First Month in the UK

So, by now you have survived your first week in the new city. Well done! But do you know that you need to do several things in your first month in the UK as a student? Are you aware of all the things you should ideally take care of during your first month in the UK? You have probably figured out a couple things by now. Yet, there are some things that you should do in the first month itself. This will just ensure that you have a smooth life in the coming months.

The one mistake that I made in my first month was not figure out my food. Now, if you are moving to a new city for the first time to live there, then you need to sort out your food. Additionally, knowing your area is also very crucial. All this information you will find here.

1: Sort out your food.

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This is a major thing to complete during your first month in the UK as a student. Make sure that you know what you are eating. There were times when I would buy stuff from Tesco or from Sainsbury’s and I had no idea what it was! So, know what you are eating. If you are planning to cook something Indian then you should look for easy ways to do it, like food prepping. Follow here for my guide for food prepping for different types of meals. Where you are buying your food from is also important. You can basically go anywhere in the UK and buy whatever the hell you want, but I would not advise you to do that especially during your first few weeks. Economically, Lidl is one of the cheapest stores, and their items are always fresh as well. I have always found their items to be of considerably good quality. Here is a chart of what I used to buy from Lidl for my meals. You will also find there a comparison of items if you were to buy stuff from other stores like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, M&S and Asda.

NB: I am working on the Ultimate Food Prepping Guide, and it should be live soon.

2: Open a bank account.

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It is important you complete this during your first month in the UK as a student. Now if you are successful in getting an appointment to open a bank account during the first month, I would encourage you to completely finish the process. Ensure that you are carrying the right documents for your appointment. Here are some of the banks that I used and their reviews.

3: Get an NI number.

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It would be best if you complete this in your first month in the UK as a student. Regardless of whether you want to work part-time or not, you should get an NI number. It stands for the National Insurance number and the government uses it to remit tax on your earnings. Think of it as your PAN number. You cannot apply for a job without it. The process of getting an NI is quite simple, download here.

4: Know your area.

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This is very crucial and you should try and do this within the first two weeks itself. You are living in a new place and have no idea what actually goes down in that area and where. Whenever you are going somewhere, try and take a new route every time and set some landmarks in your mind so that when you are returning home (especially during the night) you are able to find your way comfortably.

I know its going to be a bit difficult at the beginning but try to memorise the roads that lead to your home. If you are coming home late during night, then try and come back with a couple friends. If not, then take a route that you know the most. Also, try not venture out during odd hours especially if you do not need to. When you are coming home and you realise that the streets are empty, try not to use your headphones, rather keep your eyes and ears open. Save some emergency numbers on your phone.

Do not forget to do this during your first month in the UK as a student.

5: Know your university schedule well.

This is very crucial to understand during your first month in the UK as a student. This means that you should be well aware of the submissions and their deadlines, class schedules, holidays and all the other essential information. This is really important as this is what you have come to the UK for! Some of the points that you should definitely look out for are given below.

Your Time-Table

Know when your classes/seminars happen, for how long and how much of preparation do you need to do before attending them.

Your Assignments and their Deadlines

The biggest mistake that I made while living in the UK was to not keep a track of my assignment deadlines. This eventually led me to rushing to complete the assignments at the very end. And last-minute efforts always result in a shoddy piece of work. Therefore, you should have a time-table of the assignments ready at your hand. Additionally, you should know how long it will take for you to complete those assignments so that you can plan for them beforehand.

I can imagine that you might have some trouble dealing with the kind of approach that the UK has towards studies. This would especially be the case for those students who studied at a CBSE board. To understand the differences and how to tackle them, click here.

6: Learn to manage your time.

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Now, here’s the real deal. The most important thing that you have is time. And you need to manage it well, because unless you are living with a family who are providing you with food everyday for all the meals, you have to do everything on your own. Learning how to manage time and doing everything around it is the most essential skill.

To give you a taster, in a typical day, you will be cooking your food, sorting out your room, studying, spending time with friends and more. Although there are a lot of shortcuts around this tough schedule, but thew will not help you lead a healthy life.

The aim is to ensure that you are following a balanced routine rather than following a routine that is breaking you and is impacting your physical health. Remember everything starts with physical health. Everything starts with stomach. So if you haven’t got your food sorted out then it is going to cause BIG problems. Trust me, I have been through this.

I am currently working on some crazy time-management guides and tips specifically for university students. I will release them soon.

7: Look for a job.

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I would not advise you take up a part-time job, at-least not in your first year if you are an undergraduate and for the first four months if you are a postgraduate or a PhD student. The only reason why I am saying this is because you have come to the UK for studying and not working. As much as we may remember this fact when we are applying for the jobs, this fact tends to get blurred out when we start working. Henceforth my advice would be, do not work during your studies.

You should ideally start doing this during your first month in the UK as a student.

Try and get a job at the university. Working at the university ensures that your employer (the university) understands that you are a student who does not have long hours to devote to work. Additionally, the pay that you get working at the university is usually higher than what you would get out working at a store. If you tell your boss at the university that you cannot work because you have an assignment, it is very likely that you might be excused. However, if you work at a non-university place like a store or a shop, then your boss might/might not understand about your assignments and submissions.

I, personally, had a lovely experience working at a gambling shop. And this was primarily because the manager was extremely considerate towards students who were working at his shop. You might or might not get that kind of a manager. Although legally no in the UK can force you to work an extra shift, however, the atmosphere of working at a university is completely different to working at a non-university based shop.

How do I get a job at the university?

Ask for it. Walk up to your department’s office and ask if there are any jobs that you can apply for. Talk to your professors and see if they need any extra support and if they are willing to pay for it. Usually, students can get a job working under a professor. And that work may simply involve inputting some information into the computer, taking some books back, or drafting some emails. It is simple but you can at-least hope to get about £12/hour. If you work for 20 hours each week, then that is about £960, which is a lot of money for you as a student.

What if I don’t get a job at the university?

Keep searching. Get into the network of people who are usually looking for people to give them work. Stay in touch with them so that whenever there is an opening, they call you first. Additionally, look for part-time jobs on Indeed, CVLibrary, Monster etc. You can even approach coffee shops near you and ask if they have vacancies.

I am preparing a guide to help you find a part-time job in the UK, and will release it soon.

8: Get a membership at the leading libraries in your city.

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If you happen to study at a university in London, then you should get a membership at both the Senate House Library and the British Library. The British Library, as some of you may already know is one of the biggest libraries in the world. It does not matter if you are a psychology student or a tech student, you should get a membership as these libraries are quite exhaustive when it comes to the resources that they have. The only reason why I am stressing this point is that I am a student of literature and I used both.

9: Discover what else you can do.

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So now that your studies have begun you need to think about what you can do in your free time, possibly finding some extra curricular activities that you can engage in. During your first month I would only advise you to meet as many people as you can and make good friendships.

Now this is extremely crucial because you need to understand that if you are alone here then you should be able to make friends quickly as you don’t have anyone coming from your family. What is the best way to do this? Well, go out to parties in the evening, engage yourself by going to all the events that your Students’ Union organises. Go and check out all the events that you can go to. Try browsing on your university website to see if you can find some events that you can go for and ensure that you book tickets and stuff like that much beforehand. Checkout applications like Meetup where you can register yourself for meetups around different areas in London or in the UK.

If you feel anxious about meeting people or doing anything social, then don’t worry. I was in your shoes some time ago. I have prepared a very comprehensive guide on how to deal with the social anxiety and make good friendships. You will discover all of this information in the next stage.