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  • Tue 18 Jul 2017 15:09

    Coming to you with all the things you might need to know before you start at LSE! Today: International Students’ Prep Cheat Sheet. 

    First, get your visa in order!

    Find a visa application centre near you, and start the process as soon as you can. For all you IB’ers who have already received your results, gather your documents and go! For the rest of you A Level-peeps, get your stuff ready now whether its booking a TB test (yes, you’ll need one if your home country is listed here), renewing your passport, or preparing bank letters. Importantly, stay in touch with your uni regarding CAS numbers once you have your results in hand! I cannot stress enough how much easier your life will be if you prepare everything you need in advance of results day – the UK Visa Application Centre near you can and will have many, many, MANY people during the ‘peak’ period of August before university begins. Having your things in order and applying as soon as you can will allow you to beat the rush – and allow for any delays or possible re-applications in the case of rejection. (Yes, I do have friends who had to re-apply for their visa and came late to uni so preparation is key)! 

    #Tip: VFS Global, the centre that handled my visa application, often provides a priority visa service – my visa came back to me within 2 working days. Worth. Every. Anxiety-Reducing. Penny.

    Second, get your bank account in order!

    Take it from someone with experience, banks here aren’t the friendliest to international students and opening a bank account can be a massive pain in the behind. When you get here, you’ll need to make an appointment to open an account – and if you’re in London, there will be many other students needing a new account at the same time… So sometimes a bank will tell you the earliest available appointment is in a month. If you don’t want to be carrying around wads of cash with you and keeping it in your bedside drawer until then (which really isn’t safe), then 

    #Tip: open a UK account before you leave for the UK!

    I (and the majority of my friends) used HSBC – who more or less specialize in opening UK accounts for students and, in my country, blatantly advertise all over the place that they do this. While I had to spend an hour or so on the phone, it meant that I had access to a true-blue UK account when I got here, with very easy transfers between my home country and the UK! Other banks that offer UK accounts before you leave your country include Citibank and the Bank of China’s Student Prime Account

    Note: if none of this is available in your country, then friends have had better experiences at Lloyds and Santander over other banks!

    image

    Last year’s get together for International Students

    Third, arrange for transport to your accommodation!

    If you, like me, intend to come to London with 60 kilos of luggage (not including carry-ons); then you, also like me, will likely regret this decision if you happen to be a small Asian girl who arrived in London alone and decided to take the tube.

    So 

    #Tip: pre-book an airport transfer where a nice driver will be waiting for you with a sign… and will help you with your bags! It will cost a lot more than the tube, but it’s a one-time expense. 

    Companies I’ve used in the past who will have drivers waiting for you at somewhat reasonable prices, if you pre-book, include: Addison Lee, Blacklane and Exclusive Airports

    Note: you can certainly call an Uber or take a black cab when you get to London, but you’ll have to find your Uber driver in a short-stay car park or walk to the taxi lane – something that is significantly harder to do while carrying your whole life in two suitcases. Also, we aren’t paid to promote these companies, so it’s allllll based on my own experiences! :D

    Lastly, prepare to pack just the essentials!

    A proper ‘what to pack’ blog post will come soon, but as mental preparation, here are some basic 

    #Tips: do not pack that duvet (unless you vacuum pack it within an inch of its life), huge bottle of shampoo, frying pan set, winter coat or (in the case of one of my friends) that Airfryer, no matter how much easier you think that last choice will make your life when you get here. Instead, save the space and get all these things when you arrive – there is a lot of winter-wear choice here! If you look at places like Primark, Argos and most pharmacies, you’ll find all of the above here for far cheaper than you’d get back home. Do bring things you can’t get here or will need when you arrive: certain spices from home, all the necessary documents (refer to point 1), a travel adaptor, medication, some clothing (but don’t pack your whole wardrobe….!), some footwear, and small-sized cosmetics/toiletries to last you for a few days before you settle in and make your way to a pharmacy.

    Hope that all helps! Look out for more useful tips coming your way soon!

  • Mon 17 Jul 2017 15:46

    One of the best, and often scariest, things about coming to uni for the first time is all the new people you’re going to meet. We can help there

    But why wait to make friends before you come to LSE? We want to help you create your own community before you step off that tube for the first time. 

    That’s where Facebook comes in. We’ve created two pages for you to share your thoughts, meet new people and ask any question you can possibly come up with. We’ll be on there too, in case you want to ask something about the nitty gritty of SU life. 

    There are two groups:

    Undergrads

    Head over to bit.ly/lsesuug17

    Postgrads 

    Join the conversation at bit.ly/lsesupg17

    See you there :) 

  • Mon 17 Jul 2017 12:31

    Hi, we’re the LSE Students’ Union, coming to you with all the facts and figures you’ll need for getting on in your LSE! First up: The Library

    The LSE Library is the major international library of the social sciences. It’s home to over 50,000 e-journals, hundreds of online resources and more than four million printed items.

    But it can also be pretty daunting and tricky to get started there. Our top tips for using the LSE Library should get you up to speed.

    Find a book online

    Just head to lse.ac.uk/library and use the search bar.

    Find a book in person

    The library is split into two sections: the Course Collection and the Main Collection. The Course Collection has all the major materials you’ll need for your course (i.e. textbooks etc). The Main Collection contains items for social science research.

    • Course Collection is on the ground floor. 
    • Main Collection is across all five floors

    Borrow a book

    It’s really easy - you can use the self-service machines in the Library building. You’ll need to know your library code (aka PIN), which you find at LSE for You (click on the Library menu).

    Find your way around

    Browse the different rooms here before you explore in person. It may well seem intimidating to walk round at first, but you’ll soon realise that everyone in the Library is just there to do their own thing, so nothing should stop you from wandering around.

    Get the most out of the Library

    • Best time to head to the Library is during off-peak hours: after about 7pm and before 11am.
    • Use the Course Collection – it’ll save you so much money on textbooks.
    • Explore the group study spaces – they’re private rooms that are perfect for working on group presentations or projects. They’re bookable via LSE For You (click the Library menu).
    • Find out about the Inter-Library Loans Service: it gives you access to material from libraries across the world. Extremely useful in situations when the library doesn’t carry what you’re looking for.
    • Go to an Information Skills and Resources workshop. It’ll teach you how to search quickly for what you need and learn interesting new research tools. Sessions run every term.
    • Be respectful of the different areas – if you’re in a silent space, don’t break out your phone… not the best way to make friends!
    • Don’t lose your library code – keep it written down in a diary or stored on your phone.

    If you have any questions, tweet us (@lsesu) or the library itself (@lselibrary). We love to help.