Welcome to Surrey

Salut! Hello again! My name is Lizzie and this issue of my blog post will be about welcoming you to the University of Surrey, with tips on what to bring from home, what to do in Guildford, the events that take place on campus and common issues you might have in the first few weeks at university for the first time, being away from home.

When leaving home for the first time, I brought 2 huge suitcases filled with clothes and IKEA cutlery and other kitchenware. Over the Move-In Weekend, I bought a bicycle, which I used to commute to university in my first year. Owning a bicycle at Surrey is promoted and common as it is easy to keep them in the sheds on campus and near accommodation. The first thing you will have to do once you are finished with packing is to register at the university and receive your student card. This process was done in person prior to COVID but is now done online and you will need to pick the physical card at University Hall.

Top down view of the University of Surrey and its many connections

The University of Surrey is very well connected to airports and London transportation system. I usually fly on easyJet to Germany or France, taking the direct train from Guildford to Gatwick Airport that takes about an hour. At times, I have had to fly from Heathrow, which you can take a bus to directly from the Guildford Train Station. I have also needed to renew my passport once and since the nearest embassy was in London, I took a quick train to Waterloo directly from Guildford, so I didn’t need to go back home to get the documents renewed during COVID.

Surrey University is a very welcoming university, whether you are an undergraduate, postgraduate or even returning from a work-placement year. Surrey Angels, volunteer students,  help all students move into university accommodation for the first time over the Move-In Weekend. The Angles show you around campus, can take you to your room and help you carry your things and will solve any issues or answer any questions you may have.

A top tip I have for anyone leaving home for the first time and packing all of their belongings to move into another country is to buy a universal extension cable, which in my experience is extremely useful.

However overwhelming, moving to university as student from overseas can be scarier than for home students. It’s common for parents of undergraduate students to come along to help moving in, booking the nearby Holiday Inn to stay a few nights, as my parents did back in 2018. Once the parents leave, the Move-In Weekend over, it is common for students to start feeling lonely, especially if they had never been away from home before.

There will be buckets of opportunities for you to meet new people: on your course, at parties, in societies and clubs and in your accommodation. This is why I would recommend choosing a shared kitchen flat where you will have more chance of meeting other students and building your new friend circles. You will have the take the initiative to get out there and meet new people, which for some students, especially international or European students, can be difficult. This is why joining a society can be beneficial and can be a good start to meet new people. Trying out new sports at the Surrey Sports Park is advisable as there you will meet more new people and even find an activity you didn’t know you enjoyed!

Welcome Week at Surrey is organised so that you feel the most informed about what your course will be about, the general structure of your modules, assessment methods and so on. You will also meet a few of your lecturers on the first day, when they will be delivering the first introductory lecture. You will have the perfect chance of meeting your course mates then as well!

So, my advice to students moving away from home for the first time, or moving to university for the first time is so find as many opportunities as possible to meet new people, find new friends and support circles and attempt to make the most out of your new life at the University of Surrey. Keep an eye out for events and parties that are organised on Welcome Week and join as many societies and clubs as you wish, trying out new sports or activities and registering at the Sports Park.

Bonne chance! I wish you all the best for your University adventure! My next post will be about social and study spaces, and the academics at Surrey and some of the cool things that I get to do as an Aerospace Engineering student.