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International Student Guide

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Editors Intro

Hello and welcome to Accommodation For Student’s 2014 International Student Guide. I’m Veronica, a final year student at The University of Manchester studying French and Arabic. Being a languages student, I’ve had my fair share of living and working abroad. I spent last academic year studying in Egypt for my degree course, so if you’re considering heading overseas for university then I understand how daunting but exciting it might feel. My advice to all students across the globe: if you have the choice to do a year, or even a semester, abroad then please go for it! It can be easy to arrange and the rewards are endless. This guide gives you step-by-step advice on preparing for your great British adventure, from FINDING SOMEWHERE TO LIVE and ORGANISING VISAS to overcoming cultural barriers and SETTING UP YOUR LIFE IN THE UK. Whilst in many countries, students tend to study at their local university and live at home, in the UK it’s most common to move away for your degree. I’m originally from the South of England but moved to Manchester for university (North West England) to get a taste of northern life. This means that, whilst for you the UK is probably a new country, most of your coursemates – international or not – will also be new to the area, searching out new friends and finding somewhere to live. We take assisting you in finding the right student living arrangements very seriously. Being the UK’s largest online provider of student accommodation, In our guide we’ve included TIPS ON SEARCHING FOR ACCOMMODATION and NAVIGATING A TENANCY AGREEMENT to help you find your ideal student housing. The UK is a fantastic place to study abroad thanks to its vibrant university life, cultural diversity and range of large student cities. Improving your English will also dramatically help your future career and travel ventures. If you’re concerned about perfecting your English (see p.22), getting a part time job (see p.21) or adapting to a new culture we’ve got it covered in this guide, including FIRST-HAND ADVICE written by international students from across the world who are currently at a UK university. University in the UK is much more than pure academia; I believe that’s what makes it so special. You’ll make lifelong friendships, have some hilarious Freshers memories (see our TOP TIPS FOR SURVIVING FRESHERS) and get the chance to join a wealth of societies and extra-curricular activities. My top tip is take advantage of your time and get stuck into British life – take a look at our TOP TEN BRITISH THINGS TO DO and CLASSIC BRITISH RECIPES. The weather: well, invest in an umbrella. It’ll make you appreciate those sunny days that much more. From all of us at AFS, we hope you enjoy the GUIDE!


















































All You Need To Know About Visas

You’ve been accepted to the university of your dreams in the UK, so now what? Now it’s time to start the process of obtaining your visa. Although this task may seem daunting, we’ve compiled a brief list of helpful advice to guide you through the immigration process.

DO YOU NEED A VISA? Unless you are in one of the four categories below, you will need to apply for a visa to be able to study in the UK. You do not need a visa if: 1. Y  ou are a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. 2. Y  ou are a British overseas territories citizen (excluding sovereign base areas in Cyprus). 3. Y  ou are a UK Ancestry visa holder (meaning at least one of your grandparents was born in the UK and you’re a Commonwealth citizen). 4. Y  ou have no conditions or time limit attached to your stay. *Even if you fit into one of the categories above, you may still need to obtain a visa depending on the length of your course or if you wish to work during your studies.





Your own unique situation will determine which visa you need to obtain. Read below to see which category you fit into:

If you apply for a visa outside the UK, there are charges involved in obtaining one. See the list below:

• T ier 4 (General)—For adults who want to come to the UK for their post-16 education.

• Tier 4 (General) or (Child)—£298

Depending on which country you live in, you can apply for your visa online or by filling out and mailing in an application (or a combination of the two). To make a successful application, you must score 40 total points in the UK Border Agency’s points assessment. To score the full amount you must have:

• T ier 4 (Child)—For children 4 – 17 years old on a long course of study. If you are 4-15 years old you must be coming to study at an independent fee-paying school. • Student Visitor—For adults (age 18 and over) on a short course of study (no longer than 6 months), who will not work during their time in the UK. Or, if you are taking an English Language course (no longer than 11 months) and will not work. • Child Visitor—For children under 18 on a short course of study (up to 6 months). If you have this visa and then wish to apply for a Tier 4 visa you must leave the country first.

• Student Visitor—£80 – 144 •C  hild Visitor—£80 – 737 (depending on length of stay) *If you have been awarded certain scholarships, you may be able to apply for your visa free of charge. Please note, if you apply for your visa once already in the UK the fees will be considerably higher.

• A valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), which your school will provide for you, and an appropriate level of English language skills based on assessment test scores or native ability. This accounts for 30 out of 40 points. • Evidence that you have enough money to cover course fees and living costs during your stay. This accounts for the additional 10 out of 40 points. As part of your application, you will also have to register your biometric information (fingerprints and facial photo) at a UK visa application centre.


All You Need To Know About Visas



For many visa categories you may be asked to provide additional documents to support your application. These documents may include, but are not limited to:

With a Tier 4 (General) or (Child) you have the ability to work up to 10 or 20 hours per week (dependant on the nature of your course) during your studies. With these visas you can:

• A valid passport or travel document

•W  ork part-time during term.

• One passport-sized colour photograph (to go on your visa)

•W  ork full-time on holiday.

• Evidence that you have been unconditionally accepted on a course in the UK (normally your original CAS statement) • Original certificate(s) of previous academic qualification or the original transcript of previous academic results • Test certificate of your English language competence (if applicable) • Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate (if applicable) • Evidence of finances (either your own or your sponsor’s, which may include bank statements and balance certificates) • Tuberculosis testing for students (of certain countries) studying English language courses longer than 6 months (if applicable) • Details of accommodation and travel bookings


•P  articipate in a work-placement for your course. •W  ork as a postgrad doctor or dentist on a recognized Foundation Programme (if applicable). •W  ork as a student union officer. *With a Student or Child Visitor visa, you will not be able to work during your time in the UK.

CAN YOU STAY AFTER YOUR COURSE ENDS? Depending on the nature and length of your course, you will be able to stay for a short time after your studies. See which category you fit into below: • Your course is 12+ months You can stay 4 months after the end of your course. • Your course is at least 6 months, but less than 12 months—You can stay 2 months after the end of your course. • Your course is less than 6 months— You can stay between 7 days and 1 month after the end of your course (dependant on the nature of your course). The visa application process may seem complicated and confusing, but as long as you follow our guide and apply for your visa in a timely manner, you won’t have any snags along the way. If you need further information about visas for studying in the UK, visit:

Packing for the UK & What to Bring

Whether you’re coming from overseas or just across the English Channel, there are a few essentials you will need to bring for your stay in the UK. Here are the top 20 items to include on your packing checklist.

1. PASSPORT This one is obvious. Forget this and you won’t even make it into the country.

2. CASH In some cases, your credit card from your home country might not work in the UK. Until you open a bank account, you’ll need to have some cash on hand.

3. IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS + COPIES Make sure you have all of your documents for the border, university enrollment, housing, etc. Bring one to two extra copies of each.

4. UMBRELLA No matter where you study in the UK, it will rain—often. To be safe, pack one umbrella in your luggage and buy another once you get into the country for when you (undoubtedly) lose the first one.

5. RAINCOAT Sometimes the combination of wind and rain is lethal enough to flip your umbrella inside out. In these cases, you’ll be happy you have that snugly raincoat.





Plane/train/bus rides can be boring. Enough said.

The UK has different plugs and outlets than other parts of the world. Get a universal adapter and it will work no matter where you travel.

If you plan on hiking, playing sports, or working out, you’ll need a pair of athletic shoes. You can even wear them when you travel if you plan on doing a lot of walking.



It can get cold in the UK, so you’ll want to invest in a warm coat, hat, scarf, and gloves.

