Guide To Moving To London

For International Students

This guide will help to prepare you for your move to London, the greatest city in the world! 

Everything you need to know including:

Guide to moving to london

You’re moving to London, congratulations! You are coming to live in one of the most exciting cities in the world. London is a truly unique place to live and welcomes people from all over the world choosing to live, study or work here. It has a diverse community, representing a wide range of beliefs, outlooks and backgrounds. It’s going to be an amazing adventure. However, there’s a lot to prepare for in this next chapter of your life so we’ve put everything you need to know, do or prepare for into this complete guide to moving to London.

Table of Contents

Chapters

If you’re in a rush, you can jump to a chapter of your choice below:

Preparing for London Life

Accommodation


Exploring London


Finance & funding


Healthcare


Student life in London

Chapter 1:

Preparing for London life

Before arriving in the UK, it is vital you have as much organised as possible. This includes making sure you have:

We also recommend that you:

What to bring:

It’s important to pack light as most airlines only allow between 23kg-32kg and anything else you need you will have to get once you are in the UK.
Now if there is one thing to note about us Brits, is that we love talking (moaning) about the weather! The weather in the UK is unpredictable and is known for often being cold and wet. Temperatures rarely drop below freezing (0C) in the winter months and the summer months are usually quite mild (rarely go above 25C).

Some items that you most likely need for life in London:

Winter

  • A warm waterproof coat
  • Warm clothes such as jumpers or fleeces
  • A compact umbrella
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Gloves

Summer

  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Shorts
  • Sandals/Summer Footwear
  • Suncream

Remember – it can get very hot on the tube in the summer months so make sure you’re prepared and always carry plenty of water.

Remember:

  • Plug adaptors – the majority of your electronics (laptop, phone etc.) will charge in the UK but you’ll need a 3-pin adapter.
  • Health certificates/ health insurance documents/ medical records.
  • Prescriptions you take.
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Admission letter
  • Flight information

Important – when arriving in London:

  • Register with your university straight away.
    Attend the registration event on the right time and date.
  • Remember your passport!
    You can request a letter confirming your student status for any administrative requirements – e.g. opening a bank account/ starting a phone contract.

Visa

For accurate information, please always check the WWW.GOV.UK website or consult a professional, such as an immigration advisor or your university.

Before you arrive in London, on the top of your to-do list should be getting your UK visa sorted. You can apply for this on the GOV. UK website. It is likely you will need a Student visa which costs £348 per person if applying from outside the UK or £475 if you wish to extend or switch to a student visa from inside the UK.

When you can apply for your visa depends on whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK. If you are applying from outside the UK – the earliest is six months before you start your course. If you are applying from inside the UK – the earliest is three months before you start your course. Remember that you must apply before your current visa expires.

The documents you’ll need for your student visa application are:

  • A valid passport / other valid travel documentation
  • Confirmation of acceptance for studies
  • Proof of finances/ income
  • English language skills
  • Tuberculosis test results
  • A valid ATAS certificate if required

Chapter 2:

Accommodation

Where to live in London?

One way to get your bearings in London is to use the zonal system relating to the available transport options around the city. London is made up of nine zones, with zone 1 containing Central London and zones 6-9 making up Greater London. UWS London is in zone 2.

Top tip – the closer to zone 1 you move, the more expensive accommodation can be.

Choosing where to live depends on how much you/ you and your housemates want to spend on rent, what location you want to be in (it is likely you will want to be close to the campus) and what transport links are available nearby.

Camden

Perfect if you’re a lover of trends, style and food.

Finsbury Park

Conveniently located on the Victoria Line (fastest tube line in London), great nightlife as well as high street and independent shops

Mile End

Considered one of London’s friendliest areas, good transport links, reasonably priced rent.

Docklands

Relaxed area with reasonably priced rent and great transportation links.

Brixton

Reasonably priced rent, great nightlife and lots of independent shops.

Stratford

Central part of the 2012 Olympics and now home to Westfield shopping centre, it’s an exciting place to live and it has reasonably priced rent.

