Living in the UK
Arriving in a foreign country can feel like a daunting experience. Every country is unique; people living in it can dress, speak and behave in a different way to what you've been familiar with.
There are also many helpful websites that will get you prepared. Try a few from this page.
The UK is very much multicultural. There is something for everybody's taste and interest. You will be able to taste different cousines from around the world, meet a variety of people and learn their customs. We strive to ehance on this experience within our residences by promoting a culture of inclusivity.
Our Enrichment Pogrammes run across all accommodation locations, embrace diversity and are reflected in the tyes of activities we host. We are also on the forefront of promoting all of the interesting and new experinces your new local area has to offer.
Click here to look through some of our events.
Did you know...
Britain is an island country and the surrounding seas give it a very varied weather system.
While Britain has a reputation for wet weather, there are also some beautiful sunny periods and cold and snowy ones too. Like in most places, it is impossible to know what the weather will be like so be sure to come prepared for anything.
The average temperatures in September are approximately between 10◦C and 20◦C for London, 8◦C and 18◦C for Birmingham and 10◦C and 18◦C for Cambridge getting cooler as Britain moves through the autumn into winter.
To prepare you for the change in seasons, pack a jacket or coat and some warm clothes. This is especially important as you may need some time to the new temperatures if you've come from a warm country. This should be sufficient or the first few days following your arrival to the UK.
If you do not wish to travel with too much luggage, you can count on the members of our site teams to advise you on the best shopping opportunities around your local area.
Detailed infomation on the upcoming weather conditions within the UK can be found and monitored here.
The UK benefits from the National Health Service (NHS) which provides free health care to all British residents. This also extends to international students studying in the UK for more than six months. This means that you will be able to visit a doctor and attend a hospital if you need to without paying for it when you go.
The government has recently brought in an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for people coming to the UK on a visa. This charge is based on how long you will stay and helps cover any costs that the NHS may incur by treating you if you are unwell. You will need to pay this charge when you apply for a visa and it is not optional.
Being in the UK does not mean you will have to give up your religion or faith. There are many people with many different beliefs living and practicing here. There is sure to be a place for you to practice near your accommodation. Should you require further information, you will be able to check directly with your residence staff.
Britain is a tolerant society and it is illegal to discriminate against anyone due to their faith or religion. Kensinton Student Services promote this ethos and expect all of their staff, partners and customrs to behave in a manner that supports this.
The power supply in Britain is 230/240 volts. Sockets accept only three-(square)-pin plugs, so an adapter is needed for international appliances. A transformer is also needed for appliances operating on 110-120 volts.
Money and Bank accounts
The currency in the UK is The Great British Pound GBP (£). It is not a good idea to travel with large amounts of cash so you should try to have enough for the first few days and some cards you can use while here.
When you arrive it may be a good idea to set up a bank account. The main banks are HSBC, Barclays Bank, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Barclays Bank and HSBC both do special international student packages.
Council Tax is determined by local authorities and is based on the value of the property you are living in. People over 18 who are not exempt will have to make this payment. Students in full time education are generally exempt so be sure to ask your college staff for further advice.
It is a good idea to have travel insurance covering your journey to the UK and if you are travelling for less than six months, you should also have health insurance. Make sure you keep key information and contact numbers for your insurance with you when you travel.
Safety is important anywhere in the world and while Britain is a very safe place to be, it is a good idea to keep some advice in mind:
- Don’t wander around alone at night, especially in areas with little light.
- Don’t travel with too many pieces of expensive technology and don’t flaunt them when you’re out and about in public.
- It is best not to carry large amounts of cash with you. You can speak to eithr your college staff or our accommodation teams for advice on setting up a UK bank account.
- Try to make sure someone responsible knows where you’re going if you’re going to go out alone.
- Always keep emergency numbers to hand in case you need them.
There may be some differences between the law in your country and the law in the UK. For example, in the UK:
- You must not use or carry any illegal drugs, including cannabis, ecstasy, LSD or amphetamines.
- It is illegal to carry self-defence CS gas sprays, guns or stun guns. There are also very strict laws and penalties around carrying knives.
- You must be aged 18 or over to buy tobacco and alcohol.
- You should never buy property that you think might be stolen, no matter how tempting it seems.
- It is illegal to drive a car without the correct driving licence and without car insurance. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offence.
- You can find out about the UK law at the www.gov.uk website.
Keeping in touch
Keeping in touch with friends and family at home is a very important part of studying abroad. You want to be able to share your new experiences and hear about what is happening at home too. It is also very important to have contact with loved ones on those rare days you might be feeling down.
Make sure you pack all of the addresses and contact numbers and emails for everyone you want to keep in touch with and keep them safe.
In the UK, you can use the Royal Mail postal service to send packages and letters as well as several private courier companies such as DHL or FedEX. You will have WiFi access at college and in the accommodation provided. There are also many internet cafes and other public spaces that offer WiFi if you need to connect whilst you're out and about.
It might be an idea to get a local SIM card for your phone when you arrive or purchase a UK phone. This will make communicating in the UK easier and cheaper. To call home, you can purchase phonecards online or from kiosks and shops which are excellent value for money.