Leaving your loved ones to move to university can be a daunting task for any student, but can be an even bigger challenge for those who chose to move abroad and become an international student. Not only will you be faced with the typical challenges of student life, you will also have to deal with the additional adaptations that come from being in a completely new country where every is different and new to you.
There are several things you need to tackle before you set off on your new educational journey as an international student that will help ease you into the British life. So to give you a helping hand, we’ve listed some of the top tips to consider before arriving in your new country.
Get Your Visa Right
This may seem like a given but it is so commonly overlooked so it needs to be mentioned! The last thing you want to do is not be able to get into the country and endless hours of organising your placement. If you’re coming to study from a country that is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), then you’re covered under Free Movement, however you will need to have a European Health Insurance Card if you want to use the NHS at any point. Please bear in mind that following Brexit, there will be changes to this so if you’re looking for EEA pr or family permits you’ll need to check what the latest policy is.
Alternatively, if you’re a non-EU member, you’ll need to make sure you sort out your student visa well before you arrive. For the majority, you will need to obtain a tier 4 visa for your study, that is unless your course is less than 6 months long so then you will be eligible for a Student Visitor Visa instead.
A move to the UK will always be best advised from the advice of bodies that deal with this daily. The capital always receives a lot of applications so to give yourself the best chance it is always best to check with an immigration solicitors in London, or speak to your chosen university or course head. You’ll find that most universities have international coordinators who are there to help you with the logistics of your paperwork, application and move as a whole.
Research! Research! Research!
You need to thorough research every detail of your move. The area, the university and where you’ll be living. Whilst it is important to local area, most international students find it is easier to adapt to UK life by joining societies and groups with the area that are off your home nationality. Where it is online groups or forums, or actual clubs that you attend, they’re all great sources of information and support from people who’ve been in your shoes. Find local versions of your hobbies prior to your move as it will help settle you in a lot quicker.
When it comes to accommodation if not looking to move to on site campus’ in provided student accommodation, you need highlight places where you can stay locally that has an easy commute. Ensure you look into what deposits you’ll need as well as I.D in order to secure a place. If you’re looking to use a house share solution, you should meet your potential flat mates first to see if you get on with them and would be happy to live with them.
Don’t Forget Your Finances
Aside from already knowing your financial situation and how you’ll be funding your study, you need to ensure you’ve got all of your bases covered. Each bank will off a different rate and fee to transfer money to and from UK based accounts. They may also have offers on that are specially catered for international students. You’ll need to make sure that these aren’t solely for new accounts and that you won’t encounter large fees further down the line, especially if you’re studying on a course that is due to last a number of years. Before you even get to that point, though, most UK banks have extremely stringent policies on opening an account as a foreign national, so make sure you have all the documentation that you’ll need. You might also qualify for bursaries, scholarships or even specialist funding so it is more than worth checking to see if you fit the application criteria for these.
Travelling and Calling Back Home
Settling in any new place can be hard and at some point, home sickness will set in. It is at this point that you have the capability to get in touch with your friends and family back home to get that support you need. The main UK phone networks have fantastic deals with international operators, meaning your existing phone will more than likely still function here. This however is a more expensive options, as a lot of the time it is much cheaper to get out a UK mobile phone based contract which gives you access to apps like Viber, Skype and Facetime so you can contact your loved ones over the internet for free. As there easy to use, even your anti-technology parents back home can pick them up with ease. There are also low cost international call operators such as Lebara, LycaMobile and RebTel that offer exceptional rates on international calling, some of which are from under 1p per minute of call time.