If you know what size bed you’ll have, it doesn’t hurt to bring a set of sheets and a pillowcase so that you don’t have to worry about buying them the first day you arrive.

7. DIGITAL CAMERA Bring an inexpensive digital camera that can survive the wear and tear of your adventures.

8. LAPTOP/TABLET As studying is your main purpose, you’ll need some device to do homework on. If you don’t have enough funds for one, your university should have some computers available for use on campus.

13. BACKPACK Invest in a durable backpack for carrying books and papers, which will also come in handy during weekend trips.



Depending on the brand/age of your

In the summer it can get quite warm in

smartphone, you will be able to insert a UK SIM card into it. (And don’t forget your charger!) If your phone isn’t UK compatible you will be able to select from a variety of phones and data plans in-store.

the UK and you might want to venture to the beach. Break out your swimsuit and work on that tan!

10. USB Studying at university always involves working with other students. Bring a USB, (also known as a flash drive) so that you can easily transport and share files.

15. TOILETRIES There’s nothing worse than realizing you don’t have your toothbrush or favorite hand cream. Make sure you have all of the essentials—toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, lotion, soap, shampoo and makeup.

18. PENS/PENCILS You never know when you’re going to need to jot down an address, phone number, or important note. You can’t do that without some sort of writing utensil

19. JOURNAL The easiest way to remember your time in the UK is by keeping a journal. Write about your friends, activities, travels, etc. Later in life you’ll be glad you preserved those memories.

20. PHOTOS No matter how much you love your time in the UK, you will miss home. Put up pictures of your friends and family on your bedroom walls to make it feel more like home.


Tips on Searching for Accommodation

It can be daunting moving to a foreign country alone when you don’t know anyone. There are so many things to think about before you start University too, with accommodation probably being the most important. The whole process of finding a place to live is confusing for the majority of students as it’s their first experience of doing so; let alone if you’re international, but we want to help you find the accommodation that’s right for you, as easily and stress-free as possible.



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Tips on Searching for Accommodation

The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to stay in halls of residence or private rented accommodation during your stay. If you opt for halls, there are two different types: University-owned and private rented halls.

UNIVERSITY HALLS OF RESIDENCE Owned by the University, you can view them on the University website (usually located in the Undergraduate section). Universities differ with when you reserve your room – if you’re starting your degree in the UK then you will choose your accommodation once you’ve been offered a place, and will either receive conformation almost instantly; or you’ll rank your chosen halls and receive notification a few weeks before moving in. If you’re an exchange student, it’s likely you’ll just be placed in University halls, but it’s worth contacting someone to confirm this. Most first year students live in University halls, although about 15% of the rooms are occupied by second and third years, with priority given to international students.

PRIVATE HALLS OF RESIDENCE Similar to University Halls, except that they are owned by a private company. These residences tend to be very popular with International Students, often because they offer a very high standard of accommodation and furnishings. They also tend to be very well located and often balance proximity to University with enviable city centre locations. Another feature of Private Halls is that they can often house students from multiple Universities, which can be an attractive feature for students wishing to widen their social circle. Finally many Private Halls have availability relatively close to the start of the academic year, which is of particular benefit to students who make late decisions about where to study.


HALLS HAVE MANY BENEFITS: • Bills are included in the price, so you can use as much water/electricity as you want without worrying about the cost. • They’re extremely safe. You’ll more than likely need a code or a fob to get into the grounds, and often other codes for each block; not to mention wardens and CCTV. • Most halls are situated close to University, or even on campus. They’re also a good option if you really want to focus on your studies as you’ll have your own private space to spread your work out.

THE OTHER OPTION IS RENTING A HOUSE this can be a great way to meet new people, although the idea can be frightening. As an international student moving to the UK, it’s unlikely you’ll know anyone to live with. However, at AFS ( we have a section on our website dedicated to exactly this. Here, you can upload your details (your name, how much you’re willing to pay, a quick overview of your hobbies and what you’re like as a person), and view advertisements for spare rooms. If you see a property you’re particularly interested in, if possible, try to meet up with the people who will be living in that property to see if you get on. However, this can be impossible if you won’t be in the country before you start University in which case, see if you can have a quick chat over Facebook or Skype. As well as making friends, there are other benefits to houses, such as more independence as you can pretty much do what you want (within reason). Plus, the rents are generally cheaper too. Nevertheless, there are drawbacks – bills often aren’t included in the rent, so you’ll need to make an arrangement with your housemates.

LOCATION ALSO NEEDS TO BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION Have a look at our reviews ( to find the popular student areas. The biggest factor is safety: if you don’t feel safe in a particular area, then don’t live there. Small things such as walking back from the bus stop at night really matter, because you don’t want it to stop you from having a social life. You also need to decide what’s important to you in terms of proximity – do you want to be close to campus or the city centre, or are you fine with a 20 minute bus journey as long as the transport is frequent? If your budget is limited, you’ll probably have to compromise. Whilst the idea of sorting out accommodation can seem complex, in reality, if you’re organised it’s not a big issue. As an international student, we at Accommodation For Students are here to help, so don’t worry if you have lots of questions that need answering, just get in touch with us. Besides, if you follow this guide, you’ll have nothing to worry about!

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Navigating a Tenancy Agreement

A tenancy agreement is a contract between a landlord and tenant. It may be in writing or it can be an oral (spoken) agreement, but it is more usual to have a written document.

WHAT DOES A TENANCY AGREEMENT DO? A tenancy agreement will contain the rights and obligations that both you and the landlord have with respect to the property that you are renting. So, for example it will contain an obligation on you to pay rent, and an obligation on the landlord to allow you to use the property, as well as your right to occupy the property and the landlord’s right to be paid rent.

DOES A TENANCY AGREEMENT HAVE TO BE WRITTEN? No, the law in England and Wales does not give tenants the right to a written tenancy agreement. An oral tenancy agreement exists where there is no written document but where a discussion has taken place between landlord and tenant in which certain factors were agreed such as that the tenant would rent the property for an amount of rent, when the tenancy would start, and whether utilities costs were included in the rent. It is very difficult to enforce an oral agreement, or to dispute it, as it is hard to prove what was agreed. Whether or not there is a written tenancy agreement, a landlord must (by law) provide a tenant with their name and address.


TENANCY AGREEMENT IMPLIED TERMS Whether a tenancy agreement is written or oral it will still be subject to what are called ‘implied terms.’ These are set down in law and so are automatically included in every tenancy agreement, whether they are stated or not. These include:

WHAT SHOULD A WRITTEN TENANCY AGREEMENT CONTAIN? A written tenancy agreement should indicate the type of tenancy agreement that it is – for example an assured shorthold tenancy.

1. The tenant has the right to peaceful occupation of the property without interference or nuisance from the landlord.

Typically, most written tenancy agreements will also contain the following:

2. The landlord must ensure that basic repairs are carried out, including making sure that the amenities for supplying gas, sanitation, water, electricity, heating etc are kept in proper working order.

1. The start date of the tenancy, as well as its duration and any end date.

3. The tenant must provide the landlord with access for repairs to be carried out.

2. Whether anyone other than the tenants is allowed to use the property, and if so which rooms.

4. The tenant must use the property in a ‘tenant-like’ fashion i.e. using it properly and not intentionally causing damage.

3. H  ow much rent is payable and when. This may also cover possible rent increases and whether or not utilities and service charges are included in the stated amount.

It is not possible for a tenancy agreement to exclude the above implied terms – if you have an agreement that attempts to exclude these terms then it is a sham

4. How much notice is required to end the tenancy (subject to the type of tenancy that it is, in which case statutory requirements for the notice period may apply).

tenancy agreement i.e. not real or valid.

