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Practical Tips for International Students Studying In Bristol

Offering a diverse mix of courses across hundreds of world-class universities, it’s no wonder that the U.K is one of the most popular destinations for postgraduates to come to study abroad.

Whilst there are many wonderful things to look forward to about studying in the UK, with so much to consider and plan for, it can be a daunting task. 

From finances and accommodation to travel and weather preparation, we’ve pulled together a list of our top tips for international students coming to Bristol to study at university to get your term off to the right start.

Budget Well (and have a contingency plan!)

Budgeting is an important task for every student. With food and drink, accommodation, travel, uni fees and bills all to consider – it’s important that your budget covers all the essentials as well as providing some contingency for other unexpected expenses.

Here are a few of our top tips for budgeting as an international student:

  • Quit any expensive habits such as smoking and drinking.
  • Favour eating in over take-out – there are plenty of stores that sell authentic international cooking ingredients.
  • Take advantage of student discounts – check out our guide to student discounts for more information on this.
  • Invest in a railcard and bus pass if necessary.
  • Always use a comparison site when searching for flights back home.
  • Buy used textbooks for your courses.
  • Shop smart.
  • Use a bank account instead of a money transfer service to receive money from home.
  • Exchange foreign currency before you come to avoid poor exchange rates.

For more practical advice, why not read our guide to saving money whilst at university.

Sort Out a Student Bank Account

Getting a student bank account set up is one of the key aspects of proper budgeting and being financially secure at university.

Whilst some students will plan to use pre-paid travel cards or just cash, this is not recommended as it leaves you vulnerable to loss and theft; it also means you miss out on some of the key benefits that come with having a bank account.

Having a bank account set up allows you to pay bills, get paid, keep money safe and save any extra money you have easier, it also makes it more practical and less expensive for family members to send you money if you get stuck. Many high street banks offer international students options including:

  • NatWest
  • HSBC
  • Barclays
  • Santander
  • Lloyds
  • TSB

Note that in most cases, you’ll need to visit the bank in-branch with a valid passport or visa, proof of address in the UK, proof address in your own country, proof of student status and proof of income. For this reason, you should bring some cash to keep you sorted until you’re all set up.

Plan Your Accommodation

The last thing you want when moving to Bristol as a student is turning up with no accommodation sorted. If you’re a first-year student, you will probably live in university accommodation (halls) – get in touch with your university to register for accommodation; many universities will offer special accommodation for international students to help you make friends when you start uni.

If you’re planning on renting a room or a house with other friends, you should get in touch with a reputable student accommodation provider long before your term starts to ensure everything in place on your arrival. 

Familiarise Yourself with the Local Area

Moving to a new country can be daunting, but Bristol is a fantastic place to live once you know your way around. As well as walking around the neighbourhood and talking to other students when you arrive, check out the following websites to ensure you know where to go and how to get places:

Use Free Services to Keep In Touch with Your Family

Whilst phone calls as a whole are cheaper these days, you can still rack up large bills when sending messages abroad. Consider using the following free services to keep in touch with friends and family as you start your new term in Bristol:

  • Skype – All you need is a laptop and an internet connection.
  • WhatsApp – Works from your phone, free calls and texts over an internet connection.
  • Facetime – Built into Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads – free over an internet connection or 4G network.
  • Social Media – Other popular social media networks including Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat offer free instant messaging and video calls over a Wi-Fi connection.

If you’re struggling to find an internet connection, hook up to the free university Wi-Fi or buy a coffee and sit in a café. In addition to these free applications, you may consider investing in a sim card designed for calls abroad, offering low-cost inbound and outbound calls and texts.

Prepare for the Weather!

If you’re coming from a sunny destination then you in for a treat, British weather is sometimes glorious, sometimes miserable and sometimes unpredictable – but we always find one way or another to complain about it.

Unlike some countries, there is no ‘monsoon’ or ‘wet’ season and the drizzle often starts fast as it stops – for this reason, waterproof clothes and an umbrella are absolute essentials.

International Student Accommodation Bristol

If you’re an international student heading to Bristol to study, we can help. With a range of accommodation designed especially for students, you can be sure we’ve got you’re every need covered.

Our friendly advisers will help you every step of the way in securing your home and will be happy to give you tips and advice when you arrive – we’ll even pop the kettle on!

Call us today on 0117 930 850 or visit our website for more details. 

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