Coming from abroad, I was very excited to move to the UK for my studies! For many of you this will be one of the biggest changes you’ll make in your life; packing up all your things and starting a truly independent life at university. What’s important to know, however is that many of us will experience the move differently. I have some friends who were completely reluctant to move abroad, while others can’t wait to escape their abode. If you’re still unsure, have no fear! I’m here to give you advice based on my personal experience as well as share the experiences from other international students that will hopefully ease your transition of moving to a new country.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE:
- Tick off your to-do list as soon as possible; you don’t want things hanging over your head when you’re moving, especially when there’s time to get them sorted. Order your phone sim card and book all your necessary appointments like your bank appointment to create a new account before you arrive.
- Plan your first few days at university; there’s always so much going on during Welcome week, but be sure to book ahead. Check out the Get ready and What’s On guide for some of the more essential events, so you don’t miss you! Other things to do: buy a ticket to a concert, a barbeque or a stand-up comedy show; make plans with a course-mate/mentor you met online or just do anything that will force you to get out of the house to make sure that you don’t isolate yourself! There’s something to do! Taking that one step can lead to other opportunities like exploring your new city or meeting people.
- Learn your transport options; start of uni will be very hectic and you’ll have to run from place to place constantly, so you’ll only make yourself a favour if you get familiar with the local transportation. If you’re lost in the first few weeks around campus, look out for people with AskMe badges; as the name suggests, you can ask them for anything, including directions.
- Take your favourite items with you; you want to make your new environment familiar, so be sure to bring a few items with you that will make your new space more homely.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE:
- Get involved in language classes; still not 100% confident with your English? Getting more comfortable with the local language will make you feel better and help you with your work and studies. Many students opt for informal language ‘classes’ that are more commonly known as conversation corners, language cafes or anything along those lines. Find out more from the International Society, your course leaders or peers!
- Find out what locals do; this includes where they buy the best and cheapest groceries, where they go for a night out, what places are worth visiting etc. They’re locals, so after all they will know the tricks of the trade that can help out.
- Research about the local culture; Depending where you’re from, you may find culture in the UK really different from your home country, or it might be very similar. If you want to get familiar with the local culture, chat with your peers, staff or go online (there are a lot of resources). One difference in culture that I experienced was the greeting customs. Back home we hug and kiss upon greeting our friends and family, whereas in the UK a handshake will do!
- Let yourself be homesick; being homesick connects you to the place you were born and/or grew up in and can strengthen your connection with the people you love. Don’t isolate yourself from your home! Loved ones will have your back when you’re feeling low.
‘Moving to a new country can be stressful. Take it easy and take every challenge as a game. Stay positive and talk with people around you as you can learn a lot from them. Here, you will always find support and understanding. Also, make sure you keep in touch with your parents – they can be really curious about your new lifestyle and can help your transition.’
-Catalina Maria Vlad, ITMB (Economics and Strategy), Class of 2020
- Get involved; join a local charity, if you have a faith – go to church, join the local sports team or join a society. These are all simple ways to meet people that you share a common interest with whether that’s their love for the same cause, a mutual faith or motivation to learn a new skill.
‘Try to make as many friends as possible when you first come to the University. Engagein activities, don’t be shy, stay positive and friendly.’
-Elina Bildanova, ITMB with Industrial Experience, Class of 2020
- Keeping all this in mind, take some time to chill as well; I’m an avid planner; I keep to-do lists, bucket lists, idea lists, I have study plans, weekend plans, workout plans, anything, you name it. But I do recognise that sometimes, you just need to take a break. Try not to overthink everything and once in a while just take time for yourself and just chill. Try and get involved, try to adapt as easily as possible, but at the same time, just go with it!
‘Forget about buying plane tickets in advance so you get a good offer and forget about making lists with the things you need to buy or bring to your new home. Sure, these are important, but don’t forget to bring an open mind, positive energy and a bag full of excitement for all the new adventures that you will have.’
-Raluca-Lucia Lusca, ITMB (Marketing), Class of 2020
Moving into private accommodation can be very tricky, particularly finding people to live with considering you’ll be with each other most of the time, sharing the same spaces. Here are a few tips when deciding where to live and things to do or keep in mind before making the decision. While many of them might seem like you’re looking too far ahead and they’re not things to think of now, trust me they’re very important! Small things from daily life, like (not) cleaning up after eating, can be what tires you the most when living with someone and may increasingly build up tension.
- Reliability of landlord
- If you’re moving into a house, the reliability of the landlord is very important; you want to make sure that if there are any problems they will make sure to repair them in a timely manner.
- If possible, try and look for accommodation approved by Manchester Student Homes (or any other equivalent) and read as many reviews possible for the accommodation and the area.
- Keep in mind that you need to be in a safe area. No matter how cheap something may be or how nice it may seem, if it’s down a dark alleyway or has very high crime rates, it’s best not to risk it.
