Part 2 - Arriving in the UK

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Arriving and moving around a foreign country can be a daunting experience. I was fortunate to have seniors who helped me in my first week. Here are some tips to help ease your arrival in the UK.

1. Arriving at the airport

Most international students will arrive at Heathrow Airport. Upon arrival, people who hold non-EU passports will present a completed landing card (usually handed out in the plane) and passport with the temporary visa at the border control. Fill in this card on the plane to save time later.
Plan your travel wisely to allow at least half an hour wait at the international border control line. During busy times, the wait in the line will take at least an hour.

You can apply to join the Registered Traveller Service if you are a passport holder from:
Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan or the USA. With this privilege, you can use the ePassport gate and the UK/EU entry lanes, and no landing card is needed. For more information, refer here.

The border control queue 

2. Getting from the airport to Oxford

Heathrow airport : Sign up for the meet and greet service so you can be guided by the student helpers at the airport. Get the blue Airline bus from the Central Bus Station bus stand 15 or Terminal 5 bus stand 10. A single ticket costs £23 (only cash payment on board). 

Gatwick airport : Get the Airline bus from stands 1/2 (South Terminal) or stands 4/5 (North Terminal)

Stansted airport : Get national express bus no. 737. 

An alternative mode of transport is train. 
Student helpers for the meet and greet at the Heathrow airport

3. Arriving in Oxford 

If you are arriving in Oxford during Arrivals Weekend (17-18 September), disembark the Airline bus at the Thornhill Park and Ride stop. There, you can take the free U6 bus to your hall of residence. 

Most hall contracts start on 17th September. You could move in up to a week earlier (starting 11th September) if you submit a request to the accommodation department. If you are arriving at the hall of residence by car, remember to book your parking slot.

4. Moving in to your room

After getting your key from the accommodation office, you should check the room for any problems and report to the office immediately. 

Food and living supplies can be bought from the shops in Cowley, Headington or city centre. With your inclusive BrookesKey (pink bus card), you have unlimited travel on the U1, U1X, U4, U5 and U5X buses. Alternatively, you could get affordable used bicycles on Gumtree or new bicycles from the shops. There is also a free bike doctor service
U1 bus serves between Harcourt Hill campus and Wheatley Campus

5. Freshers/Induction Week 

The most important thing to do when you first reach the university is to go to the Student Central to get your biometric card and finalize your student forms. You will then attend your induction/enrolment session.

Freshers Fair will take place on 23rd September. This is a great opportunity for you to sign up for societies, meet people and get unlimited freebies. Freshers Week is packed with exciting activities which will help you feel more welcomed.

If you are around in Oxford on 10-11 September, check out the Oxford Open Doors event. You can visit some of the Oxford University colleges for free.

Freshers Week - Great time to meet new friends and bond with your housemates

The differences in culture and lifestyle can be a source of distress to international students. For example, some students may feel slightly uncomfortable and unfamiliar to drinking (alcohol). With time, you will adapt and get used to your new life.   

Studying abroad is the perfect opportunity for you to step outside your comfort zone and expose yourself to exciting possibilities and challenges. It is good to keep an open mind, at the same, always be vigilant and responsible for your decisions.

See you in September ! For more information, refer here.