Peckham

Reasonably priced rent and great nightlife.

Shepherd's Bush

Great transport links, large supermarkets and Westfield shopping centre.

Hammersmith

Great location and transport links.

When should I start looking?

London’s private rental housing market is very fast paced. Private properties are usually advertised a maximum of one or two months before they become available to move into. Rooms in private halls of residence are generally advertised earlier in the year.

It can be difficult for international students to visit their accommodation beforehand. If you are wanting to move into private rented house/flat shares it is highly advised to view the property before you sign the contract, otherwise dangerous scams can occur. It is recommended that you reserve temporary accommodation for when you first arrive in the UK – either staying in a hotel or guest house. This means when you arrive in the UK, you can start viewing longer-term accommodation options. Make full use of your university’s house-hunting support for this.

Where to look for properties?

Companies such as Sanctuary Students, Unite Students and O2O London are a great place to start. Londonist DMC is a student accommodation agency providing students with short and long-term accommodation. Other websites include: Gumtree, MoveFlat, Reddit London Homes.

When renting a property in London, it’s common to go through a letting agent. They are the liaison between yourself and the landlord, helping you to guarantee a safer, more reliable service. However they do charge a fee which will differ, so make sure you look around and read reviews to find the letting agent that works best for you.

Finding housemates

There are plenty of websites such as spareroom.co.uk and easyroommate.co.uk where you can find flatmates in London. Read more about student accommodation in London.

What type of accommodation is there?

It’s important to take your time when choosing where you want to live as you’ll be there for the duration of your studies.

The options include:

Private Halls of Residence

Private halls are not owned by the university but they offer the opportunity to live with students from other institutions. They usually include shared flats and studio apartments with excellent communal facilities.

Pros (depending on the halls): 

  • Bills included and taken care of (including rent, utilities, WIFI, maintenance, contents insurance)
  • Excellent quality and modern facilities – e.g. gyms, cinema room
  • Usually have a convenient location
  • Sociable setup and social events
  • Regularly cleaned
  • Maintenance staff and manned reception desk – more security 
  • Ensuite bathroom facilities 
  • Car park 
  • You have separate tenancy agreements meaning you are not liable to replace a flatmate that decides to leave

 

Cons: 

  • Can be more expensive 
  • Not as independent as renting a private flat-share/ house-share

However, this all depends on the halls of residence you choose, so make sure you research what each one includes. You can either rent the whole flat with your friends or rent one room within a flat. Private halls aren’t suited to all students – you may want to be completely independent and learn how to rent privately instead. 

Private Renting (private flat-share or private house share)

Another option is to private rent, either sharing with other students or living by yourself. This type of accommodation gives you independence and the freedom to live how you want to, within reason. It is important to recognise that cheap houses will be cheap for a reason, either due to size, location or quality. Therefore you and your housemates will need to think and prioritise what is important for you. Remember that those areas that lie further away from the heart of the city (Zone 1) tend to have lower rental costs. Look on websites such as Gumtree, MoveFlat, Reddit London Homes.

Pros: 

  • Independence
  • Flexibility with bringing your own furniture/ decor (but check this with your landlord)
  • Private renting is usually cheaper than private halls. And a private house-share sometimes works out cheaper than a private flat, because the cost is spread between more of you.

 

Cons: 

  • You’ll need to sort out everything yourself  – leasing with your landlord / their letting agent, making sure all the paperwork is filled out, staying on top of bills and payments, cleaning and maintenance of the flat/ house and buying household items when you need them. 
  • It can be expensive and come with hidden/ unexpected costs.
  • Old houses can be cold, damp and susceptible to general disrepair.

Quick tips

  • Be extra careful when you go to viewings. Landlords may not always point out the faults of the property to you, so make sure you look out for signs of damp or mould, broken electrical switches or sockets and signs of pest infestation. Check everything twice over and take your time looking round for potential problems. Consider what the area is like in the day and at night.
  • You might feel under pressure to sign a contract straight away but make sure you read it through first. Even better, your university may offer a contract check/ review service you can use.

