Congratulations! You made it to Cambridge. If you are an international student, moving to a new country can be daunting. Please check out this page and the links in it to help you settle into the UK a bit more easily.
Before you start, read the International Student Guide for Pre-arrival and orientation information: https://www.internationalstudents.cam.ac.uk/files/international_student_guide.pdf
Things to organise in advance:
- Visa (if required) – find out what types of visa exist and which you need through the Visa Advice department in the International Student Office: https://www.internationalstudents.cam.ac.uk/immigration/visa-advice
- Accommodation: Corpus offers postgraduate accommodation to all first years (you should have been contacted about this prior to your arrival), so no need to worry about finding a place to live. If you choose to live outside of College Accomodation, the Accomodation Service can help you find a place: https://www.accommodation.cam.ac.uk/
Things to organise when you arrive:
- Bank account: most big UK banks have branches in Cambridge, and you can visit them when you arrive to set up a bank account. They are used to processing many requests at the start of the academic year. Examples are: Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Metro Bank, NatWest, Santander and TSB. Check the International Student’s guide (link above) for more information on where to find them. Often you will need to bring the following documents: your passport, UK visa (if applicable), and a letter from your College.
- Health care & GP registration: health care in the UK is provided free of charge by the National Health Service (NHS) or through private health care for which you will need to pay. The NHS is free to use for EEA and Swiss nationals as long as you have an European Health Insurance Card, whereas Tier 4 students coming to the UK for 6 months or longer will need to pay an immigration health surcharge as part of their visa application fee. Upon arrival, you should immediately register with a GP: most Corpus students register either with Newnham Walk Surgery (https://www.newnhamwalksurgery.nhs.uk/) or the Trumpington Street Medical Practice (http://www.trumpingtonstreetmedicalpractice.co.uk/). Find more info here: https://www.internationalstudents.cam.ac.uk/arriving/healthcare-uk
- Supermarkets: the main supermarkets in the UK are Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Coop, Waitrose and M&S. The largest supermarkets in town are Sainsbury’s on Sidney Street and M&S on Market Square (near Corpus Old House), but there are smaller shops nearer to the station (Sainsbury Local on Regent Street, Tesco and Coop on Hills Road) and near Leckhampton (Coop on Barton Road).
- Eating & drinking – Lunch: In the UK it is as normal to buy lunch as it is to bring it yourself. If you are based in town, it is easy to stop by Old House for a hot meal or salad in Hall, or alternatively visit the Pelican Bar for a sandwich or wrap. If you prefer to get food elsewhere, shops like Pret a Manger and EAT offer a wide selection of ready-to-eat lunches. Supermarkets also sell these! If you are based in town, visit Market Square for freshly cooked (and often international!) food.
- Eating & drinking – Pubs: Your UK experience isn’t complete until you’ve visited a traditional pub: a cosy establishment where you can grab a drinks and usually some food. Order a classic ‘pint’, the standard 568ml size in which beer and ciders are served, or try out any of the other alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks on offer: there will for sure be many! In most UK pubs (as well as coffee shops and lunch places), it is common to order and pay at the bar – so if you are not served within the first ten minutes of arriving someplace it is wise to go up to the bar to place your order!
- Tipping: tipping is not as essential in the UK as it is in countries like the US, but it is customary to leave a 10-12.5% tip when eating out (especially in large groups). The tip or ‘service charge’ will often already be added to the bill as an ‘optional charge’ – always check if service charge is already added before adding it yourself!
- Travel within Cambridge: Most students walk or cycle as their main mode of transport in Cambridge. You can buy a bicycle from several shops in Cambridge, at the Fresher’s Fair on Parker’s Piece in your first week, or buy one second-hand from a student that is leaving town. Always make sure the bike is in good condition, the price is reasonable and don’t forget to register it with College if you intend to park it at Leckhampton! There are also buses and taxi services: the two main taxi companies are Panther Taxis and Camcab.
- Travel within the UK: Travel in the UK is easiest by train or bus. Exciting London is only a 45-50 min train ride away, and there are many other exciting places to visit nearby. Consider applying for a Rail Card (https://www.railcard.co.uk/) to get discounts. If you are under 25 you can apply for a 16-25 Rail Card, but for older students a letter from the Corpus Graduate Office will often suffice. If you prefer to take the bus (or ‘coach’ as they say in the UK), services like National Express offer affordable transport across the country too (https://www.nationalexpress.com/en).
Other useful links:
- The University of Cambridge pages for International Students: https://www.internationalstudents.cam.ac.uk/
- Information about what academic things to sort out when you first arrive can be found here: https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/new-students/arrival
- Check out this useful guide to Life in Cambridge published by the University: https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/cambridge-life
- If you feel homesick or just want to hang out with your fellow country people, there are a number of international societies associated with Cambridge University Student Union (CUSU). Find them here: https://www.cusu.co.uk/directory/categories/international/)