Hiya peeps!! It’s been a while since we met. Well, I have been busy with my dissertation and works. The other day I was going through gallery and came across a couple of old pics that I took before travelling to UK. Some of them took me back to the last few precious moments spend with family and friends before bidding them a long goodbye. Then it reminded me of some of the stressful and hectic days of back-to-back shopping and packing. So, I thought it would be a good time to share my pre-departure experience. So, here we go things to do before travelling to UK. (I think I just got the title for this blog)😉.
Once you have confirmed your place and have received your CAS, next major step is VISA!!!! Oh gosh! It was so tiring. Get your funds ready- 1 year tuition fee along with living experience. You can cover this by student loan, savings, or Fixed Deposit (FD). Any savings or FD that you show should be minimum 28 days old. So, if you plan on adding some funds as FD or savings make sure the amount is held consistently in your account for at least 28 days. Make sure to get the letter from your bank on the bank letterhead and your account statements. For student loans all you need is the loan sanction letter.
Get your medicals done before going to the VFS. There is a list of hospitals from where you can do your medicals. Find the one closest to you and book an appointment. During certain times of the year, it will be difficult to get a booking, so make sure you book one immediately. You will have to show your offer letter and passport at the hospital. Medicals means just a chest X-ray and you get a certificate after this, which you will have to produce at the VFS.
Pay your NHS fees and book an appointment at the VFS. This would be around INR 1.5 lakh (Charges might differ for priority visa) Once you have done this make sure to take all the necessary documents mentioned in your CAS along with any other relevant documents. You will receive a checklist of documents required while you make your appointment. At VFS, your documents will be scanned (if not already done by you) and verified. You will then be asked to give your biometrics. They will scan your fingerprint and iris and will then take a picture of yours. Depending on the type of visa application you made, you will then receive your visa anywhere from 2-4 weeks for standard visa. (Note: This time is for standard visa). If you have opted for a courier service, your processed visa will be dispatched you. You will receive a message saying “Your processed visa application Ref No:XXXXXX was received at the UK Visa Application Centre”. You won’t receive any mails or text messages regarding the application status in between. So, do not panic and relax after you submit your visa.
Once you get your visa you will have 3 months’ time to travel before your visa expires. Now, comes booking your tickets. Give yourself enough time to do your shopping and packing before you book your tickets. Also, do not leave your bookings to last minute. Plane fares tend to soar high if you try to book 1 week ahead. My advice: book at least a month earlier. I booked 1.5 months beforehand. Most airlines have student offer allowing you to carry an extra piece of luggage if you are traveling on student visa. Check each individual airline before booking your ticket.
What to shop when travelling to England?
Trust me this is the most exhausting part of the entire process. Get your winter clothes. However, I wouldn’t suggest buying lots of jacket, you can get a decent one just for your travel or initial days and buy a good one once you reach here. You can get better quality jackets for the same price here than in India. Having lived my entire life in a place where winters are just 18 degrees, I had no clue how to dress for winter. Can you believe I actually did a google search on “how to dress for winters”?😂 If you are from places like Delhi, UP or other northern parts of India, you might have experienced winters. But for people from places like Chennai, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh or Karnataka, England is going to be really cold. The key to dress for winters is layers, layers and layers. Make sure you pack thermals (both tops and bottoms). This is going to be the base layer. Next you can add T-shirts. You can also get a fleece jacket or jumper. Finally, an outer jacket. Get an ear muffler if you are sensitive to cold. This country is always windy so you might want to get one. A beanie hat also protects you from the cold winds. Scarfs and gloves give you extra protection from the freezing cold weather (but I suggest you get this once you reach here.) Finally, thick woollen socks and winter shoes. Pack an umbrella, it’s always raining in England. It would be better if you get a jacket that is suitable for both winter and rain. Having said all this, do not forget to pack for summers as well. We have summer from June – August.
Next comes, the kitchen stuff. Never forget your PRESSURE COOKER !!!! 😂 You have to cook your rice, dal and other pulses (Also, a good idea to bring a spare gasket for your cooker). You might also want to carry a frying pan, some knives, cutlery etc. You can get these from Tesco or Poundland once you reach here. So just take a few for your initial days. You can get all your masalas from Tesco – garam masala, coriander powder, cumin, chilli, turmeric, etc. But it’s always a good idea to bring some with you (PS: Costs might differ from India. Never try converting costs of these to INR. When in Britain, do as the British do 😉, meaning calculate in pounds 😛). You might also want to carry some of your favourite sweets and snacks. Trust me you will miss them in 2 months’ time. One important tip and advice to all of you: LEARN TO COOK, else you are gonna end up having hour long video calls with mum back at home, asking her how much masala to add (speaking from experience 😁😁). Thank god, I don’t have to pay extra fee for wifi at uni accommodation 🤣.
Get a forex card before you travel. Check the facilities offered by various providers. Thomas Cook and SBI forex cards are good as far as I know. (People I know have used these both. Don’t know much about others). Carry some amount as liquid cash and the rest in forex card. However, most forex cards (so far the ones I know) do not allow you to transfer money to other bank accounts. So, you might want to clarify that if you intend to transfer money to UK bank account once you open one here.
Pack some pictures of family and friends or some of your favourite belongings and books to decorate your room once you arrive here. Phew!! This blog just got so long, isn’t it? Ok, I’m going to stop here now. I hope this was informative for you. Finally, as always if you have any queries regarding uni life, please get in touch with us.
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