Studying at York was my first experience of education outside of my country. My old university was just five minutes from my house. So, I was a bit worried about going to study thousands of miles away from home. I was happy, scared, and excited at the same time. For me, it was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Here are some of my tips for settling into a UK university.
Do your research
Once I found out that I was accepted onto a course at the University of York, I began to immerse myself in the city and university that I was going to be spending my academic year. So, I went on YouTube and I looked at videos that could show me what it was all about. Everything was still a dream, but soon became a reality! Even from a distance, finding out where you’re going to spend at least a year is significant. I found out about the tourist sites and museums I would be able to visit during the first week of my arrival. For the photography fans, I’d say that it makes your departure more exciting to imagine the pictures you will take. I would also say that you will slowly immerse yourself in British culture.
Prepare for the move
Now, let’s talk about a serious matter. If you are an international student and this is the first time you are going to live alone, you will have to think about planning your accommodation well before you leave your country. It is up to you whether you want to stay on the University campus or live off-campus. If you choose to live in student housing on the University campus, you can contact your the Accommodation Services. What you should avoid when you go away from home is isolating yourself. Try to make friends before you even arrive! You may find a few students on Facebook from the same Department that are doing the same course as you. That way, you won’t feel lonely when you arrive. Also, find out if your university organises pick-ups from the airport of arrival. If so, try to arrange your flight according to the collection days. It will help you avoid getting lost, but will also take away a lot of stress, as everything will be new to you.
Dealing with homesickness
Settling into a UK university can be difficult to begin with. It is very easy to get homesick when you are away from your family and culture. It’s essential to give yourself some time (at least a week) to spend time with your family before you leave. Maybe go on a few days holiday with them, because you will miss your home afterwards. When you pack your suitcase, avoid taking everything in your wardrobe. You will be arriving in the UK in autumn, and it is more or less warm. So just bring a few light clothes with you. You don’t need to bring blankets as well, as you can find cheaper ones once you arrive in the UK. If you arrive a week before your course starts, you’ll have plenty of time to do some shopping. Instead, I would advise you to bring some food and spices that you are sure not to find in the UK. This will allow you to cook some traditional dishes from your own country. You can fill a suitcase with food (which is permitted to enter the UK) and a suitcase for your clothes and shoes. You might like to bring some gifts for your new friends and lecturers. Traditional gifts or souvenirs from your country are perfect. You are now ready for your new adventure!
The first week
During your first week in the UK, take a look around campus. Explore the city and make new friends, because once classes start, you won’t have much time. Start getting familiar with your modules in the first week, and plan your schedule for the next week. Do the readings in advance, primarily if you are not used to the British education system.
Don’t forget to take care of some obligations when you arrive in the UK. They may not be fun, but they really should be done as early as possible. This includes picking up your resident card at the post office (which you will always keep in a safe place), opening a bank account, and registering with a GP.
The first week may be a little rough; but it’s all about planning. Anticipate things, and don’t be afraid to ask someone for help if you get lost. In fact, you need to have your phone with you at all times because during the first few weeks, ‘Google Maps’ will be your best friend. Make friends, contact your supervisor or lecturers if you need to and make the most of your stay in the UK. Don’t forget to travel and take pictures as much as you can!
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