Being an international student brings a whirlpool of emotions that include nervousness, anticipation, excitement, bewilderment, enthusiasm, exuberant, determined, combative, frantic and what not. Its a brave thing you are doing, and it will scare you and make you happy at the same time. So, while you sit trying to make that checklist, we would like to make a small contribution. Following are 10 things every international student should know before going to UK.
- Visas and Paperwork: Make sure you have the complete paperwork and the correct visas. It is not hard to get, and we at Shiksha Overseas help you through the process, but in any case, make sure you have it all at the ready.
- Part time jobs to work with study: If you wish to get those extra bucks to cater to your daily expenses providing that small bit of financial aid, need not worry. UK is very flexible with international employment. There are flexible jobs with timings to fit in your routine beside your studying and academic routine. They pay on hourly basis and generally it is good enough to cater your needs. Jobs like waiting tables, job at a supermarket, bar work or even promotional work pay good and are easy to adjust in your schedule.
- Student Bank Accounts:In UK, it is advisable for all students to have a student bank account. With decent sized no interest overdrafts of up to £2000, these accounts also often include gadgets and offers like railcards to get you to choose that specific bank. However UK banks are quite strict about new accounts as there is credit attached and they require a thorough inspection of your documents. You will need an identification (passport should do the trick), proof of address (you will need both, address proof of home as well as from UK), proof of income (worry not, with a credit check and an interview, they just want to make sure that you can maintain your account) and the confirmation letter from the university you will be studying at.
- University Bursaries: Many universities offer bursaries to international students which cover part of your expenses in UK. There are also external charities that do so. There is different criteria for different universities but the main few are academic brilliance, developing international relations and encouraging student population diversity in the university. It is advised to everyone to look into the bursary schemes and terms of the university they wish to apply to.
- Storage of luggage during semester breaks: Starting from the day you leave India, you will have to think about shipping all your goods to UK and storage facilities for when you travel back definitely. Your accommodation might not provide you storage facility between semesters. However, there are two options for this situation. Firstly, there are good storage unit suppliers who will guarantee the safety of your belongings until your return. This is the primary, cheap and most efficient thing to chose. Secondly, you could also try to sort out your accommodation for the next semester and store your stuff there, but this will likely be more expensive.
- Travel in UK: There are many options to make your travel cheap and convenient in UK. Firstly, for all local travels, make sure you have a student bus pass or you could consider cycling. Stagecoach is a bus company in UK that offers a bus pass UniRider which makes your travel very cheap and efficient within the city. In London, you could look at the tube for the fastest transport. Also, prefer getting an Oyster card in London. For within the country travel, you should get a young person’s railcard which entitles you to 1/3rd discount on all travels. Also, booking your tickets in advance can get you discounts as much as 80%. The cheapest train fares are available at First Transpennine Express. You could also opt for bus travel for inter city. It is a cheaper replacement for trains but much more time taking. Megabus (cheapest) and National Express (largest coach network) are the best picks. For traveling back home, you could compare flights at Opodo and choose the cheapest and most convenient flights for your travel. Also, you could avail exclusive travel discounts for students at speacialist student suppliers like StudentUniverse.
- Accommodation: This is where you will be spending a lot of your time and it is important you choose the right option. You could either live on-campus in university accommodation or off-campus local properties that are available for student letting listed in agents directory by landlords. However, it is suggested that students choose on campus accommodation for first year as it is more convenient as it will help you in all possible ways to settle in a new country and also is a great place to make friends; and then you go for alternative accommodations with the friends they make at the university. When looking at university accommodations, make sure you choose the right one. The cheapest halls might not be the best ones. Also, there are international student special halls with more experienced staff that help you adjust better by catering to all your needs.
- International Calls: UK operates on the GSM band which is what most service providers in India use. Thus, you could carry your phone and the same could be used. All you will need is a new sim card. PAYG (Pay as you go) is a good way to top your phone when your credit runs out as it helps you keep an eye on your expenses. For international calls, there are many service providers that have very low costs for international calls. RebTel (with cost as low as just 1p per minute), Lebara and Lycamobile are a few suck providers. Also, you always have the option to skype.
- Food: There are plenty options for vegetarians, non-vegetarians and even vegans. Being an island surrounded by sea, it is a great place for all sea food lovers. It is also loaded with meat. For vegetarians, all sorts of vegetables, breads, fruits, beans, rice, etc are easily available at the supermarkets. Also, a lot of synthetic meat brands are available. The local supermarkets and newsagents have great deals and discounts on all food items including vegetable and dairy products. If you hit the supermarket in the evening at the time it is about to close, you might get great discounts on the perishable items. There are also sandwich shops available at every nook and cranny. Kebab shops are open during late hours if you ever end up working/studying late and feel hungry in the middle of the night.
- Pack for the weather: Before you leave India, make sure you have packed right. The weather in UK is mostly wet and cold. Pack a lot of warm clothes and waterproof outfits as you will need them. The summers are not so hot either. Specially for a student from India, the summers will be pretty pleasant and the winters might feel freezing. Since your student budget won’t allow you the luxury of a heater, you will require the warm wardrobe.
With this, we hope your stay in UK is eventful and memorable. Prepare well, plan awesome and enjoy every last bit. And while you make the preparations to be there, we map out for you a easy road to get there. By taking care of all the formalities of studying abroad, we allow you to cherish the moments of anticipation and excitement. We at Shiksha Overseas provide you with the Roadmap to Success.