Click2Campus - University Life
  • Checklist of Things to Take to University
    Advance planning is crucial when preparing to go to university (especially if you do not live in the UK) - the more you sort out before you leave home, the easier it will be for you

    below is a list of the things to bring with you to university (or buy once you get there). We've broken each section into 'essential' and 'desirable' things where the essentials are those items you really need straight away and the desirables are those items that you can buy at your leisure (if you feel you need / can afford them)

    there's obviously no need to get every item listed here. Many universities provide some of these things so check with them beforehand.

    It is also worth considering buying the desirable items with your new flat mates to cut down on the cost and to save duplication (there is no use having 6 kettles!)

    Click here to download a printable version of this whole checklist.

    Documents and Paperwork

    a valid passport (or recognised travel document / card)
    entry visa / entry certificate (if applicable)
    unconditional offer letter or admission certificate from your university / college
    documentary evidence of financial support for fees and maintenance
    driving license
    passport-sized photographs (at least 4) for use at registration etc.
    medical certificate (if applicable) / NHS number
    medical insurance if you are in the UK for less than six months
    National Insurance number (if applicable)
    bank account details
    enough travellers cheques to support yourself until you can open a bank account in the UK
    a small amount of cash to spend in the first few days
    CV and references
    address book and email contacts list
    separate list of important/emergency phone numbers
    room contents insurance documentation (if applicable)
    details of fees and living expenses that have been paid in advance into your university's bank account
    a letter sent to you at your home address by the university for if you open a UK bank account - the bank will require it as proof of your home country residential address all other necessary university/college documents
    your home doctor and dentist details
    all relevant exam certificates

    diary and/or calendar
    discount travel cards More info
    TV license (if you have a television) More info
    Map / tourist guide of new location
    stamps and envelopes

    Study Room

    • duvet and duvet cover/s
    • pillows and pillow case/s
    • sheet/s
    • clothes hangers (not too chunky!)
    • photos of family and friends
    • desk lamp
    • pin board or small message board with erasable markers
    • mattress cover
    • blow-up mattress (and pump)
    • sleeping bag
    • bed cover
    • blanket
    • potted plant/s
    • duster
    • laundry bag
    • clothes horse
    • posters
    • non-marking wall stickers (such as 'White Tac') for posters etc.
    • poster hangers
    • rugs
    • floor cushion / beanbag
    • door wedge
    • dustpan and brush (should be provided)
    • iron and ironing board (normally provided in the kitchen)
    • mini fridge (only if your halls allow it)


    • face cloth / flannel
    • hand towel/s
    • bath towel/s
    • toilet roll
    • toothbrush and toothpaste
    • deodorant
    • hairbrush / comb
    • liquid soap
    • shower gel
    • shampoo and conditioner
    • basic first aid kit (plasters, antiseptic wipes, bandages, etc.)
    • box of tissues
    • jewellery
    • hair dryer
    • hair straighteners
    • wash bag
    • nail clippers
    • make up
    • perfume / after-shave
    • hair gel / hair spray
    • razor
    • shaving cream/gel
    • lip balm
    • bath mat


    • plates (large and medium)
    • bowls
    • mugs
    • glasses (one tall and one tumbler)
    • cutlery (knives, forks and spoons)
    • small / medium frying pan
    • 1 or 2 saucepans with lids
    • tin opener
    • chopping board
    • cutting knives (paring, utility/vegetable and chef's)
    • scissors
    • vegetable peeler
    • cheese grater (flat)
    • wooden spoon
    • wooden spatula
    • tea towel/s
    • lidded food containers
    • colander / sieve
    • corkscrew / bottle opener
    • basic cupboard ingredients (tea, coffee, milk, sugar, eggs, butter / margarine, cooking oil, pasta, salt and pepper)
    • washing-up items (washing-up liquid / dishcloth / scrubbing brush)
    • simple recipe book
    • microwaveable bowl
    • potato masher
    • oven gloves
    • kitchen utensil set (non-scratch nylon)
    • egg cups
    • small casserole dish
    • baking tray (non-stick)
    • wine glasses
    • breadknife
    • chopsticks
    • roll of polythene bags
    • cling film
    • tin foil
    • tray
    • shot glasses
    • cleaning products
    • washing powder / liquid / tablets
    • kettle (if not provided)
    • toaster
    • toasted sandwich maker


    • course books
    • course notes / pre-reading materials
    • diary / day planner
    • dictionary
    • translation book / computer application (if applicable)
    • pad of lined paper
    • basic stationery (pens, pencils, ruler, eraser, highlighters, etc.)
    • post-it notes
    • scissors
    • printing paper
    • sticky tape
    • stapler
    • hole punch
    • paper clips
    • files / sleeves
    • A4 folders
    • sticky labels
    • thesaurus
    • book stand / support
  • Checklist of Things to Take to University (continued)


    • glasses / contact lenses
    • personal medication (if applicable)
    • anti-allergy pills (if applicable)
    • birth control
    • headache tablets
    • painkillers
    • cold / flu remedies
    • multivitamins


    • mobile phone (and charger!)
    • UK visitors adaptor plug (for dual voltage items such as mobile phones / laptops)
    • laptop or desktop computer
    • ethernet network cable
    • alarm clock radio
    • calculator (simple or advanced depending on your course requirements)
    • multi plug extension lead (preferably surge protected)
    • USB memory drive/s
    • bedside lamp
    • printer (basic or advanced depending on your course requirements)
    • small CD player / music system
    • small television (ideally with built-in DVD player)
    • camera
    • headphones
    • batteries
    • CDRs / CDRWs
    • rice cooker (only if your halls allow it)

    Special Clothing

    • raincoat
    • formal eveningwear (including your national dress - if appropriate)
    • dressing gown & slippers
    • swimwear
    • flip flops (for showers / communal wash areas)


    • umbrella
    • spare light bulbs
    • earplugs
    • safety pins
    • small sewing kit
    • matches
    • clock
    • bicycle
    • sports clothing
    • sports gear (rackets, bats, balls, frisbee, etc.)
    • torch
    • fan
    • extra storage (cardboard or plastic boxes)
    • large suitcase

    Although it is very tempting to bring every piece of your favourite bedding and cooking/eating items with you, you need to carefully consider whether it is worthwhile carrying it all and paying the various weight surcharges.

