Being an international student can be hard, it’s a completely new experience in a completely new country, so if you’re struggling, know you are not alone! I faced some challenges when I arrived to Exeter and I hope that by offering some advice of what to keep in mind upon arrival, it can help you transition smoother.
I strongly advise joining an international society if you want to meet other international students like yourself. There are a tonne of options, and they're great for meeting people from your own country. You can also join the university's Global Chums Mentorship programme as a mentee to get to know other foreign students! The advantage of having a mentor is that they are prepared students who can assist you in adjusting to University of Exeter life more quickly, address any initial concerns you may have, introduce you to societies, clubs, and sports, and provide a great way to meet other international students. Attending the weekly international café hosted at Isca Eats on Friday mornings from 10:30 to 11:30 is another way to get to know other international students. This is a wonderful chance to socialise with new people and celebrate different cultures.
Upon arrival, you should also be informed of the healthcare system. The National Health Service will provide the majority of the healthcare in the UK. (NHS). People in the UK can receive medical care through this programme. For this reason, it's crucial to register with the NHS as soon as possible in case you ever experience an emergency and need medical care. GP visits and walk-in clinic access are both included in the free basic healthcare provided. Students holding a student (tier 4) visa will already have paid the immigration health surcharge as part of their visa application, giving them access to the NHS with the majority of services being free of charge, though there may be additional fees for items like prescriptions.
After signing up for the NHS, it's crucial to establish a UK bank account. Since most UK banks won't let you open an account until you are in the country, you must do this as soon as you arrive. Make sure to check with your local bank at home to see if you are qualified to open a bank account in the UK as this process could take up to two weeks as UK law requires banks to conduct a thorough background check.
Here is some guidance about the best UK bank accounts for students.
Another thing I struggled with at first was understanding the grade boundaries. The grade boundaries may work a lot differently at university in the UK than they may have been back home so make sure you do your research. As a brief rundown, the marking criteria is separated into five different classes. A first class is the highest you can get which is from 70% upwards, then there is a 2:1 which is from a 60% up to a 69%, then a 2:2 which is from a 50% to a 59%, a third class which is from 40% to 49% and finally a fail which is anything below the 40% mark.
Don't be too hard on yourself; moving to a new country to study in a language other than your own can be challenging. On the first day of fresher’s week, it is completely normal to not settle in right away. I promise it will all work out and you will have a great experience at the University of Exeter if you take it day by day and put yourself out there!