5 tips for preparing to study abroad

14 August 2018
Passport and suitcase

You have applied to study abroad in the UK, received an offer and accepted, now it’s time to prepare for your career-enhancing decision. There is lots to consider before hopping on a plane to start your studies abroad, but luckily we have put together some of our top tips to help you prepare and know what to expect before your arrival.

1. Sort your accommodation early on

Firstly, you will want to make sure you have decided on what accommodation you want to stay in. At Durham University International Study Centre you can choose between staying in one of the student residences or, if you are over 18, arranging private accommodation independently. You can learn more about accommodation at Durham here.

 If you decide to stay in one of the student residences - which offer the best way to experience student life - you will need to apply early on, so you can guarantee yourself a room.

It is crucial that you organise your accommodation before you arrive to study in the UK. This will mean you will know where you will be staying and giving you peace of mind. It can help ensure you have no difficulty confirming your course at immigration or police registration (if required).

2. Pack light and pack smart

Packing to study abroad can be challenging, but if you do it early you will have plenty of time to get it right and make sure you have got everything you need.

Don’t go over-the-top with your packing, you’ll just want one or two suitcases and one piece of hand luggage. Make sure you check your airline’s baggage policy to avoid any unwanted charges at the airport. You will also want to check what items are restricted and what items need to be packed in hand or hold luggage.

Be smart about your packing: avoid bulky items that you can buy when you arrive in the UK, such as saucepans and bedding - if you stay in student residences, this will be provided anyway. Don’t forget to pack some sentimental items though, whether it is family photos or comfort foods and snacks to remind you of home. When it comes to clothes, don’t forget that the British weather is famous for its ever-changing climate, so you will want a mix of layers. Discover more packing tips.

3. Stay connected with family and friends

Studying abroad in the UK has the chance to leave you feeling a little homesick, so you will want to figure out the best way to stay connected to your family and friends back home.

With so many free options to contact family and friends around the world, you will be spoilt for choice. If you’ve got a laptop then you will have access to a variety of free services when you are connected to Wi-Fi, same if you have a mobile device.

However, if you want to be able to contact your family on the move, or keep in contact with your new friends in the UK, then you may want to purchase a UK SIM card with a data plan for your mobile phone.

4. Research and plan

One of the best travel tips for studying abroad in Europe is to plan and research your destination and what you want to see, do and explore during your time abroad.

Thanks to the short flight times between the UK and many European cities it’s easy to explore different countries during any time off you may have. If you are studying at Durham International Study Centre, then you will be ideally located to explore a variety of major cities, such as London, Manchester and Edinburgh. Learn more about Durham. You will also want to discover the town or city you are going to study in, research what museums there are, best restaurants to eat in and local areas to explore. Enrich your study abroad experience by making sure you take full advantage of your soon-to-be new home.

5. Your first week is the most important, so don’t miss it!

The first week of your time as an international student is your chance to engage in social situations and make new friends. The induction week is full of events and allows you to focus on preparing to study and getting to know fellow international students.

Although not compulsory, the induction week is highly recommended and helps make the transition into life studying abroad as smooth as possible. It’s also a great time to get to know the local area and buy any essentials you may need to get yourself settled into your new home.

Quick study abroad tips and advice

Get an International Student ID Card (ISIC)

As an international student, you’ll be able to apply for an ISIC (for a fee), which will give you access to a wealth of discounts across over 100 countries. You can receive discounts at restaurants, museums, movies and other activities and attractions.

Don’t forget your money

One crucial bit of advice for students studying abroad is to get your bank and cash plans in order before you travel. Make sure you arrange currency for your study destination before you fly,we recommend you use traveller’s cheques rather than bringing large amounts of cash. You should also confirm that any cards you want to use will work abroad and also consider any international transaction fees - it may be worth opening a local account while you study. The International Study Centre will help you with this during your induction.

Get insurance

While not compulsory, it is highly recommended that all students studying abroad have insurance in case of an accident. You should organise comprehensive insurance for the duration of your study time to cover both you and your belongings.