    You also need to consider the opportunity cost - for every Essential household item you bring with you, that is one less favourite T-shirt or pair of jeans you can fit in your case/s.

    You can of course wait until you arrive at your accommodation to buy everything you need from the local shops (assuming they are 'local' or even open at the time / on the day you arrive!) but going out shopping in the first few days will mean you will take longer to settle in and will therefore undoubtedly cause you to miss out on important opportunities to meet new friends.

    To save you the hassle, All-Unied has put together a comprehensive range of 'Essentials' packs for you to choose from - all of which can be supplemented with additional items.
  • Other checklists

    Things to pack

    it is hard to decide what to pack and when you arrive you may find your room is small with very little storage space. Things you may want to pack include:

    • alarm clock
    • backpack / rucksack
    • torch
    • good English dictionary
    • camera

    Although you are encouraged to pack lightly it is important that you bring some things to remind you of home. Your room will be bare with little or no decoration so pack pictures, photos and posters to brighten your room and help you feel more at home. Do not bring anything that is valuable or too bulky


    if you are planning to bring books, remember that you will have to carry them. Recommended books will normally be available from the campus book-shops or high street stores. It may also be worth you contacting the International Office or Students Union at your intended university / college to see if any students are selling their second-hand books

    Safety Precautions

    It is unwise to bring very valuable possessions like jewellery. If you do, make sure they are insured and stored securely at all times. You should list traveller cheque numbers, insurance policy numbers and passport numbers in a separate and safe place in case the originals are lost or stolen. To be extra safe, leave the numbers with friends and family as well

    Banned and Restricted Goods

    what you can and cannot bring to the UK depends on where you are travelling from. There are strict penalties for bringing in items that are prohibited or restricted in the UK. To explain:

    • prohibited goods - are goods banned completely in the UK
    • restricted goods - are goods that cannot be imported into the UK without the appropriate legal documentation

    You must not bring any drugs with you to the UK. The British government takes drug smuggling extremely seriously and there are severe penalties for anyone found with drugs or found to be importing them. Also, you are not permitted to import items to sell, you cannot bring any weapons, meat, milk and other animal goods, and it is advisable not to bring any plants. For more details on bringing personal or restricted goods into the UK see the HM Revenues and Customs website.

    For details of food and plants that you must not bring to the UK see the DEFRA website. If you know you have brought any prohibited goods, you will need to declare them on arrival at the airport.

    The rules apply to all travellers, whether travelling within the European Union (EU) or from outside the EU

    Electrical Items

    Check the compatibility of any electrical equipment you are bringing with you (hair-dryers / straighteners / tongs, razors, phone-chargers etc.) with the British system. It will be cheaper and easier to pre-purchase many of the items you desire from our store [CLICK HERE] before you leave home or once you arrive. It is well worth buying a multi-plug extension lead as few study-rooms ever have enough electricity sockets. And if you are bringing your lap-top computer, we would recommend you buy a surge-protected extension lead to be safe

    Shipping or Freighting your possessions

    You may need to bring more than you can carry. If so, use a freight company to bring your belongings by sea or by air. Most universities will only accept delivery of students' belongings if they are there in person to take delivery. You should bring enough hand luggage to meet your immediate needs and arrange for the rest of your belongings to arrive just after you do.

    If you have the details in advance, address all packages to your allocated room, floor, block, and hall of residence or to your personal address; do not simply put the name of the university as your package could get lost or take a lot longer to get to you. Fill all the forms in thoroughly and state what is packed and that the items are your personal effects; part of your temporary move to Britain as an international student.

    You should ensure you complete all the necessary customs declarations when sending your luggage to minimise delays once it arrives in the UK; Customs may choose to open and inspect your belongings but they are less likely to do so if you give full details on the forms. All-Unied can arrange the shipping or freighting of your possession back home once you graduate

    We have complied a very useful Links Page for you - on there you will find many British Government websites (and others) with up-to-date news and advice which will all help improve your experience.

  • Advice for International Students (Overview and basics)
    Many people get confused between Great Britain (Britain) and the United Kingdom (UK). Britain consists of England, Scotland and Wales and together with Northern Ireland they make up the United Kingdom, which is one of the 25 member states of the European Union (EU). Slightly smaller than Oregon, the UK covers an area of 244,820 sq km (94,525 sq miles). The only land border that the UK has is with the Republic of Ireland although it is also linked with France via a 35km tunnel under the English Channel

    The population of the United Kingdom is approximately 60million (England: 49million, Wales: 3million, Scotland: 6million, Northern Ireland: 2million) and is now growing by more than 300,000 a year. Population density in the UK is 246 per sq km (England: 383, Scotland: 65, Wales: 142, Northern Ireland: 125)

    English is the main language spoken in the UK and is also one of the most widely used in the world. Approximately 310 million speak English as their first language with a similar number speaking it as a second language. Modern English is derived primarily from an Anglo-Saxon dialect but has also been greatly influenced by other languages. There are many regional dialects and variations in the English language. Welsh and Gaelic are also spoken in Wales and Ireland.

    Opening Hours
    Banks and offices are open Monday to Friday, usually from 09:00 to 17:00. Increasingly, large branches of banks and offices also open on Saturdays. Shops are usually open from 09:00 to 17:30, Monday to Saturday, and many shops now also open on Sundays. Supermarkets tend to open 7 days a week, some days until 19:00 or 20:00

    British weather is well known for being unpredictable, so you should come prepared. There are four distinct seasons, although these vary in different regions. November to February can be cold and / or wet so jumpers / sweatshirts, a warm coat, boots, a raincoat and an umbrella are advisable purchases once you have settled in. Most properties in the UK are usually well insulated and have heating systems so the cold is not always so noticeable indoors. Southern parts of the UK do not see much snow, whereas the north and Scotland regularly have heavy snow falls in winter. In spring and autumn there are many bright, sunny days but the evenings can be cool. British summertime is usually extremely pleasant, although shorter / less reliable than in many other parts of the world. The average temperature range in the UK varies from 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) in winter to 24 Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) in the summer. Some British winters see the temperature fall below freezing in places, whilst in some summers the daily high can reach the mid-30s Celsius

