Today, I’m going to be discussing some questions I had when I was first leaving HOME for University… After having been through this whole experience of moving into University halls, moving out for the summer and moving back in again twice, I guess you could say that it has become second nature for me! So, this one’s especially for you freshers to get you prepared for University life at Surrey!
How do I get to the University from the AIRPORT? Will I get LOST?
Our University is close by to both the London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and London Gatwick Airport (LGW) The closest one being LGW.
Our University Station is called: GUILDFORD.
From London Gatwick, There is a straight “national-rail” train that takes you from the airport to Guildford, about 45 minutes long.
From London Heathrow, You’d have to make a longer journey involving both a bus as well as a “national-rail” train that will last about 2 hours long…
There is an option for Taxis but it might just cause you a leg… just kidding. But It will cost you about £60 !
You can check the train schedules by accessing this website :
How much money should I bring to last me before I get my bank account?
I would say change about £200 which is about $380 SGD but it really depends on how you spend your money before you actually get your bank account and transfer money to the card. Or some of you might prefer to use your Singapore credit card instead but don’t forget that there is a charge for using it.
Here are the approx. prices of some amenities to help you gauge how much you need…
A Sandwich: £3-4
Mcdonalds Meal: £4-6
Train Tickets: £10 +
Bus ticket: £1.50
We do have Burger King (Closes at 9pm) , McDonalds (Closes at 6pm), Subway (Closes at 10pm), Restaruants… (generally closes at 10pm) in Town Center and KOKORO (Right in the middle of the North Street, Opposite Barclays Bank – This stuff is authentic, cheap (for UK prices) and yummy Japanese food) and of course TESCOS supermarket nearby that is 24/6, which means it closes Half Day on Sunday Night.
But, there is a DAISO equivalent: Poundland in the town center is just 10 minutes walk from Surrey University Campus so, that’s always an option but it does close at 6pm daily.
Which Bank should I choose? Is there a Student Account?
On our Surrey campus, there is actually a Santander branch which makes it really convenient for you if you choose to open a Santander account. And I personally am a Santander-user and it has been working fine for me for international transfers, payments and for shopping puporses. 😛 the card has never failed me!
You need these things when you want to open your “International Student Current Account”:
- Identification ex. Passport
- Proof of Education at University of Surrey: A letter you can get from the SSC (Student Services Center) on campus (how convenient!)
- You will receive an email that includes something about CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance) which is ESSENTIAL to applying for an account. ( I can’t even tell you how many times I got rejected cause I didnt get this CAS when I went to the bank… oh the horror)
Food Delivery Services…
We also do have Food Delivery Services avilable in Guildford if you decide to eat in.
You can view which restaurants offer the service by accessing the Deliveroo Application.
Unfortunately, They don’t do Char Kway Teow… 🙁 But they do have Mexican, Japanese… etc. But if you’re ordering for one and you don’t order a certain amount, you will be required to pay a delivery cost.
What plugs do they use? Do I need to buy extension cords?!
If you’re from Singapore, then Lucky you! Cause here in the UK, we use the same three pin plugs.
If you are staying on campus, the rooms provide ample amount of sockets for you to charge your devices to your heart’s content but to be safe, I would bring an extension cord!
Do they sell Asian Groceries?
Right… YES Asian stores do carry some of our local Singaporean house-hold necessities like Kikkoman Brands and sauces or Ma-Ling Luncheon Meat… etc. But let’s be realistic, it’s not going to sell exactly everything the mama shop downstairs our block does in Singapore.
It has everything you NEED, but not everything you may want.
They have imported Durian here, so you can already imagine what else they have imported! haha
Here’s a little trick, if there’s something you really cannot live without, browse the online Asian grocery stores and check if they carry your product! If not, I mean… youre gonna have friends travelling back home over the holidays so there’s some lobang (Singapore Slang for someone who can be your connection and be of service to you!)
Will everyone in my flat be ASIAN/ Foreign?
Yes… and No! The University tries to enforce international distribution in the flats but sometimes there may be more of a certain ethnicity of students in the same flat.
For my both years living on campus, I’ve always had a 70:30 Ratio of Asians to Non-Asians living in a flat but I’ve had friends who had all Westerners and no Asians! So really, it’s a random mix but I can promise that out of all your flatmates, you will definitely get along with at least one of them! If not, we’ll hang out! haha
Is there MRT/Buses/ Taxis (Uber…)?
Guildford is a small town south east of London, therefore we don’t really have Uber or Grab services. To give you some context, Imagine just the Hougang area in Singapore and Guildford is the equivalent of that one area in the whole of Surrey County. We have ONE Uber here in Guildford the last time I checked haha
We have buses instead, a bus service that runs conveniently from campus to the train station and town center. And also buses that run from campus and town center to the off-campus accommodation as well as the sports park!
Is everything super expensive?
I’d say that eating out is not the same as going to a Kopitiam in Singapore… You’re going to start eating at home a whole lot more. But hey! Let’s bring out the masterchef in you!
But for you ice-cream lovers out there, Ben and Jerry’s Icecream and Haagen Daz sold in Tesco’s supermarket is half the price that it is sold for in Singapore.
What phone provider should I use? I NEED MY DATA!
How did I even leave this question for last! Upon arrival, If you are living in University accommodation, you will receive a box placed in your room that includes a “GIFFGAFF” brand Sim card. This Sim can evolve to whatever Sized sim you require so No worries about that! It will provide you with some credit and a phone number temporarily before you can choose to top up more credit.
Personally, I reccommend PAY-AS-YOU-GO plans because you won’t be living in the UK for longterm, you could be away for months during etc. Winter Break and Spring Break. So, I think that this is the most ecomonic option.
We have these providers in the UK : O2, EE, T-Mobile and GiffGaff.
I have been using EE Pay as you Go plan for the past two years and it has not failed me! I’m signed on to the £15/ month pack which provides me with 2GB of data/ month and enough minutes for phone calls and texting!
The only thing is you’ll have to make a note in your diary to remind you to top up your credit whenever it’s time to buy another pack or if you’re travelling, you don’t have to pay for the month that youre away! #perksofpayasyougo
Plus, WIFI is available almost everywhere on campus that you’re going to always be connected to wifi and have data left over.
Truuuuust me, I’m an avid user of all things social media and I still seem to have data left over !
Will I enjoy my time there?
Yes you will! Your time at University is going to be amazing if you choose to make it amazing.
Just work hard, work smart and remember that you are going there for your studies so don’t let that take a backseat to all the distractions you may find overseas.
Be Friendly, Join Societies, Engage and just have fun! You’re gonna enjoy Surrey and I hope to meet you guys very soon!
GET PACKING and Together with the University of Surrey, I wish you a very WARM WELCOME.