Congratulations, your hard work in school has paid off: you are going to study abroad in the UK! You’ve packed your bags and are ready to see all that your new home has to offer… Or are you? If you’re uprooting yourself to move to a faraway land, arriving in a new country in a different continent for the first time can be a little confusing.
That’s why we’ve put together some quick tips to help you enjoy your time as an international student in the UK.
Plan Your Trip in Advance
There are many things you need to consider before travelling to the UK. First, you’ll need to have all of your travel documents and your student visa ready, which can take time, and then you need to arrange things like your accommodation and your finances.
Choosing to study in the UK is one of the most rewarding decisions you’ll ever make, so ensure that you are prepared for the experience. One way to do this is by reading all about the university and the city, so that you know what to expect – everything from the acceptance letter and the university brochures, right down to city-guides and even histories on Wikipedia and other such websites.
Get Plenty of Sleep
If you’re travelling far to your new university country, you’ll probably be jet-lagged and dehydrated from the long journey, so we recommend that you spend your first few nights sleeping in rather than hitting the town. Getting quality sleep will refresh you and get you focused for the days ahead, when you’ll have a lot to do – as you’re about to find out...
Take Care of the Practical Stuff
We understand: you don’t really want to think about the boring things when you’ve just moved to a new country – but this thinking has to be done at some point! In fact, getting the following things sorted and out of the way will make you feel more settled and prepared for your uni life abroad:
- Find a phone plan that lets you phone home for less
- Set up a UK bank account
- Register with the police – depending on your nationality
- Register with a local GP
- Get a travel pass, if necessary
Find Your Bearings
A university campus is a bit like a small town. It can seem a little daunting when you first arrive, but the easiest way to get to know your new campus is simply by exploring the surroundings. Take the time to walk around and familiarise yourself with key locations – libraries, lecture halls, cafes, etc. – in relation to your accommodation.
Meet People and Make Friends
Having a new best mate will be invaluable in helping you to settle in. We understand that making friends may be tricky for some international students, especially those whose first language isn’t English, but it’s probably not as difficult as you think it is.
Being social is another part of settling into your uni life abroad, so break out of your bubble and start meeting people. Take advantage of university events for new students (or ‘freshers’, as they’re called in the UK), where your new BFF is waiting among all the other students who are in the same boat as you, trying to get to know the place and make new friends.
In addition to generally going out and getting social, you should also factor in time to attend Welcome-Week (or Freshers’ Week), as well. It’s not only an amazing opportunity to meet new people and to help your confidence grow, but you can also find out what the university has to offer. Some welcome sessions will help you choose modules and provide information on the university resources that you may not be aware of, which can be immensely helpful because, after all, you’re here to study.
… But know how to cope with it.
Homesickness is a cruel condition that affects many students, especially those who study far away from home – you! At its worst, homesickness can take a toll on your physical wellbeing and can lead to declining mental health, so it’s important that you know what to do when you find yourself missing home a little too much.
The good thing is that homesickness tends to pass – if you do make sure that you’re busy and that you immerse yourself in your new student life.
Callum Dawson is a writer for Mears Student Life: a trusted provider of purpose-built student accommodation across the UK.