    Banking and Money
    Although the UK is a member state of the EU, it never adopted the Euro as its currency. Instead the UK uses a metric system of pounds and pence known as 'sterling' or the Great British Pound (GBP). Below is a table showing the coins and notes in circulation:

    called short name colour
    1 penny 1p copper £5
    2 pence 2p copper £10
    5 pence 5p silver £20
    10 pence 10p silver £50
    20 pence 20p silver
    50 pence 50p silver
    1 pound (100p) £1 gold
    2 pounds (200p) £2 gold/silver

    When travelling to the UK, you are advised not to carry large amounts of cash; and for safety, do not carry money in one place - keep half on your person and half in your hand luggage so that, in the unlikely event that you were to be pick-pocketed or have your bag stolen, you would not lose everything.

    US dollars, Euros and other currencies are not generally accepted at high-street stores.

    Some years back we used to advise bringing 'Travellers Cheques' but with the progress made in the bank card industry, they are not widely available nowadays. If you do buy them however, once in the UK you will need to convert them at a bank or a 'bureau de change'. Be warned that these places may try to lure you in with "No Fees" but they hide their mark up by applying very poor exchange rates. So if possible, check and compare the exchange rates and commissions as they vary widely from place to place. To give you an approximation of the exchange rate (although it is highly unlikely to be exactly the same due to currency fluctuations and the amount you are going to convert) you might want to use a currency converter before you even leave home.

    Write down some approximate exchange amounts (for example $1 = 0.61, $5 = 3.05, $10 = 6.10, $20 = 12.20, $50 = 30.50) on a piece of paper and keep it handy (in your wallet / purse) until you get used to the exchange rate.

    Long-stay students are able to open a UK bank account but be warned, in some cases this can take upwards of a month . . . after you've arrived in the UK !!!

    A far simpler and more eloquent solution to use these days would be to set up an Aspire Account before you even leave home. The Aspire Account (launched by UniZest Ltd in 2016) is a modern UK banking solution for international students that resolves the problems associated with opening a UK Bank Account described above.

    VAT (value added tax) at 20% is payable on most items bought in shops (with the exception of 'non-luxury' items such as food, books etc.) as well as on invoiced / billed services, such as telephone charges.
  • Advice for International Students (General Living)
    since May 1999 it is permissible for foreign students with a student visa, studying in the UK to enter into part-time work. Students from EU countries can work as many hours as they wish; students from non-EU countries can work up to 20 hours per week if they are studying at least 15 hours per week. Students who enter Britain on a tourist visa (not a student visa) may need to have their passports re-stamped to allow them to work. Finding a part-time job in Britain varies in difficulty depending on the time of the year and the location; for instance it will always be easier during the summer in areas that attract tourists. Many students take service industry jobs in restaurants, bars and shops. This kind of work is usually poorly paid (the minimum hourly wage in the UK is 4.83 for workers aged 18-21 inclusive and 5.80 for 22 and over) but can be a good way to meet people and practise your English. Most universities / colleges have a member of staff in their Student Welfare office who can advise students about the best local places to look for work

    public holidays
    there are currently 8 'Bank Holidays' in Great Britain and 10 in Northern Ireland. Half of these fall over the Christmas (Christmas Day and Boxing Day - the day after Christmas Day) and Easter (Good Friday and Easter Monday - which fall either side of Easter Sunday) periods

    most post offices are open between 09:00 and 17:30 from Monday to Friday and until 12:00 (midday) on Saturdays. Letters and parcels to overseas destinations are sent airmail; this may take 5 to 10 days outside Europe, depending on the postal services overseas. There is normally one postal collection / delivery per day from Monday to Saturday (large business often get a second delivery during the week). First class letters within the UK should take one working day to be delivered

    electrical appliances in the UK are rated for 220-240 volts, and 50 Hz. Electrical adaptors can be purchased from our store [CLICK HERE] but please note, these are not voltage converters; they simply convert the plug's pin configuration. If you are bringing electrical items with you to the UK you should always check what voltage they run on beforehand. The vast majority of modern laptops, PDAs, mobile-phones etc. nowadays are compatible with all inputs from 100-240 volts but cheaper electrical items (hairdryers, razors etc.) are much less likely to be.
    Note: you should always check the universities' / colleges' electrical products policy as you may be required to have items tested before using them in your Halls of Residence.

    there are five main readily-available 'terrestrial' television channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5). Satellite systems and cable are used to boost the available channels into the hundreds. Students thinking of buying a television should note that a TV licence must be held (a colour licence costs 139.50 and black and white one is 47). Fines for being caught watching your TV without a valid licence can be up to 1,000! If you are unsure, contact the TV licensing website (includes a whole section especially for students) or call their helpdesk on 0870 241 6468

    public phones may be operated by coin, phone-card or credit-card. There are normally public phone boxes in or close to campus and faculty buildings. There are a wide range of discounted call-providers available that will make your calls home a lot cheaper than by using public pay phones. In the UK, telephone calls are cheapest at the weekend and most expensive from Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 18:00. You can make international reverse charge calls by dialling the International Operator on 155 and asking to reverse the charges. It may prove very expensive to use your own mobile phone here in the UK. Many students bring their own phone and swap to a UK SIM-card once they are here. If you are not bringing your mobile phone with you, there is a massive range of providers here in the UK but be careful what tariff you sign up to; most international students go for a 'pay-as-you-go' tariff

    we have complied a very useful Links Page for you - on there you will find many British Government websites (and others) with up-to-date news and advice which will all help improve your experience

