Going abroad to study can be a huge life changing move. It is an exciting experience, but it’s completely normal to have some reservations and questions about the place you are moving to. If you have chosen or are considering coming to Newcastle as an international student, this guide can hopefully provide you with some valuable tips, whilst answering certain questions you might have about life in Newcastle as an international student.
What is Newcastle like for international students?
With around 50,000 total students from the UK and all over the rest of the world, Newcastle is a student friendly city! Newcastle is home to students from over 120 different countries, so there are people from all walks of life that have come to study here.
If you are going to study at Newcastle or Northumbria University, there are meet and greet groups available specifically for international students to help you settle in and meet people. There are also plenty of other groups out there to help you settle in and make new friends!
Newcastle’s History and Culture
Newcastle is the heartbeat of the North East and has a rich history with many historical and iconic monuments. Hadrian’s Wall, which was originally built in the second century during the Roman empire, is a popular landmark which can be visited in Wallsend – just outside the centre of Newcastle.
Newcastle was historically known as a key industrial hub within Britain, with coalmining being a major industry in the area. In more modern times the city has been associated with its vibrant cultural scene, including art galleries, museums and performance venues. Newcastle is also now recognised for having a great nightlife!
Weather and climate in Newcastle
British people are notorious for constantly complaining about the weather; however, it isn’t always bad! As an international student that may be used to different climates, weather can be a big factor when considering moving to a new country.
There’s no doubting that rainfall is fairly common, but the UK does tend to have blossoming springs and incredibly sunny warm days in summer from time to time! The warmest month in Newcastle tends to be August, whereas the coolest tends to be January. This doesn’t stop the locals walking around in a t shirt and it is widely noted that Geordies are fairly resistant to the cold!
Plan your funding and research scholarships
It’s always important to budget before any life change and it’s good to plan ahead to see how it will impact you financially. For some international students, there is funding available as well as scholarships. This will depend on your own situation, so it is important to be sure of this and plan in advance.
Organise your student visa
As an international student, it is possible you will need to apply for a visa before coming to study in the UK. The process will be different depending on where you are coming from, so it is important to research and be aware of what you need to do to obtain a visa.
If you are coming to study from the EU, you will likely be affected by the changes Brexit has brought about. If you lived in the UK before the 31st December 2020, you could apply for the EU settlement scheme, which lets you basically continue as you were before. If you have arrived or will be arriving after this date, you will need to apply for a visa before entering the UK.
Short term six month visas cost £97 and 11 month visas costs £186. You are able to apply for a visa up to three months before your date of travel to the UK.
Prepare for life in the UK
As previously stated, the UK is a diverse place where you will find people from all walks of life. As an international student, there are plenty of support groups to help you feel welcomed and settled in.
In terms of other preparation, consider the weather when packing – as mentioned it could well be colder here than what you are used to! It can also be a good idea to research some British customs and traditions, but you will likely discover these along the way!
Another tip is to research anything that you think may be difficult to get a hold of in the UK and be sure to bring it with you if you are able to.
Arrange student accommodation
Deciding which type of student accommodation to stay in can be both exciting and daunting. You will have to choose between going into student halls of residence, renting a private room, or joining a room share in a student house.
A lot of international students choose to go into halls as it is a lot easier to plan in advance. There are also halls of residence available that are made specifically for international students, which can help you make new friends and contacts easier.
If you decide to look into halls, you’ll have the choice of either choosing self-catered accommodation (meaning you have a shared kitchen and cook your own meals) or catered (meaning your meals are provided for you).
Typically, students in Newcastle choose to go with halls for their first year whilst they find their feet, and then look at renting a house with friends in 2nd and 3rd year in places such as Jesmond, Sandyford and Heaton.
Buy health insurance
All international students will need to ensure they have health insurance before they are covered for receiving any healthcare in the UK.
If you are from the EU, the EEA or Switzerland, you’ll need a European Health Insurance Card, which allows you access to free or reduced healthcare from the NHS in the UK.
If you’re from outside of Europe, you’ll have to pay the health surcharge as part of your visa application, which gives you the right to treatment from the NHS whilst you are in the UK.
Get a student bank account
It is a good idea to set up a student bank account if you are going to be staying in the UK for more than a few months. Bank processes can be lengthy and time consuming, but it will make things a lot more convenient in the long run and allow you to avoid foreign bank charges, whilst making it easier to pay bills.
It is worth doing your research on this before you get to the UK, as you may be able to start the process early to save you time once you get here.
Discover the cheapest way to make international calls
The majority of phones should work in the UK, but it is worth researching your exact model to make sure it will definitely work. The most important thing to avoid making expensive international phone calls is to not use the SIM card from your home country! Get a local SIM card so you can use the internet at the standard rate, and it can be a good idea to use WiFi based services such as Zoom or Skype when getting in contact with people from your home country – this will avoid any accidental expensive costs!
Work out how to use the public transport
Newcastle is a very well-connected city and public transport can be extremely useful! There is a metro system that lets you travel all around the North East, so you are able to easily travel to and from university whilst also only being a short journey away from the coastline!
It might be worth getting a student bus pass if you think you may have to use the bus service often, as this will provide you with cheaper rates.
Learn the rules about employment
If you are wanting to take on a part time job whilst studying, it is best to research what your visa allows in order to avoid any legal complications. With a typical student visa, you are able to work up to 20 hours a week part time whilst studying – but it is better to double check this is allowed just to be sure!