Study abroad is an experience – one that is equally rewarding and terrifying. You’ve taken a leap of faith to study abroad and as exciting and courageous as that sounds, when the reality of moving to a new place sets it, it is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed. What are the people like? How will I get around? Will I make any friends? These are all questions that I have asked myself. Fret not! I was in the same position as you. If you are an international student studying in London, I’ve noted five important things that you should try to get done within your first week of arriving. Hopefully, this will make sure your transition goes smoothly.
Pick up your BPR card
This is your government photo ID card that will allow you to legally travel and remain in the UK. As a part of applying for your Tier 4 student visa, you were asked to select a post office that is close to your term address. Your Biometric residence permits (BPR) card will be mailed to that specific post office, and you will need the official government document that was given to you when you received your visa to be able to collect the card.
Set up a banking account
I’ve asked my fellow international classmates about banking preferences, Starling and Barclays were the top two recommendations. All that is required is a piece of ID (BPR card) and an official letter with your term address. This can be a government, bank, or school letter.
Described as the ultimate transport app, Citymapper is a lifesaver and will be your best friend! The app is user-friendly and will make navigating London easier. Select a destination and Citymapper will give you the fastest route to get there, and notify you of any delays as well as the cost of getting there.
Register for a Student Oyster card
Travelling around London can get expensive, so I highly recommend registering for a Student Oyster Card. A Student Oyster card provides you with discounted fares for the tube (trains as we Canadians call it) and the buses. You can choose to add a weekly travel pass or a monthly pass. Getting a student Oyster card can take up to two weeks so I suggest registering as soon as possible.
Sign up for CityBuddies
Your first day on campus will be overwhelming. City has a huge campus and navigating on your own may not be easy. To calm your first day nerves, I highly recommend signing up for CityBuddies. A CityBuddy is a second or third-year undergraduate, studying your course who will mentor you in your first term. Your Citybuddy will provide you with the ‘lay of the land’ and give you the opportunity to socialize and meet like-minded individuals.
Lastly, and more importantly, HAVE FUN! Studying should always be a priority but don’t forget to enjoy your new home/city. London is a great city- immerse yourself in the culture, explore the city and make travel plans.
Written by Monique, GE LLB student at The City Law School