by Kaley Dallaire
I have been living in North East England for just over a month now and it has been nothing but excitement ever since. While my university had an airport service for international students, I decided to come a week early to start settling in before the semester began. I was lucky enough to travel with both my mom and grandma to make the transition a little more bearable and to have additional support with moving in and getting familiar with my new city.
I was nervous traveling and entering the country on a visa as I had never done anything like this before. I had the idea in my mind that it would be a long and complicated process to enter the country. Thanks to my advisor I was prepared for anything and had all my documents ready to speak with an immigration officer at the airport. Despite my concern, it was a rather smooth process. The whole thing only took a total of maybe 10 minutes. There were only 2 other people ahead of me, and once I got up to the officer all I was asked was for my passport and visa. I can’t speak for everyone but for me it was quick and painless arriving on a visa.
Since I arrived one week before my move in date, I stayed at a hotel for the time being. This gave me the opportunity to explore the city/ campus and to run some necessary errands before the stress of the semester began. I used this time to set up a SIM card for my phone, to open a UK student banking account, and to pick up my biometric residence permit. I also got to explore the Newcastle Castle, visit the Quayside Sunday Market and, I even got some traveling in during that first week.
Before classes begin, universities here have what is called Freshers’ week. This is about a 10 day stretch where students are able to go to various events on campus, in the city, and in the general area/ county. While I didn’t attend any of the actual Freshers’ events the university also held a variety of welcome events specifically for international students. One of the events they held was a pizza party for all the international postgraduate students in my faculty. This was an awesome opportunity to meet other international students who are also studying in courses similar to my own. At this event I even met a girl who was from the same province as I am! As well as the events going on all week, they also had a bunch of companies on campus giving out free coupons and food, and had fairs for joining clubs, or finding a job in the city centre. This whole week was a great way to feel welcome on campus and even having only attended one event, all of the energy and people on campus really made me feel like I had made the right decision coming here.
The best part of this experience so far has been simply the change of scenery. Every day I walk to class and pass churches and castles that are older than Canada itself. In the same amount of time it would take me to drive to the closest city at home I am able to travel to different countries.
If I was to recommend 5 things for students who will be coming to the UK next fall it would be to try and travel with a friend or family member, to fly through the night to try and avoid jetlag, attend at least one even during welcome/ Freshers’ week, take the opportunity to travel and explore your new country/ city, and to contact an Across the Pond advisor to find out more about studying in the UK!
Newcastle Castle: http://www.newcastlecastle.co.uk
The Quayside Sunday Market: https://www.newcastlegateshead.com/shopping/quayside-market-p477401
My university (Newcastle University): https://www.ncl.ac.uk
Contact an Across the Pond advisor: https://ca.studyacrossthepond.com/enquire