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6 things you need to know as an International Student coming to the UK


16 September 2015

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It can be overwhelming arriving in a different country and starting a new course with an unfamiliar academic system. If English is not your native tongue, then it may be equally as daunting to find yourself in an environment where you are surrounded by those speaking another language. But don’t worry, being an international student is an exciting thing with the opportunity to experience an unfamiliar country and culture, including lots of things that you would never be able to do in your own country! By leaving your comfort zone you can learn a lot more than you’d imagine, nor does it have to be overly complicated.

If you are an international student arriving in the UK, follow these handy tips to feel more prepared and confident from Day One:

1. Research. Research. Research.
Queen Mary’s pre-arrival guide is a valuable resource for incoming students so please do refer to it for information about enrolment, airport collection, the International Welcome programme and more. But don’t stop there! Discover more about the department you will be studying in, the faculty it sits within, and existing course modules. Learn about Queen Mary’s clubs and societies and student life in the UK’s capital city more generally.

2. Documents at the ready
Ensure you have all your important documents ready - including your passport, student visa, admissions documentation, and relevant contact addresses/phone numbers for the UK and back home. Also bring any financial information you might need such as sponsor statements.

3. Bring an umbrella!
The most predictable thing about UK weather is its unpredictability. Make sure you bring appropriate clothing as the last thing you want to do is to go clothes shopping when you arrive in October – you will be far too busy for that in your first few weeks. A trusty tip for whenever you are in the UK; always carry an umbrella! Even if the sun is shining, it’s no coincidence that one of the most popular conversation topics here is the weather ;)

4. Get in touch with alumni from your country
People who have been there and done that are a great source of information.  Our International Office often holds events in various countries where they match alumni with new students. If you’ve got questions about your studies, don’t wait for us to tell you where and when, contact the representative in your country and they will be able to help you!

5. Be academically prepared
Find out about academic expectations, in particular how they may differ from your home country. If English is not your first language, try to improve it to a level where you can feel confident about using it both academically and socially. Check out what’s on your course reading list in advance as it may be cheaper to buy certain books in your home country than in the UK (same goes for stationery!). Feeling academically confident in your first few weeks will make it easier for you to adjust to all the changes!

6. Make sure you budget time and money for fun
Being a full-time student is a full-time job. If you want to excel academically but still have a social life, and enjoy all the opportunities that the UK and particularly London has to offer, then you will need to budget both your time and money. Consider your interests and keep in mind that London is expensive. You can also find out about part-time job options depending on what your visa allows.

  • Blog provided by Dolly Garland, MA English Literature student at Queen Mary University of London.



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