 

Ultimately, it comes down to what accommodation suits you. There is no wrong choice as long as you are happy, comfortable and feel safe in the property you choose.

Chapter 3:

Exploring London

Time to explore London

Now that you’re settled in your new home, it’s time to explore! As well as the unmissable tourist spots, London is full of hidden gems and there’s always something new to discover.

To get you started here’s a list of things you can do to get you settled into your new city:

Exploring London

Tourist attractions

There are plenty of free attractions in London. Great places to visit include Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace or Piccadilly Circus.

Parks and open spaces

Although London is known for its busy city life, you’re never far from a green relaxing space. Walk among the deer in Richmond Park or watch the pelicans and water birds in St James’ Park. A few other popular parks include Wimbledon Common, Hyde Park and Park Vista. There are other beautiful open spaces in London including Highgate Wood or Epping Forest.

Walks

A great way to get familiar with the local area around you is to go on walks or bike rides. South Bank is a beautiful walking spot.

Museums and galleries

The British Museum, the National Gallery and the Natural History Museum all have free entry. There is also the Tate Modern, which holds art by Picasso and Bonnard.

The UWS London Campus is in an ideal location for students and there’s lots of options for getting around the city. Did you know – it’s only a 1 minute walk away from East India DLR station and it’s possible to get from East to West in just 30 minutes!

The campus is located in East London – the land of shabby chic. This rich and diverse area has something for everyone; whether you’re interested in art, want to learn more about the city’s history or party all night, there’s something for everyone. From one of London’s biggest roof gardens to an Everyman Cinema to a year-round arts and events programme, the list goes on. For the sport lovers, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is just to the North of the campus or if you love to shop til you drop, Westfield Stratford City shopping centre is nearby. UWS London is located near Canary Wharf which has over 300 shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. And this is only the start, there is so much to discover in the capital city, so get exploring!

Transport around London

transport around london

Travelling around London might feel daunting at first, but it is easy to get the hang of and there are lots of options to choose from. Pick up an Oyster card when you arrive in the UK – it is an electronic smart card that can be used on public transport in London. It will get you great discounts (save up to 30%). You can apply for an Oyster card online once you have enrolled at UWS London and have secured accommodation.

Download the app City-mapper – it will give you a good idea of how to get around London. You’ll be able to see what bus or tube to get to Uni and how long it will take you.

Tube
The most popular way to travel around London is by the ‘tube’ – a huge underground network of trains. There are over 270 tube stations and the trains run every few minutes on different routes called ‘lines’.

Bus
Another option to travel around London are the iconic red buses. You can either use an Oyster or contactless payment card.

Walking
Walking is the cheapest way to discover the beautiful city and a great way to keep you fit!

Cycling
Another great way to keep fit is to cycle around the city using the Santander cycle bike-sharing scheme. There are plenty of cycle lanes and docking stations where you can hire a bike for as little as £2 and return it to another docking station once you’re done. Students can save 25% on an annual membership. It’s as simple as that but remember to get yourself a good cycling helmet!

Chapter 4:

Finance & Funding

Finance and funding


Funding a place at University is one of the most important considerations for all students.
There are a few different options for financial support as an international student:

International student loans

It isn’t possible to get a UK government loan (student finance), however there are other education loans available depending on your home country. These include Study Abroad Loans for US students studying for a short period of time and Foreign Enrolled Loans for students studying full-time abroad (check whether this applies to your home country).

Banks

Your bank may be able to provide a student loan for you. The benefits are that they will generally charge a lower interest rate than they would on other types of loans and their terms may be more flexible.

Private companies

Some large companies that are keen to employ graduates of your subject, may be able to offer financial support for you, if you agree to work for them after graduating. Therefore, it is always worth contacting different companies to see what they can offer, especially if you’d like a career in finance.

Family

It may be an option that your family can help you financially, therefore it is worth discussing this option with them.

Scholarships

Sometimes scholarships can be available for international students. Therefore it is worth researching to find out if you are eligible for one.

