Change of pace, change of country, change of status and the list goes on and on. Welcome to your new life, or to put it in other words; are you ready for your new life? Prepping for student life in London is an overwhelming process and a period in your life when – let’s not kid ourselves – you’ll take all the help you can get! That’s what we are here for: to give you a teeny bit of personal experience, share the wisdom of mistakes already made and spare you the inconvenience of running around in a hectic state trying to put your affairs in order after you get to London. So, here’s our list of tips for those of you soon-to-arrive in London;
1. Research your funding
This one may seem as obvious as washing your teeth in the morning. You would be surprised how little actual thought goes into it beforehand (and by beforehand, we do mean a couple of months before your application for uni!) EU residents and International have different opportunities on that front, with EU and UK nationals being eligible for student finance in the UK. More specifically, there’s a loan you can apply for, which covers a part of your student fees and which you can pay back at a later date. For International students, the situation is a little different as on the one hand, their tuition fees are higher, and on the other the student loan does not apply to them. Fear not though, as the alternative is quite interesting: there are quite literally tons of bursaries and scholarships you may be eligible for, and various portals to dig deeper. Other than the obvious one (yes, your uni’s fees and funding section), the Scholarship Hub, Scholarship Search and British Council websites are ideal funding research portals.
2. Get your British-life mood on!
Although London is one of the most spectacularly inclusive cities you can come across, it still needs a little prepping for! Firstly, it’s an immensely good idea to research your programme’s communities online and do some preliminary, digital networking. You never know what kind of useful info you may come across, and what kind of wonderful people you may end up getting to know as well! Having covered the human aspect, let’s talk weather! London can get really chilly in the winter (ok, chilly definitely is an understatement) and requires the appropriate dress coat. Especially given the amount of rain you will have to endure, we recommend a raincoat and an umbrella as the two essentials, and lots of thermals as well. Make sure your suitcase contains the right stuff!
3. Last minute housing
It’s always nice reminiscing about the good old Erasmus times, when you’d be in a small city in France, your friends would be in some random part of Spain and you would be speaking with immense excitement about the first few days of getting to the city and doing your househunting! Well, as good as those memories may be, it’s good to get it out of your head when it comes to London. Accommodation in London is one of the most challenging things you’ll have to sort out, and it’s best that you start asap! Booking a house in London is quite the hustle even if you try to do so early on. Guarantors, council tax exemptions, rent upfront and viewings are all a package which is dreaded by anyone who has experienced it! So our piece of advice would be to head to a leading student accommodation provider such as The Stay Club for that first year in the city – you don’t worry about bills, you get to build up a network and assimilate yourself in London life at your own pace!
4. Sort out your health (insurance)
One of the most important things, and seldom well-researched in advance is perhaps one of the most crucial. For EU nationals the process is as simple as they get: the European Health Insurance Card will cover you for the most-part, giving you free or reduced healthcare – dependent on your issue – from NHS while in the UK. The application process is simple and it lets you tick one more box in your to-do list. Once you enroll at uni, you can also check with their NHS coverage to make sure you have the appropriate assistance in case you need it (which we are hoping you never do!) For non-EU nationals the process is covered in your visa application, with a health surcharge being a part of it. Doing your own independent research on the matter though is paramount, as the issue is sensitive and highly tailored to an individual’s health needs!
5. The bank…
Last but not least, the matter of the bank is one that should be researched in advance! Setting up a bank account is tricky and requires quite a few documents, inclusive of proof of address and student status. The latter entails that you will not be able to open an account straight away. This can also cause some inconvenience, so having researched the process in advance will allow you to put your financial affairs in order and avoid any unpleasant surprises that may come your way!