  • Advice for International Students (General Living continued)
    public transport
    there is a very extensive rail and coach network around the UK, as well as local bus services within towns and cities and the efficient underground network (known as "the tube") in London. Below are some basic details (your university / college will probably provide you with more detailed local information on arrival):

      campus buses - many universities / colleges run their own bus systems to transport you in and around the local area, particularly between your accommodation and faculty buildings

    buses - local bus services operate in all towns and cities. Weekly or monthly 'Saver Tickets' are the cheapest and most flexible form of local travel; prices very from 5 - 10 per week according to location

    trains - trains are normally comfortable and faster than coaches, though more expensive. As a student, you will qualify for a 'Young Persons Railcard', giving you a third off standard train fares. Click here for more details

    coaches - there are coach services linking all major towns and cities in the UK

    Travel Cards (daily, weekly or monthly) are ideal for travel within London as they allow you unlimited travel by bus, train or underground. If you are travelling by train to London from another town you can buy a return ticket which includes a travel card. Very popular in London nowadays is an Oyster Card - which is a pre-paid smartcard that you can use (with a simple swipe) in the vast majority of stations. These Oyster Cards are far more convenient if you are a regular traveller on the London transport network as you can simply top them up as you need to. They can be used on the Tube, trams, buses, DLR, London Overground and some National Rail services in London.

    one of the most important (and confusing) points for many visitors to the UK is that the British drive on the left side of the road. If you buy and drive a car in Britain you are required by law to have:

    • a full driving licence
    • appropriate insurance
    • an MOT (vehicle test certificate to prove vehicle roadworthiness)
    • road tax licence

    Cars can be hired, if the hirer has a full driving licence

    food and eating
    with the UK generally being a very multi-cultural cosmopolitan nation, there are many different styles of cooking available throughout the country; each town / city hosts a wide variety of international restaurants - no longer are Britain's most popular dishes roast beef or 'fish and chips'. Few people eat a 'traditional English breakfast' (fried food) nowadays; people tend to have a lighter 'continental' breakfast. Lunch is generally a light meal (for example, a sandwich) and evening meals are usually eaten between 18:00 and 20:00. Visitors to the UK may find the many different customs associated with food and eating curious and that the British have different ideas about acceptable table manners and eating habits

    students are prohibited from buying and / or drinking beer, wines or spirits unless they are 18 or over. Public houses (pubs), bars, clubs etc. and shops may ask you to produce identification to prove your age. Students who are over 18 may not buy drinks for a person under 18.

    on the July 1st 2007, following the lead set by Scotland and Northern Ireland, England introduced a new law to make virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces in Britain smoke-free. Anyone who wants to smoke now has to go outside. A fixed penalty of 50 (or a maximum fine of 200 if prosecuted and convicted by a court) can be imposed on a person breaking this law. The legal age for purchasing and smoking tobacco in Britain is 18

    in the UK, a wide variety of newspapers are available. A distinction is made between the broadsheet (large, serious newspapers such as The Times) and the tabloid (smaller papers which concentrate on sensationalist gossip). Regularly reading a newspaper will help improve your language skills. News magazines such as Time or Newsweek, which are widely available overseas, are also very useful to students. There are many foreign language newspapers and magazines available in the UK, particularly in the larger towns and cities

    we have complied a very useful Links Page for you - on there you will find many British Government websites (and others) with up-to-date news and advice which will all help improve your experience

  • Police registration
    You must register with the police if you are from one of the following countries:

    MoroccoNorth KoreaOmanPalestine
    PeruQatarRussiaSaudi Arabia
    TurkeyTurkmenistanUkraineUnited Arab Emirates

    AND your visa is endorsed with "Register with the Police". You will usually be informed by the Immigration Officer at your port of arrival if you are required to register with the police, or upon issue of the visa at the British Embassy

    you will need to register within seven days of arriving in the UK. If you intend to travel directly to your College or University you can register with the Police when you get there. If you are accompanied by dependants - your spouse or civil partner and/or children - each will have to pay a registration charge

    you will also need to update your police registration any time you have a change of circumstances such as a change of course, a new address or if you extend your visa. Again this has to be within seven days but is free of charge for all

    you may also be required to register if, exceptionally, an immigration officer considers it necessary

    if you are required to register with the Police the endorsement stamp in your passport will state within seven days of your arrival in the UK. If you plan to spend more than seven days in the UK before arriving at your College or University you will need to register with the Police in the area where you are staying. If you are staying in London before going to your College or University you should go to:
    The Overseas Visitors Records Office, Ground Floor, Brandon House, 180 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1LH. (Opening hours: 9.00am to 4.00pm Monday - Friday). Recorded information line: +44 (0)20 7230 1208. Tel: +44 (0)20 7230 1286

    if you are staying in another part of the country before going to your College or University you should go to the nearest police station

    you come from the EU, EEA, a Commonwealth country, or any other country not listed above;
    or if you will be here for less than 6 months

    to register for the first time with the Police you will need:

    • confirmation of your UK address with postcode
    • your passport
    • 2 passport sized photographs
    • a registration fee of 34
    • confirmation of your name and address in your home country

    For more details, go to the UK Border Agency website

    We have complied a very useful Links Page for you - on there you will find many British Government websites (and others) with up-to-date news and advice which will all help improve your experience

  • Culture Shock (recognition)
    what is culture shock?
    the term comes from Schumann's "Theory of Acculturation" which aims to explain the stages that someone goes through from the time they arrive through to their eventual integration. Our culture is our way of making sense of the world around us. Our culture is influenced by where we live, by our family, our religion, our political and economic background, our language, our gender and many other, often intangible, factors. It makes us feel safe because it tells us who we are. When we step outside of the safety of our own culture, it can make us feel uncomfortable - this is commonly known as culture shock. Coming to study in a different country and in a different education system is a big challenge; at times exhilarating and at others trying but hopefully, always rewarding

    fours stages of culture shock
    1. the euphoric stage
    when you in the UK the first stage that you will go through is the euphoric stage. At this stage everything about the new culture will delight and amuse you. The country from which you have travelled will be constantly compared to the UK in unfavourable terms. It is normal for you to try to adopt the new culture even if the language seems hard to master. You will study the English language with enthusiasm and will progress rapidly in the first few months. This "honeymoon period" commonly lasts a few months, but for some students it can last up to a year

