Want to study abroad in the UK? Maybe you've always dreamed you'd study in England. This can be a very rewarding experience. However, leaving your loved ones to move to university can be a daunting task for any student. It can be an even bigger challenge for those who chose to move abroad and become an international student.
Not only are you faced with all the same challenges as every other student – will I like my course? Will I find friends easily? Can I cope with the workload? – you also have to combat the additional trials and tribulations that come with being in a country where the customs, language and food are probably totally unfamiliar to you.
There are many things you can do before embarking on your journey as an international student that may help ease you into UK life. Here are some of the top things to consider when you study abroad in the UK.
5 Great Tips To Study Abroad in the UK
1. Ensure that you have the correct visa & your paperwork is in order!*
Whilst this might seem like an obvious one, it’s something that is commonly overlooked. The last thing you want is to be stopped before you even set foot in the UK! If you’re coming to study abroad in the UK from a country that is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), then you’re currently covered under Free Movement. However you’ll need to apply for a European Health Insurance Card to entitle you to access to the NHS. If, however, you’re applying to study in the UK from a country outside of this area, you’ll need to make sure your student visa is obtained well in advance of your arrival. Usually, you’ll need a tier 4 visa for most forms of study, but if your chosen course happens to be less than 6 months in duration then you may be eligible for a Student Visitor Visa instead. The easiest way to check this is to consult a specialist immigration service, or to speak to your course provider. Many institutions now have international coordinators to help with the logistics of your move, and may even help with some of the paperwork for your visa application. You may also want to ask them about any additional paperwork you’ll need if you’re considering working while you study abroad in the UK.
2. Do your research!
Researching the town that you’ll be living and studying in is incredibly important, especially if you have applied to multiple places and are trying to decide. While it’s important to integrate into the local area, you may want to find out if there are societies or groups that are of your home nationality to help with your transition into UK life. These groups could have regular meetings, or they could just be an online group or forum. Regardless, they may provide excellent support directly from others who have been through the same experience. They may also give guidance on cultural differences that you might not have considered. Finding local versions of your hobbies in advance may also help get you settled since you can continue with activities you enjoy. If you like football, find a local team to join. If you like dance then find a local class – it’s extremely likely that there will be something available close to you where you can socialize with people who have the same interests.
Again, this is a basic point that is so often missed. In line with your research, make sure you look into the areas on offer for accommodation. When you’ve found somewhere suitable, make sure you have the relevant deposits in place to secure your living space in advance of your arrival to minimize the stress of moving. If you’re going to be sharing a house or apartment, ask your landlord or accommodation provider for an introduction to your prospective roommates in advance so that you can introduce and familiarise yourselves. As you’ll be looking to travel overseas, transferring your goods can be tricky as you will likely need more than you can carry. Look to use baggage solutions that makes things easier so you get your belongings transported safely and cost effectively for when you arrive.
4. Banking matters
You’ve probably considered your finances and how you’re going to fund your studies, but there are finer financial points that may need to be considered. Different banks may offer varying rates and fees to transfer money in and out of UK based accounts. There may also be incentives on offer specifically for international students to entice you to open an account. You’ll need to make sure that these aren’t solely for new accounts and that you won’t encounter large fees further down the line, especially if you’re studying on a course that is due to last a number of years. Before you even get to that point, though, most UK banks have extremely stringent policies on opening an account as a foreign national, so make sure you have all the documentation that you’ll need. This usually includes your passport, proof of address both in the UK and at home, proof of your status as a student (such as acceptance letter) and proof of your income or means to sustain the account. There may also be support available in the form of bursaries, scholarships or funding, so it’s worth checking if you fit the application criteria for these if they are available.
Remember, the UK is the country that gave us William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen; not to mention Elton John, Amy Winehouse and the band Coldplay – why not study abroad in the UK! You can learn more about how to study in the UK and find a perfect program here.
Beth Pembrook is a writer for Immigration Advice Services and student living in London. You can reach her on twitter @bethanypembrook or via email at [email protected]**
*This information is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on for legal or professional advice. You should consult your own legal or other professional advisors before you act, or fail to act, upon this information.
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