Adventure and learning wait, but at the same time you must be prepared for different customs, new languages and a new education system. To help you prepare, here are ten things to research and prepare for before studying in the UK.
Research things about the UK before you land so you have a good idea of what to expect before you arrive. Browse the web, speak to friends who have been, watch UK news channels or take virtual tours online – many universities and places of interest offer them!
Passport and Visa
Before travelling, ensure your passport is up to date and your visa paperwork is ready. Make photocopies and back up all your important documents, keeping them together in an easily accessible and safe place.
- Police registration
Because of the strict immigration laws that the UK follows, make sure you register with the local police within a week of arrival in the UK.
- Currency exchange
You will already have a good idea of how much money you will need to support yourself after making your visa application, but it makes sense to reacquaint yourself with the cost of living before leaving. Before taking off, change some of your local currency into pound sterling so you have some cash upon your arrival.
- Opening a Bank Account
To keep your money safe and to pay bills, you will need to open a student bank account. To do this you will need to verify your identification (passport), proof of address (country of birth and in the UK) and proof of student status (university confirmation letter).
Plan your stay
For international students, living in the university halls of residence is often guaranteed during the first year of study (as long as you meet the required deadlines). Once arranged, you will receive a letter confirming the details of your new home. If you miss the accommodation deadline, you can choose to live in a privately rented flat, or a homestay.
Visit your doctor
Before leaving, it is advised to get a complete physical examination, as well as making sure your vaccinations are up to date. Let your health insurers know you are travelling abroad, and bring supporting documents of your health to the UK. Healthcare is free in the UK through the NHS, and when you arrive you can register with the university doctor.
Travel and transport
Whether you are based in the city or the countryside, the UK has a huge transportation network which is often very cheap for students.
- Trains: A 16-25 Railcard costs just £30 and it'll save you 1/3 on rail fares throughout the UK for a whole year.
- Underground: London, Newcastle, Glasgow and Liverpool all have underground rail systems with student cards available.
- Buses: All UK towns offer regular bus services, while companies such as Stage Coach offer a year pass specifically for students.
- Coaches: National Express is the largest coach network in the UK and students can save up to 30% by buying a Coach card. Bus companies offer a cheaper, albeit slower, alternative to train travel.
It is natural to miss your friends and family when studying abroad. In the 21st century though, it is easier than ever to stay connected with loved ones through free services such as Skype, Facebook and WhatsApp.
Also check the SIM card capability on your phone. The UK operates on the GSM Band (the standard for most of the world), although it will be very costly to call back home. Luckily, phone cards are readily available to make long-distance connections.
Student jobs in UK
A part-time job will help you earn extra cash, gain invaluable skills and improve your CV. Before leaving, ensure your resume is up to date, and once you have arrived the university will be able to help you find employment. You will be allowed to work up to 20 hours a week in term time and full-time during holidays. Research job opportunities are available on websites such as Careers Group London, Employment 4 students and StudentJob.
Embrace the UK
The UK has diversity in culture, language and food and you will meet people from all over the world who have similar beliefs and interests as you. Embrace meeting new people and making new friends! If you are not confident using English, don’t worry – once you arrive, you will soon become fluent.
Once you begin studying, why not arrange a meeting with a careers advisor or tutor? You are bound to have more questions about the UK education system once you are immersed in, and they can put any fears or questions you have at rest.
The UK is known for its unpredictable weather patterns and you will experience warmth, rain, cold and wind while here, so pack accordingly. As it rains throughout the entire year in most of the places in the UK, keeping an umbrella is also a good idea!