Living in a foreign country, even for a short while is not easy. So choosing a foreign country for your higher studies and deciding to stay there for a couple of years is not going to be a cakewalk. There are many challenges you may face, but overcoming those challenges will not only help you become independent and strong, but will also lead to a happy time while staying there.
Here are some tips that will help you prepare for your life as a student in UK.
1. Prepare For The Rain – UK is renowned for its cold and wet weather. We recommend that you go prepped accordingly to suit your requirements. Buy those Wellington boots if you must and always carry an umbrella with you.
2. Student Accommodation – If you are looking for accommodation, the best thing to do is talk to your university. They will provide you with information about guides and websites on university accommodation and well as contacts for local student friendly estate agents.It is often a good idea to live in university accommodation during your first year of the stay before you decide to live on your own. It is always better to get to know the place and how everything works in details before deciding to embark upon the world independently.
3. Travel – Getting used to public transport can be a bit of a headache if you are doing this for the first time. But what you need to keep in mind is that majority of the population travels in that way as there are varied of options available which are cheap and fast.
a. If you are travelling locally, get your hands around a student bus pass or consider biking if you are aware of the road laws and confident about biking. Cycling is one of the most popular means of travelling short distance because they are cheap, environmental friendly and independently accessible.
b. Within London, the underground rail, or the TUBE as they call it, is your best option. You can buy cards like Oyster Card which is the cheapest option and can be used across various modes of transport. Students are entitled to 30% discount while travelling via public transport only when they have a Student Oyster Card.
c. Trains being the next option are the fastest and the most comfortable way to travel in UK. But you should book the tickets in advance to save money.
d. If you need to travel around cities, the best option is Stagecoach, which is a bus service that provides yearly passes called UniRider. They are the cheaper alternative to trains but more time consuming.
e. For travelling a bit further, you can also opt for the flights which are on the expensive side, but will save you time. Plus, booking in advance can save you a lot of money.
4. Bank Account – If you are in the UK for your studies, it is recommended to set up your own bank account.This will allow you to pay your bills, avoid foreign currency exchange if you use a non UK bank account to pay for your things and will also keep your money safe. You will have a range of options for student bank accounts that you can choose from.
5. Healthcare – Healthcare can be quite expensive in foreign countries. So if you’re going to UK from outside of Europe, you will need to organize your healthcare and insurance. Compare the best policies using comparison sites so that you can find the best deals.
6. Using Your Phone – There is a good chance that your phone from home will work while you are in the UK, however, you will end up paying extremely high call and roaming charges if you decide to use that SIM.The best option available for you is to go for a new SIM card on Pay As You Go (PAYG) basis for all local calls. In order to call back home, there are many service providers that give you the benefit of cheap calls such as Lebara, LycaMobile and RebTel. So far, RebTel seems to offer the best value, with some calls under 1p a minute with your first call being free.
7. Working While Studying – If you want to earn some extra cash or gain some experience while studying, there are many options available for you. If you are from outside of Europe, you can work for up to 20 hours per week while studying.
8. Student Discounts – It’s always good to apply for an NUS (National Union of Students) card which will enable you to get discounts in various shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.
9. Heating And Lighting – As mentioned above, the UK is mostly a cold place. So if you’re planning to live in a private accommodation, understand that the electricity will not be covered in the rent. And on a student’s budget, it is more likely that the cost will be more than what you ever thought of spending. Most energy companies will allow you to use electricity in a fixed monthly budget so that you do not go overspending.
10. Other Important Factors – It is important that you are punctual for lectures and meetings. Always follow order and rules like standing in a queue instead of cutting in between, maintaining an arms length of personal space, being polite and respecting every individual.