Opening a UK bank account

You will need a UK bank account to manage your finances.

Reasons to open a UK bank account:

Choosing a bank account:

There are lots of banks to choose from in the UK. There are a few factors to look at and each bank has different benefits for students. It’s never too early to start looking and comparing different bank accounts. It is actually possible to start contacting banks as soon as your UCAS confirmation is through.

The main UK banks are:

  • HSBC
  • Santander 
  • Barclays 
  • Lloyds 
  • RBS 
  • Natwest 
  • Nationwide 

You need to consider:

  1. The location – incase of any problems or advice needed, you want to pick a bank fairly near your university accommodation or somewhere easy accessible by tube or bus.
  2. International transfer fee – how much it will cost if you want to send money home or receive money from home/ overseas.
  3. Overdraft – how much interest free overdraft is the bank offering? Be aware that an overdraft isn’t unlimited money, you will always have to pay the money back that you spend. It is often not possible for international students to get an overdraft so make sure you discuss this with your bank.
  4. The type of account – there are lots of different bank accounts and you want to find one that suits you. It’s a good idea to ask your university’s student services if they recommend a certain bank or account for you.

Setting up your account:

It is possible to open a bank account online or on the phone, however it is easier to do it in person, in your nearest branch. When you book your appointment, it may not be straight away, therefore it’s good to get this sorted when you first arrive in the UK.

Quick tip: at your bank appointment, it’s advised to set up online banking so you can always check how much is in your account wherever you are!

To open a bank account

You will need:

The bank may run a credit check with you to make sure you are responsible enough to open an account. Check your bank’s website before to check the exact documents you need to bring.

 

Budgeting

Becoming a student will have a big impact on your budget. Therefore, once you know what funding is available and whether you are eligible, it’s important to start thinking about prioritising what you spend your money on. Keep reading for advice on how to manage your money and help reduce any financial worries.

Step 1: Work out your monthly outgoings. This should include everything you pay for each month. For example: rent, bills, food shopping, gym, books & study materials, Netflix etc.

Monthly outgoings for January Amount
Rent £800
Bills £100
Food shopping £250
Gym £30
Study materials £30
Netflix/Amazon Prime/Entertainment/Subscriptions £20
TOTAL £1230

Step 2: Work out your total income for the month

Monthly income for January Amount
Part time job £600
Allowance from parents £500
Other income £200
TOTAL £1300

Step 3: Calculate the difference.

Here is an example of how to work out your budget for each month.

Monthly income £1300
Monthly outgoings £1230
Difference (income minus outgoings ) £70

Step 4: If your outgoings are more than your income then you will need to think about how to:
reduce your outgoings by making savings or cutting back on your spending. (Is there anything that you can cut back on? Any subscriptions you don’t really need?)
increase your income by getting a part-time job or asking for another form of financial support.

Money saving tips for students

  • Cooking: dining out at restaurants or getting takeaways is nice once in a while, but it adds up. You can quickly save money by cooking your own meals. Planning your meals each week and writing a list of ingredients for food shopping will make a big difference.
  • Student discount: download apps such as UNiDAYS, Students Beans and Save the Student to get student discount deals on a huge range of websites and stores. Getting a TOTUM NUS card will also save you money. As well as getting an Oyster card and 16-25 Railcard, which will save you money on transport around London. More information in the ‘Student Discounts’ section.
  • Selling on eBay: if you have a lot of stuff that you don’t use anymore, you can sell it on eBay or if you have clothes you don’t wear anymore, Depop is a great website.
  • Loyalty Cards: many shops (eg. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Boots) have their own loyalty card where you can gain rewards if you shop in their store often.
  • Download apps: there are lots of money saving apps available which will help you track your spending and saving, these include Yolt and Good Budget. In Addition to your regular UK bank account, you can also get a Monzo or Revolut bank card, which are good at helping you track spending and setting budgets.
  • Books: the cost of books for studying can really add up. The cheapest option is the library, however sometimes the book you need may not be available. It’s a good idea to look at the reading list provided by your lecturer before you start university and consider buying books secondhand or online.

