So, you’ve chosen to study in the UK, home to some of the world’s oldest, most prestigious universities and a unique, incredibly interesting culture. You’ll hop on a plane, land after a few hours, then get a taxi to your accommodation- you have found accommodation, right? Ah. No problem- we’ve got you covered.
Let’s explore some of your accommodation options…
Hall of residence
One of the easiest options, especially for your first year of study, is the student hall of residence. As many students tend to need to time find their feet and get used to living not only independently but also in another country, the security and safety of halls of residence are popular, and often preferred to finding private, rented houses or flats. Information on your respective institution’s accommodation options can be found by contacting them directly- and there will, most likely, be information included on their website or in their prospectus.
The good news about halls of residence is that they allow for a lot of socialising, which is one of the primary aspects of university life, especially in the first year. For example, many of these accommodation facilities offer communal dining, which could make a huge difference by facilitating a bit of ‘group down-time’ after a long day of study.
The flat share experience
If you are opting for a private rental set-up, there are a couple of ways you can jump. One of the most popular options is the flat share. This is a common choice for second and third year students at UK universities. The grapevine is important in this situation- look online, pay attention to social media sites and talk to other students to learn of spaces and other groups looking for flat share buddies- you might find ‘the one’! (In an accommodation sense only, probably, but you never know…)
In a flat share, you can expect your own bedroom, but will have to share the bathroom and the kitchen, as well as the lounge. A flat share works both ways; whether you’re sharing with people you know or teaming up with strangers (student strangers rather than random people off the street, of course), it provides an opportunity to make and strengthen friendships.
Look into lodging
Homesickness, unfortunately, tends to come as part of the ‘study abroad’ package. One accommodation option that may ease this is lodging with a host family rather than renting a flat or living in halls. There is a large network of families or couple who are keen to host international students; look online or ask for details from your university of choice, as they may have information on the opportunities available in the surrounding area. Staying with a host family offers an excellent chance to brush up on and improve English language skills, as of course, you will be communicating and interacting with your host family on a daily basis.
Some practical issues
On a practical level, it is important to remember a few things when it comes to choosing your accommodation. It’s a good idea to find somewhere that is reasonably close to the university campus. If you have many lectures, it’s no fun to have to get a bus and travel for an hour every day.
Also, social life becomes far less fun if you have to get a bus home and travel across town at the end of a fun night out. This may seem a little trivial, but you’re going to make a lot of friends at university in the UK, and you need to be close to them geographically so that you can become part of university life.
Back to the homesickness thing. If homesickness does rear its ugly head, there are plenty of support options available. Your first port of call should be the International Student Support Officer at your chosen university. This person will be able to offer advice and some support if you’re struggling with being away from home- completely normal, as it’s no mean feat to live in a whole new country and operate in a different language! Remember, if in doubt or in need: ask. There will be lots of people around you who’d be more than happy to help.