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International students: getting started in the UK

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Starting university can be a daunting experience for anyone, especially if you’re an international student who has travelled across the world to study here in the UK. Not only is the whole student experience new, but so is the country, the language and the lifestyle. So, if you’re an international student and have just arrived in the UK, here are a few things to help get you started with living here.

Staying connected
Now that you’ve arrived in the UK, you’ll probably want to let your family and friends know how you’re getting on and that you’re settling in ok. But can you use your mobile phone to contact them? If you have a mobile phone, then yes, it is likely that it will still work in the UK. However, if you use your current international mobile service provider in the UK, there will be extremely high call and message charges when contacting home and even ringing local numbers.

So, if you’re staying in the UK for a long period of time, you’ll probably want to purchase a UK SIM for everyday use. But if you want to make international calls, you might find it cheaper to use a provider such as LycaMobile or RebTel as they offer low-cost international calls.

And remember, at The Curve, we offer free internet and Wi-Fi in all rooms and throughout the building, so you can make free calls and video calls via apps such as Skype, Whatsapp and FaceTime.

Opening a UK bank account
If you are staying in the UK for a long period of time, it’s worth setting up a UK bank account. Having a UK bank account will make it easier for you to pay any bills, help keep your money safe and it will also mean you’ll avoid having to pay any foreign currency charges.

There are lots of banks in the UK that you can open an account with including HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest, Santander, Halifax and Barclays. To open an account, you will need appropriate identification and documentation. Click here for more information about UK bank accounts.

Registering with a doctor
When you arrive in the UK you should register with a doctor at a surgery or health centre in your local area as soon as possible; don’t leave it until you are unwell to register. The local doctor – also known as a ‘GP’ (General Practitioner), will be your first point of contact if you are ill and require medical treatment. See these lists of local doctors in England.

Once you have registered, and have been added as a patient on the NHS (National Health Service) list, you’ll be able to access medical care free of charge.

Travelling in the city
Travelling in a new country can be daunting. But the UK is well connected and offers various forms of transport, which makes getting about quick and easy.

For shorter journeys, you can travel by road in a taxi. Taxis are a convenient way to get from A to B, such as from a train station to The Curve, or back to The Curve after a night out.

To get around London you can travel by bike, bus or the Underground. A lot of roads in the city have dedicated cycle lanes or special cycle routes so you can ride your bike safely.

Travelling by bus is often one of the cheapest ways to travel around your local area. You will find bus stops located in various places around the city centre, with many universities having dedicated bus stops and bus services running to the university campuses.

But as a student living in London, you’ll more than likely use the London Underground rail network (or The Tube as it is also known). The tube is a quick and easy way to travel in and around London. You can pay to travel on the tube by buying a ticket or buying an Oyster card which you top up with money. If you’re a student studying in London, you can apply for an 18+ student Oyster card which gives you 30% discount.

Eating and drinking
In some countries, it might not be safe to do so, but in the UK, it is safe to drink the water from the taps. However, if you prefer not to drink the tap water, bottled water is readily available from all supermarkets, cafes and coffee shops.

In the UK, you’ll find a variety of large, 24 hour supermarkets to shop in. Some of the main UK supermarket chains include Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s Aldi, Lidl, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. In London, you’re more likely to find these supermarket chains as smaller, more convenient, express stores which offer extended opening hours and are conveniently located on street corners and busy high streets.

Many of the supermarkets have aisles dedicated to international cuisine, where you can find foods and ingredients that you are familiar with back home.

But if you want to try some traditional British dishes, fish and chips, sausages and mash, a full English breakfast, a Sunday roast and afternoon tea are favourites in the UK.

If you’re looking for student accommodation in London for 2017/18, stay with us here at The Curve. Contact us on +44 (0)20 7377 5372 or email us at thecurve@host-students.com for more information about our stylish en-suite rooms and studios and our comfortable and spacious communal areas.

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