So, you’ve managed to study your butts off to get into your dream course – nicely done! But that’s just the beginning: before you can even start studying, there’s a whole bunch of things you should probably consider first.
If you’re an international student coming to the UK to study, we totally get that it can be super stressful, but fear not; we’re gonna cover everything you can think of, from tuition fees and bank accounts to getting your bearings and making tons of new friends. Think of this as your friendly checklist to help start the best experience of your life off the right way!
It’s a pretty good idea to get started sooner rather than later – don’t leave anything to chance if you can help it.
First of all, before you can even take that seat in the lecture rooms, you’ve gotta make sure your finances are in order. This is something that you seriously can’t ignore because having no money will make studying all the more difficult.
Depending on which country you’ve come from to study will affect what help is available to you financially as discussed below:
EU/EEA students can apply for student finance in the UK, meaning the cost of your tuition fees is covered by a loan that you’ll pay back at a later date. If you haven’t applied for this already, then you should definitely look into exploring this option further.
Unfortunately, students from areas outside the EU (apart from in certain specific circumstances) cannot apply for this loan, therefore you’ll have to fund your degree yourself. Don’t forget that for your visa application to be successful, you’ll need to provide evidence that you can cover this cost, as well as your living expenses.
Don’t be disheartened though! There are options available should you have difficulty with this. One of the best things you can do is speak to a financial advisor, as they’re the ones who can help you look at international student funding and scholarships.
While we’re on the topic of staying organised, another important thing for you guys is to make sure you have accommodation upon your arrival. Ideally, you should have come to an arrangement with the university itself, as they will often offer places to all students who applied before a specific deadline.
Most students either live in university-provided accommodation (‘halls of residence’ or ‘halls’). Realistically, living in halls is best for your first year of study, as it removes the stress of finding somewhere else to live and it’s one of the easiest places to make friends.
If this doesn’t sound like your sort of thing, then there are the options of living in a shared flat/house with other students or even lodging with a host family. The best part about these options is that they’re on the cheaper side and better for those who like the quiet life.
Now that you’ve got the means of supporting yourself and a place to live while you study here, you’re probably thinking “I still have so many things I need to do!” Well, the next thing on this checklist is to set up the little practical things like a student bank account, registering with the doctor, and so on and so forth. This is where we really get into the nitty-gritty of being fully prepped, so stay with us!
Make sure you’ve got all sorts of clothing – the weather is extremely unpredictable (to say the least)
Let’s break it down into stages:
• Setting up a student bank is worthwhile if you’re staying in the UK for longer than a semester):
– Avoid charges, pay for things more easily.
– To set one up you’ll need valid ID e.g. passport and proof of address/student status.
– It can take a while to get a bank account set up, and around 10 days for your debit card to arrive, so take money on a prepaid card for a little while.
• Getting a phone to contact home is absolutely vital:
– Buy a new SIM card to avoid high costs of calling outside the UK.
– Easily keep in contact with those around you in the uni.
• Familiarise yourself with the public transport:
– The university has a number of 94U bus timetables, which run directly from campus to campus and are super cheap for students: I’d totally recommend you pick this handy little booklet up ASAP.
– If you prefer, you can easily get hold of bikes for cycling around the town.
– Other universities will have similar arrangements with bus companies too!
• Register with the Medical Centre as soon as you can. The Park Campus Student Helpzone will be on hand to help you with this.
• Make sure you’ve got all sorts of clothing – the weather is extremely unpredictable (to say the least) at the best of times:
– If you forgot an article of clothing, Cheltenham and Gloucester have a huge number of shops for you to explore.
As you make yourself at home to begin your study at UoG, there’s just one more piece of advice you should try and follow: do attend the events put on by the different societies. We have a huge number of student-run sports clubs and societies, so there’s something there for everyone to get stuck in with!
Good luck to you all and see you around!