CHANGING A TENANCY AGREEMENT Usually, both you and the landlord must agree to any changes to the tenancy agreement. If the agreement is in writing then the changes should also be recorded in writing, either by producing a new written agreement or an amendment to the existing tenancy agreement. If the tenancy agreement is oral then the variation will be oral too but must still be agreed between you and the landlord.

5. The obligations of the landlord to carry out repairs (depending on the type of property).


Setting Up Your Life in the UK

Setting up all of the things to make your life in the UK run smoothly isn’t always easy, so let us help! Read the top 5 things to do upon arrival in the UK.

OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT Lucky for you, most banks offer free students accounts with proof of enrollment in university. Find a bank that best suits your needs in terms of location, service, and perks, and be sure to find out about mobile and online options. (**NatWest offers free Railcards to students 16 – 25).

PURCHASE A PHONE OR SIM CARD If you’ve got a new smartphone you should be able to just insert a UK SIM card into it—start out with a £10 or £20 monthly top-up that gives you various texting, calling and data options. If your phone isn’t UK compatible, all phone companies will have a wide range of options in-store.

SET UP A DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT Full-time students are eligible for free healthcare. When you receive your National Healthcare Services (NHS) number, find an NHS clinic near you that is taking on patients. Your university will be able to help you, or you can visit the NHS website:


FIND A RELIABLE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION Unless you live close to university, you will use a bike, train, or bus to get around. Invest in a yearlong student bus pass, or a Railcard (which will save you 30% on all train trips). If public transportation isn’t your thing, biking is a great way to get from point A to point B and stay in shape!

GET TO KNOW YOUR ROUTE AND SCHEDULE The worst way to start the school year is getting lost on campus or being late to class. Map out your route to school if you’re walking or biking, so that you know exactly where you’re going. And be sure to print out your class schedule!

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Studying overseas is one of the best ways to increase your career prospects for the future, but the experience isn’t cheap. Fortunately for most international students in the UK, laws allow you to work to earn some cash and improve your English. Here are the facts and how to go about it:





with a Tier 4 student visa in the UK are usually allowed to find employment whilst they study. This must be part-time (20 hours per week) in term time but can be full-time during the holidays. First, however, you need to apply for a National Insurance Number (see across). You can also normally do a work placement as part of your course, work as a student union sabbatical officer for up to two years or work as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised Foundation Programme.

To get a National Insurance Number, call JobCentre Plus on 0845 600 0643. You will hear a recorded announcement first; please wait and someone will answer. Ask to be connected to the National Insurance Number Allocation Service.

If you can afford it, think about volunteering. Community Service Volunteers (CSV) works with UK organisations to offer programmes to people of any background. If you are age 14-25 Vinspired also has a range of unpaid projects on offer. Local newspapers and notice boards may also advertise volunteer work. One thing to remember, though: always check terms and conditions and research the organisation before you get involved.

STUDENTS FROM THE EU Students from the EU are allowed to find employment in the UK and share the same rights as UK citizens, but you must first apply for a National Insurance number (see across).

FIND EMPLOYMENT To find a student job or work experience, the best place to start is your university careers service. Or, many students work in bars or shops; go somewhere local looking smart and with your CV and a smile to ask if there’s any work going. Alternatively contact your university’s international office who might be able to help you find work experience and internships related to your dream career.

SELF INITIATE Show Entrepreneurial flair and start up your own projects, or even a business.

STUDY ENGLISH Remember, you must have a certain level of English (spoken or written depending on the job). See our ‘Studying English as a Second Language’ page for more.


Advice for English as a Second Language

The job market is a tough place and increasingly employers are favouring students with an international perspective and understanding of other cultures. Not only will studying abroad give you this insight, but it is the best way to perfect your English. However, you may face some challenges studying a degree in English if it’s not your first language. Here are a few tips: BEFORE YOU ARRIVE


• Requirements: Different universities have different language requirements for international students. Research thoroughly and don’t apply unless you can meet the standard.

• Get a part-time job or do work experience (see Employment page). You’ll meet many locals and learn to speak like a Brit.

• Tests: Most universities test your English by asking you to pass either the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or an equivalent test. TOEFL focuses on your ability to use and understand English in an academic environment whilst IELTS is more of a general proficiency test. For both, though, you must have a strong grasp of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Check which certificate you need to get with the university.

• Ask your university about term-time English support classes. This could help you with your academic language when writing essays. • Read the newspaper daily and watch British TV. You’ll start understanding more without even realising. • Don’t be shy! In the classroom, work with peers and share ideas. If you don’t understand something, always take the initiative to ask your tutor what it means or go and see them after the lecture. They won’t judge you for not understanding. In fact, they’ll respect you for asking. • Contact the local British Council office. They might be able to put you in touch with fellow nationals in this area. • Contact International Focus or HOST UK. They might be able arrange a visit for you with a British host family at weekends or during the holidays.




Written by Hayley Swain

UK UNIVERSITIES Universities in the UK are quite similar to those in Australia so you probably won’t notice any major differences in relation to your actual academic experience. The exception is collegiate universities like Oxford and Cambridge where students become members of the university through their membership of a particular college. Freshers Week is the equivalent of Orientation Week or O-Week in Australia so this is your chance to become familiar with the university, student services and student societies. It takes place during the first week of the academic year (which

Many British people are also passionate sports supporters with football (soccer) and cricket being the most popular, so expect to receive lots of comments relating to cricket during any England vs Australia tournament - though it is all meant in good fun. Also be prepared that every person you meet, when they find out you are Australian, will proceed to tell you all about their sister who went backpacking in Queensland and their second cousin who moved to Adelaide in case you know them.

COSTS IN THE UK Compared to Australia, most things will

is September in the UK) and there will be a number of organised social events including pub crawls and live music. It is a good idea to check out the international society at your university. They often host interesting events and organise trips to different places across the UK which is great if you don’t have a car. It is also a good way to meet other international students who are in the same situation as you.

seem cheaper if you are converting the cost back into Aussie dollars. Keep in mind though that wages are lower in the UK, so if you will be relying on money from a part time job while you are studying, do not expect to earn the equivalent of what you would in Australia. If you are studying at a UK university while on a student visa you are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week during term time and full time during vacations.



Life in the UK is also quite similar to that in Australia so although you will encounter some differences it won’t come as a major culture shock. In the UK a lot more undergraduate students will move away from home to attend university. This means there are large numbers of young students wanting to enjoy their new-found freedom resulting in a drinking and partying culture which is more intense than in Australia. This has calmed down by the postgraduate level.

The UK is a LONG way from Australia so you are unlikely to be popping home for a visit during the holidays. To combat any feelings of homesickness you will want to keep in regular contact with family and friends back home but this can be expensive if calling from a mobile. Skype and Viber are great apps for calling people overseas for free.

Aside from the excessive undergraduate drinking, there are many positive sides to the British cultural experience. The UK has a long, rich and varied history so make sure you take the opportunity to check out some of the many castles and other historical sites. There are many interesting museums and art galleries (many of which are free) with a wealth of British items as well as things collected across the globe by British explorers.

behind one of the numerous clouds). You will definitely need to invest in a decent winter coat and wet weather gear but it is probably cheaper to buy them once you have arrived in the UK. It is not all doom and gloom though, once you have come through a British winter (during which you will get excited every time you see a flake of snow falling), a 14oC spring day will feel positively balmy! Don’t let the weather discourage you from outdoor activities, they have a saying here in the UK that there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing (ie. wear your waterproofs)!