- If you’re more of a quiet person, stray away from the party-like areas otherwise you won’t be happy with the noise-levels of the neighbourhood.
- Don’t forget to think about transport costs get familiar with walking routes, find out which buses go where and how much they cost/if they’re covered by your Stagecoach bus pass),.
- Bills included
- Bills included can be a great way to manage your budget.. It’s easy to waste electricity without realising it and ending up with big bills, but more importantly, it’s just a hassle having to follow up to pay bills and splitting them each time. This gets even worse in situations where people might argue that someone uses up more electricity than someone else so they should pay more or less (respectively.)
- UK guarantor needed
- Before going to a house/accommodation viewing or getting attached to the idea of anything, make sure you’re familiar with all the requirements. Many private accommodation requires a UK guarantor.
- People you’re living with
- You need to make sure the person you’re living with is right. It needs to be someone you’re comfortable with, feel safe around, trust that they will not bring home strangers, someone who will also be responsible for keeping the house clean, paying bills, keeping up with rent payments etc.
- Don’t confuse friendship with living with someone! While it might sound great and like a movie to live with your friends, it doesn’t mean it will be dream land. It’s okay to be best friends with someone and not think you’re suitable for living together the same way not all relationships would survive living together.
- Ultimately, it’s better to have one uncomfortable conversation with a friend telling them you’d rather not live with them and save the friendship in the long term as opposed to living with them and getting into conflict so deep that your friendship isn’t as strong by the end of the year.
- Establish ground rules before getting tied down to a deposit
- Are you okay with people having visitors? How many, for how long? Do you mind people of all genders staying with you?
- Are you okay with house parties? When is quiet time on weekends and weeknights?
- Is there any protocol for using common areas? Helpful rules might include cleaning up right after cooking or the latest by the next day etc.
- Talk about practicalities
- Decide on things like who will do the grocery shopping, how often it will be, if you will split it each time or pay in turns, what you will be purchasing together and what will be bought individually. Also keep in mind things that need to be bought like kitchen paper, cleaning products etc.
- Think of how chores will be divided and how frequently. For example, vacuuming, taking out the rubbish, cleaning the bathrooms etc.
By: Orla Hadjisophocleous
UCAS exhibitions can be the perfect starting point when researching Universities, courses and opportunities. They can also a great help when trying to decide which University you should put down as your firm or safety option! While the UCAS fair are really helpful they can also be extremely overwhelming. So here’s a list of my top tips for attending a UCAS fair:
- Familiarise yourself with the floor plan so you know where each University is and you only speak to those you want to.
- Before you attend, take a look at any talks or workshops that will be taking place at the fair. Some UCAS exhibitions have speakers on University subjects or advice sessions regarding personal statements, clearing, adjustment andstudent finance etc.
- Bring a pen and paper and make sure you note any questions you want to ask or anything you found useful. Here are a few things you may have questions about:
- Your course – content, how flexible it is regarding elective modules and if you can choose ones beyond your school of study or discipline, number of students, nationalities, how diverse it is in terms of age, gender, religion, nationality
- Assessment – when it takes place, how you are assessed (coursework, exams, presentations, practical work, group projects)
- Industrial Experience opportunities or Study Abroad options
- Teaching practices – how many contact hours, seminars, lectures
- Diversity of the university and the area
- Accommodation – prices, locations, characteristics of each area (for example at Manchester there are three main accommodation areas and one is considered to be more of a party area than the other two), proximity to things like supermarkets
- Facilities (including both buildings like football courts and facilities for student wellbeing such as counsellors, wellbeing rooms etc.)
- Student Union – what societies do they have, opportunities it can provide you with, how to get involved, do they have student support services? Living costs
- Transport links
- Dropout rate of your course
- Also, use your pen and paper to take notes; your memory can’t absorb all that information!
- Talk to as many people as possible from the Universities you are interested in and remember they’re there to help you! Many times, staff or students available are willing to provide their e-mail to you so you can follow up on any queries. This can be a great point of contact in terms of support but can also work in your favour as showing further interest in the University. They may also be able to put you in contact with someone directly related to your course (staff or student) if no one is readily available there.
- Pick up any leaflets with information and note down things said to you so you can take home and think through it again or get opinions from friends, family and teachers/academic advisors/counsellors
- Plan your time to make sure you speak to everyone you want to (keep in mind there is a waiting for each representative!)
- Explore alternative courses to the one you applied to; there may be something out there you’re not aware of that is more fitting! Even if you have sent your applications in, you may still be able to change courses if you contact your University.
- Don’t sign up for any e-mail lists or pick up prospectuses from Universities you’re not interested in; you will just become a spam magnet!
Hope these top tips help you at the fairs!. Wishing you best of luck with all UCAS fairs, application processes, potential interviews, decision making, and finally, the amazing University experience which will inevitably come!