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A Brief Guide to Studying Abroad in The UK

September 18, 2018

So you’re all set to start studying abroad in the UK. Well you’re not alone, thousands of international students take the chance to study in the UK each year. Studying abroad has many benefits, including letting you experience a whole new culture, while you work towards earning an internationally recognised qualification.

With hundreds of world-class universities, the UK promises a wonderfully rich experience for many international students. So, we wanted to put together some pointers to help you when you start studying and living abroad in the UK.

Finding accommodation

As an international student coming to the UK to study, you’ll be needing somewhere to live. Don’t worry, the good news is there’s a wide variety of accommodation options available.

The student accomodation you choose will very much depend on whether the university you’re going to be studying at has halls of residence or not. Of course, what city you are going to be located in and your budget will also be important factors. If you don’t have something pre-arranged, make sure to indicate to the university that you’ll be needing accommodation.

As an international student you will generally be given priority for accommodation by UK universities. But it’s best to contact your university and start getting your living arrangements sorted straight away, as soon as you get accepted onto a course.

Your student accomodation options

  • Halls of residence – where you’ll either have a single room to yourself, or be sharing with another student. Rooms will be basic and include a bed, desk and chair. Communal bathrooms are common, but some rooms will have en-suite bathrooms. Most halls have a canteen, where students can buy food, and communal areas for socialising.
  • Self catered halls – are similar to standard halls of residence, but will include a communal kitchen area. These halls will allow students the freedom to cook their own food to fit with their own schedule.
  • Private student flats/ houses – are generally the most expensive option. Most students live in halls in order to help them adjust to life on campus, and make new friends, before moving into a private house or flat in their second and third year. Keep in mind, you’ll need to sign a tenancy agreement with a flat or house, so make sure you understand the contract you’re signing before agreeing to it.

If you have any doubts or concerns about where you’re going to be living while studying in the UK, or about a tenancy agreement, always speak to your international student advisor to get some assistance. It’s important to find the accommodation that you’re happy with as this will make a huge difference to your overall experience studying abroad.

Saving money

The UK is an amazing place for international students, especially with London being ranked the best student city in the world. However, when you find yourself in a foreign city, it’s difficult to know what’s a good deal and what’s a waste of money. Managing your finances can be a little overwhelming for any student, never mind if you’re coming from another country. Thankfully there are ways that you can save money and enjoy yourself while sticking to your student budget, including:

  • Eating in and cooking more – instead of eating out all the time. Get some ingredients from the supermarket and start getting into cooking. Not only is this more cost-effective, you’ll find things taste even better when you make them yourself. For culinary novices, there are plenty of easy recipes to follow out there, along with helpful tutorials online.
  • Using your student discount – as often as you can. Sounds obvious but your student card will give you special discounts at a variety of places, so always make sure you take advantage of this. It’s always worth asking, as many cinemas, supermarkets, clothing shops, restaurants and more will offer student discounts. You can even check for student discount offers using sites like  Student Money Saver.
  • Buying books second hand – instead of always purchasing brand new books, is a must. University textbooks are often quite expensive, so it’s best to find the books you need online or in second hand bookstores. Plus, you could even sell the books back after you’ve finished with them.
  • Going for a walk – as opposed to using a taxi, or public transport to get to where you need to go, will also save you money. Sometimes you’ll need to catch a bus, or use the tube, in which case you can get a student oyster card. But when you can, wear some comfortable shoes and walk, it’s free and you’ll get a workout.

Settle in by socialising

Settling in to study abroad in the UK takes time, but don’t forget the importance of spending some of that time out with friends. Socialising with other students is one of the best and most important aspects of studying abroad, which is why UK universities hold a ‘freshers week’ every year for new students.

If you’re enrolling on a postgraduate course in the UK or you’re only spending part of your degree abroad, then you might notice that students at the freshers week may be a couple of years younger. But just remember, everyone is there for the same reason, to get to know the place they’re studying in and to make new friends.

There will be plenty of other international students too but try to socialise with the domestic students as well. This will help you better integrate yourself into student life in the UK, by taking in the culture with those who already live there. Also, take advantage of university events organised for new students, to getter better acquainted with your peers.  

Get enough sleep

To be honest this applies to any walk of life and not just to international students coming to study abroad in the UK. It’s important that you remember how important a decent night’s sleep is to your studies.

It’ll be tempting to go out partying with other students all the time. While this is a fun aspect of university life, it’s best to do it only once a week at most and ideally at the weekends when you haven’t got a lecture the next morning!

You’ll be facing many challenges as you study abroad, especially at the beginning. From finding your way around and doing your food shopping, to setting up a bank account and registering with a doctor, so sleeping well and feeling fresh is vital.

If you’d like to find out more about studying abroad in the UK, then you can contact us at IEC Abroad today. Our specialists are here to help you find the right university for you.