Chapter 5:

Healthcare

Healthcare

It is important to look after your physical and mental health whilst studying in the UK

The National Health Service (NHS) provides healthcare in the UK. As part of your Student visa application, you will need to pay a healthcare charge (£470 but this cost may vary so please check the most up to date information available on the UK government website.), called the ‘Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS)’. By paying this fee, it will allow you to use the NHS for the year, which covers free medical treatment (including emergency or hospital care). You’ll still have to pay for some services (this is the same for UK citizens too) – such as prescription medications, optical treatment, dental treatment.

When you arrive in London, you should register with a doctor (GP – general practitioner), who deals with most general health problems.

The emergency telephone number in the UK for urgent help only is 999 (services include the police, ambulance or fire brigade). If you need emergency hospital treatment either go straight to the Accident and Emergency Department of your nearest hospital or call the NHS on 111 for medical advice. For non- emergency medical advice contact your local GP. It is important that you register with a local doctor as soon as possible – don’t wait until you need medical treatment.

It is advised to have a health check before you leave your home country. When you arrive in the UK, it is possible you’ll be asked at UK immigration to provide health certificates stating the vaccinations you’ve had.

The risk of tuberculosis (TB) is increasing throughout the world. Please check with your doctor whether you have had the immunisation BCG against tuberculosis especially if you are from a high risk TB country – Africa, South Asia including India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Russia, China, South America, Western Pacific region- including Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines. Please bring evidence of your vaccine.

Universities take student mental health and welfare seriously. If you feel stressed or have any problems, you should always talk to your university welfare staff or someone you know in a position of trust. Or you can contact Samaritans and speak to someone confidentially.

Covid-19 Advice

Please always check the Government’s website for up-to-date information on Covid-19.

Restrictions are slowly easing across the UK. From 12th April, more businesses and venues can reopen, such as non-essential shops, outdoor areas at pubs and restaurants, gyms and hairdressers. Students studying at university on practical based courses can go into in-person teaching. All other students should continue to learn remotely online. For more guidance on how this affects higher education please click here.

However, it is vital that we still all follow the guidelines and COVID-19 safety measures to keep ourselves and others in the community safe. The general guidelines include:

  • Unless you’re exempt, you must wear a face covering in many indoor settings such as on public transport, shops and places of worship. Click here for exemption rules and other face covering guidelines
  • You can meet outdoors with up to 6 people from any number of households or a group of any size from up to two households.
  • If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you are no longer advised to shield but advised to continue taking extra precautions to protect yourself.
  • If you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 you should continue to follow all of the guidance.

Free rapid lateral flow tests are now available for people without coronavirus symptoms. Roughly 1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not have symptoms but can still infect others. Therefore, it is important to get tested regularly to help stop the virus spreading. Click here to get your test now.

You should continue to minimise the amount you travel where possible. Currently, you can only travel internationally from the UK if you have a reasonable excuse, such as for work. For more information, please check the GOV.UK website.

The UK became the first country in the world to approve a Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in late 2020. Since then the UK’s vaccination programme has been successfully rolled out and is on track to be effectively completed this summer. The UK is paving the way for the COVID-19 vaccine and according to government sources, everyone in England now lives within 10 miles of a vaccination centre.

Remember, if you would like to receive a Covid-19 vaccine you first need to be registered with a GP. You will also need to check if the Covid-19 vaccine is currently available to you by checking the progress of the vaccine programme. You can find this information and book your vaccine appointment here.

Staying fit & healthy

Trying to juggle your studies, social life and staying fit & healthy can be a huge challenge, but looking after yourself mentally and physically at university is fundamental. A great way to stay fit is to join a gym. For UWS London students, there is a 24 hours PureGym (East India Docks) on campus that includes gym space, fitness classes and personal trainers. Click here to find out membership prices. Other gyms nearby include: Virgin Active, F45 Blackwell, Royal Docks Fitness, Third Space Canary Wharf. Make sure to check if they offer student discounted memberships. Exercising regularly is not only a great way to stay fit but it’s a great way to manage stress and anxiety.