WARM CLOTHES The UK climate is quite cool and wet with many summer days often being comparable to a warm winter day in many parts on Australia. It will take some time to get used to figuring out what clothes will match the weather – just because you look outside and it is sunny, does not mean the weather is suitable for singlets and thongs (or flip-flops as they are called in the UK). Even in summer you will usually need to take a cardigan or jumper with you in case the weather turns (or the sun goes



Congratulations! After a long plane ride from the States you’ve made it to the UK and are ready to start your amazing student experience. Read on for 10 key differences between the UK and US that you’ll quickly pick up on:

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Written by Mary Swick




T he most obvious one—in the UK, cars drive on the left side of the road. Make sure you look to the right when crossing the street, but to be safe do as your mother always told you and look both ways. Some cities even have “look right” written on the streets because they know many tourists come from countries that drive on the opposite side of the road.

 on’t laugh when you hear the words D oregano, yogurt, schedule, aluminium, or Nike—they’re pronounced differently in the UK. And don’t be surprised if people give you weird looks when you pronounce them. You’ll also find a few new words, like:

In the UK, “college” and “school” are not interchangeable with “university”. College is the equivalent of their high school, and if you simply say “school”, they’ll think grade school. Say you go to “uni” and everyone will know what you mean.

• L orry = truck


“YOU ALRIGHT?”  hen you’re greeted by a friend, W classmate, or co-worker, you’ll most likely hear “you alright?” No, you don’t look unwell or anything, this just means “how are you” or “what’s up?” Respond with “yeah, you okay?” to be polite and reciprocal.

QUEUE! Waiting your turn in line, or queuing, is extremely important in the UK. Whether you’re at the bank or bus stop, make sure to queue behind people who arrived before you to avoid any angry confrontations.

BUY YOUR PLASTIC BAGS Be prepared to buy plastic bags for your groceries at the supermarket. Some places may provide them for free, but most charge a few pence per bag. Carry a spare plastic/canvas bag in your backpack or purse in case you need to stop by the store. Also, baggers—those don’t exist in the UK.


•P  etrol = gas •Q  ueue = line •D  ear = expensive •B  iscuit = cookie

In the UK, tipping is not required (or even expected) at bars or restaurants. Unless your service is exceptional, you don’t need to tip your waiter or bartender at all. Tipping is okay for a taxi driver (10%) or hotel staff (£2-3).

•C  ourgette = zucchini


• F lat = apartment

When you go to buy something, the price on the tag is the price you pay. Unlike in the US where sales tax is factored in at checkout, in the UK the tax is already included in the sticker price.

• L ift = elevator •R  ubber = eraser •C  hips = fries •C  risps = chips • F ootball = soccer • T orch = flashlight • J umper = sweater •R  eturn ticket = roundtrip ticket And be careful when saying pants—this means underwear! Say trousers to be safe.

MEALS Breakfast always means breakfast, but watch out when you hear “dinner” and “tea”. In some places, dinner means lunch, and tea means dinner. Of course in these same places, dinner can mean dinnertime and tea can mean just having some tea, so ask for clarification just in case.

METRIC SYSTEM Get used to the metric system. Everyone in the UK (and most of the world) uses it and won’t know what you’re talking about if you say it is 86 degrees out. They will, however, sometimes use miles for units of distance. Hopefully now you’re more prepared for life in the UK. By the end of your stay you’ll find that you love many parts of British culture, like going for a pint at the pub, watching a rival football match, enjoying a typical English breakfast and nice cup of tea, and complaining about the weather. Enjoy your time in the UK!

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Written by Hansika Jethnani

Bravo! You’ve made it to the UK! It’s time to have the university experience of a lifetime… But do not be taken aback by lifestyle differences in the UK compared to China. After all, you are in a new culture. Embrace it! Here’s a list of things you may pick up on over time and how to deal with them: GREETINGS



The first thing you may hear on leaving the airport is “you alright?” or “you okay?” No, they do not think you look sad or ill. It’s just a way of saying, “what’s up?” or “how are you?” The ideal answer to give is a “yeah” and ask the same about them. Sometimes they’ll tell you a thing or two about their day and what they’ve been up to.

Christmas season starts early compared to China. By the end of October you’ll see the UK Christmas-ified. The streets will be bustling with people Christmas shopping. It’s almost like Chinese New Year in China with all the red decorations!

The cars in the UK drive on the left side. Remember to look to the right when crossing the street - although better be safe than sorry and look both ways! Some cities even have “look right” written on the streets because they know so many people travel to the UK from countries where they drive on the opposite side of the road.

CHIPS & CRISPS They call fries, “chips” and chips, “crisps”. Be wary of this difference when ordering food, especially at a local café, as the two are both very popular yet very distinct!

PETS Sometimes you might see pets on the tube or the bus; do not be alarmed. Unlike in China, the transport here is pet-friendly and generally, the pets are too!

FREE NEWSPAPERS Make the most of the free newspapers! There’s almost always someone giving them out on busy streets in city centres. It’s nice to not have to pay to read the news!

SARCASM Sometimes when you’re in the supermarket, the staff may joke around sarcastically - do not take it too seriously! They’re just kidding around - play along, have a laugh and say thank you.

RECYCLING Garbage bins on the street are more specific rather than just “recyclable items” and “non-recyclable items”. There will be “cans”, “paper”, “plastic” etc. This is not always the case, but the UK is definitely well involved in recycling – be aware of what you’re throwing into which bin!

THE PUB The Pub is the place here! When coworkers, friends or classmates ask to hang out, they will most likely ask if you’d like to go to a pub. It’s just like KTV is a popular place for gatherings in China. It might sound a bit intimidating sometimes but it’s always a nice way to get to know people around you.

It might all seem overwhelming at first but as time goes on, you will feel more comfortable in your new environment. Never miss out on opportunities and make the most of your time abroad! And if you feel a little homesick, take a trip to the Chinatown in your city and delight in some Chinese goodies!

CUP OF TEA Just like going to the pub, people enjoy having a cup of tea too, so you could be asked to meet for tea instead. Don’t miss out the opportunity to taste one of the many things the British are renowned for! You may hear the term ‘afternoon tea’. This is a mini meal in between lunch and dinner, where tea is generally served with scones and breads! It is definitely a delicacy worth trying.



So you’ve packed your bags and it’s time to head to the UK to start a very important and exciting part of your life journey: ‘University’. Here are a few pointers to help you get quickly accustomed to the UK.


Written by Ashana Beria

DIFFERENCE IN GREETINGS You will notice people using phrases like ‘you alright’ which means ‘what’s up’ or ‘how are you’. ‘Cheers’ is a substitute for ‘Thank You’. Get accustomed to these greetings, as they will help you fit in.

INDIAN GRAVY DISH IS ‘CURRY’ India has a vast variety of gravy dishes and there is a distinct difference between every dish. On coming here you will notice that people cannot tell the difference between the different gravy dishes and refer to everything as ‘curry’. Whether it is ‘Black Lentil’ or ‘Bombay Aloo’ it is all ‘curry’!

TAP WATER IS DRINKABLE Most people in the UK drink tap water and it is totally safe to do so. In fact people usually order tap water in restaurants. Save yourself some cash by drinking water out of the tap instead of spending money on mineral water bottles - they’re not as cheap as they are in India!

EVERYONE EATS THEIR OWN DISH In Indian culture we are all used to ordering many dishes and then sharing them between us. In the UK, however, people prefer to order their own dish and finish it by themselves. Yes, you can take a bite from each other’s dishes but that is just for the purpose of tasting.



You will find yourself writing a ton of reports and essays, which we are not used to in India. At first you might find this quite stressful but you will eventually get used to and appreciate it compared to learning texts and regurgitating them in an exam. It is more about self-learning rather than someone teaching you.

Many places in the UK have special allowances or ‘discounts’ for students, be it shopping joints or ‘centres’, restaurants or even public transport. In India there are no provisions like this so you might not be used to them. Once you reach the UK you should always ask for such schemes anywhere you go as this can help you save a lot of cash!

