Author: Sabine Kamill, MSc Modern Building Design –
If you are planning to come to the UK to pursue your master's, you might need some tips and tricks on how to get along here. As a European student myself, I will give you advice on anything I have encountered or got to know from some of my international fellow students here at the University of Bath.
1) Check your healthcare
I recommend you do a general health check at your doctor's practice before you travel to the UK. But don’t worry, if your health is affected during your stay in the UK, you can visit the National Health Service (NHS). It’s the UK’s health care system, where some (but not all) services are free for non-UK students.
If you are an EU and EEA student
- You will need to bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or visa with you for free treatment to each appointment
- If you are planning to settle in the UK, make sure you have comprehensive sickness insurance
If you are an International student
- If you want to get free health care service and are staying for more than six months in the UK, you may have to pay an immigration health surcharge (IHS) as part of your visa application
The university has put together healthcare guidelines for international students and there is a healthcare centre on campus for which you need to register upon arrival (fill in the form and submit it at the centre – you will get further inductions in the first week you arrive at the University).
2) Be prepared for the weather
The weather here is outlandishly changeable. There is a reason why it is said that one experiences all four seasons in a single day in Great Britain. From my personal experience, these are the things you will need to pack:
- Wind and rain resistant shoes as well as coats (no one cares if you are following the latest fashion trends – better have warm and high-quality clothes with you)
- Umbrella (obviously – preferably a non-folding one since these are a bit more robust)
- Gloves and hats (it can get quite cold during winter)
- Sunglasses (yes, sunglasses – if it gets sunny, then the sun is usually fully shining)
3) Know your transportation
While you are staying here, you should use your free time to travel. The cheapest way to travel within UK is by coach. For this, you can use National Express or Megabus. Otherwise, use the train (can be booked through National Rail) if you want to arrive faster at your destination.
The Students' Union frequently provides trips for Bath students to different cities and attractions. This is worth checking out and a way of getting to know other people.
Within Bath, you can use the First Bus service which brings you to the University, around Bath and to Bristol. You can get different tickets, be it a single trip or for the whole term or semester. They also have an app called mTickets.
4) Check your mobile phone contract
Before I arrived here, I checked with my mobile provider back home about any additional charges when using the phone abroad and was told that there were no any extra expenses when phoning, texting or surfing in the UK. So, there was no need for me to get a UK phone number.
However, if you are an international student, the situation might be different.
Some Chinese friends of mine told me that their phones are restricted to certain services. Therefore, they will need to get a new phone which works in Europe, so that they can use it here freely.
If your phone works here or not, you should probably pick up a new SIM card anyway. Some service providers in the UK are LycaMobile or RebTel. The one that has been recommended to me a lot is GiffGaff for which you don’t need a contract and it is relatively affordable.
5) Find suitable accommodation
I wrote a whole blog post about how to find the best accommodation for you in Bath.
6) Where to get food
If you happen to miss your home country’s food, then there is a good chance that you can still get it in the UK and specifically in Bath (and the surrounding area).
Bath provides a selection of international stores, with Chinese, Polish, Korean, Italian and Taiwanese food, just to name a few. The Bath and North East Somerset Council has created a great list with all the international food stores (subject to change).
There is also a variety of restaurants, delis and bistros in Bath. If you want to get a bigger selection, however, I recommend a trip to Bristol – you can get there with your First Bus ticket for example, remember (check tip #3)?