Practicing mindfulness is a great way to switch off from the hustle and bustle of student London life. There are some great apps like Headspace or Calm that can help guide you through meditation activities. Studies show that meditating to start your day enhances your awareness, prevents stress and anxiety and boosts your overall well-being. UWS London also offers health and wellbeing events for students to get involved in.

Some other great ways to stay fit and healthy are:

Student discounts

As a student you can get some fantastic discounts. Here are a few options:

  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
    ISIC is great for student discounts all over the world. It includes deals on food, entertainment, clothes and travel – for more information click here. You can purchase it online and it’s valid for one year. It usually takes 3-4 weeks to process and get the card delivered to you. They offer both virtual (for your phone) and physical cards, allowing students around the world to instantly prove their official student status and access over 150,000 student discounts worldwide.
  • TOTUM NUS card
    This is the No.1 student card in the UK which can be used to access over 350 top brand discounts and deals – click here to find out what offers are included. There is the option to include pass- accredited proof of age ID too. As part of your TOTUM membership, it will also include a 12-month ISIC. Prices start from £14.99 and once you have applied for the card it will be with you within 7 working days.
  • 16-25 Railcard
    A 16-25 Railcard offers 30% off train fares to travel across Britain. There is no limit to the number of times you can use your Railcard. You can buy your Railcard online, at a train station or via phone. Quick tip: Santander bank offers a free four-year railcard for discounted train journeys with its 123 account.
  • 18+ Student Oyster card
    Another travel discount card which offers 30% off adult-rate public transport. The card will expire when your course ends. Click here for more details.
  • UNiDAYS
    A free student discount card and app that gives discounted deals on products and services. It is available worldwide! Click here to find out more and sign up now.
  • Student Beans
    Similar to UNiDAYS, Student Beans is free for students and offers a wide range of discounts. It is worth signing up to both, as they each offer different deals. Click here to find out more and sign up now.

Chapter 6:

Student life in London

Nightlife

Being the capital city, London is well known for its non-stop nightlife. Any night of the week, you will find a range of events and there is definitely something for everyone! If you’re looking for glamour, Mayfair clubs or South Kensington bars are where it’s at. Popular places include Dirty Bones Kensington, The Builders Arms or Balans Cafe Bar. Or for the more relaxed and quirky type, Camden Town or Shoreditch are exactly what you are looking for. For example, Simmons Mornington Crescent or Old Street Records. There are plenty of rooftop bars for the warm summer nights, such as Bar Elba in Waterloo. If you love a pub crawl, Soho has the perfect atmosphere with diverse colourful bars and pubs. A cheaper option for students but perhaps not so fancy is Wetherspoons. The closest Wetherspoons to UWS London is the Ledger Building. A few of the most popular Wetherspoons in London are The Ice Wharf in Camden, Hamilton Hall on Liverpool Street and the Beehive in Brixton.

Pubs and bars aren’t for everyone. In the summer, the London Eye is open slightly later (usually til around 8.30pm) and gives you a beautiful night view of London. Alternatively, you could watch a comedy show (hosted by the Angel Comedy Club or at the popular Top Secret Comedy Club), go to the cinema, or book a boat trip along the river Thames. Keep an eye out online for West End theatre show deals and click here to find out what’s on at the moment. Groupon and Design My Night are great places to find nightlife deals and it’s always worth asking if you can get a student discount.

Other fun ideas include testing your brain-power with friends by going to an escape room or having a game of mini golf at Junkyard Golf Club. For the thrill-seekers, there are plenty of murder mystery tours (Jack the Ripper and the Sherlock Holmes Tour is a popular one) or ghost walks. Another option is Camden Arts Centre which is open until 9pm every Wednesday with free talks, film screenings and live performances.

