UK University checklist
9 things to do before you start your studies abroad!
There will be a lot of things to do before you leave home to start your studies in the UK. In between the goodbye parties, don't forget to do these important tasks!
1. Pack warm clothes
Although there are many shops in the UK for you to buy warm clothing, if you have a winter coat, scarf and gloves it is better to just bring them with you. The weather changes very fast in the UK and it may suddenly get cold, leaving you without a coat! Further, a good, high-quality winter coat, bought in the UK, at the start of winter, is going to cost you. Why buy one if you already have it!?
This point extends to everyday clothing as well. The temperature in the UK volleys between 5-21 degrees Celsious (41-70 degrees Farenheit) for most of the year. There will be a few colder days and there will be a few warmer days, but for the most part it will sit in that range. As a result, you're better off packing more long-sleeve shirts and trousers as opposed to tank-tops and shorts/skirts.
2. Pack Formal attire
A bit like warm clothing, although there are many shops in the UK for you to buy formal attire, good quality items will cost you. If you have a few high-quality formal pieces at home, bring them with you. If you don't, or you end up needing to buy something new, Marks & Spencer's is a good place to start, at least for basic formal shoes (£20-40). For women's formal business attire, I would recommend Hobbs, Jaeger or Reiss. For men, T.M. Lewin and Charles Tyrwhitt will sort you out, but you won't be getting a student discount!
3. Learn to cook a few basic recipes
Although there are many restaurants and eateries in the UK, eating out everyday is not recommended if you're on a budget. If you have not cooked much in the past it may be time to practice cooking a few quick, simple dishes.
Some examples you can try:
4. Adaptors and converters
In the UK the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. The plug is a 3 prong, "G" plug. This LINK will provide you a little more information on electricity.
If you're coming from the USA, aside from an plug adaptor, you will need to get a converter to convert the voltage. I would add, that if you use a high powered hairdryer or straightening iron, buy a new one in the UK. I always have problems with this when I go between the USA and UK and a converter doesn't really help. Here's another link, from Trip Savvy.
5. Make sure you have your finances in place
The UK is expensive. Budget out your expenses in advance.
Expenses to consider:
Transportation. How much you will need to spend to get to class each week (if you can't walk)? It generally costs 2-2.20 GBP each way, although students can get discounted bus cards.
Toiletries (shampoo, razors, soap, feminine products, toothpaste)
Entertainment (nights out)
6. Make sure you have completed your University's online enrolment and have applied for your cas letter, or you're not coming!
7. Apply for a NUS Extra (totum) card
It is a student discount card that offers discounts on restaurants, travel, entertainment, etc. Pay 12 GBP and you get the card with lots of perks. I have yet to try it out, but as I will be doing my MBA this year I plan to join. LINK
8. Stock up on your favorite ingredients/snacks from home
In most major cities you will have at least one or two foreign food shops that will carry the quirkier delights from abroad. In addition, most major grocery stores have a South Asia aisle where you can find ghee and pre-made naan; an American shelf with marshmallows and Twisslers; an East Asian aisle where you can buy fish sauce, canned bamboos shoots and coconut milk, etc; however, nothing is guaranteed!
For example, I love freeze-dried durian and although I am sure some Asian specialty food shops stock it, I have yet to find it and they certainly do not stock it in Tesco or Sainbury's.
Point to take away with you, if there is an ingredient or a snack that you cannot live without, bring a few small packs along with you until you can find if it's possible to buy it in the UK and where.
9. Pack Important documents
This should really go without saying, but it is crucial, I cannot leave it out.
MAKE SURE YOU PACK:
Passport and driving license (as a backup ID)
University admission acceptance letter
If applicable, student loan or scholarship documents
Vaccination history (as you will sign up for a GP on or around campus)
Bank card from home to hold you over until you open your UK account. It will take a few weeks.
Travel/student insurance documents (if applicable)
Once you're here, I would recommend starting with Wilko and then IKEA for bedding, extra furniture, hangers, clothes drying rack, decorations, etc.
For stationary, Wilko offers some selection, but you can also try and Office Depot.
Are you studying in the UK? Anything I've missed? Let me know!
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