by Chester Hung
On a cosy night in mid-September 2017, I left my home city – Hong Kong and prepared to study in the UK as an international student at the INTO centre, and my dad had come along with me for the first few days of my arrival too! Prior to my education journey in the UK, I had lots of preparatory procedures to do such as apply my tier 4 visa and packing my luggage. here were some of the following things that I brought with me to the UK for my first time:
- Bluetooth alarm clock
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Important documents (for clearance)
- And even more…
When I arrived at Hong Kong International Airport and ready to board my flight to Heathrow, I had almost no idea on what living in the UK feels like as this was my first time to leave my home country. After a 12 hours long haul flight to Heathrow Airport terminal 3 and completed all immigration processes, it was a confusing given the complexity of navigating the huge airport. Luckily, staff at Heathrow Airport had helped me and my dad a lot by directing us where to go. When we finally arrived at terminal 5 successfully, we had to find the people in pink and wait for the transfer coaches scheduled to my bookings. At the airport, I had seen welcome teams from different universities such as Sussex and Reading too and they had their own team uniform like Exeter does. Upon arriving in Exeter, the city was very busy – it felt like the Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Hong Kong as there were many students who arrived at Exeter by car instead of public transport. When the coach arrived at the university, I took the transfer minibus to my accommodation at Duryard. Before I could collect my keys and go to my new room, staff at INTO explained the rules as I was under 18 at that time, which means I had a curfew from 21:30 at weekdays and 23:00 at weekends. I had residence mentors knocking my door every night at that time to check that I was safe.
After a few days post arrival, I attended talks, group allocation test by INTO and completed other essential procedures for international students such as document clearance, collection of my BRP card and police registration. Moreover, I had also attended campus and city tours and members of the welcome team were helpful to me for directions and facilities on campus as I had no idea on how Exeter and the university looks like after I just arrived. In addition, I had participated in talks held by the university to give me an idea on my travel and life in UK during freshers’ week. Furthermore, I opened a back account in the UK to manage my finance much easier which will allow my family to support my necessary funds for my education in the UK.
After I completed my studies at INTO, I went home for my summer to apply for my new tier 4 visa as my old one expired. Also, I had taken my driving theory test too. Before the end of the year, here are the following things you should do if you decided to return home:
- Organise storage + shipping → makes your life easier on not to have too much baggage to carry back home and to Exeter for next year
- Checking out with your accommodation (arrange departure)
- Book your flight + transport back to your home
Before my year 1 starts, I did not need to bring a lot of things with me like my first time as I organised storage wisely. I just needed to bring my clothes and bedding this time plus some electronics. Also, I did not use the airport transfer service provided by the university and instead I booked National Express coach to take me from Heathrow airport to Exeter as I was more familiar with travel in the UK.
On second term of my year 1 study, I wanted to become one of the members of the welcome team as I thought that they were really helpful to me and I wanted to use my time at the university to help other international students who could benefit from my insight, and share my thoughts of studying in the UK as an international student. On the first day of my work as a welcome team member, I had to wake up at 02:00 in the morning to pick up new students from the Heathrow just like I saw when I first came to the UK aka my role had switched in the opposite way. It was a fun experience of being part of the welcome team and has been a very rewarding experience. To sum up, here are the main take home message for you if you’re an international student at Exeter:
- Book your flight to UK
- Book your airport transfer service if you haven’t been to UK yet
- Online registration
- Police Registration
- Collect your BRP card as it’s your visa
- Document Clearance
- Take your class allocation test if you’re an INTO student
- Curfews for under 18s at INTO accommodation
- Attend campus + city tours
- Open your back account in UK