5 MONTHS IN A YEAR ARE VACATIONS In India we hardly get vacations. Summer, winter and festive holidays add up to about two and a half months. In the UK holidays are way longer and students get holidays of up to 5 months. Use this time to travel around Europe as travelling from the UK to other European cities is quite cheap.

CARDS ARE USED MORE FREQUENTLY THAN CASH On coming here you will notice that people prefer using their debit card to make purchases as opposed to cash in India. Using a debit card is not only more convenient but also safer as you can always cancel the card if it is stolen. As a student, using a debit card also makes it easier to keep track of where you have been spending your money.

SPECIAL OCCASIONS In the UK there are many special occasions that people celebrate like Pancake Day or Bonfire Night, which you may never have even heard of in India. There are many events organised for these days and you should be sure to take a part of all these quirky occasions.

ERRATIC WEATHER The weather in the UK is very unpredictable which you will see for yourself once you are here. In India the seasons are fixed and there are particular months in the year when it rains – in the UK it can rain anytime! A day can go from being perfectly sunny to an annoying rainy day, so be sure to carry your umbrella as you do not want to find yourself drenched. I hope you found these pointers useful. You will certainly come across all of these interesting cultural differences yourself and more – when you explore the exciting place that is the UK.


South East Asia

So you are thinking of moving half way across the world. It is a big step entering a new country with a different climate and culture. Nevertheless, most British customs are very interesting! Read on for a few differences between the UK and home that I’ve experienced during my student life. You will probably encounter them too, some immediately, and some progressively.


South East Asia

Written by Hayyu Imanda




The UK is not known for its sunshine and warmth as we are used to. In my first week, I complained about how cold it was - my British friends felt so sorry they didn’t tell me it was the warmest week in the year! The piles of T-shirts I brought over are left deep in my suitcase, with no chance of wearing them at all. Back home, we never had “a good day” but you will love and appreciate the sun more here!

After a while you will be able tell where someone is from just by listening to them say a single sentence. English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish accents are very distinct from each other, not to mention regional accents within the countries — London, Yorkshire and Newcastle are all in England but have very different accents! Accents are discussed in daily conversations, and are one of my favourite parts of the UK culture. Once here, you yourself may have a change of accent!

If you’re confused why your money from home hasn’t arrived in your bank account, check the calendar to see whether it’s a bank holiday—a public holiday when banks are officially closed. Other interesting days in the UK? They celebrate the day a man was captured whilst attempting to blow up the parliament. This is ‘Bonfire night’ with amazing firework displays!

“CHEERS!” On the street, when people say “cheers” they don’t expect you to grab your drink and bump it together with theirs. It means “thank you” or “goodbye”. Please do reply back with a warm smile.

ALCOHOL Alcohol is big in the UK, and you’ve probably never tried it before. Nearly all socials are held in pubs or bars. If you are not comfortable with drinking any form of alcohol, don’t be afraid to say no! There are always alternatives such as soft drinks and juices.

“WORKING” You will be confused with the term “working”. It can mean a paid job. However, most of the time it means the same as “studying” or “doing university work”.


WATER Don’t worry - it is completely safe to drink tap water.

COURTESY When you are walking behind someone to a door, he/she will hold it for you, and possibly wait for you if you’re far behind. Please do say thank you and hold it again for the person behind you.

FOOD I don’t mean to disappoint, but you will probably miss food from home. The UK’s “daily bread”, “5-a-day”, and “tea” just don’t delight the Asian tongue. Coming from places where dozens of spices are produced it won’t be surprising if the UK’s food tastes bland to you. But don’t worry, they have a wide variety of cheeses, cakes and pastries that you’ll probably never have tasted and will love! And if you join societies with people from your own country you can cook some of your national dishes together.

I have lived in the UK for just over a year and I can say without a doubt that this period has been the best of my life. Remember, university is not just about coursework and grades, but the whole experience of meeting new people, being part of a community, and developing yourself in many ways. Good luck for this new chapter in your life!

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Are you considering applying for a degree in the UK, or have you already secured your unconditional offer and are eagerly packing your bags? Either way, here are 6 things you might want to keep in mind while getting ready for your great British adventure:


Written by Ilinca Barsan




I’m sure you’ve heard about the traditional British weather. If you’re anxious it might be rainy and grey all the time, rest assured – this cliché is simply not true. While it’s good to always be prepared for a bit of drizzle, you will experience some beautiful sunshine as well. One thing is true though – it might feel slightly colder than Germany. This has little to do with the actual temperature – German winters are a lot colder than British ones, and snow isn’t necessarily on the cards either. Yet, British student flats don’t necessarily live up to the German standard. While they might have high ceilings and big windows, single-glazed windows do little to keep the heat in – or the wind out, in more extreme cases. Prepare to layer up and stock up on sweaters if you don’t want to run up the gas bill. That said, of course it’s possible to find more modern flats too – just keep in mind that you might pay a higher price.

Whenever I’m back in Germany, I am surprised by how rude people act – until I remind myself that it is not that Germans are rude: British people are simply remarkably polite. Make sure not to skip queues, and say “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” – when in doubt, one too many times. But whilst they are very friendly and polite, you might feel like British people keep their distance on a personal level at first – it might take them a while to warm up to you.

UK universities offer a great learning environment for highly motivated individuals who are passionate about their studies and great at organising and sticking to schedules - which us Germans should be traditionally, I know. But this means that you might have comparably few contact hours (especially if you’re studying a humanities subject) and a lot of individual learning to do. Familiarise yourself with your library, learn to plan your week and keep on top of your reading list – you will be grateful for this once mid-term essays and exam revision start to kick in.

GET INVOLVED Life for a British student can easily revolve around campus. Of course you can have a life outside university– what I’m saying is: you don’t have to. Most student associations offer a broad variety of societies. They are a great way to meet like-minded people, practice old hobbies and learn something new. Your university will most likely have a German society too, if you find yourself missing home from time to time – or if you just want to enjoy some

TAKE IT EASY British students will quite likely be at least one year younger than you are – British kids start school one year later, and they only have 12 years of school too. While from a certain point on age doesn’t really matter anymore, you might find that it often does in the first year of university. This is certainly a question of personal matureness as well – but do keep in mind that British people, unlike Germans, are only allowed to drink alcohol once they turn 18, and they might be quite eager to enjoy this new freedom as much as possible when they get to university. This concept might at first seem strange to a German student, for whom alcohol is potentially neither new, nor particularly exciting anymore.

Studying in the UK won’t only help you brush up on your English and meet new people, but it’ll also give you the chance to understand how the British education system and society work and learn to appreciate (and occasionally laugh about) cultural differences. Have a great time!

German food or beer.


Eastern Europe


Written by Petra Matouskova

Hello to all new students coming to the UK from Eastern Europe! Britain is a place really worth living in, with a culture like nowhere else. Let me share some of the main differences I discovered during my stay here and give you some advice to make your life easier:



You will immediately notice that in the UK they drive on the left hand side of the road. In some cities, there are signs saying“Look left“ or “Look right“, particularly in touristy spots in London. Even if there aren’t signs, don´t worry - you´ll get used to it with time.

Whether you are coming from the EU or a European country that doesn’t use the Euro, be ready to meet the Queen’s face on British bank notes. Talking cash, if you have arrived in Britain and not opened a British bank account, do so. This will save you money as cash machines charge for withdrawels from a non-British bank account. And you never know, maybe you´ll find a part-time job where they’ll pay into your bank account – this can be part of your UK experience as well! Haven´t got a job? Don´t worry, there is always a one pound-shop or a university film screening with free food!

