Now that you’ve gotten into your university or study abroad program, it’s time for you to make that final checklist to go over before you head to UK. There will be lots of adventures and lots to learn, but make sure that you look over this list before you head out.
Before You Get on The Plane
Are You Settled Into Your University Program? Do not leave for UK until you’re absolutely certain that you have done everything related to your studies. Have you completed all of your applications and any extra paperwork that they asked for? Do you have a schedule ready?
This is just as important as making sure that your university arrangement is settled; on other areas of the site, we have discussed the options available to you for housing arrangements. Do not step foot on a plane without having your security deposit paid (or arrangements to do so once you’ve arrived). Use the internet or make a call in order to double check a day or two before your flight so that you don’t end up stranded once you arrive in UK.
What About Your Visa and Passport?
Without having these settled, you will not be able to get into the country. As soon as you know that you are studying abroad, apply for visas and passports as necessary. If you need help with this, we have all the resources you need in this article (author note: link to the article on visas and passports). Many people actually forget these items and end up in bad situations because of it. You also should have up to three photographs to go along with your passport. Make sure that these are all in a spot that is easy to access (your carry-on or a handbag is a good spot for these), and keep them together.
Do You Need to Register?
Because of the strict immigration laws in the United Kingdom, you may need to register yourself with the police within a week of arrival in UK. Your passport stamp will make it clear whether or not you have to do this. All you need is your passport, two passport pictures, and £34 in order to register. If you do not register within the time frame, you could face fines and extra fees. The United Kingdom Border Agency website has more information about registration.
Have you Opened a Bank Account?
One of the best things you can do when studying abroad in UK is to have a bank account in the country. This will help prevent delays in paying for items such as bills and rent. Make sure to do a lot of research before opening a bank account in UK; some banks will offer basic accounts that don’t give credit, but will allow you to use ATM’s and other technology in order to make payments. If you aren’t sure where to start looking, check out the British Banker’s Association for information on British banks.
Are your Finances Settled?
On other areas of the site, we have explored the cost of living in UK and how much you will need in order to live comfortably while studying there. Do you have cash ready for when you head there? How much will you be converting to Euros, and do you know what the exchange rate will do to your cash? Make sure that you’re saving up before you even arrive in UK, so that you can survive for a few months in case obtaining income is delayed or your financial aid takes longer than expected to come in.
What About Work?
You can work part-time while you study in UK, and many degree programs will accommodate this. If you are even considering finding a job in UK, start the process before you leave. Make sure that your resume is up to date, and go for it. The internet has made this a simpler process. Here are some sites that you can use in order to find a job in UK.
- Monster’s UK site – http://www.monster.co.uk/
- Universal Job Match, provided by Gov.uk – https://www.gov.uk/jobsearch
- Fish4Jobs – http://www.fish4.co.uk/
Local mobile carrier
While you’re in UK you are going to need a UK mobile phone carrier to start calling for job listings, ordering food, or just keeping in touch with friends. For more information on mobile phone carriers and networks in the UK check out our article on this topic.
Get a Coat
This seems like a very random thing to put in a packing list, but if there is one thing that you should remember to bring, it’s a coat. UK has a variable climate, but it is often much cooler than where you may be coming from. Bring a good coat, sturdy shoes, and warm clothing. Shorts and sunglasses are not necessary, as the temperature rarely goes above 80 degrees, even in the summer. An umbrella is probably a good idea as well; it rains throughout the entire year in UK, even in the winter.
Packing Your Suitcase
There are a lot of items that you will want to bring with you to UK. Make sure that you check and double check your suitcase before you head out. Don’t be afraid to bring mementos; you will be gone from family and friends for awhile, so do what you can to keep them close. Also check to ensure that what you are bringing on the airplane is permitted. All airlines will have a list that you can look at to ensure you are bringing acceptable items, so check against that before you leave.
The Culture Shock blog has an awesome packing list if you’re not sure what to bring with you, as well. Check it out and you can get more of an idea of what you’ll want to bring with you to UK.
What Transportation is Available?
The transportation available to you will greatly depend on what part of the United Kingdom you are in. UK has a much denser public transportation infrastructure than some of its developed counterparts (i.e. The United States). Here are some of the ways that you can get around in UK:
- The London Underground (rapid transit system)
- The Docklands Light Railway (London and surrounding area)
- The British Rail (all over England and other parts of the UK; even goes into mainland Europe)
- Tram systems (all over England and the rest of the UK)
- Ferry systems (varies)
Familiarize yourself with all of the options available before arriving in UK. If you live close enough to your university, you can walk or bike as well. If you need more information about the public transportation available to the area of UK you are studying in, check out Traveline; this website can help you plan long trips around the country via public transportation as well.
Have you done Your Research in the Area?
The internet is a great thing. If you looked for apartments online, you probably viewed some of them using the internet. Many universities offer virtual tours, and you can use a variety of internet sources in order to check out the surrounding area. Take advantage of this! Check out what’s around the area you are living in so that you can be familiar with it before you even arrive. You can also find the fun things to do by searching online. Take an afternoon or two to browse the web and learn more about the area you are studying in – it will take off a lot of stress once you arrive. You also won’t have to waste time while you’re actually in UK by having to research things to do.
The people of UK are generally friendly and it is very easy to make friends. The English are a bit more refined than people you’d find in other countries, but don’t mistake that for being stuck up. Make sure to take the time to learn about individuals you will be meeting. Pubs are incredibly common to go to, and not just for drinking. Pubs often have excellent food and you can meet very interesting people there. Make an effort to meet other people, and you will find friends everywhere that you turn.
UK is actually an incredibly safe country to move to. Crime rates in UK continue to fall, in the period between March 2012 and March 2013 they had fallen 9% from the previous 12 months studied. As with any country, you won’t want to travel alone at night and don’t have unusual amounts of money on your person. If you are still concerned or just want more information, the Office for National Statistics (UK) offers regular summaries and surveys on crime in England and Wales (they’re lumped together for simplicity). You may also be able to find statistics for the area around your university from the university admissions office.
Saying goodbye is probably the hardest part of studying abroad. It’s really hard for your parents to send their children to college, and it’s even worse if you’re traveling overseas. Your friends are going to miss you as well.
Make sure that you don’t seclude yourself the last few days that you are in your home country. You may be tempted to take the week before and pack and prepare, but don’t procrastinate. Make sure that you’re mostly packed a week before, and then take that last week to connect with your family and friends. They will really appreciate it, and so will you. You’ll also be a lot less stressed about “I can’t hang out for too long because I have to go home and do this.”
Plan individual time with people; throw a party, do something fun so you can interact with as many of your loved ones as you can before you venture from your home country. Plan some travel days to go see your friends from other parts of your home country if you can.
With the internet, it’s a lot simpler to keep in touch with these people through programs and sites like Facebook, email, or Skype, but it’s a lot different than the face-to-face interaction that you may be used to on a regular basis. So make sure that you take the time to use these sorts of things when you are in UK so that you maintain those ties as well.
Going to UK to study can be an amazing experience. If you take the time to research, to meet other people, and to check everything twice, you will likely have one of the most life-changing experiences of your entire life. It may be trying at first, but if you’re really devoted to the idea of studying abroad in UK, just do it! You will not regret it for one moment.
We’re glad that you chose our site to help you on your journey to studying abroad in UK, and we hope you enjoy the great adventure ahead of you!
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