If you truly want to survive as an international student in the UK, you definitely need to read this article to the end because it houses a great deal of information on how to survive as an international student in the UK
As an international student (from the EU or elsewhere) coming to the UK to study, we get that it can be pretty overwhelming. In light of this, here are the essential things you need to know on how to survive as an international student in the UK.
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Student life in the UK
As the most famous European destination for international students, the UK is known for its diversity, tolerance, and top-notch higher education system. You will find that the UK is a welcoming place blessed with lots of exciting cultural opportunities.
Whether you are interested in history, nature, literature, science, or something else, the UK has something to offer you. From the charming scenery of national parks such as the Lake District and the Cairngorms to the William Shakespeare’s home and UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Stonehenge, you will always find things to do whenever you need a break from the library or studies.
As the birthplace of football, tennis, rugby, and cricket, the UK has an impressive sporting heritage. The UK is a frequent host of significant sporting occasions, including Wimbledon, the Olympics, and the Commonwealth Games. The country also hosts different international and continental football matches.
In the aspect of food and drink, you can find cuisines from all parts of the world as they are widely available in the UK. Several big supermarkets stock food from many different countries and some shops cater specifically to specific cuisines like Chinese, Indian, and Caribbean.
Eating out is an everyday activity, and lots of towns will offer an excellent range of restaurants for you to choose any. Prices vary, but many restaurants offer exclusive deals for students; always check this when you book.
As an international student, you have to Prepare for the British life
Culturally, the UK is diverse and welcoming of people from any part of the world. You will find many international students at various universities. Most will have interesting societies or clubs to help you meet and connect with like-minded people and those from similar backgrounds.
You may also search for Facebook groups related to your university as there are often groups specifically for international students. Through such groups, you can discuss any questions you have, learn more about staying and school in the UK, and even make some friends.
Set up a student bank account
If you are staying in the UK for more than a few months (longer than a semester), it is advisable to set up a bank account.
This will make it easier for you to pay bills, safeguard your money, and avoid any foreign currency charges you would have to pay if you used a non-UK bank account to make payments or engage in transactions in Britain.
Opening a bank account can be a long process because banks usually need a lot of information so as to verify your identity and credit rating.
To open a bank account while you are in the UK, you will need the following:
- A valid passport
- A valid visa (forNon-EU students only)
- Proof of address in the UK (such as a tenancy agreement or utility bill)
- A Proof of address in your home country
- Proof of student status – You’ll typically get this once you enroll at university)
- Proof of income – This may require that you do a credit check and/or interview to prove you will be able to maintain the account
You will most likely have to attend the bank in person to get set up everything.
Having a student bank account is a smart option, as you can get access to numerous benefits, such as an interest-free overdraft of up to £2,000. Nevertheless, note that not all banks offer student bank accounts to international students. In this case, you’ll have to open a regular current account.
Since it can take a while to set up a bank account, and around 10 days for your debit card to arrive, it is best to have some money with you to cover the first month of your stay. You may use a pre-paid card for this, as carrying large sums of cash everywhere you go may be unsafe.
Find the cheapest way to make international calls
If you’re concerned about whether your current phone will still work in the UK, the answer is most likely, yes.
The UK operates on a similar GSM band as most of the world. However, if you are coming from Japan or North/South America, your phone may not function in the UK, so ensure you check online to confirm.
If your phone seems like it will not work here, it might be worth selling it for cash and buying a new one that you can use in the UK.
Nonetheless, the worst thing you can do is to continue to use your current SIM card in your phone while you are studying in the UK. Doing this will lead to you paying extremely high charges for calling back home, and even local numbers.
If you have a mobile phone already, you will need a new SIM card. Go for a Pay As You Go (PAYG) SIM; for this sim, you will need to top-up your phone with credit, and be able to track your spending. The only challenge is if your credit runs out at an awkward time.
Monthly contracts are usually better valued for money, as you will be able to get unlimited minutes and texts; you will only have to pay out every month, and this comes with added long-term responsibility.
If you would like to get a new phone, check online to discover a good deal that will include minutes, texts and data bundled altogether for a low monthly price. You may even keep the phone when the contract ends.
However, if you keep a phone you bought in your home country, you will need to unlock it first before you can begin to use your new sim card.
Recently, there have been lots of low-cost international call providers such as Lebara, LycaMobile, and RebTel. RebTel offers the best value, with some calls under 1p a minute, and your first call is free.
Alternatively, you can use services such as WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime (iOS only), Viber, and Facebook Messenger to engage in audio and video chats for free.
Figure out the transport system
Adapting to the public transport system when you first arrive in a country can be a bit daunting. You should try to familiarize yourself with the transport system to help you move around comfortably.
All cities have a local bus service, which is often the easiest way of moving around a city. First, check out how far away you are going to be living from the campus, and whether it is worth going for a student bus pass to save you some cash.
For bigger cities, you should have access to a subway system, like the Tube in London or the Metro in Newcastle. You can decide to invest in a yearly pass to help you cut down the cost of moving around. For travel in London precisely, check out the Oyster card; it is so far the cheapest option, which you can use across various modes of transport.
If you are confident enough, traveling by bike is an excellent way to save money while also being environmentally friendly.
If you are over in the UK for the first time, you will probably want to visit some cities and places to explore the UK.
There are two main options for you: coach or train. Trains are often the fastest and most comfortable way to get around here. Nevertheless, tickets should be booked as early as possible to save money.
You will probably also want to invest in a 16–25 Railcard or a 26–30 Railcard, which will save you a third of all rail fares.
If you prefer a cheaper alternative to trains, try coaches. However, they can take twice as long to get from one point to another.
For a reasonable means to save money, try Megabus, which features journeys starting at £1 between the major cities. If you can’t find a fitting arrival and departure point, then check out National Express as they offer the biggest coach network in the UK.
Traveling by plane is an option too, but for longer distances. For example, if you are traveling from London to Edinburgh, you may want to go by plane, but it can be expensive.
Know how many hours you are allowed to work as an international student
If you wish to make extra cash while you are studying, then you may consider working in the UK.
If you are from a non-EU country, you can work up to 20 hours per week while studying, as well as full-time during the holidays, including before and after your course commences.
You can work as many hours as you want and can continue to work as long as you would like after graduation provided you are coming from an EU country
However, you shouldn’t depend on a part-time job as your primary source of income if you are thinking of funding your living costs in the UK. While such jobs are a great way to boost your finances, you will unlikely be able to earn enough to live comfortably, and working long shifts may distract from your studies.
Anyway, you just have to learn how to balance working and studying in a way that won’t be detrimental to you.
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