Moving to university in a different country can be both exciting and scary. Whether this is your first proper time away from home or you’re just not familiar with England, you may feel a bit lost and confused. As an international student at UCL, I would like to offer some advice on how to settle into university life in London. Check out my top 10 tips for international students at University College of London (don’t worry, most of these apply to other universities as well):
1. Sort out your phone contract
There are three main types of phone contracts – SIM-only, pay-as-you-go, and pay-monthly. SIM-only allows you to install a new SIM-card onto your old phone; pay-as-you-go means buying your own handset and then topping it up with credit; and pay-monthly is a package that comes with both a phone and a contract. This is a really important tip or any international student attending the University College of London!
2. Working on a Tier 4 Visa
It is very common for international students to want to work during their time at university. Before you do so, it is extremely important that you acquaint yourself with any restrictions that may apply to you working in the UK. Most visas allow students to work full-time outside of term dates but only 20 hours a week during term time.
3. Use cheaper travel options
Getting around can be quite expensive, especially if you end up using the tube for your daily commute. My best advice would be to walk because that way you’ll save yourself lots of money, but obviously not everyone will be able to do so. My second best advice would be to get an Oyster card, which is a contactless way of paying for your tube, bus, and even certain rail journeys.
4. Setting up your bank account
When it comes down to choosing a bank, it doesn’t really matter which one you go for, because you’ll be limited to a student account either way. However, it is important to get your head around all of the documents that you may have to provide. These include a confirmation of studies letter (which you can get from your uni), your passport, your BRP, and proof of address (this can be a letter from your student halls). This is really important for students attending the University College of London.
5. Receiving healthcare
If you’re coming from the EU, you will be required to obtain a European Health Insurance Card, which will grant you access to healthcare in the UK. If you’re classed as an overseas student, you will have to pay for your healthcare upon submitting your visa application. You will then be able to use the GPs provided by your university.
6. Make use of your student discount
Who would’ve thought that being a student could actually save you some money! There are tons of different places that offer student discount, although they don’t always advertise it. This is why I would suggest that you have your student ID on you at all times and always ask if a certain business does student discounts.
7. Consider getting an NUS extra card
Continuing from the previous point, you may also be interested in obtaining an NUS (National Union of Students) extra card. For a small yearly fee you can unlock access to lots of cool discounts and offers across a variety of retailers in the UK. They range all the way from electronic manufacturers to restaurants, so you’ll surely find something that suits your needs. You can find out more about the NUS extra here. This a super great options for students attending University College of London!
8. Download Groupon
This app can be an absolute lifesaver, trust me! With lots of incredible discounts that cover food, drink, and various products, this app will definitely help you save some money whilst you study in the UK. I’ve been using it myself and it really does work, even though it seems too good to be true.
9. Don’t be afraid to use wellbeing services
Living away from home and having to get used to life at university can be really stressful. But don’t worry – there are plenty of trained professionals who will be able to help you overcome any mental health issues. The UCL Student Psychological Services offer quality counselling services that you are able to access for free. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help!
10. Stay safe
This is a very simple yet important tip for all students attending any university in London – always be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to detail. London is generally relatively safe, as long as you exercise common sense. Don’t walk around with your phone or cash in your hands, as that will make you an easy target for theft. Also be particularly cautious around mopeds – those are often used to steal people’s phones our of their hands. In case of an emergency, immediately dial 999.
What are your top tips for international students attending the University College of London? Do you have any suggestions on how to quickly settle into uni life? Let us know below!
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A young media enthusiast with an interest in learning.