    2. the hostile stage
    after the first stage, you will be shocked to find yourself becoming antagonistic to everything about the UK culture. This second stage is the hostile stage. It arrives with little or no warning, and can be triggered by a seemingly small incident or even have no apparent cause. This stage is characterised by depression and in some cases aggression towards your fellow students. You are likely to attempt to reconnect with your home culture, by watching films or reading books and papers that are connected with your homeland. Cultural differences will no longer be celebrated, but seen as a source of conflict. Familiar or comfort food from your home country will be sought out and consumed with delight. Language study will stall or even go into reverse as you decide that your own language is quite acceptable for most situations. This stage will often last for several months, but it varies from student to student

    3. the acceptance stage
    the third stage is the acceptance stage. In this stage a kind of equilibrium is reached where you learn to accept the differences between the UK culture and your home culture and to celebrate those differences where appropriate. There are certain customs that the UK culture admires that will become part of your everyday student life

    4. reverse culture shock stage
    finally, in the vast majority of cases you will return to your own country. Once there the fourth, and most unexpected, stage occurs and this is referred to as the reverse culture shock stage. Upon arriving back home, you will be eager to share your experiences of the UK culture that have made you a subtly different person. However, you will have returned to a group of people, and indeed a country, that has changed in the interim. These changes can be slight or far-reaching, but they will affect the way that you are accepted by, or accept, your own country and its residents

    recognising culture shock
    starting your new university life in the UK will be an exciting time. Many students will have a good idea of what to expect after seeing friends or relatives enjoy similar experiences; others will be discovering it new for themselves. Either way, there is an enormous amount of information to take in and the pace can become hectic at times with plenty on offer socially as well as academically. One of the first hurdles you will face is the sheer volume of things you will need to organise as soon as you arrive. However, the difficulty comes in carrying out all these actions in a language foreign to you and in a system you do not yet understand. It is little wonder therefore that many students display some (if not all) of the typical symptoms of culture shock:

    • loneliness
    • extreme homesickness
    • feelings of vulnerability, anger and irrational frustration
    • desire to avoid social settings which seem threatening or unpleasant
    • hostility towards the host culture
    • stereotyping the UK whilst idealising your home
    • loss of self confidence
    • depression and feelings of helplessness
    • loss of your sense of humour
    • stress
    • boredom or fatigue
    • preoccupation with health
    • physical complaint and sleep disturbances
    • loss of sense of proportion
    • difficulty with coursework and concentration

  • Culture Shock (coping)
    coping with culture shock
    the most important factor in coping with culture shock is to accept that, however well you prepare, it will affect you to some extent. As Schumann found in the course of his research, the four stages outlined above can never be avoided, but the length of time spent in each of the stages can be greatly reduced by taking certain courses of action

    firstly, it will help if you study the culture and language of the UK before you leave home. This may sound obvious, but in the euphoria of moving and sorting out your affairs it is often forgotten. Also the realisation that there is highly likely to be some negative elements to your life at university / college can help to lessen the effect of the euphoric stage

    before you leave, arrange a future time with your family when you will ring and stick to it. This will provide you with a link and will help to anchor you. Make a deal with close friends to write, or email, regularly. A letter or email from home can lift your spirits enormously if you're feeling lonely

    when the hostile stage affects you it is pointless trying to fight through it. Although it seems counter-productive it is actually important to immerse yourself in your home culture. The hostile stage is an expression of the confusion of identity that overtakes a student adjusting to a new culture. To lessen the effect of this confusion, you should allow yourself to reconnect with your home culture. At the same time elements of the UK culture should be actively enjoyed and the friendship of some UK students should be cultivated. This will serve to remind you that there are positive aspects of the UK culture to be appreciated

    the acceptance stage is a marvellous period of discovery that allows you to appreciate and learn from the differences between the UK and your home culture. The reverse culture shock can be dealt with in part by updating yourself on your home culture. In the period between when you first left home and your return a number of things may have changed, especially if a number of years have elapsed; you should find out what these changes are. On a more personal note you should get back in touch with old friends and organise to meet them upon your return. Be prepared to find that they have noticeably changed or indeed that they have not changed at all. Some of them may want to hear all about the experiences you had, whilst others will take a polite interest then show irritation as you continue to talk about "when I was in the UK . . ."

    all international students should try to get the most out of their experience in the UK. It can be easy to become locked into a bedroom - lecture-theatre - library - bedroom cycle. It is important to study hard, but it is also important to keep fresh and healthy in body and in mind. You can do this by taking regular exercise and by socialising. You may wish to join a sports society or participate in a day trip run by your University to places of interest in the UK

    try not to label the differences that you come across as 'wrong' or 'bad', but rather as 'different' from what you are used to. By not dismissing the differences, you can learn more about the UK whilst maintaining your own values and culture

    One aspect of UK culture that you might find different from your own is the importance of the individual compared to that of the family. In the UK, once individuals reach the age of 18, they are legally adults and therefore responsible for their all of their actions. They expect to be treated as adults and this means being consulted on all decisions affecting them. They are also expected to seek help if there is a problem, rather than waiting to be asked if help is needed. Asking for help in the UK is not considered as a weakness; it is viewed positively as an example of an individual taking responsibility for him or herself. If you come from a culture in which it is normal for your extended family to be consulted on decisions that affect you, or where you are not used to asking for help, you may find this aspect of UK culture to be quite challenging and it could make you feel vulnerable. Your university International Student Advisers, mentors and your tutors are there to support you. Most students say that after a while they enjoy the independence they experience as a student in the UK

    finally, the golden rule for first-time students, when you are not sure and when something strikes you as confusing or even rude, please ask. Culture is so much a part of our way of life that it is contained in unspoken rules - which is difficult and can be frustrating for an outsider trying to understand. Usually, asking for clarification is the quickest way to learn and to share information about your culture and it can prevent misunderstandings turning into bad feelings

    we have complied a very useful Links Page for you - on there you will find many British Government websites (and others) with up-to-date news and advice which will all help improve your experience

