Congratulations! You got into your dream university in the UK and have your visa approved. You are all set to fly into the UK to embark on an exciting new phase of your life.
Travelling to another country can be exciting and a bit daunting, especially if it is your first time travelling internationally by yourself.
You can do a few simple things to make your first day in the UK a lot easier. The following are the things that helped me with just that as an International Student from India in the UK.
1. Paperwork and Travel Arrangements
The very first thing you will do as soon as you arrive in the UK is going through immigration. This is a very simple process and usually, the immigration officers don't ask a lot of questions as long as you have all your paperwork in place. Ensure that you have your passport with the visa vignette and any other documents such as those related to Covid-19 all in one place ready to hand over to the officer at the counter when it is your turn. It is best to hand over your passport first and wait for the officer to ask for any other documents.
Once you are done with the immigration you will be going to your accommodation. Chances are you will have to travel a bit from the Airport (usually Heathrow or Manchester) to the city where your university and accommodation are located (Leeds, Liverpool, Coventry, Nottingham etc).
It is best to book a train beforehand leaving sufficient time to get from the airport to the train station taking into account the time required for immigration. Booking a train 4-6 hours after your arrival time should work well in most cases. Trainline (click to book UK trains and buses) is an excellent app for booking trains and buses in the UK and you can book trains from your home country well in advance as they accept most debit and credit cards.
2. International Sim
Landing in the UK, you will be able to connect to the WiFi at the airport to make a WhatsApp call home to inform your anxious family members that you have arrived safe and sound.
But the moment you step outside the airport, you will require cellular coverage. You could buy a sim card from one of the stores outsides the airport but they are usually more expensive than ordering a sim with a cheap internet and international calling plan online like Lebara (order a Lebara Sim here to get 50% off). But that will take a couple of days to arrive.
The best thing to do to ensure you don't face any issues on your first day, especially if you have to use the internet during your commute from the airport to your accommodation is to have an international plan active on your Indian or home sim card. Most of the international sims work in the UK and I can personally vouch for Vodafone. You must activate this plan while you are still in your home country. Otherwise, there are chances your sim might work upon your arrival in the UK.
3. Forex Card
On your very first day, you could find yourself booking an Uber or ordering food on Just Eat or Deliveroo. While you could manage to buy stuff from shops using cash you have brought from home, it is inconvenient. You could apply to open an online bank account (Check out Monzo - one of the most convenient online banks) but it will be a few days before you get your card or get funds transferred from your home country.
An easy way to get around during your first few days in the UK is by getting a Forex Card. You can get one from your bank if they offer one. Just make sure that you load it with pounds and that it supports online transactions in the UK. If you are coming from India, I recommend the HDFC Bank's Visa Multi Currency Forex Plus Card. I used it for well over a few months after arriving in the UK because it was very convenient.
4. Travel Adapter
If you are coming from a country which uses a different type of plug than the G-type plug used in the UK, you will require an adapter to use your electronic devices. You can get new chargers once you are in the UK, but it is better to have an adapter in hand. Do note that if your country has a different voltage standard than the 230 V used in the UK, you will require a converter rather than a simple adapter. (Click on the image if you want to buy one from Amazon India)
5. Travel Bidet
Before coming to the UK, I went through every website I could find to get as much information as possible about things I should bring along. However, not a single one of them mentioned a travel bidet.
This is an extremely important thing to carry with you to the UK if you are from Asia or any country in the world where you wash your butt after doing your business rather than wipe it with toilet paper.
I can assure you that having a travel bidet can save you a lot of unnecessary anxiety when you arrive in the UK. (Click on the image if you want to buy one from Amazon India)