Leaving the nest and starting university is a daunting experience for anyone, but if the nest happens to be particularly far away, it’s an even scarier prospect.
Luckily, thousands of international students come and revel in university life in the UK every single year and with these tips, you’re in for the experience of a lifetime...
1. Don’t be daunted by being the first one there
No, despite first impressions, your uni isn’t made up of 2 people. International students tend to be the first ones to arrive so you might find that your halls initially resemble the aftermath of an apocalypse. Don’t worry, the best is yet to come and you’ll soon be missing the peace and quiet that comes with being an early arrival.
Utilise this time to get to know the other early birds and organise your new room. It’s going to be the place you call home for the next year so make sure you get comfortable with your own little space.
2. Join a society
There are so many great reasons to join a society when you go to university, especially as an international student. During freshers week you’ll no doubt be told about the clubs and societies fair. This is where you’ll see all the different options for extra curriculars at your university, there really is something for everyone.
One great option would be to join the International Student Society, it provides an opportunity for you to get to know other students who will have also recently moved over to the UK. Societies are a brilliant way of meeting people who share similar interests to you. In many cases, those you meet as part of being in a society will go on to become some of your best friends during your degree.
Socials, training and meetings will also mean that you have events planned in that you are able to look forward to and help improve your sense of belonging at university. This can be especially useful in your first week when everything can feel a bit overwhelming!
3. Organise your funds
One of the hardest parts about being an international student is trying to organise your funds. Whether it’s getting a bank account, job, or just having enough money for general living costs, being an international student makes these hurdles seem even bigger.
Tuition fees for international students tend to be more expensive and if you’re outside the EU then you won’t be eligible for a loan. If this is the case, you need to make sure you have enough to fund yourself, as lack of money doesn’t just mean you might spend a year living off noodles, you also won’t be accepted for a visa in the first place.
As an international student, you are eligible to work in the UK while you study (however this varies depending on whether you are an EU or non-EU student). We suggest visiting your university’s career advisor as they will not only be able to tell you how many hours you’re allowed to work per week, but you can also ask them for suggestions for places you can apply.
4. Work out how to travel around
Using public transport in a foreign country can be a scary proposition! However, it will be really important in your first weeks for getting around your new home. Spend some time walking around, either by yourself or with some of your new friends to work out where things are. Find out things like how long it might take you to get to lectures or where the main supermarket is!
There will be various different travel options for you at university but the most obvious (and usually the cheapest) will be using the bus. Look into getting a bus pass for the year as it may help save you money on the whole.
However if you feel confident riding a bike, then this can be another cheap (and environmentally friendly) way of getting around. Bikes from previous students can be found on sale on university Facebook groups and usually are much cheaper than buying them from a shop.
So to summarise, when you arrive at uni- don’t panic, find a way of meeting people quickly, get your finances in order and work out how to use the buses! The first few weeks of uni should be exciting, try not to get too worried about things. There will be plenty of people in the same situation as you, so if you need any help just ask. Hopefully with these bits of advice, you’ll have a great freshers week!