  • Glossary of Terms A-B
    glossary of terms

    do you find the words and phrases used in the UK education system confusing? Below is a glossary to help you find out what they all mean


    qualification normally first gained in the UK at the age of 18, but without a formal age limit. Available in many subjects. Two or three a-levels are often used to meet university entrance requirements

    any member of teaching or research staff at a degree-awarding institution; or sometimes used as a general term for any study which is not related to preparing for a career

    academic year
    year running from September to September of the following year. Most UK courses start in September or October

    access course
    one-year full-time course for students who are not ready to enter degree programmes. Usually features study and writing skills, English language and some study of the subject to be studied at degree level

    process of examining various aspects of a course, such as teaching methods and facilities, to ensure they meet agreed standards

    describes a course that has been examined and approved as meeting an agreed standard

    admissions tutor
    academic officer, such as a lecturer, at a college or university who decides which applicants will be offered places. Each course or discipline at an institution has its own admissions tutor

    alumni association
    association of the graduates of an institution. Means of keeping in touch with fellow-students, and getting news about the college where you studied. some associations have overseas branches

    Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning. Establishes the equivalent in formal qualifications of knowledge and ability gained through work and other experience. Can be used to assess whether an applicant meets entrance requirements, or whether they may be allowed to directly enter the second year of a degree programme

    Advanced Placement Test. Graded test taken in the US for university entrance

    the association of recognised English language services. Organisation that jointly runs (with the British council) a scheme of accreditation for private English language schools

    AS level
    qualification equal to one half of an a level

    process of considering a student's academic ability and work through essays, examinations, interviews or other methods

    any piece of work, such as an essay, which a student must complete and submit by a specified time for marking and grading


    abbreviation of the first-degree qualification bachelor of arts

    bachelor's degree
    first degree usually obtained after three years or more of full-time study

    British accreditation council for independent further and higher education. Organisation that runs an accreditation scheme for UK private colleges

    British association of lecturers in English for academic purposes. Organisation that works to develop the provision of English-language teaching for international students in higher education institutions in the UK

    the British association of state English language teaching. Association of state universities and colleges in the UK. Responsible for quality assessment of English-language courses for international students and teachers. Accredits numerous courses

    block release
    continuous period (usually several weeks) where an employer allows an employee time away from work to attend an educational institution

    bridging course
    general name for any course preparing students who need to improve their academic study skills or language ability before they progress to higher level study

    abbreviation of the first-degree qualification bachelor of science

    business and technician education council. Body which validates BTEC certificates and diplomas

    BTEC certificate and diploma
    vocational qualifications available at various levels

    financial award granted by an institution to a student. Bursaries have strict selection criteria, and are usually for a fixed amount, very often less than the full cost of a course
  • Glossary of Terms C-F
    glossary of terms - continued


    certificate in advanced English. Widely accepted English high-level language qualification. Managed by UCLES

    university or college grounds

    certificate in English language teaching to adults. Teaching qualification validated by Cambridge University

    of educational and other documents, officially stamped and signed by an authorised officer to prove that a document is genuine and accurate

    college of further education. College that offers academic and vocational courses ranging from GCSEs or equivalents to diploma or certificate courses that approach the level of first degrees. May also offer degrees validated by other institutions

    Christian organisation within a college or university, holding meetings and religious services

    College of Higher Education. College that offers academic and vocational qualifications from a levels and equivalents to HNDs. Some also offer degrees validated by a partner university

    city & guilds
    broad range of vocational qualifications, validated by city & guilds institute. These qualifications are not generally used to meet university entrance requirements

    civic university
    one of the universities established in the 19th and early 20th centuries in major industrial centres such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and other big cities

    clearing (recruitment)
    process allowing applicants with no offers of places for degree programmes to secure places at institutions, which have vacancies, shortly before the start of the academic year. Begins mid-august each year

    closed examination
    examination where students are not allowed to refer to books or notes and have a specific time to complete a certain number of questions

    common room
    room used by students or staff for relaxation

    continuous assessment
    system whereby academic work is marked and graded throughout a course, rather than just at the end

    compulsory subjects or modules as opposed to optional subjects or courses

    course materials
    any material or items used on a course of study. Includes printed matter, stationery, and items specifically used for one subject, such as oil paint for fine art

    work that is done in the student's own time, rather than in seminars or tutorials. Coursework usually counts towards a student's final mark in their course or module. Coursework can be continually assessed

    certificate of proficiency in English. Widely accepted English language qualification. Managed by UCLES

    CSYS (Scotland)
    certificate of sixth-year studies. Scottish school-leaving qualification, taken at the age of 17 or 18. Equivalent to GCE A level qualifications

    Christian union. Society in an educational institution for Christians working or studying there


    day release
    arrangement whereby an employer allows an employee to attend a part-time course, usually by taking the same day or days off work each week for the length of the course

    diploma in English language teaching to adults. Advanced teaching qualification validated by Cambridge University

    department for education and skills. Government department that administers and funds education in the UK

    department for international development. Government department responsible for administering UK aid programmes for developing nations. Makes academic awards to qualifying students each year

    Dip HE
    diploma in higher education. Qualification approximately equal to two years of a three-year degree. Often available in work-related subject areas such as nursing or accountancy

    long essay, usually contributing to the overall mark or grade for a course

    special honour or recognition for excellent work, as an examination grading

    doctor of letters. Higher doctorate qualification

    any research degree resulting in the successful candidate being able to use the title doctor (e.g. PhD, DPhil)

    doctor of science. Higher doctorate qualification


    european credit transfer system. European system of grading academic work in different countries so students can use work done abroad as a credit towards their degree

    examination board that validates some vocational qualifications

    English for commerce. Widely accepted English test, on use of English in business

    process of registering as a student at the start of a course

    entrance examination
    examination or essay test set by an institution to assess an applicant's academic ability

    student society within an institution that organises entertainment events

    assignment consisting of an extended piece of writing. May put forward an argument and draw conclusions

    examination board
    1) regional or national board that validates qualifications such as GCSEs, a levels etc. 2) committee set up within a university to oversee the marking and grading of examinations and other work by students on degree programmes

    extended essay
    essay with a word limit greater than a normal-length essay

    extension degree
    four-year bachelor's degree that includes a foundation or preliminary year

    external examiner
    academic from another institution who checks the marks and grading of degree awards, in consultation with an institution's own examination board


    further education. Typically A-level education stage between GCSEs and first degrees
    senior member of the academic staff of a college or university

    field trip
    trip that students go on as part of their studies. Students usually have to do practical work while on the trip

    first-class honours/first
    highest grade given for first degree. An overall mark of at least 70% is needed to gain first class honours

    foundation course
    one-year full-time course to prepare a student for entry to a degree programme in a particular subject

    freshers' week
    see 'intro week'

    for a study visa, full-time means attendance for at least 15 hours of organised study each week. Generally, a full-time course is one where you may be expected to attend all or part of every weekday
  • Glossary of Terms G-M
    glossary of terms - continued


    general certificate of secondary education. The first qualification obtained by students, at the age of about 16. There is no age limit, and mature or international students may take GCSE examinations

    graduate management admissions test. Examination often taken to meet entrance requirements for MBA programmes

    general national vocational qualification. Vocational qualification, approximately equal to a level standard