Freshers week


A great way to make friends and step straight into student life is joining freshers week! This is a welcome period for new students starting university before lectures and deadlines begin. It’s an amazing chance to meet new people, blow off steam and learn more about your course, campus and clubs. You can join in a great mix of day-time activities and buzzing nightlife events. There really is something for everyone, so get signing up!

However, if you can’t attend freshers week or it just isn’t for you, your university’s student support/ international office is always there to provide you with useful advice on university life, your course, the campus and local area.

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How can I make friends?

Moving away from your friends and family at home and finding yourself in the middle of a new culture and speaking a different language is not easy. However it’s important to remember that you’re not alone as many other international students are feeling exactly the same as you. Making new friends in London will make your whole experience ten times better!

Here are some great ways to meet new people:

  • Join a club or society
    This is one of the best ways to meet new people that have shared interests with you. UWS London has a wide variety of societies and clubs that you can get involved in. Societies will host lots of meet ups, so you can get to know everyone better whilst bonding over your favourite activity – what more could you want!
  • Go to lots of events
    Make the most of the first few weeks of university as much as possible. UWS London will hold lots of events in freshers week and this is a great time to meet people, especially as friendship groups won’t have fully formed yet.
  • Use social media
    Social media is a great way to meet new people. You can use apps and online networks, such as Facebook groups, meetup.com and citysocializer
  • Join exercise and fitness groups
    You can do this in local parks and gyms. It’s a great way to keep fit as well as meet like-minded people!
  • Work or volunteer
    A great way to meet people that aren’t necessarily students but they will be from the same area.
  • Spend little time on your own
    Of course everyone needs their own space and down time, however, especially in the first few weeks, try to spend as little time as possible locked away in your bedroom. Even if you don’t always feel like it, try and push yourself out of your comfort zone and be as sociable as you can. You don’t always have to spend money doing things socially, you could – organise to study with new friends, offer to cook dinner one night or watch a movie together.
  • Be open-minded and brave!
    Starting university can be completely overwhelming, but if you’re able to put yourself out there and show up to events – your experience will be much richer. You may think you know who your ‘type’ of friend is but don’t ever let that hold you back. University is full of all different kinds of people and friendships can form in the most unlikely of places – that’s what is so exciting! Students are a sociable bunch, and you’ll be surprised by how easily you’ll make friends for life.
finsbury park student accommodation

Managing workload

University is a great time to build independence and learn how you work best. Here are some tips to help you manage your time and stress levels:

Read our complete guide to stress and time management for more tips on how to manage your workload.

Looking for jobs

If you are wanting to earn some money whilst studying in the UK, it is important to understand what your rights and options to work are.

Studying in London on a Student visa allows international students to work a maximum of 20 hours a week during term-time. This includes any paid or unpaid work. It also includes a full-time internship or placement, unless it is part of your course. During holidays, students may work full time. However postgraduate students should check this with their department and an immigration officer before undertaking full-time work during holidays.

Type of work NOT allowed on a Student visa:
  • Being self-employed
  • Engaging in business activity
  • Taking a permanent full-time job
  • Be employed as a professional sportsperson (including as as sports coach)
  • Be employed as an entertainer, paid or unpaid
  • Working as a doctor or dentist in training

 

If you want to work in the UK, you’ll need to get a national insurance number before you start looking for jobs. Only those who have the right to work in the UK are eligible to apply for one. You can learn more here or apply here.

 

Finding a job

Before looking for a job, make sure you have a well formatted CV. There are different options on looking for work, depending on the type of job you are looking for. For service work (e.g. pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops), it’s a great idea to go in and directly give your CV to the manager. Another common way to find work is to look online on websites such as Gumtree, LinkedIn, Student Jobs and Save the Student. Or it is possible to find work in London via a recruiter. Recruiters often specialise in a particular industry, so it’s best to Google ones in your field. If you are already working for a company at home, you might be able to transfer to London.

Mobile phone contracts

To stay in contact with everyone back home and here in the UK, having a mobile phone is essential. It is likely your current phone will work in the UK, however it depends on your home country’s frequency. Therefore, it is worth researching to double check.

