Settling in the UK

If you have never been to the United Kingdom before you might afraid of coming here and you will probably feel lost at the beginning. But don’t worry you will get a lot of support here and everything will be alright.

Usually the schools, colleges and universities in the UK hold an orientation day or week for their new students where they introduce the teachers, the campus, the surrounding area and your accommodation if it is provided by them. They will give you information and advice when it is needed and you can always ask for their help. Some schools also make a welcome event where you can know other students and you will discover that you are not alone.

Most schools that offer English language course for international students are likely to organize further social activities where you can make friends with other students.

Before travelling to the UK

You have to make sure you have all the documents required: passport, certificates, visa, insurance etc.

You will also need money, so you have to order British currency, about £250 should be enough for the beginning. If you are planning to transfer extra money to the UK you should arrange this before you leave your home country.

You should also think of the weather: make sure you have warm clothing with you.

When you are already in the UK

You may have to register with the police, and with a doctor on arrival but don’t forget that you should have a health check before leaving for the UK. If you are on a course lasting 6 month or more you can get treatment from the National Health Service (NHS) but if you are here just for a short term you will not be entitled to NHS hospital treatment.

The best way to stay healthy during your time in the UK is to eat healthy foods. The food in the UK may be very different from what you’re used to but after a couple of weeks you should be fine. Try also get some exercise 2-3 times a week.

It is always easier to arrange your accommodation before your travel but it’s not impossible to do it when you arrive. Depending on your accommodation you have to pay council tax as well for the local community services.

If you will spend a longer time in the UK you will need to open a bank account as soon as possible. Many banks offer special facilities and schemes for students, you will need to take only your passport and the letter of acceptance from your place of study with you, together with proof of your addresses at home and in the UK, and a reference and statements from your home bank.

Studying in a foreign country is always a lifetime experience but sometimes it’s hard to settle in. It takes time to accept the culture shock you get. There are 4 main stages of this: the honeymoon when you enjoy the new things around you, then the crisis when you focus on the differences. The third stage is the adjustment and finally the stage of acceptance. Not everybody experiences all these stages.

There are also useful organisations who can help students in the UK:

  • BALEAP (The Global Forum for EAP Professionals)
  • British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher Education (BAC)
  • British Council
  • Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
  • English UK
  • National Union of Students
  • Northern Ireland Tourist Board
  • Visit Scotland
  • Scottish Youth Hostels Association
  • UKCISA: The Council for International Student Affairs
  • Visit Britain
  • Wales Tourist Board
  • Youth Hostels Association (YHA) – National Office