Starting university can be a huge step but uprooting yourself and moving to a new country like the UK can be a greater one. Your to do list as an international student will be double that of a home student with plenty of forms to fill and tasks to be done. Even though this work might seem daunting, a checklist outlining your UK activities is a good way to begin and make your post-arrival experience hassle-free. Below are the top 10 things you should do during the first month of landing in the UK.
- Get a UK phone number – One of the most important UK activities is buying a local phone number to connect with your family and friends. Research beforehand on the network that offers the best international rates so that you can order a sim card online or head to a phone store to buy one after landing in the UK. There are many network providers to choose from including T-Mobile, Vodafone, Lycamobile, Giffgaff, etc. Depending on your phone usage, you can choose either a Pay As You Go option or a monthly contract.
- Register with your university – If you are an international student coming for higher studies in UK, you are required to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card from your university upon arrival. Post collection, present your passport and BRP card to register yourself with the university and receive your student ID card.
- Register with a GP – You are entitled to free treatment from the National Health Service (NHS) if your higher studies in UK last six months or more. This applies to both routine appointments with a General Practitioner (GP) and hospital treatments. Your university will remind you to register with a GP in the first week itself. They will also provide you with a list of local GPs to choose from. To register with a GP, simply carry your passport, letter of enrolment, and proof of address.
- Open a bank account – It is never wise to carry large sums of money with you if your higher studies in UK are expected to last more than six months. Open a bank account within the first week of your arrival in the UK. To open a bank account, provide your passport, stay permit, university acceptance letter and proof of address. Choose a bank that has branches around your university campus or accommodation. The most popular banks for international students are HSBC, Lloyds and NatWest. It can take up to 5 working days to open a bank account.
- Book an appointment for NI – If you wish to work part-time, then one of the most important UK activities would be to apply for a National Insurance (NI) number. This ID proves you are legally allowed to work in the UK. You can apply for a NI number by calling their application line and booking an appointment. You will need to provide your passport and BRP card at your appointment. It can take eight to nine weeks to get a NI number.
- Visit your university career cell – A career cell acts as a bridge between the industry and the institute and helps students develop a strong framework for a rewarding professional career. Reach out to your university career cell within the first month itself to know the facilities and programmes on offer and how you can benefit from them. Most placement cells offer pre-placement training sessions, industry visits and workshops to help students enhance their existing skill-set.
- Get a train pass – When it comes to travel within the UK, most cities are well connected with numerous train lines. You can access a full list of train stations from The Trainline or National Rail. Students aged 16 to 25 years can avail a 30% discount on their train travel in the UK through a Young Persons Railcard. For students over 25, you would need a letter from your institution stating you are a full-time student. Always book tickets in advance and for off-peak periods. 12 weeks prior to your departure date is always preferable if you are seriously looking to save a few pounds. Also, if you are travelling in groups of 3 to 9, buy a GroupSave train ticket to save upto 34% on your train cost.
- Sign-up for airline newsletters – Flights can often be more affordable and quicker than a train trip if you book well in advance. Always check with an airline if they are willing to give you a student discount and subscribe to their newsletters to get notified on their best deals. For instance, Ryanair and Easyjet offer massive discounts on their tickets multiple times throughout the year.
- Join sports & societies – Joining your university’s sports department and various societies is a great way to have an enriching on-campus experience and develop new interests and skills. Whatever you are interested in, you will always find a sport or society for it at your university. For example, if you are passionate about writing, you will most probably find a creating writing society. As for sports, most universities offer yearly memberships at a nominal fee. The University of Strathclyde offers summer membership at £68 and a multi-visit pass for £40 (valid for 90 days).
- Get a cinema chain membership – If you love watching movies, consider becoming a member of a cinema chain so that you can have access to unlimited movies throughout the month at a fraction of the price. For instance, Cineworld offers unlimited membership at £9.99 per month where you can watch as many 2D movies as you want and pre-book upto 3 movies at a time. There are a few more cinema memberships to explore including the ones offered by Picture House, Everyman, etc.
In the end, don’t hesitate to ask for help from your university or peers. For more clarity and guidance on what to do after arriving in the UK, reach out to ScotsGrad, the only educational consultancy in India to offer complete support starting with your university application to career guidance post course completion. They are also there to help, support and advise you on everything from opening a UK bank account to getting a train pass. Since ScotsGrad’s advisory members are former UK graduates, they are able to provide the best support to help you settle seamlessly into your life in the UK.
ScotsGrad is a pioneer in establishing the UK, especially Scotland, as a premier destination for higher education among students in India. We provide end to end advisory services including psychometric assessment, personalised interactions, university and visa application assistance, and career guidance. The personalised interactions with our members, former graduates of leading UK universities, ensure a holistic and systematic approach. We are also the only consultancy in India enabling “career success” for any student going to the UK.
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