BLACK CABS & DOUBLE DECKERS When looking left before you cross the road, you might see a ‘black cab‘. This is a black British-style taxi found in some cities. Even more exiting are the double deckers – two floor buses! If you have never used one, get the upper seat in front and enjoy the view!

TAPS An important thing to bear in mind is that the British tap water system is different in the UK compared to Eastern Europe. Play around with the temperature and test it before you wash your hands to make sure it’s not too hot or too cold.

PLUGS & SOCKETS Talking about the household, plugs and sockets are not the same as in your home country. If you want to get your smartphone charged to stay in contact with friends and family, get yourself an adapter. Buying one before you arrive in the UK is the most hassle-free option.

TRAVEL If you find a part time job, you can maybe afford to travel by train - trains are quite expensive in the UK. In fact, it is sometimes cheaper to travel with a low-cost airline than opting for the train! Shouldn´t this be vice versa? Either way, take advantage of different travel deals and options.

LANGUAGES & CULTURES Interested in languages and new cultures? Congratulations, you´ve made a good choice. The UK is a very eclectic place when it comes to cultural diversity and meeting people from different backgrounds.

many varieties of ’curry‘ – it can feel like everything is called ‘curry‘! And try Fish ‘n‘ Chips!

HEARD ABOUT BRITISH POLITENESS? Try it yourself. There might even be an English gentleman helping you with your luggage at the airport as happened to me. Most people will say “thank you“ or “cheers“, even to the bus driver when getting off.

ACCENTS Did you pass IELTS with a high score? Good for you, but still be aware of difficulties when it comes to understanding some British accents and idioms. For example, what does it mean when it is “raining cats and dogs“? – this means “heavy rain“. Make British friends and go out for an afternoon tea with milk. It’s a good way to adapt to the new environment and get to know the people, “innit“? – (“Isn’t it“!)

I hope you enjoyed reading my advice and that it will be helpful for your stay in the UK. Personally, I am very happy to study here even though it rains a lot – just invest in a good umbrella. Wish you all the best!

FOOD You cannot understand the culture without trying its food, and you can find any kind of food in the UK. Get ready to try




Written by Ashana Beria

It’s official, you are going to study in England! First of all, welcome! It may be intimidating and frightening moving to a new country where things work differently, people speak a different language and the culture is different to your own. But, not to worry! You are not alone, and many people go through exactly the same experience. To start off, here are a few tips to help you adapt to your new life very quickly: DRIVING


You may already know that cars drive on the left hand side. This means that you will have to keep an extra eye out when you’re crossing the road. Often you will find road markings to help you know which direction to look, for example: ‘look left’.

Unless you’re in London, shops close really early: between 5-6 pm in most of the UK. Always plan early to avoid disappointment and being left with no food in the fridge.

EATING Meal times are different in the UK compared to Spain. Lunch is between 12-1 pm whilst in Spain you are probably used to having lunch around 3 pm, taking your time, having a coffee afterwards and maybe even a ‘siesta’. When it comes to dinnertime, the British tend to eat around 6 pm.

GOING OUT FOR DRINKS During the weekend, you should get used to the different eating timetable in the UK, as it will mean that going out for drinks after dinner is also earlier. Everyone tends to go out at around 9 pm since the bars close between 2-3 am usually. As a Spaniard, you are probably used to having dinner between 9-10 pm and going out for drinks around midnight. If you still want to enjoy the British nightlife, adapt to their schedule otherwise you could miss out.

HANDSHAKE When you meet new people in England, they usually introduce themselves with a handshake. I know, not the usual 2 kisses you are used to in Spain, but, you will get used to it after a few times.

Even though Spain and the UK are quite different in terms of customs and lifestyle, you will find that the UK is home to many international students, including Spanish ones. As a result, you’ll find yourself surrounded by many people like yourself, which helps create a family away from home. Everyone is very welcoming and kind, making it very easy to adapt to British culture.

“CHEERS!” You may hear some people say “Cheers!” This is a friendly way of saying thank you.

“MATE” A friendly way of saying friend is ‘mate’. You will most probably hear this amongst young people. For example, a way of greeting someone is: “You alright, mate?” If someone asks you if ‘you are alright’, don’t worry; they don’t think something is wrong with you. This is a casual way of asking ‘how are you?’.

THE WEATHER Start getting used to the fact that in the UK people speak about the weather a lot. In Spain there is no need to because the weather is (in most parts) consistently nice. In the UK, sun can be more of a luxury!


Top Ten Tips for Surviving Freshers Week

Freshers Week can be at once an exhilarating and frustrating experience for international students. On the one hand, your adrenaline is pumping, excited to be in a new country with different customs and perhaps a different language. On the other hand, navigating your way through Freshers Week can be a daunting experience, which is why we’ve compiled a list of ‘top ten tips for surviving Fresher’s week’:


Written by Kevin Boland




You’re by yourself in a new country and a new environment - don’t lock yourself in your room or worry about sightseeing. Go out and meet new people!

Before you leave your home country, be sure to have your mobile phone provider “unlock” your phone so you can purchase a British SIM card. If you can’t unlock your foreign phone, look into buying a cheap mobile that will work in the UK. Once you’re here, find a mobile plan that works for you: the UK has a hybrid system that offers top-up plans (receive a bulk amount of texts/minutes for a fee) and monthly plans on a yearly contract. Note: if you go with a contract plan, you’ll likely need a UK bank account (see step #3).

While it’s important to be social and get involved, don’t feel like you have to commit to everything that interests you in the first week - you’ll have plenty of time over the course of your studies.

BUY A FRESHERS PASS Chances are your University hosts events for new students. If possible, purchase a pass in advance to avoid the queues.

OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT Explore the banks near you. Some banks may be on campus during Freshers Week - find out about transfer fees from abroad, minimums, and monthly fees. Don’t just sign up for the most convenient bank; with due diligence you should be able to find one that doesn’t charge monthly fees. (For Americans: ‘current account’ means ‘checking.’)

JOIN A CLUB OR SOCIETY Make sure you hit the societies fair - sign up for at least one club or society that takes your interest and one that challenges you to go outside your boundaries! This is one of the best ways to meet people. Be aware, though, that many societies charge membership fees (ranging from £5 to £35).

BE SPONTANEOUS! Go with your flatmates or new friends you’ve met during Freshers week on a walking tour near your uni or flat - combine it with a pub crawl to get a feel for the area and what the best pubs are! Go out of your comfort zone - if only for a night. It’ll probably pay off!

REGISTER WITH A DOCTOR Not wanting to sound too much like your mother, but this is an important and easy thing to do. You’ll be thankful in the event that you’re sick or need medical attention. The NHS is a great service and is available to students studying in the UK. Go to http:// and find a GP Surgery near you.

REVIEW YOUR COURSE SELECTION Attend the University’s academic fair or consult your course organiser. Sometimes new classes or ‘modules’ are on offer.

STAY POSITIVE Stay Positive! Freshers Week will be full of highs and lows, but remember this is the beginning chapter of one of the most exciting periods of your life. Enjoy every moment of it. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Freshers Week can also be exhausting, so make sure to arrive to the UK early enough to get adjusted to the time!


Money Saving Tips

If the exchange rate into pounds has got you feeling broke (or as the Brits say, skint), listen up! Here’s our top 6 tips for saving money in the UK. PACK YOUR LUNCH OR EAT LUNCH AT HOME


The average Brit spends upwards of £7 per day eating out for lunch. Save yourself £50 each week simply by preparing a lunch in the morning before you head off to university or returning home for a quick bite between classes. Your wallet will thank you!

