Is gray your neighbor's favorite color, or is grey your neighbour's favourite colour?
English being the main language in the UK is a no-brainer.You’re probably thinking you’re the dog’s bollocks at the language. But if all of your knowledge comes from the classroom , read my lips: FORGET ABOUT IT. YOU ARE NOT THE DOG’S BOLLOCKS.
As a foreigner, especially if you are a non-english speaker, sometimes you’ll find it difficult to digest the local dialects. Mind you, there are tons of dialects in the UK which vary from town to town, and some of them can be hard to understand, even for english speakers. Go native and fit in with the locals often, watch the whole series of Harry Potter over and over again, or American movies are fine - just make sure there’re Hugh Grant in them. You never know one day you will put it to use!
“I wish I knew how to chew my words in mouth and pronounce stewpid or commonly schewpid, not stooped. This saves you from a lot of trouble!” - Sharmistha Saha, University of Manchester
Buying Upon Arrival is Easier Than Packing
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to take along every single belonging to UK, but come on - there are certain items that should never make it into your suitcase. The heartaches of poorly planned suitcases are easy to avoid; as long as you give yourself some real talk when needed, you'll find that you're in and out of the airport without shelling out for an excess-baggage charge. Chances are you’ll want to buy new things in your host country anyway. Unless you’re truly moving to the middle of nowhere, you’ll be able to find the items you need for daily life around you. Buying upon arrival sometimes requires extra funds, but it will save you the headache of trying to pack everything and dragging it halfway across the world.
“ For grocery to gadget shopping, there is always a TESCO (superstore) right around the corner. So you actually don’t need to carry everything with you while coming in here (which I did awfully!)” - Sharmistha Saha, University of Manchester
Don’t worry too much about accommodation
While the pre-departure support and advice you receive from the study abroad office was second to none, you realize there are just some things that briefings, orientation session and information booklets couldn’t have prepared you for. So here’s one important note before you plunged into an awesome year in UK: accommodation is provided if you asked for it! But of course, do not assume that you will be given housing automatically, even though you (as an international student) will be given priority over other local students. A good rule of thumb - start looking once you have been accepted and arrange accommodation with your university right away!
“Flatshare is way more cheaper than student accommodations. Having a flat that cost half the price of accommodations plus its way more spacious as well” - Nabila, John Moores University, Liverpool
Try not to slack off!
Prepared to be amazed the phenomenally world class education offered by the top universities in UK. Two of the world's three top universities are British (just in case you were wondering which ones, they are University of Cambridge and University of Oxford), according to The Times Higher Education 2015. In the UK universities, you'll be cheering for not having assignments, pop quizzes and large reading assignment throughout semester. But, just because you won’t be swamped in homework doesn’t mean you won’t be walking away packed full of knowledge - I am saying, when you study in UK, you’ll get a world class education.
“ University is a lot different than high school. Here you are on your own and when the lecturer says 134 hours of independent study, he literally means it. No kidding! “ - Sharmistha Saha, University of Manchester
You can still travel on the cheap, even though UK is freaking expensive to live
Do you know it’s really easy and convenient to travel around UK or nearby countries? The UK has pretty good rail systems access and cheap flights. As a student, you can flash your NUS card (national union of students card) and get lots of discounts! You will be able to visit another country every long weekend or holiday break! Here’s the bad news - even though you can travel cheap, you will still have to spend more money just on daily items. According to a recent HSBC survey, the average cost of living will be about £6,825 (US$11,034) for one year. And you can expect to pay even more if you stay in London, it’ll be up to £13,388 (US$21,644)! Learn to be frugal, people!
There you have it. The 5 things I wish I’d known before I started my year abroad in UK. I do hope this will serve you well when preparing to begin yours. I’m now off to get fish and chips. Be jealous.