Rather than using your SIM card from home, it will be cheaper to buy a prepaid UK SIM card. There are numerous networks to choose from in the UK: EE, O2, Vodafone and 3. Pay as you go plans are ideal for students studying in the UK for less than 12 months. The benefits are that it gives you the freedom of not committing to a lengthy phone contact and if you already own an unlocked phone then you’ll be able to gain access to a UK number quickly. Once you choose this option, you can either top-up in a phone shop, at a supermarket, online or via your phone.

The other option is a contract phone which is good for students remaining in the UK for longer than 12 months and often have cheaper rates than a prepaid SIM card. However, they do require a credit check and it also means you will be tied into a contract, which in most cases can vary 12- 24 months and ending the contract early is expensive. On a contract plan you pay a fixed monthly rate, for a certain number of minutes, texts and data. However if you exceed your contract deal, you will have to pay extra so it’s a good idea to get your contract locked so you can’t go over and risk paying a big fee.

Setting up a mobile phone contract is simple and can be done online or in-store. You will need: proof of ID, proof of address, a UK bank account for payment and some operators may also choose to run a credit check for a contract phone.

Food shopping

There are a huge range of supermarkets for food shopping and buying essentials in London. At the lower end of the price scale you have Lidl, Aldi and Iceland. Mid-priced stores include Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. High-end, you have Waitrose/ Ocado (online only) and M&S. Many of these chains also offer smaller, local versions of their main stores with names such as Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local. These stores are great to get your essentials and they sell a lot of the same products as the larger stores. It is also an option to order your food shopping online and have it delivered to your accommodation. It depends on the individual store for how much the delivery will cost. It can be free for larger orders, but even for smaller, peak-time deliveries the fee is usually below £5.

Exploring the rest of the UK

Whilst you’re in London, if you can afford it, it’s a great excuse to visit other parts of the UK.
London has excellent transport links to explore the rest of the UK and Europe – including Paris, Brussels and Lille using the Eurostar. London also has five major airports, all of which offer flights to other cities in the UK, mainland Europe and long-haul international flights.

Train

The easiest way to travel around the UK is by train, you can get just about anywhere on it. It’s a great idea to invest in a 16-25 or 26-30 Railcard. It will get you 30% off your train tickets and the railcard only costs £30. Quick tip – try to buy your train ticket as far in advance as possible and travel off-peak (the least popular time), it will save you a lot of money. The Trainline app is a great one for looking at different options for buying tickets and planning routes.

Coach

The most popular coach company is National Express. However it takes a lot longer than getting the train.

Must-sees in the UK:

  • Stonehenge – one of the most iconic monuments in the world. It remains a mystery as to why or how the ring of standing stones was built. It is believed to have been formed between 3000 BC to 2000 BC.
  • Edinburgh Castle – Scotland’s most famous castle. It is located on top of an extinct volcano, castle rock and home to the Scottish crown jewels. It provides amazing views across this historic Scottish city.
  • Cheddar Gorge – one of Britain’s most spectacular natural landmarks. It is famous for its beautiful caves, rock formations and underground rivers. Cheddar Gorge was formed through meltwater floods over 1 million years ago.
  • Brighton beach – is one of the closest beaches to London. Southern rail operates a train from London Victoria to Brighton every 30 minutes. Tickets cost anywhere between £15 – £45 and the journey takes 58 min. Brighton and Hove is a brilliant city for students and has plenty to do, including excellent nightlife. 

 

 

Popular cities to visit in the UK include:
  • Manchester
  • Brighton
  • Glasgow
  • Newcastle Upon Tyne
  • Cardiff
  • Birmingham
  • Aberdeen
  • Belfast

 

So get exploring!

Hopefully this guide has given you lots of information to help you feel more prepared and organised for your move to London. Starting university in a different country is a learning experience, so please know that you can always ask for help if you are struggling or unsure about something. There will always be someone to make you feel at ease and support you whilst you are studying at university. Most importantly have fun and make sure you really embrace being a student in one of the most exciting capital cities in the world!