Are you an international student, or are you planning to be an international student? Well, so am I, and so I intend to remain — currently applying to Masters programmes and all — and let me tell you, it’s a lot.
Universities by themselves are a lot of work and a big concern for all applicants — domestic, international, aspiring to study or having already begun their studies — it’s a whole whirlwind of worries, responsibilities and such. There’s a lot of good times, too, of course, and studying at a university also entails a lot of pleasant, satisfying moments — especially so if you study something you truly enjoy — but…
But it’s a lot, especially for us, the international folk. So here are some things to beware of when applying to UK universities from outside of the UK or the EU.
This is an obvious point, but an important point nonetheless: people from outside of the EU, no matter where exactly from, will pay double of what the domestic/EU students pay.
It’s kind of annoying, to be honest, especially considering the facts that a) the visa application process in itself costs money, b) you have to pay for the NHS insurance in advance (like, an extra £750 on top of the visa costs?), c) you have to demonstrate that you have enough money to live here when applying for the visa…
But it is what it is. Be careful, and check all the paperwork you might potentially need with the universities you’re applying to, because they usually have guidance and support for visa-needing applicants.
This was a big shock to me.
Studying in the UK is not at all like what studying at universities back home is, in my specific case, at least. You barely have classes per se — at least when studying on a Bachelor of Arts programme — and are mostly expected to do things by yourself, and to come up with ideas by yourself.
It’s not like you don’t get any support at all but, frankly, it’s not as extensive as I’d expected. Honestly, I get it — universities here work like that to help you develop your individuality and personality by yourself, as well as to let you demonstrate your strengths properly, but still.
It’s pretty jarring, and leaves those that weren’t prepared for that feeling lost and demotivated, which is something that’s quite difficult to deal with, especially if you have something like ADHD which doesn’t let you concentrate when you’re left to your own devices.
Learn how to manage your time; that, sadly, is the best advice I can give you.
Don’t get me wrong, British people are lovely — polite, friendly and funny, they’re there to have a good time, involve you in having a good time with them and to be creative, free and to push progressivity into every corner of their lives. And that’s wonderful.
However, there’s one thing that international students are really unprepared for when coming to British universities. That would be the amount of partying they do.
I’m not kidding — there was a girl on my course that would go out every. single. night. Always with alcohol. I’m not judging, I swear, if anything I’m jealous of how free she felt, and how well her body digests alcohol.
The problem is, though, that often it becomes difficult to separate yourself from that, even if you don’t actually want to drink and party as much, simply for personal reasons. Some people often end up going somewhere not entirely willingly — not because they were forced to, but because everyone was going and they didn’t want to feel left out of the fun.
I respect that, but learn how to maintain your boundaries — not only will that help you with your uni life, it will also help you in the future. I promise.
Ah, my favourite part.
Being enrolled into one of London’s — or the UK’s — numerous universities always implies one specific thing.
Discounts almost everywhere.
From student tram passes, to cafés, to most fashion stores like Urban Outfitters or Topshop, for instance, a lot of locations offer student discounts as long as you have your university card on you as a means to prove that you are indeed, in fact, a student.
Cinemas, museums (in most places in the EU, in fact, not just in the UK) and other venues also do, in fact, offer student discounts.
It’s really a bliss that a lot of internationals are not aware of at first.
I swear, this service is a lifesaver sometimes.
Being a student in one of the UK’s numerous universities also means living in the UK. It’s a wonderful experience — it’s possible to find anything that your heart desires, meet people from everywhere in the world and discover numerous ways to have fun that you haven’t thought of before.
However, that also means expenses. Not just the ones I’d mentioned in the first point, not the unavoidable ones. But still, going out to eat, to drink, to grab a morning coffee or to cut your hair can get very expensive sometimes, if you don’t know where to look or if you do it too often.
I swear this isn’t a sponsored promo, it’s genuine advice from someone who’s been living in London for the past three years as an international student: you can find anything on groupon, from laser hair removal deals, to nail deals, to even chiropractor or yoga deals.
As a university student you really don’t want to miss out on the best possible deals. Especially not if your back’s in pain, my guy. I know what that’s like.