Charity shops, or thrift stores, are packed with amazing second-hands clothes and accessories that are often barely worn, vintage, or even new. You’ll be able to restock your wardrobe for practically no cost at all!



Establishments near universities will often cater to the huge student crowd by offering free/discounted entry, cheap drinks, and fun themes. Do some research online about the various student nights in the bars and clubs near you and plan your nights out accordingly.

GET AN NUS STUDENT CARD AND BRING IT EVERYWHERE Buy a card from the National Union of Students (NUS) for £12 and you’ll get a 10% discount in loads of shops and restaurants. Ask the cashier if they give student discounts, as it’s not always publicized.


If you plan on taking the train a lot, a Railcard (£30) will save you 30% off travel. Plus, if you have a bank account with NatWest, they give students 16 – 25 Railcards for free!

CONTACT THE COUNCIL Council tax (a local government tax) can be over £100 per month, but as a student you’re exempt from paying it. Get in touch with the Council to make sure they’re aware you’re in full-time education.

Top Ten British Things To Do

HAVE AFTERNOON TEA Scones with jam and cream or a slice of Victoria sponge cake are perfectly accompanied with a cup of English breakfast tea (or Earl Grey) with – yes – milk. Enjoy this at about 4pm to be quintessentially British!

FISH AND CHIPS ON THE BEACH (IN THE RAIN!) Being an island, Britain has some stunning beaches and Brits are stubborn enough to enjoy them come rain or shine. If it’s winter, bring a raincoat and scarf and buy fish and chips - or a Cornish pasty if you’re in Cornwall. Food tastes better outdoors anyway!

HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE WEATHER I’m sure you’ve all heard of how the Brits like to talk about the weather (mainly complaining, but hey, who can blame us?!) Try it out one day; it’s a good conversation starter, with anyone from your closest friend to that person at the bus stop. Just don’t forget the many different expressions we have for the types of rain (something my German friend found amusing). From spitting and drizzling to ‘chucking it down’, we have a term to describe it all!

WATCH AN EPISODE OF EASTENDERS/CORONATION STREET Soap operas play a big part in British TV, and we’re a nation divided between Eastenders (the East End of London) and Corrie, on the cobblestones of Manchester. Pick a side and stick to it, then you’ve got your TV-viewing sorted for pretty much every night of the week. My advice? It’s got to be Eastenders!





The good old pub (or ‘public house’) is the heart of the British community, and the atmosphere makes pubs a social den, whether you drink alcohol or not. Try a fruity cider if you’re in Somerset or otherwise a house ale, although be warned as ale is an acquired taste! Enjoy these over a game of darts or pool. In summertime, Pimms (fruity liquor with lemonade) is a must-drink.

We seem to have developed a bit of a reputation for our love of queuing – but seriously, it’s not a pastime, it’s merely an efficient way of waiting for something, whether it be buying an outfit or waiting for a bus. You’ll find yourself queuing over here at least once a day for something, not least passport control when you arrive here! Just a quick word of advice: never, EVER cut in line – we hate that.

We Brits like to think we’re fashionable creatures, and as such, spend a LOT of our time shopping. We do like to do things here differently though, with our love of ‘fast fashion’, which is basically buying really cheap clothing which we wear a few times before binning. So my challenge is to buy an outfit for £50 – trust me, it’s easy! Forget your environmental conscience and own-fashion values of a few ‘key outfits’ which can be worn time and time again, and unleash your inner Brit!

HAVE AN ENGLISH BREAKFAST AND SUNDAY ROAST Two more VERY British meals you need to try! An English breakfast consists of sausages, eggs, bacon, beans, toasts, tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns (and anything else you can get your hands on!) fried – a breakfast so popular it’s often offered all-day at many pubs! A Sunday roast is, as the name suggests, a roast dinner that is served on a Sunday, and is often a time that British families get together. Smother meat, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puds and vegetables in mounds of gravy and you’re sorted!

VISIT A CASTLE Our little island has hundreds of scenic castles and ruins originally built to protect Britain after the Norman Invasion in 1066. Knights on horseback may be a thing of the past but nowadays most castles and ruins are owned by English Heritage, National Trust or the Royal family and are open to the public. Take a picnic and wander through the grounds, over the drawbridge, into the fortress and climb the keep: spectacular views to be seen.

LISTEN TO SOME CLASSIC BRITISH ROCK Some of the best British rock bands may now have grey hair and wrinkles, but their hits live on. Enjoy classics such as The Beatles’ ‘Penny Lane’ from ’67, Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ from ’71 or Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ from ’75 either at home or in a classic rock bar. Think union jacks, long hair, leather jackets and electric guitars.




Arrived in the UK with just a handful of your treasured possessions? Don’t panic, read our handy guide to spruce up your room without breaking the bank or falling out with the property owner.


DO Can’t stick blue tack on the walls? Stick on some easy-peel decorator’s tape, available from your local DIY store, and stick the blue tack onto that. Need ideas for posters and pictures? Brush up on your world geography at the same time as marking your globetrotting exploits on a Scratch Map (£20, Urban Outfitters). Scratch off the countries you’ve visited and set your sights on new territories to explore. Alternatively add decoration that doesn’t need hanging up like a standing photo frame (£6, Urban Outfitters). Do assert your style. Get the retro look with a Flip Clock (£10.45, and make sure you’re never late for a lecture again or add comfy and colourful cushions and throws (IKEA, £3) to your bed to add instant homeliness.


When it comes to student accommodation, you’re usually stuck with the flooring you’ve got. Do add a rug, like this zig-zag design (£14, Urban Outfitters) to cover up any sinful carpet and protect it from any accidental spills that might jeopardise your deposit. Can’t afford to add some decoration? Check out our ‘Nifty Student Home Ideas’ board on Pinterest and get your craft on with some DIY projects or leaf through our ‘Student Home Dreams’ board for inspiration to play with what you’ve already got.



DON’T Don’t go mad and paint all your walls. First you’d need to check if your contract even allows you to redecorate and in most cases you’ll have to paint it back at the end of your tenancy, which could get pricey. Instead add a pop of colour with a statement piece of furniture such as a lime green chair (IKEA, £11) for some extra seating when your friends come round or a turquoise bedside table (IKEA, £25) to rest your cup of coffee on for those 9am starts.


Don’t settle with the lighting you’re given. Illuminate your studies with a desk lamp (IKEA, £17) to quickly brighten your room up or change up your lamp shade with a fresher model – just remember to hold onto the old one to change back when you leave. Don’t overfill your room with furniture. Give yourself some more breathing space and open up your room by being selective about what you bring with you. You can find a checklist of the things you really need on our Student guide Pinterest board.



British Holidays & How To Celebrate Them

So, how do I get involved with British culture you ask? Start by joining Brits in celebrating their holidays: AFS spoke to Aveline Orban, the President of AmeriCan society at The University of Nottingham to get her top tip for international students: “Make sure you interact with students who are from the country you’re studying in! So many international students come to Nottingham and end up making friends with other international students from the same area as them. Be confident and friendly and avoid retreating into your comfort zone of people you already know or feel you have links with. Whether it’s through society socials, halls of residence or seminar workshops, talk to the people around you and start building friendships. That way you will feel you made the most of your time abroad and really immersed yourself in the culture and experience!”




In 1604 a man named Guy Fawkes conspired to blow up the houses of Parliament. Luckily for King James I, his gunpowder plot failed and an annual celebration on 5 November was born in which towns light bonfires and burn stuffed, lifesize models of Guy Fawkes. Nowadays it’s more about the fireworks that accompany the bonfires. Head down to your local display with British friends. Buy sparklers and bring some money to enjoy the food stalls – try toffee apple – and fairground rides.

