September 11, 2015, by International students

What to expect during your first month in the UK


I remember the euphoria and all the hectic activity when I was getting ready to go and finally came to UK one year ago. Excited, worried, anxious, all those feelings are mixed. Will I be able to adapt in a totally unfamiliar environment, where the weather is extremely different, people speak a different language, have a different culture and customs, and no relatives or family that will help me? Millions of questions popped up in my head which made me more anxious yet excited to experience all the new things. Actually, what would be encountered by people who are study abroad for the first time (like me) during the first month?

Most of the questions I have been receiving from new students through the Indonesian Society Facebook group are about accommodation. Basically there are two accommodation options; in campus or off campus. In campus means you live in University’s halls. There are two type of halls: catered and self-catered. Find out more about University halls and read testimonials from hall residents. If you choose to stay off campus there are several available options: you can rent a room, a studio, a whole/shared flat, or a shared/whole house. The price varies. It depends on the location, size, and facilities. You can check it in Unipol, Zoopla, or Gumtree websites. Renting private accommodation might be cheaper but please bear in mind additional costs that you have to pay throughout the year. Visit their website for a comparison table between on campus and off campus accommodation.

The next one is how to travel to Nottingham. The closest airport is East Midlands Airport (20 minutes by car), Birmingham International Airport (1.5 hours by train), and London Airports (about 3 hours by train or coach). Since you have to use coach or bus from the nearest airport, don’t forget to check the bus and train schedules. Make sure you leave extra time of about 2 hours for the immigration check. Based on my experience, try to find a flight that lands in the UK in the morning or during daytime on weekdays, so you have a lot of available transportation options.

In the first or second week don’t forget to register for your courses, register health insurance with the NHS and open a bank account. In order to open bank account, you will need a bank letter which will be provided to you by the University during the Welcome Programme or you can apply for one at the Student Services Centre. I highly recommend prospective student to join the Welcome Programme. It really helps your transition to a new life. In case you cannot join the Welcome Programme you can always ask International Office or Student Support Centre regarding all of these document matters.

Besides all the important things I have mentioned above, there are probably some little things that will make you feel homesick. In the first month, new students will probably find it difficult to adapt. Even simple things like shopping for groceries can be frustrating. It was not easy choosing the goods in an unfamiliar packaging, also carrying pretty heavy groceries back home using public transportation seemed quite difficult. Eating can add a certain level of complexity in your life, especially for those who are not accustomed to cooking. Be open minded and believe that you will soon get used to these things.

Here in the UK, distances below 2km are considered to be walking distance. If in Indonesia, people would probably use other means rather than walking even if they only want to go to a convenience store within 1-2 km from their house. Most probably your feet will feel extremely sore because of walking for 20 minutes in the first month of your arrival. As time goes by, trust me at the end of your study, walking for 1 hour will feel nothing.

September is the beginning of autumn, and the temperature usually ranges between 15-18 degrees. If you come from a tropical country with ‘normal’ temperatures around 30 degrees, feeling cold in the fall season is reasonable. Do not be surprised if you see people still wearing sandals, or not wearing any outerwear. After winter, you can do the same and perhaps you will find yourself sweaty even when the temperature is 16 degrees.

Hopefully this post will be helpful for prospective students. You can find detailed information about Preparation and arrival and registration and transition on the University website. Good luck with your new journey!

Meredita Susanty, an international student from Indonesia studying MSc Management and Information Technology at The University of Nottingham.

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Posted in AccommodationCultural integration