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The Student Guide to Preparing for University: Your First Week

The Student Guide to Preparing for University: Your First Week

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Starting university is very similar to an Indiana Jones adventure; there are lots of twists and challenges, but at the end you will conquer everything. To avoid falling in the traps along the way, we’ve prepared a guide to help you cover all you need to do on your first week at university.

On our previous post, we talked about all the things you need to consider before starting your journey; now we tell you all the things you need to consider on your first week, so you master the start of your student life like a pro.

1. Paperwork

Welcome to the grown-ups world! University involves a lot of paperwork, and sometimes it’s not easy to keep track of everything you need in terms of applications, validations, or preparations for the year. Here is a list of the most common paperwork you need to prepare for university:

  1. Previous degrees and academic records: from your high school, university or other institutions. Some schools may ask you to provide your original academic records for validation and sending by email may not be enough;
  2. Identification: a copy of a passport or ID card are always required;
  3. CV: In some applications for Master studies or higher degrees, a curriculum may be requested by the school;
  4. Proof of English proficiency: this may be represented from your previous school or from a desired test such as IELTS or TOEFL.

If you’re enrolling in a study programme abroad like Erasmus, there will be papers to turn in before, during, and after your study abroad experience. Your home school’s foreign office for sure will help you keep track of these papers and what you need to provide.

Tip: Always make three copies of each document — one for you, one for your university, and a third one for the destination university.

Health Insurance

Some universities provide school insurance for their students. If this is the case, there’s nothing you need to worry about, as this will be taken care of by the university. In any case, we recommend you give your insurance company a call to make sure you have what is needed to get medical aid in case any adventures leave you with a — God forbid — a broken bone or a knocked out tooth. As a silver lining, having international student health insurance will save you from having to pay thousands in medical bills upon receiving medical treatment abroad.

Financial Aid

In case you’re getting financial support from your home country or an institution, they may requested proof of your arrival and school start date. An official letter from your university are enough in some cases. There are variations in each country, but these are the general documents you have to present to apply to financial aid:

  1. ID document for proof of identity;
  2. Household income;
  3. Bank account number;
  4. National insurance number.

Nowadays the application is usually filled out online. Check all the papers you need on time, as this usually takes some time to take care of.

2. Getting to a new city

If you’re moving to a new city, there are several things you should take care of. These should be done on your first week.

Getting a social security number

If you’re studying abroad, you may need a temporary social security number for a number of reasons, such as signing a house rental contract (or any other type of contract). These social security numbers are usually created and given to you at the local town hall, but to avoid a useless trip, check online or ask around your university.

Opening a bank account

Depending on the amount of time you’re spending there, you might consider opening a bank account. Before rushing into a lot of hard work and paperwork, ask your home bank if they have any special conditions for your situation (some banks have cards with reduced taxes for when you study abroad). There is nothing better than doing the math:

  • Does your bank exist locally?
  • If not, how much do you pay in taxes when you cash in money?
  • Do you have any credit card limitations abroad (sometimes certain banks don’t allow transfers abroad)?
  • How much does it cost to open (and close) a new account?

Some universities cards are associated with banks, so they will try to convince you to open an account in that bank when registering during your first week. Read the terms carefully and see whether they’re better than the ones you currently have.

Getting a SIM card

Let’s take a moment of appreciation for the end of roaming within the EU. This is something worth celebrating, and may be a game changer when considering getting a local SIM Card, since now there are less reasons to do so in Europe. Here’s when you should consider getting a local one:

  1. The local option is cheaper;
  2. You’re being charged with crazy high taxes for calling to other providers;
  3. The new option has a generous internet package (ie, more GBs);
  4. Your phone company has a bad phone reception in your new city;

Pro tip #1: Use WhatsApp, Viber or Facebook Messenger! You can call or video chat will all three of them and you don’t need a new phone number to do so.

Pro Tip #2: There’ll be a lot of signing to do once you’re getting settled, so we recommend that you always carry a pen, ID photos (the ones with the official size), and your ID card with you. Plus — don’t ever deliver a copy of your ID without specifying the purpose of it on the photocopy!

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3. Freshers events

There’s one thing university students master above all: the art of partying. You will soon realise everything is a good reason to celebrate and a good excuse for a party.

To discover all the parties happening at your university, follow your Students Union social pages or pass by their office to know about upcoming events — welcome weeks are the perfect events to make new friendships in your first week!

The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is also a great idea. They’re present in 40 countries and always have the most fun parties in the hottest clubs in town. Imagine weekend trips to other countries, exclusive parties and many other fun activities designed for you to meet lots of new people. Sound good?

4. Useful mobile apps

Getting into university is a great adventure full of challenges and a lot of things to keep track of. Thankfully nowadays smartphones have all we need to help us with these new challenges and environments. From apps that you didn’t even know you needed to newly discovered ones you can’t live without, mobile apps changed our lives.

Make sure to save space on your phone for them and start making friends during your first week!


Thanks for reading this post!

What else do you think is important to consider during your first week at university? Let us know in the comments. And remember: if you need student accommodation you’ll find the perfect student home on Uniplaces.

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