This may be the day of the patron saint of Ireland but people throughout the UK use the excuse for a party. 17 March is a day of merriment and drinking – usually Irish Guinness – in the pub, although you don’t have to have alcohol. If you want to go all out, dress in green and wear a shamrock!

The last Monday in August is a ‘bank holiday’ – a day when banks and most businesses are shut. To celebrate the long weekend off work, large festivals are put on throughout the UK such as Notting Hill Carnival in London and Reading & Leeds music festivals, as well as smaller events.

PANCAKE DAY Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday is the last Tuesday before Lent, roughly a month before the Christian festival Easter. TThe original purpose was to use up all rich foods such as eggs, milk and sugar before 40 days of fasting. Christian or not, Brits nowadays pass on fasting and just make mountains of pancakes. Join in and enjoy with traditional sugar and lemon, or nutella for something richer.



Classic British Recipes

If you’re going to stay in the UK you’ll need to know how to cook some classic British dishes! Follow our guides for some tip-top culinary treats!


FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST Spoil you and your housemates with a tasty fry up to kick start the day. Vegetarians, you can adapt using vegetarian meat substitutes or by leaving the sausages and bacon. Ingredients (serves 4): 4 tomatoes 8 portabello mushrooms 6 tsp olive oil 8 sausages 300g black pudding 8 rashers of bacon 830 g baked beans (or 2 tins) 12 eggs 2/3 cup whole milk Sea salt and ground pepper 1 large knob of butter Bread of your choice for toasting

1. Preheat the oven to its lowest heat and put 4 plates in to keep them warm. Preheat your grill to high temperature.

6. W  hile those are cooking, pour the baked beans in a pan and heat on a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring as you go.

2. Score the tomatoes by cutting a cross into the top of each of them.

7. C  rack the eggs into a bowl with the milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Beat lightly with a whisk.

3. Place the mushrooms on a large grill pan and brush 6 tsp of olive oil over them. 4. Put the sausages and tomatoes (scored side up) onto the pan with the mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes under the grill, turning the sausages half way through.

8. M  elt the butter in a non-stick saucepan on low heat. 9. P  our the eggs into the saucepan, leave for 20 seconds then stir gently but constantly with a wooden spoon until they are scrambled.

5. Add the black pudding and bacon to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.

10. P  op some bread in the toaster and serve your feast up with tomato or HP sauce and a pot of English breakfast tea.

1. Peel and roughly chop the onions and carrots and finely chop the garlic cloves.

7. L eave to simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes, and then a further 20 minutes uncovered.

2. Pick the rosemary leaves off the bunch and leave the stalks.

8. Heat the oven to 180C/gas 4.

SHEPHERD’S PIE This lamb dish (or ‘cottage pie’ if you use beef) is a meat pie with mashed potato. Brits have been cooking it up since the 18th century! Have a go: Ingredients (serves 4): 1 red onion 3 chopped carrots 2 garlic cloves Small bunch of rosemary Olive, sunflower or vegetable oil 500g packed lamb mince 500ml lamb or beef stock 300g chopped tomatoes (3/4 tin) Sea salt and ground pepper 900g potatoes cut in quarters 110g butter 6 tbsp milk Worcester Sauce

3. Pour some oil into a large saucepan and heat on medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, garlic and most of the rosemary leaves. Heat for 10 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. 4. Turn the heat on high and add the mince. Cook and stir for 10 minutes until brown. 5. Use a ladle to spoon away any excess fat and add the tinned tomatoes. 6. Pour in the beef stock and add salt and pepper to taste.

9. Boil the potatoes in a large saucepan in slightly salted water for 15 minutes or until soft (test by sticking a knife into them). 10. D  rain the potatoes, tip them back in the pan and mash them with the butter, milk and a pinch of salt and pepper until creamy. 11. O  nce the mince is ready, pour it into an oven proof dish and layer the mash on top. 12. D  rizzle with oil and bake for 20-25 minutes until the top has a slightly golden colour. Serving suggestion: enjoy with Worcester Sauce.


Classic British Recipes



Try our homemade recipe of Britain’s seaside classic. Our tip is to use fresh fish, but frozen is fine as well.

An afternoon tea treat, served with jam, clotted cream and a pot of tea. Lovely!

Ingredients (serves 4): 750g potatoes cut into chip shape slices (1cm thick) Sea salt and ground pepper 55g self-raising flour 300ml chilled lager 4 cod or haddock fillets 1 litre sunflower or vegetable oil 1. P  reheat the oven to 250C/gas 9 or its highest setting. 2. B  oil the cut potato slices in water for 3 minutes and drain. 3. Tip the chips onto a roasting pan. Drizzle an even coating of oil over them and season with salt and pepper to taste. 4. B  ake in the oven for 15-20 minutes turning often until crisp. 5. T urn the oven down to 130C/gas 1, leaving the chips in there. 6. S ift the flour into a large bowl and add a pinch of salt. Whisk in the lager until you have a thick batter the consistency of double cream. 7. P  lace the fillets on kitchen roll and pat dry. 8. C  oat the fillets with a thin layer of flour and then cover in thick batter. 9. H  eat the oil in a chip pan, thick bottomed saucepan or electric chip fryer until sizzling. Test it by dropping a small amount of batter in. It should crisp instantly. 10. C  arefully place each fillet into the oil and fry for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally with a large spoon until golden and crisp. 11. U  se the large spoon to remove the fillet, drain off excess oil and place it on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Pop it in the oven to keep warm with the chips while you fry the other fillets. Serve with peas and tartar sauce or vinegar.


Ingredients (makes about 8 scones) 225g self raising flour 40g butter 1 tsp baking powder 1 ½ tablespoons caster sugar ½ tsp salt 150ml milk 1 egg beaten with a little milk 50g sultanas (if you want to make fruit scones) 1. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7 and grease a baking tray with greaseproof paper. 2. Sieve the flour and rub in the butter. 3. Stir in the baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the sultanas if you want fruit scones. Rub the mixture with your fingertips to create what resembles fine breadcrumbs. 4. Make a dip or well in the centre using a knife and stir in the milk gradually to make a dough. 5. Kneed with your hands lightly until the dough is smooth. 6. Roll the dough on a floured board or clean, floured surface with a rolling pin to roughly 2cm thick. 7. Use a 5cm circular cutter to cut rounds. Place them on the baking tray and brush with the beaten egg and milk. 8. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and risen. 9. Transfer to a wire rack and serve when cool with butter, jam and clotted cream and tea.

ETON MESS Try this yummy summer pudding of strawberries, raspberries and meringue invented at Eton school near Windsor. Ingredients (makes 6) 3 large egg whites 210g caster sugar 250g strawberries 250g raspberries 1 pint double cream, whipped 1. G  rease a baking tray using greaseproof paper. 2. P  ut the egg whites in a bowl and whisk until they make soft peaks. Add 175g caster sugar a little at a time and whisk until the mixture holds stiff peaks. 3. U  se a dessert spoon to put dollops of the mixture onto the baking tray. Place in the oven at 120C/gas 1/2 for 2 hours until crisp on the outside. Remove the meringues and leave to cool. 4. H  alve the strawberries and put them in a large bowl with the raspberries and 35g caster sugar. 5. R  oughly crush and squeeze the berries with your hand or in a blender until the juices begin to run. Cover and leave in the fridge for 1-2 hours. 6. B  reak the meringues into rough pieces, add the berries and fold in the whipped cream. 7. S erve in glass dishes within the hour so the meringue doesn’t go soft. Enjoy.

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International Student Guide  

The complete guide for International students studying the UK, including tips and advice on setting up your life in the UK and making the mo...

International Student Guide  

The complete guide for International students studying the UK, including tips and advice on setting up your life in the UK and making the mo...