years of imprisonment in Reading Gaol (Jail) during the late 1800’s.



Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture, promoting a multilateral exchange of ideas, language and opinions.

Join one of the 57 student-led sports teams hosted by the Reading Student’s Union. Pick up a local favorite such as cricket or rugby and learn the rules from fellow students. It’s the perfect opportunity to get involved on campus, make local friends and stay fit!

Catch a concert (or several) during the Reading Festival, which brings together the best in music, comedy and performance from around England and the world. The festival is the oldest continually running music festival in the world and the second largest in England. Held in August of each year, the festival is the perfect time to visit the city, discover English music culture, and taste some great food.



ISA excursions and cultural activities highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

Included in the Reading program, students get the chance to travel outside their host city and explore the beautiful city of Bath. The first stop has students walking through each room of the ancient Roman Bathhouse, fed by local hot springs, and the site that gave Bath its namesake. Afterwards, take in a delightful afternoon tea at one of the many charming and local tea houses before visiting the house where Jane Austen once lived and was able to observe the culture and society of Bath, which was the inspiration for many of her books including Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey.

Located on the Reading campus is the Museum of English Rural Life, a leading authority in the field of agriculture and rural life. Students have the rare opportunity to see objects, archives and books showcasing the English countryside’s unique history over past centuries.



Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

Take an interactive tour through the BBC Studios in London during an ISA organized cultural activity and learn how local, national and world news is distributed through social media, online and on-air. The BBC is the largest and oldest broadcasting organization in the world, spanning nearly a century of British and world history.

During the ISA weekend excursion to Scotland, students will get a tour of the Scottish Parliament building based in Edinburgh. They’ll learn more about Scottish history and the intricate relationship between Scotland and England, including the country’s recent discourse towards independence and detailed insight into the recent nationwide vote.



Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during an ISA program.

Aspiring teachers can join the “Students in School” program at the University of Reading for a unique opportunity to volunteer in a local English school working alongside the classroom teacher. Students are given the option to volunteer in a primary, secondary or special education school which provides a distinctive opportunity to get hands on experience teaching and achieve additional insight into the UK education system.

Gain skills in your academic field by joining an Academic and Career focused society at the university. The triple accredited, Henley Business School, hosts the Entrepreneurship Society where they are dedicated to fostering young thinkers and developing skills in potential entrepreneurs. Or join the Reading Agrics (Agriculture Society) who run the largest student run conference in the country and invite industry experts, lecturers and students to gather and discuss the biggest issues facing UK agriculture today.



Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

Take a tour of the City of Reading’s Sustainability Centre, which focuses on education in the use of renewable resources and dedication to conservation, ecology, food, water, energy, pollution, carbon, resilience and loss of biodiversity. Then use this knowledge to create discussion among your fellow classmates in one of the many Environmentally focused classes including, “Consumption, Globalization and Sustainability” or “Carbon and Global Change.”

Students attending Reading are surrounded by environmental achievements. Not only does the campus sit on over 300 acres of reserved parkland, but the university has received multiple environmental awards including for the second year the EcoCampus Platinum award as well as the UK certification for Energy Management and a Green Innovation award. The university is committed to constantly evaluating its impact on the environment through reducing waste and their carbon footprint and by increasing on campus recycling efforts and educating others on how to improve the environment and live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Traditional and progressive, learn more why Reading makes a great place to study abroad. 

The 2015 City Discovery Series aims to showcase one of ISA’s program locations each week. Facts about each location and several Discovery Compass activity examples are given, however they are not a comprehensive list. These activities highlight the areas of Intercultural, Historical, Sociopolitical, Professional and Environmental discovery. The Discovery Compass aims to help students have the best possible study abroad experience by helping them to gain a better understanding of the local environment, customs and people through a variety of experiences.


Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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