Jet lag aside, moving to a new country can be a difficult transition, especially if it’s your first time living away from home. The University of Surrey offers several opportunities for international students to help make this transition easier, including an airport pickup from both Heathrow and Gatwick airports. After such a long flight, it is such a relief to have someone ready to help you with your bags and lead you to chartered buses and on to uni without you having to worry about it on your own, especially if you’re traveling by yourself.
Arriving on campus: Once you get to campus, you will be taken to your assigned accommodation to check in and pick up your room key. There will be Surrey student volunteers around to help you with your bags and to point you in the right direction. Once you get settled into your room, Tesco, the supermarket frequented by most of the students here, is only a 10 or 20 minute walk from Manor Park and Stag Hill, depending on how quickly you feel like walking. Buses are available as well, and if you live at Manor Park or Hazel Farm, which are off the main campus, a year long Arriva bus pass might become your best friend, especially when winter rolls around. These are available at the university online store and can be ordered ahead of time and picked up during the first week of uni.
Flatmates: Getting to know your flatmates as soon as possible will pay off over the next year while you’re living together. My flatmates and I sat down together on the first night and had a kind of meet and greet where we learned each others’ names, backgrounds, and what we were each studying. While you may not have a lot in common with your flatmates on the surface, you will become like a little family. My flatmates and I often cook together and sometimes go out together as well. Having a group of people who you share a space with can be a real life saver during exams when everyone’s stressed and you need a little moral support without having to leave the building. You don’t have to become best friends with everyone in your flat, but developing a good relationship with everyone is key to having a good year.
Freshers’ Week: There are sooo many events taking place during “Freshers’ Week,” (which is the same thing as “orientation” at U.S. colleges.) Rubix, the on campus Students’ Union run nightclub has something on nearly every night of freshers’ week. You can get a wristband for the whole week or simply get individual tickets for specific nights. There will also be plenty of events at venues in Guildford if you feel like getting off campus for a night out. During the day, you will have events with your accommodation mentors and wardens, and your programme as a whole, where you’ll meet the faculty, your course mates, and learn a little more about what you can expect in the coming weeks and years. There will also be plenty of events for international students, where you can meet fellow international students and learn what resources and support are available to you.
Where to take a break when you need it: It’s easy to get caught up in all the Freshers’ Week excitement, but it’s always a good idea to take a breather every now and then. If you’re lucky, you may even escape the dreaded “Freshers’ Flu” which is nearly impossible to avoid. Taking some time to explore Guildford will help familiarize you with your new area, and if you’re not a confident cook right away or are simply too busy to cook for yourself, it’s the perfect excuse to try some of the restaurants and pubs around town. Guildford is the perfect combination of village and city. It’s small enough to be easy to get around and to feel safe and familiar, but it’s big enough to have all the shops and restaurants and pubs that you could want. The River Wey and Guildford Castle are also great places right in town to escape for a little quiet.
The first week of university and life in a new country may seem a little scary at first, but once you arrive, you’ll see that everyone is in the same boat, and even the U.K. students are a little nervous about living away from home for the first time. As long as you make sure to take care of yourself with food and sleep, your first week at university will be a truly fantastic start to your time at Surrey.