Top tips for Indian students living in the UK

Every year, the UK welcomes students from across the globe, including those from India. Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity – it not only builds your job prospects and confidence, but it’s also an unforgettable life experience. But, why choose the UK? And what types of UK accommodation are available for students from India?

The benefits of studying at a UK university

The UK is widely viewed as an educational hub – whether you choose to study in London, Manchester or Cornwall, you’ll graduate with a degree that’s recognised across the world. But much more than that – UK university education opens many doors, with degree structures and extracurricular activities that mean you’ll have a variety of experiences on your CV – in short, making you very attractive to future employers.

What’s more, you'll be in good company, with plenty of other international students to connect with. While the UK and India are very different, by doing your research and following some simple steps, you’ll make the UK your new home-away-from-home in no time!

To help, we asked Indian students staying in our Sanctuary Students accommodation for their top tips on preparing for – and setting into – uni life in the UK.

Before arriving

So, you’ve received your university offer and sorted the course fees (or confirmed your scholarship –congratulations!)…now what?

1. Do your research

The UK is a rich mix of diverse culture and tradition, and studying here will help you see the world from a different perspective. Before you arrive from India, it’s a good idea to read about the UK’s history and look up your university city or town. If you have any questions, you could join a Facebook group for your uni – you might even make some new friends before you land!

You could also make a list of places you want to see during your time in the UK. Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge and Edinburgh Castle are three popular tourist sights.

2. Packing

It goes without saying that you need the relevant documents and visas to allow you to study in the UK, as well as things like a UK bank account, laptop, any regular medication and a new SIM card for your mobile phone with an international pack for calls to India (remember, as an alternative, you can use Skype or Whatsapp).

But one thing you might not have considered when packing, is what we like to call the ‘Great British weather’. Infamously unpredictable, it’s worth packing for every weather eventuality – from rain and snow in winter and unexpected summer heatwaves (and more rain!). The good news for the winter is that at Sanctuary Students, heating bills are included within your rent – helping you adapt to the climate with no extra cost! More on our accommodation later…

Settling in

1. Don’t isolate yourself

Moving to a new country is exciting, but it can also be a bit of a culture shock, so it’s normal to need time to adjust. But try to be open-minded – there are so many experiences to enjoy in the UK, such as our music venues, museums, theatres, pubs and cafés, to name a few. Grab a friend and dive in!

A good way of making new friends is to join uni societies and sports clubs. If you’re a cricket buff, then Lord’s and The Oval are two of the most prestigious grounds found anywhere in the world. Visiting places of worship is another opportunity to find a support system within the UK. Also, sharing a traditional Indian meal with your flatmates is a great way to make new friends.

But, if things do start to become overwhelming, ask for help as soon as you need it. Read our top tips for looking after your mental health at university here.

2. Adapting to the language

If you’re an international student coming to the UK from India, you’ll already have a high level of spoken English, and moving here is a fantastic opportunity to gain more fluency. Remember that slang can be popular, with different nuances across the UK – if you’re unsure of anything, feel free to ask your coursemates or housemates!

3. Understanding the UK academic system

The UK's academic culture is different from the Indian education system. There isn’t a set path for you to follow – giving you the freedom to explore new ideas. You’re encouraged to do your own research or work with groups for projects. There’s no handholding, which can be daunting – but you always have a mentor available.

As mentioned earlier, the UK uni experience is all about helping you learn and grow as a person – setting you up for graduate life. Make the most of the opportunity by taking the initiative, joining societies and exploring the career’s service for advice.

The great news is that international students who’ve successfully completed an undergraduate or master’s degree will be able to benefit from two years’ international work experience upon graduation, through the new Graduate Route Visa. Find out more here.

4. Getting around

It’s easy to travel around UK cities – and exploring further afield for sightseeing. Many students choose to walk, cycle or use public transport, such as buses or the tube in London. You can get special discounts on travel cards/passes for buses and trains and, if you’re living in London, you can apply for a Student 18+ Oyster Card.

And, talking of discounts, students get access to lots of discounted rates on food, clothes and a number of events! Find out more here.

5. Food and drink

As an Indian student living in the UK, although trying an English fry-up and fish & chips is a must, it may take some time to adjust to British food. Don’t worry – there are plenty of Indian restaurants and international cuisines close at hand. For grocery shopping, you’ll be able to find your basic Indian food essentials in local supermarkets, and there are many independent Indian food stores and international supermarkets in the major cities, so you can easily find your favourite home comforts. If there are certain meats that you don’t eat, most UK cities sell a range of meat choices in almost every supermarket.

Pubs and clubs are a major part of student life in the UK, and it’s acceptable to drink alcohol in moderate amounts. That said, you don’t have to drink alcohol to enjoy yourself. All venues sell non-alcoholic drinks. Check out our favourite ideas for alcohol-free nights out here.

Find uni accommodation in the UK as an Indian student

Here at Sanctuary Students, we’re proud of our community of international students – did you know that we’re home to students from 160 countries, including India? Find out more about being an international student with Sanctuary Students in our blog.

We pride ourselves on offering more than just a room, and our student halls and flats have an on-site team, 24 hours a day, to make sure everyone is happy, healthy and safe.

All of our accommodation for students from India is ideally located for studying and for experiencing all that the local area has to offer. We’ll allocate you a room with fellow international students, and also hold regular social activities to create a sense of community with your flatmates and neighbours – helping you settle in quickly!

To help ease your transition to living in the UK from India, we offer all-inclusive bills (including electricity, water and heating), free contents insurance and Wi-Fi, making it easier to manage your money. We also offer professional support to help you with any problems you may face. Learn more about our well-being services here.