My First Days in the UK: Deciding, Arriving, and Thriving

Oct 3, 2017 4:10:25 PM

Meet Josephine, one of our bloggers for the 2017-18 academic year!  Josephine is studying at the University of Leeds.

Josephine Leeds.jpg

Choosing to move to a different country is not a simple decision; with the cost, the distance, and the process of getting a visa, there are many steps that can make it intimidating. Let me assure you, however, that if coming to the United Kingdom to study is your dream, with the right resources and support you can make it a reality!

Let me first introduce myself. I’m Josephine and I just started my Masters of International Health at the University of Leeds. I had always wanted to study abroad but I never really thought it could happen because of the cost and complexity. I won’t lie, the process was not without its challenges, but with the help of Across the Pond and my family I am now in Leeds and loving every second of it.

Getting here

If you are a non-UK or EU student, you will require a Tier 4 Visa to study in the UK, and no that is not a type of credit card! If I could only give you one piece of advice, it would be to start the application as soon as possible because everything else depends on you receiving it, like booking your flight, confirming your accommodation, and really just planning your adventure! Do remember, though, that you can only submit your application within 90 days of starting your program, but if you start early you can submit right on that 90-day mark! The application is not difficult, it’s just time-consuming because of all the documents you must collect.  Your Across the Pond advisor will provide you with updated visa guidance in the late Spring to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.


I was so nervous when I stepped off the plane at Heathrow. What if I forgot something? What if customs asked for something that I didn’t bring, what if, what if, what if… It is completely normal to feel anxious, this is a huge move, but let me reassure you, customs is a breeze if you come prepared. I organized all my documents in an accordion folder allowing me easy and quick access to anything I might need, which really came in handy when you have a lot of documents to bring!

Josephine file folder.jpg


I arrived in Leeds thinking that I wouldn’t start classes for two weeks because there was an international welcome week followed by freshers (aka frosh) week. However, unbeknownst to me, master’s programs start the very first day! I can’t speak for all programs, but as far as I can tell they do ease you into it, starting off with introductory classes that allowed us to get to know the course and teaching staff. They also made sure that we had enough time to acquaint ourselves with the campus and city, meaning I have been able to attend all sorts of “O-week” events such as open mic nights, barbeques, and art gallery tours. There is seriously something for everyone. I am really looking forward to the freshers’ fair, where over 300 of the school’s clubs and societies set up booths giving students a taste of what they can get involved with.

The highlight of my time so far has got to be my first night going out to the pub with new friends and knowing that this is the start of such an incredible adventure. If I can pass along just one more piece of advice, say yes to everything, especially in the first few weeks. Put yourself out there, challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone, and jump into this experience head first!

If you have any questions about how you too can make your dream a reality please contact one of our advisors.

Download Studying in the UK: The Essential Facts for Canadian Students