My First Days in London

by Nicole Clendinning

Arrival

Arriving in the UK to study is a very exciting time. The first few weeks will be a very busy time and even while your classes haven’t started yet, It is important to take advantage of all the free time and use it to get settled in.

Arriving for the first time using a visa is a different experience than arriving for a visit and it is necessary to follow the instructions for entrance from the visa office. In my case, I was instructed to enter through the normal customs gate rather than the E-booths. Following these instructions will save you from having further complications involving your visa when entering and exiting the country in the future.

Don’t be scared to get involved!

It is likely your school will hold a welcome week on campus at the beginning of the semester. This is where you can find out information about your program, the administrative staff you can come to later for help, and about the various societies offered. For me this week was a busy one and I tried to make it to as many on campus and social events as possible. The society and sports fair is one of the biggest events during welcome week at Queen Mary, as societies are a very big thing here in the UK. There are societies to join for every interest from the Feminist Society to the Business and Finance society to cultural societies. Most societies will have their own meetings and socials which is not only a great way to get involved, but also a great way to meet people outside of your program that have similar interests to yours. Especially in these first few weeks, everyone is in the same boat as you trying to find their way around and looking to meet new people and make friends! Personally, I met most of my friends at the Law BBQ during welcome week

I found the senior status society to be a great help for me as a law student as it connected me with students in my program in their second year who have provided me with guidance with everything from classes and lecturers to applying for jobs after graduation. I was also able to buy some of my textbooks off of them second hand!

Additionally, keep an eye out for International Welcome events where they provide help directed to students coming from abroad. They can be helpful with settling in such as registering with a doctor through the National Health Services and getting transportation cards.

The best part of my experience so far has been living in London. With my school campus being in the city, I am able to go into the city each week to find a new café or spot to study. Soaking in the inspiration of the city really motivates me to work and also provides me with the opportunity to be among many potential employers at firm open days and events.

Advice

The biggest thing I would stress to students arriving next fall is to get in a good routine early. Even if you have already been to university, it is easy to underestimate the number of tasks you have to do when making an international move in terms of getting settled in.

It can easily get very overwhelming when school picks up and having a routine will allow you to manage your time better. A good tip is to treat your studies like a job. Finding a good school/ life balance may not seem like a top priority but it is essential to do so to avoid burning out. It is important to work hard at your degree, but it is equally important to turn off your computer or put the books away and rest. Hanging out with friends, being active, eating good and healthy food are all self-care tools that will help you not only stay engaged in school, but will allow you to make the most of your time abroad.

If you would like to find out more about studying in the UK, please contact one of our advisors