    Grad Dip
    graduate diploma. Qualification equivalent to a bachelor's degree, awarded by a small number of institutions

    successful completion of a degree or course. also the ceremony where students are officially given their awards

    money awarded to a student or researcher to assist their studies

    general Scottish vocational qualification. Scottish equivalent of GNVQ

    graduate teacher training registry. UK national organisation that administers applications for entry onto postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) courses


    hall of residence
    institutional accommodation for students. Also called 'halls'. Halls provide kitchens, bed linen and other facilities. In some halls, meals are provided; others are self-catering

    hardship fund
    fund administered by a UK university or college, making small payments to students with financial difficulties

    Higher Education. Education stage following on from FE

    Higher Education Statistics Agency. UK national agency that collects and publishes statistical information on higher education throughout the UK

    higher doctorate
    degree occasionally awarded some time after a PhD

    higher grade
    Scottish qualification taken by students aged between 16 and 18

    higher national certificate. Vocational course approximately equal to two or three a levels

    higher national diploma. Vocational course approximately equal to the first two years of a three-year bachelor's degree

    honorary degree
    degree title (usually a higher doctorate) awarded as an honour not for academic work, but for an outstanding contribution in another field such as entertainment, philanthropy or community work

    bachelor's degrees are generally awarded as honours degrees in one of three classes, first, second or third, depending on the overall marks awarded. Those who reach the pass mark, but fail to attain a high enough mark to gain honours graduate with a pass degree


    international baccalaureate: a two-year course approximately equal to three a levels. It is available in several countries including the UK, and is accepted as an entry qualification by British universities

    international English language testing system. English test managed by the British council and partner organisations. Available worldwide. One of the most widely accepted qualifications in the English language

    international general certificate of secondary education. Equivalent to GCSE

    during a course. for instance, you may take an in-sessional English language course during term-time to complement your other studies

    level above basic but below advanced

    employment a student (especially of medicine) takes to gain experience for a qualification

    intro week
    an introductory week for new university or college students which enables them to become familiar with their institution, its facilities, their course and the town or city they will be studying in


    junior common room. Room or area set aside for the use of students. Also an organisation within a hall of residence that organises events for student residents

    joint honours
    type of first degree where a student studies two subjects in equal depth. For example English and French, or maths and computer science


    key English test. Basic English language qualification. Managed by UCLES


    London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Examination board validating some English language and other tests

    Local Educational Authority. Part of local government in the UK that administers education up to college level in a particular district. Universities are not governed by LEAs

    educational talk given by a member of teaching staff to a (usually large) group of students

    exchange programme that enables students to study or work in another European country

    part of the Socrates programme which aims to increase people's competence in modern European languages

    live in
    living on campus e.g. in a hall of residence

    live out
    living off campus e.g. in a private house, or rented flat

    bachelor of law

    master of law

    long vacation
    the vacation between years of a first-degree course, usually lasting for three months between July and October


    postgraduate degree qualification, or Scottish first degree, master of arts

    hand written document. Completed set of examination answers, or other assignment

    mature student
    students above the age of 21 in England Wales and Northern Ireland, or above 20 in Scotland

    master of business administration. Postgraduate degree in management, finance and other aspects of business

    master of engineering

    grade below a distinction but above a pass

    programme of studies that consists of a number of discrete units or short courses. Students are given a mark or grade for each module, and accumulate points for an overall grade for their course

    short course taken as part of some degree programmes. Students can customise their degree programme by their choice of modules

    master of philosophy

    master of science
  • Glossary of Terms N-R
    glossary of terms - continued


    national academic recognition information centre. UK NARIC is an organisation that gives advice on the comparability of international and UK qualifications, and promotes UK qualifications overseas

    new university
    any of the universities established in the 1960s

    small magazine or booklet, describing events in a particular institution or society. Alumni associations regularly send newsletters to members throughout the world containing news items about their college

    student-run telephone service that offers information, listings and discusses personal issues in confidence

    nursing and midwifery admissions service. UK national organisation that administers applications for entry onto courses in nursing

    the national union of students. if an institution's students' union is affiliated to the NUS, their students automatically become members of the NUS

    national vocational qualification. a first qualification related to an area of employment


    old university
    type of institution historically linked to the church, and established between the 13th and 15th century. Oxford and Cambridge are old universities

    open examination
    examination where the student can refer to books or notes and may be able to take the question paper away and return it by a certain time

    ordinary degree
    degree programme where successful students are not graded, but simply pass or fail. sometimes also used in same sense as 'pass degree'

    overseas research students awards scheme. annual UK governmental scheme making awards annually to pay the difference between 'home' and 'overseas' fees for selected research students

    overhead projector
    device that projects and enlarges acetates on a white screen or wall using an overhead mirror


    course where students attend a limited number of days or evenings each week. any course that requires less than 15 hours attendance a week is part-time for the purposes of visa regulations

    satisfactory mark in examination or course

    bachelor's degree grading with insufficient marks to earn honours

    preliminary English test. English test managed by UCLES. Not advanced enough to meet university entrance requirements

