Blog post

Gear up for UK University: Be ready to be ready

Masters Creative Writing student, Medha Godbole, provides her advice on how international students can be prepared for their journey with the University of Derby

By Medha Godbole - 3 February 2023

So, you have got the international student visa, packed your essentials, researched things to do and received the wishes and positive vibes of your friends and family. A zillion questions are probably buzzing in your head as you gear up to embark on your academic adventure at the University of Derby.

Here are some that were in mine:

Rest assured; we have got you covered.

Here are some top tips to help you thrive and make the best of your time as an International student.

The Biometric Residence Permit

As an international student, one of your main priorities should be to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). I collected mine the day I landed in Derby. The letter accompanying the student visa will give details on how and where to collect the BRP. This is important because it’s proof that you have legal permission to reside in the UK.

Your home away from home

If you are moving into one of the University halls, there will be several things waiting for you in your room. You will find pillows and a mattress in your room, to begin with. A kitchen kit with a couple of plates, spoons, a fork, a mug and a glass will get you started. I had a welcome kit waiting for me which included an energy drink, a sim card, discount coupons, a bag of crisps or chips and a couple of chocolates. I chose to live in halls because the rent included all the utilities. For me, safety and support with regard to well-being or any essential things were another consideration.

If you are moving into a private residence, it is best to check with your letting agency or landlord about what will be included in the property. Checking what utilities are included in the rent is important for your budgeting. In halls, you get electricity, heating, water supply and wi-fi included. It is really important to research the best.

Two students sitting on a bed chatting while looking over a work book

Hop on the Unibus

Unibus is a free shuttle service for students. The U1 runs for the city centre from the Uni while the U2 is for the Britannia Mill site via Markeaton car park. All halls are located on the Unibus route. The city centre U1 bus stop is generally easily accessible for those in Derby. You'll need to show your Unicard as evidence you're a student and can access the free travel. If you've not got your Unicard yet, mention to the driver that you're a university student and you won't need to pay.

Image of the UDO bus in front of the Kedleston road campus
Alexander Dennis

Explore UDo

UDo is your student portal where you will find information on everything – from how to get the letter for a bank account, fee payment deadlines, writing an academic essay to clubs and societies and everything in between.

There are many tiles on UDo, so it will take some time, but try and keep exploring this treasure trove. I used the time before my lectures started to explore UDo. Getting started with UDo as soon as possible is the best way to make your student life smooth. UDo is available as an app so you can access UDo anytime anywhere from your mobile phone. Simply search and download the UDo app from Google or Apple app store.

There’s never a silly question

One survival skill which is a must is to ask questions. We may think our questions are silly, but often others are wondering the same. So, ask questions whenever one comes to mind. Everyone is really friendly and won’t mind any questions. We have a team of Welcome Heroes who will be on campus to greet you – you can’t miss them in their bright pink tops. They’ll be available at our university sites to answer any questions you might have.

A group of welcome hero's standing in front of the Derby Uni letters outside Kedleston campus

Layer up

Finally, my biggest tip is to make sure you have an insulated jacket. It is a MUST as it can get cold in the UK! The good news is that you can find some reasonably priced ones once you are here. Primark is a great value clothes shop.

Discounts matter

Please remember there are often student discounts at cafes and theatres. Your Unicard will be enough proof for most providers but a TOTUM/NUS extra discount card can unlock a few extra discounts.

One place where you can watch films or even get a nice hot cup of coffee at a discount as a student is Quad, located in the city centre, close to the Derby bus station. Quad has a cinema, art gallery and café bar. It has contemporary art exhibitions, films and other events. It’s one of my favourite places

Image of Totum card hanging out of a wallet surrounded by other cards

Hopefully, these tips will make your first few weeks in your new home comfortable. We wish you all the best and see you on campus!

About the author

Medha Godbole standing infront of flowers

Medha Godbole
Masters Student in Creative Writing with Publishing

I am an international student from India pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing with Publishing. I also work as a Communications Ambassador to create content. Apart from writing, I love playing and watching cricket, watching films and listening to Indian classical and semi-classical and Western classical music. Sipping tea or chatting with my closest friends gets me going.