1. Check if you need to register
Some foreign nationals are required to register with the police within seven days of landing in the UK (it should be clear from your passport stamp if you do). You'll need your passport, two passport pictures, and £34 in cash.
2. Buy a coat
It's often said that the only predictable thing about British weather is its unpredictability. Most international societies recommend bringing a coat, sturdy shoes and warm clothing to the UK (although these will be reasonably cheap to buy when you arrive.) Another way to combat the chill is to burn any shorts or sunglasses you've brought and warm your hands over the resulting fire...
3. Open a bank account
It's useful to have a UK bank account to enable you to pay bills and rent quickly and easily. Sadly, banks tend only to lavish free gifts and large overdraft facilities on those with UK passports. However, you can get a basic bank account which will not give you credit but will enable you to get money from cash machines and make payments. Compare what the different banks offer at www.bba.org.uk.
4. Join the international society
Your university and student union will help if you're experiencing difficulties with your course or life in the UK. Your best resource, though, is your international society, which will have specific experience and understanding of your needs. Most run orienteering courses and social events, which are a great way to meet people. Find them via your institution's website or student union.
5. Learn more English
If you're reading this, you either have a decent grasp of English already or are great at using those translation websites. However, the academic English you'll be required to use in assignments is quite advanced. Institutions offer a range of courses, from free lunchtime tutorials to residential pre-sessional courses that cost £200-£300 a week. Look at options on your instiution's website and www.englishuk.com.
6. Stay healthy
If you get a snivel, you've probably been gripped by a favourite in Britain: the common cold. Get rest, fluids and vitamins. If symptoms get worse, consult your local doctor (see www.nhs.uk for the nearest); all treatment on the National Health Service is free if you're studying in the UK for six months or more. Information and advice is also available at www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk.
7. Stay in touch
If you're thinking of getting a mobile phone or landline with broadband, check out the different rates on offer at www.s-k-i-n-t.co.uk/skinttariffs. Post offices are open from 9am-5.30pm Monday to Friday, 9am-12.30pm on Saturdays. Airmail costs 48p/54p for Europe/the rest of the world (larger packages must be weighed and measured). Skype has revolutionised international communication, offering free internet calls where you can speak to and wave at friends and family; download it at www.skype.com. Did you get all that?
8. Don't be a victim
Generally, the UK is a safe and welcoming place for international students. Students can be a target for thieves though, so keep doors and windows locked if you go out; when you do, try to stay in groups and don't leave valuables on display.
You can call the emergency services on 999 free from any phone; for non-emergencies contact your nearest police station (see www.yell.com). Insurance is a good idea; Endsleigh, www.endsleigh.co.uk, specialise in student policies.
9. Get a job
Working part-time is a great way to earn cash and meet people. If you're from a country within the European Economic Area (EEA), you don't need permission to work in the UK. If you're from outside the EEA but on a full-time course of study, you can work up to 20 hours a week in term time and full-time during holidays. (Unless your visa or passport stamp states otherwise). Visit www.workpermits.gov.uk.
10. Move around
Public transport in the UK is generally cheap and well-organised; student cards often get you a discount on buses. If you're in London, an Oyster card is essential (see www.tfl.gov.uk). Black taxis can be hailed in the street; minicabs should be phoned to make sure they're legitimate. For travel around the UK, you can get a third of coach and train tickets with a student pass - see www.nationalexpress.com and www.youngpersons-railcard.co.uk.
For general information and support visit:
The Department for Education and Skills
The British Council
The Council for International Education
International Student Travel Confederation
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