    PG Cert
    postgraduate certificate

    PG Dip
    postgraduate diploma

    postgraduate certificate in education. Qualification allowing holder to teach in primary or secondary in the UK. Taken as a one-year full-time programme after completing a bachelor's degree

    doctor of philosophy

    to take the work/words/ideas of someone else and pretend it is your own. Universities and colleges heavily penalise anyone caught plagiarising another person's work

    former type of degree-awarding higher education institution in the UK. All polytechnics were elevated to university status in 1992

    collection of original work. May be assessed to contribute to the mark a student receives on their course

    non-written work that is performed by a student either alone or as a member of a group

    pre-degree course
    any course, especially an access, foundation or certificate course taken to meet university entry requirements for a degree programme

    short course that runs before another longer course. For example, a pre-sessional English language course may run in July and August, to prepare students for a degree programme beginning in September

    private college
    college that is not subsidised by the government but is owned and run by private individuals

    title sometimes given to a senior academic following several years successful teaching and research, and election by the senior academics at an institution

    brochure published by a university or college to advertising their institution and courses and to encourage student recruitment


    qualified teacher status. necessary qualification to teach in primary or secondary education in the UK obtained by taking a bachelor's degree in education or bachelor's degree in another subject followed by a PGCE


    student society that raises money through fund-raising holding events, often taking place during an annual 'rag week'

    reading list
    list of books students are expected to read for their particular course

    reading week
    week during term-time when students are expected to concentrate on reading and studying for their course. There are usually no lectures or seminars during this period

    universities that were founded in the late 19th and early 20th century

    any cafeteria, restaurant or dining room for general use in a college or university

    person to whom enquiries about your academic and other abilities and character can be made

    statement (usually written) about a person's abilities and character

    research assistant
    person (usually a postgraduate student) appointed to help an academic or team on a research project

    research associate
    co-worker on a research programme. Often someone who already has a research degree

    research councils
    UK national councils which administer funding for research programmes in their respective disciplines

    research fellow
    senior academic whose work at an institution is mainly research and supervision of other researchers

    to re-take an examination, usually because of failure or gaining a low mark in the previous examination

    Royal Society of Arts. UK national organisation that validates several vocational qualifications
  • Glossary of Terms S-Z
    glossary of terms - continued


    sandwich course
    course that includes a long period of work experience. Degree sandwich courses usually last four years, with one whole year spent on a work placement

    scholastic aptitude test. US test used as college entrance examination

    Scottish certificate of education. Equivalent to a GCSE

    money award made to support a student's education. It is often awarded on the basis of academic achievement

    senior common room. Room or area set aside for staff within an institution. Social organisation for staff of an institution

    second-class honours
    most graduates of bachelor's degree programmes achieve second-class honours. this grade is therefore divided into two divisions, upper and lower, written 2 i and 2 ii, or 2:1 and 2:2, and usually call 'two-one' and 'two-two'

    spoken English for industry and commerce. Type of English language test. Widely accepted

    self-catering halls
    halls of residence where students have to prepare their own meals. These residences have kitchens that students share

    accommodation in a larger building which has its own kitchen and bathroom and a private entrance

    term lasting half an academic year

    small class where students discuss a topic with a lecturer or tutor. Questions are encouraged, but discussion is less free than in a tutorial, and not everyone present will necessarily be expected to contribute to the discussion

    single honours
    type of first degree awarded for study in only one subject, such as law or medicine

    Socrates Erasmus
    exchange scheme which enables European students to spend time studying or working in another European country

    special needs
    general term for any condition, physical or mental that results in someone needing special educational facilities

    person or organisation that accepts responsibility for all or part of a student's fees or expenses

    Scottish qualifications authority. Body that is responsible for accrediting, awarding and developing academic and vocational qualifications in Scotland

    Special qualifying exams. Entrance exam normally taken when standard entry requirements are not quite met

    student societies
    groups with a shared general interest that students join e.g. rowing, Christian, sociology. Student societies can be political, cultural, departmental, religious or sports societies

    abbreviation for students' union. Also called union of students

    summer school
    courses and lectures that are held during the summer vacation


    taught masters
    postgraduate degree that is taught in a similar way to first degrees, and does not include original research

    the trans-European mobility programme for university students. Encourages students to study part of their course in a different European country

    period of continuous study without vacations. In the UK, the academic year is normally split into three terms. In universities, these terms are between eight and twelve weeks long, with a long vacation in the summer months

    teaching English to speakers of other languages. High-level certificate and diploma qualifications validated by trinity college London

    dissertation containing results of original research to support a particular argument, usually written by a candidate for an academic degree

    third-class honours
    lowest honours grading for a bachelor's degree. Called a 'third'

    test of English as a foreign language. Internationally recognised English test, available in over 100 countries. Widely accepted by UK institutions

    detailed list of classes or courses a student has taken at college or university, with marks or grades for each subject

    university or college lecturer who supervises the welfare and studies of assigned undergraduates

    class for a small number of students, led by a tutor, where one topic is discussed in depth. The topic may be introduced by a student, and everyone is expected to contribute to the discussion


    universities and colleges admissions service. UK national organisation that administers applications for entry onto full-time first degree and similar programmes

    university of Cambridge local examinations syndicate. Examination board that validates and manages several English language and other tests

    the council for international education. UK organisation offering advice to international students

    single item or element which is part of a whole. Many courses in the UK are divided up into units

    university college
    degree-awarding institution equivalent in status to a university


    process of defining academic level of a course, and of setting the syllabus and standards for marking and grading. UK universities validate their own degrees

    viva (voce)
    interview between members of an examination board and a student, on the material studied on a course to confirm a degree grading

    vocational qualification
    qualification aimed at preparing students for employment, usually with practical experience as part of the course


    person responsible for the supervision of halls of residence

    word limit
    limit to the number of words that can be written in an essay or dissertation. Varies from about 500 words to over 20,000 depending on its value in a student's overall mark or grade for a course

    work experience
    practical experience gained on a work placement

    work placement
    the part of a course which gives students the opportunity to gain practical experience of working in their chosen profession before graduation. Students may spend up to a year on work placement, especially on a sandwich course




    if there are other words or terms that you think would be helpful on this list, please let us know
    we have complied a very useful Links Page for you - on there you will find many British Government websites (and others) with up-to-date news and advice which will all help improve your experience

  • How to buy on our site
    Once you have selected everything you want and added them into your 'basket', the procedure for completing your order from our site is really very simple:
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