May 6, 2024

An International Student Guide for Last-Minute Arrivals

James Biddle

5 min read

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Stepping into a foreign land for education can be both exhilarating and daunting, especially if you find yourself as a last-minute arrival. 

Among the myriad of tasks and adjustments awaiting you, acclimatising to life as an international student in the United Kingdom can be overwhelming. 

Though, fear not, as this comprehensive guide is tailored to assist last-minute arrivals in preparing for their educational journey in the UK.

Pre-Arrival Preparations

Obtaining Necessary Documentation

Before setting foot on British soil, ensure you have all essential documents in hand. This includes your valid passport, student visa, acceptance letter from your university, and any other relevant paperwork. 

Remember to contact your university’s international office for guidance and assistance if needed. Additionally, make copies of all your important documents and store them separately in case of emergencies.

Financing Your Education

Managing finances is crucial for a smooth transition. Research scholarship opportunities, understand your tuition fees, and familiarise yourself with the currency exchange rates. Also, set up a budget plan to track your expenses and allocate funds accordingly. 

Furthermore, consider purchasing international student discount cards, like the ISIC card for discounts on travel, accommodations, and various goods and services.


Securing accommodation is a top priority. While some universities offer on-campus housing, others may require you to find private accommodation. 

Utilise online platforms, such as SpareRoom, Zoopla, Loc8me or accommodation services provided by your university to find suitable living arrangements. Ensure you understand the rental agreements, including deposit requirements, lease terms, and utility bills.

Arrival and Orientation

Airport Arrival

Upon landing in the UK, go through immigration and customs procedures efficiently. Familiarise yourself with transportation options from the airport to your accommodation beforehand to avoid unnecessary stress. 

Consider purchasing an Oyster card in London or a similar travel pass in other cities for convenient access to public transportation. Download useful mobile apps, like Citymapper or Google Maps, to navigate your way around the city.

Orientation Programs

Participate in orientation programs organised by your university. These sessions provide valuable information about academic requirements, campus facilities, student support services, and cultural integration. 

Take advantage of guided tours and social events to meet fellow students and explore your new surroundings. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek clarification on any concerns you may have.

Health and Wellbeing

Register with a local General Practitioner (GP) to access healthcare services during your stay. Familiarise yourself with the National Health Service (NHS) and understand how to seek medical assistance if needed. 

Prioritise your physical and mental wellbeing by maintaining a balanced lifestyle and seeking support from university counselling services if required. Make sure you have health insurance coverage that is valid in the UK, either through your home country or purchased locally.

Academic Integration

Understanding the Education System

Familiarise yourself with the UK education system, including grading criteria, assessment methods, and academic expectations. Attend introductory lectures and workshops to gain insight into your chosen field of study and meet faculty members. 

Furthermore, take advantage of online resources provided by your university, such as virtual libraries and academic databases, to supplement your learning.

Time Management and Study Skills

Develop effective time management and study skills to excel in your academic pursuits. Create a study schedule, utilise campus libraries and resources, and seek guidance from tutors or academic advisors whenever necessary. 

Engage in peer study groups to enhance your learning experience and gain diverse perspectives. Explore different study techniques and find what works best for you, whether it’s through flashcards, mind mapping, or active recall.

Language Support

If English is not your first language, take advantage of language support services offered by your university. Attend language classes, workshops, and conversation groups to improve your proficiency and communication skills. 

Embrace opportunities for language immersion through social interactions and extracurricular activities. Consider taking language proficiency exams, like the IELTS or TOEFL, to demonstrate your English language proficiency for future endeavours.

Cultural Adaptation

Embracing Diversity

The UK is renowned for its multiculturalism and diversity. Embrace cultural differences and celebrate the richness of various traditions, customs, and cuisines. 

Engage with international student societies, attend cultural events, and explore different communities to broaden your horizons and foster cross-cultural understanding

Remember to be open-minded and respectful towards people from diverse backgrounds, and embrace the opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences.

Social Integration

Forge meaningful connections with both local and international students to enrich your social experience. Participate in student clubs, societies, and recreational activities that align with your interests and hobbies. 

Step out of your comfort zone, be proactive in making friends, and seize opportunities to build lifelong friendships. Don’t be afraid to initiate conversations and join social gatherings, as everyone is eager to make new connections in a university setting.

Exploring the UK

Take advantage of your time in the UK to explore its rich history, vibrant cities, and picturesque landscapes. Travel to iconic landmarks, visit museums and galleries, and immerse yourself in the cultural tapestry of the country. 

Plan weekend getaways with friends and create lasting memories while discovering the beauty of the UK. Invest in a railcard or coach pass to enjoy discounted travel fares and explore different regions of the country at your leisure.


Embarking on a journey as an international student in the UK may seem daunting, especially for last-minute arrivals. However, with careful preparation, proactive engagement, and a positive attitude, you can navigate the challenges and embrace the opportunities that await you. 

By following the advice outlined in this guide, you can embark on a fulfilling educational experience and make the most of your time studying in the UK. Welcome to your new home away from home!