College is a time of fun, learning and making friends that will last a lifetime. It can also be a time to expand your horizons and discover whole new worlds. Many people choose to take this a step further and even study in a new country — either for their entire college experience or more commonly a semester or two.
There are many exciting places you could go, for example, Italy, Spain, Greece or Germany. For many, however, the allure of the Brits is too much and the UK is the obvious destination of choice.
With that in mind, what do you need to prepare in order to make your semester abroad in the UK as amazing as humanly possible?
Sort Out the Visa
First and foremost, you need to ensure your semester abroad can actually become a reality and not just a dream. This means getting all of the paperwork signed and sorted before it’s too late. After all, the last thing you want to do is get to the UK and have to spend countless hours getting your immigration status in order. Especially if you are a non-EU citizen, it is imperative that you sort your student visa well in advance of actually entering the country.
If you plan to stay in the UK or go back after your studies for work, then you need to consider applying for a UK Work Visa once you have a job offer in place.
Okay, so the UK sounds like a place where all of your dreams come true. But what do you really know about the country? Well, outside of movies and television series.
Research the area you are going to thoroughly. After all, there are more places than simply London for you to explore and enjoy. If you have never even heard of your host, institution or town it seems smart to look up a thing or two about it before heading over. The best places to shop, where to find your necessities and where to eat should be at the top of your research list.
Also, look into where you can stay if you are choosing to live off campus. It can be an option that costs less, as well as giving you a full experience of what it is truly like to live in the UK. To avoid issues research the area you are thinking of moving to and make sure there are no hidden surprises waiting for you on the other side of the pond.
It can also be easier for you to adapt to living in a new country by joining clubs and societies, especially those that are full of people of your own nationality. After all, having people going through the same situation around you can be a great support system. Or alternatively, find local variations of the hobbies you enjoyed at home in order to settle into your new surroundings more easily.
Find a Budget Airliner
The most expensive part of your trip to the UK – outside of living expenses – will most certainly be the flying costs. Surprisingly, defying gravity is a costly endeavor.
Luckily for us mere mortals, there are plenty of budget airlines to be discovered. So, get your best Google-fu on and find them before the cheapest seats are booked right under your nose!
Learn to Budget – Fast
How much can you afford to spend a month? A week? How much money do you have for the whole venture? These are questions you need to ask yourself before your trip, as this can help you to set a budget for your time in the UK. Living abroad can become expensive sooner than you would expect, so it is important to prepare with a solid budget.
Create a spreadsheet and work out the important staples like food, travel and accommodation. Then begin to factor in things such as recreation and sightseeing. Because yes, food comes before the Crown Jewels any day of the week!
The UK has a great thing known as the student discount. Every shop you enter the first words out of your mouth should be, “do you do a student discount here?” It will save you up to 10% on all of your purchases – bargain!
Pay as You Go Phone
The UK has a mobile network that spans the whole country, but it can get expensive. Especially if you plan to make international calls back home at any point in time. Which is why to save money, you need to invest in a pay as you go phone.
This type of payment plan is much easier for a foreign visitor to obtain, but also can end up being much more cost effective for you in the long run.
A Slice of Home
Being away from home for any period of time can be daunting, but even more so if you have never lived so far away for such a prolonged period. Homesickness is almost inevitable in this case. When this happens all you will want is a cuddle from mom, so remember to teach her how to Skype before you leave the country. It’s not the same as a cuddle, but it’s a good way to help keep in touch; and a free way at that!
And there you have it! The UK is full of adventures and exciting experiences, just be sure you are fully prepared for them ahead of time. Get your ducks in a row and your time abroad will be enough memories to last a lifetime.