Some top tips for starting life at university

We have put together some top tips for students starting university

1. Where am I going to stay?

If you are a new student, or an international student, you will probably be staying in halls of residence. These are large blocks of accommodation specifically designed for students and most universities or colleges try and get a good mix of international and local students on each floor. Often these buildings are fairly old, have quite small rooms and, if catered, offer very basic food, but they are one of the best places to make friends and offer a ‘real’ student experience. Universities are also investing a lot in making their accommodation a little more modern and if you’re lucky you might find yourself in a new building. You can chose between self-catering (you have to cook your own meals) or catered (where you get breakfast and dinner provided).

There is a wide range of private accommodation available and your university accommodation office will have full details of approved student landlords.


2. How am I going to get around?

Public transport in the the UK is very good in some places and bad in others. In London, the best place to start in the Transport for London (TFL) web site which has an excellent journey planner.

Outside of London, you are best advised to ask around and listen carefully at your welcome days to find out the cheapest ways of getting around...often the best way is to walk.


3. How can I stay in touch with my family and friends?

If you are an international student calling back home can be very expensive, but there are some excellent services available to cut the cost of your international calls.

Firstly, purchase a local SIM card on a UK network (such as Orange, O2, T-Mobile, Vodafone or 3). You can purchase a pay-as-you-go SIM card from any newsagent or mobile store for around £5 and just pay as you use. This gives you a local UK phone number, which you will need for keeping in touch with friends in the UK and for whenever you need to register your details with a local business (gym membership, restaurant bookings, food delivery etc.)

Get a good data plan for use when out and about; use secure WiFi networks when on campus and at home, and keeping in touch with your friends and family using free services such as WhatsApp and Viber will be a breeze.


4. What can I expect when I arrive?

When you arrive, you should be greeted by your university officers (if you don’t know who these are, it’s a good idea to make contact with them earlier rather than later) and they will take your to your accommodation. You will then have a day or two of welcome events designed especially for you! The main freshers activities will then begin and these usually last a week. Freshers does tend to involve a partying, but it also gives you an opportunity to join clubs, meet new friends and get to know the university before the work begins.


5. I don’t have any friends in the UK- how will I make new ones?

Thousands of international students arrive in the UK every year without knowing a single person so don’t let this put you off. Many home students will not know anybody at their university or on their course either. Whatever you do, don’t worry…you may be feeling a little homesick and feel that you don’t quite fit in yet, but this will all change as time goes on. All you have to do is make the most of your opportunities to meet people and you’ll be fine.

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