Moving to the UK – the FULL Experience (+TIPS)

It is okay to feel lonely, okay to not fit in immediately, and okay to seek help.

Moving to the UK was one of those experiences that will be etched in my memory for eternity… it signified the beginning of my adulthood. A wise friend of mine once advised that this stage in life is where we cast our mould… a mould that we would fill over the rest of our life.

Mine is only just beginning to take form…

I remember waving my parents off as I disappeared into the international departures line at the airport. It was a simple goodbye, nothing too emotional. At the time, the sadness of moving away from home was clouded by excitement of living on my own in a far-away country. I was travelling on my own… just me against the world.

I also remember when the plane turbines began roaring, how fear and panic finally hit me and I wanted out of the whole experience immediately… It all seemed too daunting…

This is the actual text- message I sent to my friend whilst on the plane…on the verge of tears… *Seating here inside the plane, I realise what I have ahead of me…


My flight was close to 10 hours. In that time I had managed to calm myself down. (I had been listening to Chloe x Halle’s song, ‘Grown’. It was an anthem to everything moving to the UK was symbolising… it had become my anthem)

Later, I came to learn that fear is all part of the experience. It is okay to feel lonely, okay to not fit in immediately, and okay to seek help.

*TIP*: Speaking of flights, I cannot stress this enough. Remember to book your flight to the UK months in advance. September – October is a peak period and prices really shoot-up. If you plan on going back home during the December winter-break, it is also a good idea to book your return ticket early, (booking as early as October can save you a couple hundred pounds).

When it comes to packing, remember…pack light. Speaking from experience, it is a real pain having to reshuffle your bag on the airport floor in baggage drop-off… the alternative of course would be coughing up some hundreds of dollars for a few extra kilos. To save yourself the hustle… PACK LIGHT and keep within the weight restrictions.

In your hand luggage:

  1. Travel Documents (valid passport etc.)
  2. UKVI Decision letter
  3. CAS Document (printed out).
  4. Bank statements (or other evidence of funding for your tuition fees and living costs)
  5. TB Certificate ( and other necessary health certificates)
  6. Money (In pounds – enough to sustain you for the first couple of weeks before you get your bank account set-up. You might also find having some few dollars useful if you have long connection times.)
  7. Travel insurance policy and emergency numbers (in the UK and from home).
  8. Warm jumper and raincoat (weather in the UK can be irregular)

Dress in comfortable clothes on departure day. You might find it useful to pack an extra shirt to change into.

In your suitcase:

If your packing experience was anything like mine, you have heard many frightening stories about the unforgiving winters… the blood curdling storms and the perpetual rain…

You might be tempted to fill you suitcases with several jackets and boots – your armour during the merciless winter period…

It IS advisable to pack enough warm clothes, although, I would not recommend packing too many; for reasons other than the obvious, warm clothes from home are probably not good enough for the cold weather here.

Consider packing some selection of light clothes that can be worn in layers. This is especially useful when you are indoors or when the weather gets warmer e.g. during spring time.

My more fashion-forward peers would say, ‘pack wardrobe essentials’ and this is also true. Items such as a smart blazer, suit, smart gown, might also be useful for some events and job interviews.

*TIP*: Once you are here, INVEST in a good waterproof winter-coat (with a hood) and in a good pair of boots/ walking shoes .

One is enough. The boots are also particularly useful when the ground is icy.

At the end of the day, if you do forget anything, note that,  you can always buy more clothing items in the UK for reasonable prices.


Also remember to pack bedding (duvet, pillow, mattress topper etc.) for your Uni- bed ( single or double, depending on what you were allotted). Alternatively, you can order these from the surrey online shop when the time comes. Bedroom items like hangers are also useful.

Utensils are another important thing to consider because the university does not provide these. I began my university experience with one spoon, one plate, one fork, one cup, one pan, one knife… this is no surprise for a student, but gradually, your stockpile grows.

*TIP*: Have a little money in hand for quick meals before you settle in. Get something to eat on the way from the airport, and bring some take-away with you to your dorm. I remember getting so hungry on moving day, being too tired and groggy from the long flight, and having no idea where to begin looking for food… that was rough!

All things considered, the university has a really supportive environment; you can always get help if need be.

*TIP* : In terms of stationary, do not invest in too much before hand, wait to see what is actually needed in the class (university and school operate differently, I learnt this the hard way 🙂 . Furthermore, you can always find textbooks for cheap from students who took the same courses in the past (the Uni- facebook group is a good place to find students selling text books they do not need anymore.)


These are all tips I have collected from my university experience but you can check out the university’s international pre-departure guide  for more


That is all for now folks,