Coming to London: 5 Things to Do Before You Leave

Image by Wildhaber on Flickr

So you’ve been accepted at a London university to study your dream course – but what do you do now? Coming to London is an exciting prospect, of course, but uprooting yourself to start again as an international student in a new country can be a little frightening.

Make the process as easy and comfortable as possible with these five simple steps.

Make student friends online before you get here

Many students join their university’s Facebook communities, or follow their Twitter accounts before term starts, to contact other new starters and get the low-down on student events and outings. If you make friends online you’ll know people as soon as you get here. Access the Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and videos from your university on their Study London profile.

Get to know the area

The magic of London is that it’s a massive city split into tiny neighbourhoods. Becoming familiar with the big picture – and the small one local to you – will stop London feeling so daunting. has excellent information for people new to the city – including travel tips, maps and guides, free London attractions, and what’s on month by month.

You can normally find out about your local area by entering your postcode or street name on the UK government website, and using the tabs to find out about local services and events. Your university will also send you essential local information.

If you can, before you leave, make a list of cafés, restaurants and shops you’d like to visit in your area, and in wider London – if you can visit just a few of them after you get here, you’ll be a local within a month!

Make a travel plan for your arrival – in fact, make two

Many London universities will send a team of student ambassadors to meet you at the airport and help you get to your university campus. Some universities will even organise transport from the airport itself – contact your university before you leave to see if they this service.

We also recommend putting together a back-up travel plan so you’re not stranded in the Arrivals lounge longer than you need to be if your flight, or the student ambassadors, are delayed. You probably won’t have to use your back-up plan, but just having one organised will make you feel more confident when you travel.

Check out our arrivals guide to find the best way to travel to your university using public transport or pre-booked taxis.

Scan your passport in case you lose it

None of us like to think of our passports being lost or stolen, but sometimes it happens – so it’s best to prepare for the worst but expect the best by scanning your passport and relevant visa pages before you leave.

  1. Upload the scans to a secure online directory – like Google Drive – so you can access your passport documents wherever you are.
  2. Carry a printed copy with you (preferably away from your actual passport, in case you lose it)
  3. Leave a printed copy with a trusted family member or friend
  4. Email yourself your passport number and the telephone numbers on the back of your credit cards, in case you lose those and need to cancel them
  5. Take out travel insurance that covers loss of wallets and passports.

Pack your suitcase efficiently

To make sure you use all the space in your suitcase, try packing it like airline staff do, to avoid baggage fees:

  1. Stuff your shoes with rolled socks and small valuables, like watches and jewellery, and pack them into the sides and corners of your suitcase
  2. Roll all your clothing into tight cylinders
  3. Pile your rolled clothes in your suitcase, in order of heaviest to lightest (for example, jumpers and trousers first, then shirts, then underwear). This makes it easier to close the suitcase when you’re finished
  4. Fold suit jackets inside-out to avoid creasing
  5. Don’t forget that the weather in London is changeable, and sometimes (although not always!) it’s rainy, so make sure and bring an umbrella in your carry-on bag, and wear plenty of layers you can take off if it’s warm, and pile on if you’re cold.

There’s more information on packing here.

We look forward to seeing you in London!

 Image by Wildhaber on Flickr

5 comments on “Coming to London: 5 Things to Do Before You Leave

  1. Segun says:

    I like to enrol for bachelor degre program in science

  2. OLOWOYEYE Elijah says:

    i want to know how to become student in a london University

  3. vibha jain says:

    I am keenly looking forward for pursuing MBA from London. I hd completed my graduation and pursuing Chartered Accountancy Course.

  4. mathuso says:

    your 5 things to do are amazing and very helpful but can you suggests any students for me

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