9 Things International Students need to know before moving to the UK

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We understand that it can be a bit overwhelming to be an international student coming to the UK, especially if it is your first time away from home or living alone. Culturally, the UK is very diverse and welcoming of people from all around the world. It is no surprise that the UK is the second most popular study destination worldwide.

According to official international enrollment statistics, 458,520 international students were attending university in the UK and it is estimated that about 56 per cent of that total were enrolled in an undergraduate course. Based on our experience from the past years of managing year-long study programs combined with soccer development in the UK, we from IFX wanted to bring together and present you 9 things all international students need to know before moving to the UK in order to make your landing and stay more comfortable. So here we go!

1. Sort out your student accommodation in advance

You must to get your accommodation sorted out before you land in the UK. The last thing you want is to show up and have no place to stay. Most students either live in university accommodation (called ‘halls’) or rent a room from a private landlord. Living in halls is best for your first year of study, as it removes the hassle of trying to find a suitable room elsewhere, and some universities even have halls specifically for international students to help you make friends easily. Unlike American universities, the vast majority of rooms both in halls and private housing are single occupancy – meaning you won’t have a roommate, but a room to yourself.

2. Be covered

All international students, from both inside and outside the EU, will need to prove they have health insurance to cover them for any healthcare they need while in the UK. If you are staying in the UK for longer than a few months (so longer than a semester), we would recommend setting up a bank account. Setting up a student bank account will make it easier to pay bills, keep your money safe, and avoid foreign currency charges you would otherwise be paying if you used a non-UK bank account to pay for things in the UK.

3. To line up for… everything! 

Living in a new country always entails blending into the mainstream by adopting new customs. One of these new customs you will face in the UK is the fact that Englands are ordained persons and you will see it as soon as you touch the ground. A good example of this is that in England there are queues for everything and the great news is they respect them. Here you do not need to push others when boarding the bus or be on the lookout to avoid someone else try to outsmart you on the queue. Maybe it happens but never from a Brit.

4. Pay in advance

In the majority of restaurants or pubs you must to pay before you eat or drink. It rarely happens that waiters come to your table to take your order. You need to reach out to the manager or waiter, order and pay, and only after that you can go back to your table and wait for your food.

5. Electrical plugs

Coming from the US or another non European Union country you will have to deal with the fact that electrical plugs are different. This fact may sound obvious but if you do not buy an adapter in advance (in your favorite technological store near to your home) you may not find one next to your dormitory. As an international student you don’t want to lose the ability to use your electronic devices.

6. Stay in touch with family in the cheapest way

The UK operates on the same GSM band as most of the world, but if you’re coming from North/South America, your phone may not work in the UK. Some advice to take into account is do not keep your current SIM card, it sometimes is best to buy a new one and load with prepaid minutes and data, thus you could use apps like Skype, FaceTime, Viber, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to have audio and video chats for free.

7. Caution! Very hot water

You will find a lot of public bathrooms with this warning since washbasins supply hot water too. This is a very pleasant feature in the Winter but you could be very shocked by unexpected extremely hot water. You don’t even need to wait for the temperature to go up. You will notice it right away.

8. Greeting cards for all occasions

To give greeting cards for the British is like “siesta” for Spaniards. It is part of the culture to give greeting cards and the British have one for all occasions. Probably every expression ever thought of has been printed and sold in newsstands or metro stations kiosks.

9. Lost and Found

Do not be surprised if you go down the street and find on a bench a baby shoe, a cap, a doll or even a wallet. In the UK it is very common to leave lost items you have found and to make them visible in order for the owner – if he/she remembers where they may have left it – to go back and recover it. 

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