Things to do in your first week as an overseas student in the UK

Your adventure to the UK is about to begin! The first week in the UK can be hectic and no amount of reading, thinking or talking through plans with friends and family can truly prepare you for what it feels like to move to a new country.

Studying abroad can be an exciting and enriching experience. Embarking on a new journey, moving to a new place and taking a step of advancement towards your career aspirations will no doubt be something you’ve been preparing for a while.  With this may also come some anxiousness. You will be moving out of your comfort zone, from what is familiar to a home that is a host of the unknown. Having to settle into a new environment, adapting to a change in climate, culture, language and all the practicality of moving to a new country can be daunting.  To feel like this is completely normal and we can assure you that this feeling is only temporary. University is a great place to make new friends and meet people with the same interest. With everybody being in the same boat, you will make new friends in no time.

We are here to help with a few tips for surviving your first week of study abroad. Here are six things that you need to do to set yourself up for a smoother journey ahead.

Biometric Residence Permit Card (BRP)

You must collect your Biometric Residence Permit if you are on a Tier 4 student Visa.  The BRP card is your proof of your immigration permission to be in the UK as a tier 4 student. You MUST collect your BRP within 10 days of your arrival in the UK.  Check your decision letter as this will tell you where to collect it from.

When collecting your BRP will need to take with you:

  • Passport/travel document
  • Your vignette sticker

Register at University

The registration is a two-part process:

* To register online

You will receive this information from the institute where you will be studying once you have met the conditions and formally accepted the offer.

*To register in person

To be fully registered you will need to register in person at the campus for an identity check. You can also collect your student ID card at the same time.

Register with the police

You must register with the police if your BRP or decision letter states that you need to. You must do this within 7 days.

Open a bank account

Many students decide to open a bank account because it is a secure and easy way to access your money. If you withdraw money from an overseas account, you may be charged money.  We would advise you not to bring a large sum of money with you as it can be stolen or lost.  However, we do advice you to bring enough money to keep you going as it can take a few days to set up an account.  To open a bank account you first will need to attend registration at the university.  You can then book an appointment with the bank and present the following documents when you attend:

  • Proof of ID (passport)
  • Visa/ BRP card
  • Bank letter from the university
  • Proof of student status
  • Proof of address
  • Some banks may require a minimum deposit to set up the account so you may need to take some money with you.

Stay connected to home

If you’re keeping a phone you already have, you’ll need to unlock this first before you can start using your new SIM card. Never use your current sim card to make calls. You’ll pay extremely high charges for calling back home as well as local numbers.

 If you already have a mobile phone then you will need a new SIM card. With a Pay As 

 You Go (PAYG) SIM you’ll need to top up your phone with credit, which is a good way of keeping track of your spending but can be a hassle if your credit runs out at an awkward time.

Monthly contracts are usually better value for money, as you’ll likely get unlimited (or close to) minutes and texts, but you will have to pay out every month and this comes with added responsibility.

There are many mobile phone network service providers and calling plans to choose from in the UK. You should read contracts closely and take the time to investigate your options.

Attend Welcome Week and Fresher’s Week.

There are lots of events and support during the Welcome Week available to students from outside the UK.  You can sign up for talks and tours around the campus.  The Fresher’s week is a great opportunity to join clubs and societies. You may be able to join a society for your home country and connect with people from the same background as yourself.  Universities have a club or society for practically everything, from culture, sports, faith to dance, political campaigns to welfare.  You are bound the find a range that you are interested in. Furthermore, it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.

While studying abroad can be daunting, exciting and liberating all at the same time, it is important that you enjoy each moment.  Try venturing out to find out about the area where you are living; where the local amenities and places of interest are. Slowly but surely you will begin to feel at home. Not only will you be making unforgettable memories but also lifelong friends. 

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