Whilst you are in the UK you will be leading a busy life. Most international students study and work at the same time. So being prepared from the beginning will give you that advantage, that will make your study life in the UK a successful one. On you first few weeks you will have to spend some time doing the following activities.
Open a Bank Account
A bank account is an essential part of being in the UK. A bank account in the UK is called a current account and can be opened by yourself at any bank. It is best to open a bank account that is nearest to your accommodation so you have easy access to the branch services. Just go into a bank branch and tell them that you would like to open a current account. They will require a letter from your college/university and your passport. Popular banks in the UK are Barclays, Santander, Lloyds TSB, Cooperative & Halifax. On opening a bank account you will get a debit card which can be used to withdraw money from ATMs, buy products from shops or purchase items on-line.
Get a Mobile Phone
In the UK a mobile phone is essential. Mobile phones are available in 2 formats. One is paying up front, which is also known as pay as you go. This is where you pay for the mobile phone and mobile network connection all in one go. For example, if you buy an Apple iPhone 4S you will have to pay £499 all at once. With pay as you go you will need to add money into your mobile phone account before you can make phone calls. The next option is buying the phone on a contract. To buy a phone on contract you will need to have a bank account. Usually the phone handset is given free of charge and the mobile phone company will bill you at the end of the month which you have to pay. The bill amount depends on the calls you have made during the month. Most contracts will allow you to make free calls as long as the destination number is in the UK. A typical bill will be around £30/month. For example, if you buy an Apple iPhone 4S on contract, then the handset is given to you for free, and you will then pay £30 per month for 24 months. You can buy a mobile phone from any mobile phone shop on the high street or from the internet. Popular mobile phone networks in the UK are Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, O2 and 3. Getting a smartphone is the best options. A smartphone is where the mobile phone can be used for Skype Calls, Mobile Network Calls, Internet Browsing and allows to install apps. The UK is advanced in digital services and most day to day things such as internet banking, internet shopping and internet calling can be done from a smartphone.
Work in the UK
If you are planning to work in the UK, then you should apply for an National Insurance Card. No employer will hire you without the card. The NI Card contains your National Insurance Number. Your National Insurance number is your own personal account number. It is unique to you and you keep the same one all your life. It makes sure that the National Insurance contributions and tax you pay are properly recorded against your name. It also acts as a reference number when communicating with the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). For your NI Card, contact the National Insurance Registrations Helpline on Tel 0845 915 7006. Lines are open 8.30 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.
Before you find employment you will need to create a CV which contains your contact details, your work history, your academic history, and a personal statement. Each prospective employer should be given your CV and they will call you for an interview. Jobs in the UK are advertised in the local newspaper like the Gazette or most commonly on-line at job websites. Using Google UK or monstor.co.uk, hotrecruit.com and jobcentreplus.gov.uk is a good start.
The UK can be an expensive place if you are not shopping in the right places.
Controlling your finances can be the difference between success and failure during your stay in the UK.
Students are given discounts at various places in the UK, such as Cinemas, Shops, Transport etc… Student discounts are only given to students with their college/university ID cards. All retailers will accept an NUS ID card which can be obtained online.
Also using the internet to find prices on products such as laptops, mobile phones, etc… can save you vast amounts of money.
Use cashback sites like quidco.com and topcashback.co.uk. These websites pay money into your bank account for shopping at partner on-line retailers.