If you’re an international student from outside the EU and you’re looking to pursue your studies at a world-class English-speaking institution, then London beckons. Home to some of the world’s most beautiful and oldest centers of learning, the UK’s capital offers a path to prestige and excellence, with a language faculty that will open doors for your career throughout the world after you graduate.
However, even after you’ve been accepted into a London university and have obtained the necessary funding, there’s still a lot to prepare for. Here are some pointers that can help ease you into your first year of stay:
Choose your lodgings
The sensible thing to do is to sort out where you’re going to stay in advance of your arrival. For convenience, university lodgings are hard to beat. A hall provides you with a nearby place of residence that comes with full amenities, including catering services. Even though traditional buildings offer single occupancy, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to socialize with fellow students.
However, halls aren’t everyone’s thing, and often the university can have a cut-off date beyond which they cannot guarantee lodging. If you find yourself looking for student accommodations in central London or beyond, you can check out university guides, or online listings to find your ideal living arrangements.
Even if you don’t manage to locate a place that quite matches the convenience of a university hall, there can be plenty of benefits to being situated a little further afield. You’ll have more opportunities to explore the great city and immerse yourself in its rich traditions and culture.
Financial and insurance matters
While you’ve certainly got the means to afford at least your first term, it won’t be the last time you’ll have to consider your financial resources while studying in London. Experienced travelers know that over several transactions, overseas charges can add up. You can minimize those fees, especially if you’re staying several months or longer, by opening a student account.
Also, consider additional insurance. While non-EU students will have already been charged as part of the visa application, to avail of the NHS, this doesn’t cover extra expenses that might be incurred should you suffer injury or illness. Before your departure, look into travel insurance packages that will include the duration of your stay.
And when you’re in London, look for ways to maximize the value of your money. Many items, including course books, can be bought second hand in good condition. If you have a Tier 4 visa, you can also seek part-time employment within the applicable restrictions.
Language and local culture
You’ve already passed your SELT to make it here, but there’s still going to be an adjustment phase as you settle in London. It’s an incredibly diverse city, and people of different countries and descent all speak English a little differently. Americans, Australians, Indians, and South Africans all have their different ways of conversing in the same language. Even among locals, there’s Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Geordie, Cockney, and a slew of other accents that can all sound very different to the newcomer.
It can all be intimidating, but the best way to get acclimated is through exposure. Embrace the city and explore it. Get your Oyster card and gradually memorize the Underground, hop on the bus, and visit the city’s numerous attractions in your spare time.
With a little preparation, adjusting to life in London will be seamless, and you’ll soon have a fantastic time learning in this historic city.