From Nairobi to Guildford

Hello all,

So today I thought I would talk about my process of coming to Surrey, for those of you that are hoping to come here and are not sure where to begin. As I mentioned in my last post, I applied to Surrey through UCAS. They gave me a conditional offer, and luckily, when results season came around I got the grades I needed to get in! Surrey was my top choice, so I was pretty stoked to get in, all that was needed then was sorting out how to actually get there.

Firstly, as I had decided to take a gap year, my first task was to defer my entry. It took a little while for confirmation of this as, since this was over the summer and results had just come out, the admissions team was very busy. Nevertheless, I managed to defer my entry with no problem at all, and all in good time – simply by sending an email to the admissions team.

As I then had a year before I set off to Surrey, this meant I wasn’t in such a rush to complete the rest of the things I had to do. However, if you are planning on starting at Surrey – or any university in the UK – the same year to finish your high school studies, you should begin your Tier 4 Visa application as soon as you have your place confirmed. Even though, for Kenyan applicants, your visa is most likely to be processed within two or three weeks, I always advice to start the process as soon a possible, as you never know what might happen. The last thing you want is to have to leave for the UK in about a week, and your passport is still yet to arrive.

Next on the checklist is to sort out your accommodation. If you applied for university accommodation, you should find out your decision a couple of weeks after your results come out and your place is confirmed. For those that didn’t manage to get university accommodation, or those that would like to live in the private sector, the university lettings team is there to assist.

With your place and your accommodation sorted, now comes the time to think of flights and how in the world you are actually going to find your way to Surrey. When I came, I signed up for the international student Meet and Greet airport pick up and orientation week which proved to be extremely helpful. Basically, they pick you up from the airport you will be flying into, and take you to the university, even showing you where you sign in, pick up your keys, and have people to help you get to your accommodation. It takes care of a lot of the logistics of the trip, and means there is one less thing you have to worry about. Do also check the welcome week website and sign up for the orientation activities. I signed up for a walking tour of Guildford, and for a trip down the river to Dapdune Wharf. Both were very cute ways of getting to know the town, and really helped me orientate myself and feel more at home. There were loads of other trips to choose from though, just in case walking or riding a boat down the river is not your thing!

You might also want to start thinking about things for your flat such as bedding and kitchen equipment. The university and several other companies do bedding and kitchen packs that you can buy which will give you everything you need in one handy purchase. I personally liked StudentKlick. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, you could always or do all your shopping when you get here. Some people also opt to bring over a few stuff from home but, as I was travelling alone, this wasn’t really an option for me. It would not have been ideal to be trudging through Heathrow with heaps of bags filled with mum’s old plates and my favourite bedsheets.

For all incoming students, I would recommend checking the Surrey Freshers pages on Facebook. There are always a couple of pages or groups where other freshers come together and post their accommodation, course, as well as questions they may have or random information they may want to share. From there you can get to meet people in your accommodation or on your course, form a group and get chatting! It’s a great way to ease into starting your new life at university, and getting to meet the people you will be surrounded with throughout your time here. I was in a group chat with most of the people in my block at manor park before I came here, and it made it a lot easier that, when moving in, we already knew each other.

All in all, the process of coming to Surrey was fairly simple, the university was extremely helpful during the application process, and throughout my gap year as well. They would send me emails about what the next steps are, and remind me of all the things I needed to go to prepare for my studies. And any questions I had about any part of the process were always answered happily and in good time by the admissions team. Basically, fret not about preparing to come here! There is a lot to do but loads of people to help you do it.

That’s it from me for now, until next time 😊.