University in England: What You NEED to Know Before You Go

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Got accepted to go to uni or study abroad in England? First of all, congratulations! This article is all about university in England and what to know before you go. Read on for advice for fresher's, including everything from study tips to accomodation!

This article is all about university in England—what to know before you go and how to thrive once you're there, including hacks for freshers!

Affiliate disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read my full disclosure here.

So, without further ado, let's get into what you need to know before you go to university in England.

1. You’ll need to sign up for the NHS.

During your orientation, you'll get a form to sign up for a GP with the NHS. If you're already registered somewhere else in England, you should consider switching to whatever GP surgery they recommend that's close by to your uni. If you're coming from abroad, you'll have to register for the first time.

2. The grading system is completely different than in other countries.

Instead of letter grades, you are classified by percentages. However, don't be worried if you get a 70% on your first assignment—that's actually a top mark here! Click here for more info on UK degree and grading classifications.

3. You’ll need a UK debit card and mobile phone ASAP.

This was a mistake I made when I moved to the UK for uni. I had a good deal on my U.S. cell phone and had a debit card that gave me a great exchange rate so I didn't bother getting either when I moved to the UK. However, some places (like my gym, my current mobile phone provider, etc.) only accept payments from UK cards. And various other things require a UK mobile number.

I've just switched to Voxi for my mobile phone contract. You get unlimited social media and a good amount of data for just £10 per month.

As a student, I'd recommend signing up for a Santander student account.

4. One of the most important things to to know before you go to university in England is, if you’re coming from abroad, is it’ll be MUCH easier to get uni accommodation. But some unis also offer to be guarantors for private accommodation when there's not a lot of official accomodation available.

Basically, in the UK (particularly after Brexit), landlords are a lot more reluctant to rent to foreigners, especially if they're also students. So, if you can get uni accommodation for your first year, it's much easier! If you can't, some unis will offer to serve as guarantors for private accommodation, so definitely check.

5. Living in halls is really the best way to make friends anyway.

Honestly, I made all of my best friends in halls when I came to the UK for my master's. And I'm still friends with them to this day!

6. Instead of a syllabus, you're likely to get a reading list for every module.

Each module will have a reading list with required readings, suggested readings, and additional readings for if you're really interested in the topic. One thing to know before you go to university in England is that learning is done quite a bit more independently than in the U.S.—it's up to you to do your reading and it won't all be spoon-fed to you in lectures.

7. You'll also have a reading week each term where you can study and catch up on assignments.

This happens once a term and is usually in the middle of term.

8. Your classes will likely be a mix of tutorials and lectures.

For tutorials, you may have to write an essay and then discuss it in a small group with a Professor or just discuss some particular readings.

9. One thing to know before you go to university in England (and make any travel plans), is that you'll likely have an exam period in the spring. You'll take exams for all of your modules from both of the previous terms.

That's why it's particularly important to keep all your notes organised!

10. UK uni may be shorter than you're used to, but expect to do the same amount of work overall as you would in a 4-year undergrad or 2-year master's course.

It can be quite a lot of work, but it's worth it!

11. Wise is the best way to transfer money to GBP if you're using a U.S. or other foreign student loan to pay for uni in England.

You get the spot rates and the fees are very low. Plus, with this link you can get a free transfer.

12. There is lots of drinking during Fresher’s week but there are alternatives if you don't want to drink.

On that note, if you do plan to drink, I'd recommend trying some alcohol at home in a safe environment before you go so you know your limits.

13. You probably won't need to buy textbooks for your classes like you do in the U.S.

You can get most books you need from the library or online. In my experience, there's a lot less emphasis on textbook reading anyway than other sources.

14. One of my top things to know before you go to university in England is that you should go to the Freshers’ Fair and sign up for things.

It's a great way to make friends. You can also get discounts on phones contracts and info on signing up for bank accounts, etc. Plus, you can pick up lots of free swag!

15. Make sure know and buy the essentials before you go to university in England.

Check out this article for the essentials you need to buy for uni.

16. You'll also probably need some stuff for your flat/halls, but you can get that stuff delivered once you get there.

Check out this article for everything you need for your first flat in England.

17. Have a proper budget in place before you go so you're not tempted to spend all your money for the term in the first week.

This article will help you make your first budget as a student.

18. Get a railcard.

It's only 30 pounds and gets you one-third off of train tickets.

19. Participate in freshers' week even if you’re pretty introverted.

I know it can be hard and overwhelming, but it's really one of the best ways to make friends. Don't try to go to everything, but pick things that are appealing to you.

20. Your courses will all be specialised (unlike in the U.S.).

There's no general education requirement at university in England, so your classes will be focused on your concentration from the beginning.

21. Know where offers student discounts before you go to university in England and take advantage of them.

This article has a list of all of the best student discounts (100+) in the UK.

22. Be good at cooking a few meals before you go.

Have a few staples in your repertoire so you're just not cooking tomato pasta over and over again. If you need some recommendations, check out my recipes for easy vegan meals you can make in the microwave.

23. Fancy dress parties (costume parties) are big in the UK.

You can either bring some old costumes with you or go to Primark when you have your first one!

24. Actually go to your orientation events even if they seem redundant and boring.

Even if you only learn ONE important piece of important information, it'll be worth it.

25. Brush up on your basic knowledge of the UK.

Check out this article for my top fun facts about the UK.

On that note, if you're coming from the U.S. or Canada, your different words for things will be a massive topic of conversation during freshers' week. It can get old, but it's a pretty easy conversation topic, so just go with it!

26. The most important thing to know before you go to university in England is that you will adjust. Try not to stress if things are hard at the start.

I hope this article helped you figure out what you need to know before you go to university in England. For more uni advice, check out these articles.

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