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What I’d like to know before coming to UK as an international student

Elizabeth Castro

Faculty: Science and Engineering
School: Engineering and the Built Environment
Course: MSc Engineering Management
Category: Student blogs

16 January 2024

Starting a new life in the UK as an International student from Mexico brings about exciting adventures and a learning curve. Here are some key insights to help you smoothly transition to the British way of life.

Cashless Society and Contactless Payments 

One of the first things you'll notice upon arriving in the UK is the widespread use of contactless payment methods. Unlike in Mexico, where cash still prevails in many transactions for small locals, the UK is predominantly a cashless society. From local stores and food restaurants to the giant TESCO, even in public transport such as tube or bus, you can make seamless payments using contactless cards or mobile apps. Embrace this convenient payment method to avoid the hassle of carrying cash.

Weather: Battling the British Chill 

Prepare yourself for the ever-changing weather in the UK, especially the freezing winters and the daily rain. Take advantage of the numerous student discounts available just in the first week of classes to build a winter-ready wardrobe. From cosy bedroom clothes to durable winter wear, I highly recommend TK Maxx and Primark, there’s a good balance in offer quality. Getting a good windcheater, snow jacket, and windproof umbrella will enhance your overall experience during the winter months.

Grocery Shopping 

Exploring the vast array of grocery stores is an adventure. Budget-friendly options like Lidl and Aldi offer a variety of products at affordable prices. TESCO, a supermarket giant, is another go-to for your grocery needs. There are small locals also where you can find international ingredients from India, China, and Colombia, but also there’s a lot of online shopping you can enjoy. Embrace the joy of discovering different cuisines and cooking styles while navigating the diverse options available. 

Student Discounts 

As a student, take advantage of the generous discounts available through platforms like UNiDAYS and StudentBeans. These portals offer exclusive discounts on clothing, electronics, and even dining. Whether you're revamping your wardrobe or grabbing a quick bite, student discounts will be your trusted companion throughout your time in the UK. 

Pub Culture: A British Tradition 

Pub culture is deeply ingrained in British life. It's not just about enjoying a pint; it's a social experience. Make the most of your time by exploring local pubs, meeting new people, and immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere. It's an integral part of British culture that shouldn't be missed, therefore you could meet new friends and do some networking.

Time Management: Plan and Book in Advance 

In the UK, time management is key. Planning and booking in advance are a norm, whether it's travel, events, theatre, or even restaurant reservations, especially in London. Embrace this organized approach to make the most of your time and avoid last-minute hassles. Additionally, it's worth noting the paramount importance of punctuality in the UK across diverse facets of life, including transportation, events, and reservations. Punctuality is not just a cultural norm but a fundamental aspect that ensures a seamless and efficient experience in your day-to-day activities. Therefore, plan, and you'll find yourself smoothly immersing in the British culture.

As you embark on this exciting journey from your country to the UK, remember that each experience, whether big or small, contributes to your personal growth. Embrace the cultural differences, savour diverse experiences, and make the most of your time in this vibrant and welcoming country. Welcome to the UK, where every day brings a new adventure! 


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.