From my personal experience studying in the UK, I have figured out the Top 5 Dos and Don’ts for international students. Whether you are already here in the UK or yet to be arriving, there are many things that you need to be aware of or keeping in mind from the beginning, to make your living safer, comfortable and enjoyable. Here are the top 5 Dos and Don’ts for international students- to be safe than sorry!
Top 5 Dos
1. GP and NI
Do register for a GP and get your NI number. These don’t cost you a penny.
General Practitioner (GP) registration is essential if you need to see a doctor when you’re ill. Fortunately, there is no charge to see a GP doctor- mainly covered by your national insurance in the UK. Plus, when you’re absent from your lessons or work, you must provide a GP letter to be covered.
You must have a National Insurance (NI) number in order to work legally in the UK. National Insurance (NI) number will help you get employed quicker and avoid hefty emergency tax. Moreover, without NI, you won’t be able to claim back any overpaid tax or opt out to get rebate.
2. Bank account
Do open at least one current bank account if not two. Bank account is vital for your day to day money handling-transactions. I recommend open two bank accounts because, different banks offer different facilities, e.g., credit cards, overdraft- to better serve your needs. Furthermore, you can trade off one of your bank account later on, earning cash incentives by switching to another bank.
3. Part-time job
Do find yourself a part-time job. There are plentiful flexible opportunities to make money in your spare time. A part-time job will not only help you financially but also professionally. Personally, I have improved my language skills, cultural knowledge and employ ability through numerous part-time jobs. Believe me; Part-time jobs are actually a big part of learning.
4. Go out-party-visit places
Do go out, visit as many places- museums, monuments to the mountains. You need to seize the opportunity and try to get a taste of everything while you are student. Also, do party. Ha-ha, I know you would do it anyway! But there are students who think it is a complete waste of time. Trust me it’s not, having party will get you involved, help you adapt and be open minded.
5. International travel
Do travel around neighboring countries in the vacation periods. While you’re abroad, this is the best time to see the world. Travelling to another country is sometimes cheaper than you expect and nearer than you think. There are plenty of packages, cheaper options and student discounts available round the year. I have already traveled 5 different European countries while studying in the UK. So, live up to the opportunity and make the most out of it.
Top 5 Don’t
1. Quit study
Don’t quit studying while you’re on a student visa. I understand international environment is a bit overwhelming, easy to be distracted and giving up studies all together. But here is what I say- try to focus on long term goal and never forget your original purpose which is achieving international degree/ qualification. In addition, even changing the course or switching the institution can affect your visa status. Try to seek advice from your education consultant before you do so.
2. Over work
Don’t ever work more that what you’re permitted while you’re on a student visa. I have seen many international students got tempted by money, started over working and ended-up being deported. It’s not worth it, is it? However, you’re allowed to work full-time during the vacation period but remember to get a holiday letter from your college/ university.
3. Expensive accommodation
Don’t live in a pricey accommodation when you’re international student, unless you have a super rich dad. Accommodation is the big part of your living cost abroad. Try to find a cheaper option such as private room-paying guest over dorm room-student residence at college/ university. For instance, as I spend most of my time at university campus and library, I rented an inexpensive room nearby, for me to crash at night. I rather spend the money elsewhere such as international travelling and necessary clothing.
4. Term-time travel
Don’t do international traveling during the term-time. Remember you’re on a full-time course and attending your lessons regularly is a visa requirement. Even if you don’t have classes every day, you’re supposed to be studying. If you travel during term-time, on your way back, you will be questioned for sure by UK Border Agency (UKBA). You might be denied entry if they find your answers are unsatisfactory. Trust me; it’s not worth it to take such risk.
5. Family back home
Don’t ever forget your family back home. Maybe you don’t know how much they miss you. In most of the cases, they are the one who helped you to be where you’re today. Even if they didn’t, still be grateful and keep in touch with them. Remember, fame is temporary but family is permanent.