Nomo's guide to starting university in the UK

Nomo Bank

13 Sept 2022

There’s nothing like the start of a new semester at university.

Making new friends, trying out different activities and finding your favourite new coffee spot on campus are all top priorities!

Before you arrive at uni, and in the first few weeks of the semester, there are a few important things you should do to make settling in a smooth process.

Getting to know your new home 🏠

Once you’ve arrived in town for the new semester, it’s a great idea to have a look around the university campus and local area so you can familiarise yourself with your surroundings. You may have done plenty of research about your new hometown beforehand, but nothing compares to exploring the real thing.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Walk and take public transport as much as you can, so you can get your bearings and work out where everything is

  • Try out different spots on campus and around town for coffee and lunch

  • Ask other students you meet for recommendations

Joining a Kuwaiti society 🇰🇼

If you’re new in town, one of the best ways to feel at home in your new university town is by joining a Kuwaiti society.

Kuwaiti societies bring a sense of community to those studying abroad, and can give support to Kuwaiti students with issues that may be culturally sensitive.

As well as offering advice and support at all stages of university, these societies organise academic and social events and may have a peer-mentoring system. Getting to know other Kuwaitis will help you feel welcome and meet like-minded people – some of whom you may even know from back home!

Kuwaiti societies also provide a bridge of communication with the Kuwait Embassy and Cultural Office in case you need any advice or extra support.

There are Kuwaiti societies at lots of different universities around the UK, including Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham, to name a few. Before you arrive, you may want to contact them via Facebook to find out how to join!

Getting your UK SIM card and mobile number 📱

There are two ways to use your mobile phone in the UK. You can either roam on your domestic SIM card or get a local SIM card from one of the UK networks.

If you're going to university in the UK, it's a good idea to get a local SIM card. Most of the time, this will be easier and cheaper than using your regular SIM card. A local SIM card costs around 10 GBP for one month of use. On your UK SIM card, you'll get a UK phone number that starts with +44.

Getting a pre-paid SIM card in the UK is a simple process. You don't have to live in the UK, and you don't have to show any ID. You will, however, need to make sure that your phone carrier has unlocked your phone before you get to the UK.

If you can, you should try to get your UK SIM card before you arrive in the UK. It can save you a lot of hassle, because you won't have to go to a store to get one and it will already be ready to use as soon as you land.

Check out some SIM deals for students here.

Registering with a GP 🩺

Fingers crossed you won’t need any trips to see the doctor while studying at university, but to be safe you should register as soon as possible with a family doctor, also known as a general practitioner or GP. This will give you access to healthcare in the UK. Information on where and how to do this locally can be found by asking staff at your university.

For any health-related issues, except for dental issues, you can make an appointment at your GP surgery. If necessary, your GP can also make arrangements for you to visit hospital specialists. Without first visiting a GP, you won't be able to see a specialist. You will need to pay for any medication that your doctor prescribes.

Getting a student travel card 🚄

Getting around town while you’re a student is essential – but can be expensive if you don’t do it right. It’s unlikely that you’ll have access to a car, and getting an Uber everywhere can get very expensive. Luckily, the UK has an excellent public transport system, and in many towns, you’ll get student travel discounts.

If you’re studying in London, check out the deals for student Oyster cards here, which will get you discounts on tubes and buses. For other UK destinations, ask about travel discounts at your university helpdesk. If you’re likely to be taking the train often, it’s a good idea to get yourself a 16-25 railcard.

What should I take with me? 🧳

If you’re heading to a UK university this September, there are some essentials you need to take with you whether you’re studying in Manchester, Nottingham, Liverpool, Leeds or any other destination.

Here are a few important things to remember while packing for the new semester:

Suitable clothing

Although the UK has experienced heatwaves this summer, don’t expect them to continue in the coming months!

The weather in the UK is unpredictable and likely to change from day to day. In the winter, temperatures range from 1°C to 10°C, and in the summer, they range from 20°C to 30°C.

When packing for university, make sure you have clothes to suit all temperatures – including plenty of wet weather gear. No matter whether it’s winter or summer, you can always count on rain in the UK! During the winter months, you will also need hats, gloves, scarves, and thick socks.

At UK universities, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to join in with sports and other activities at the large number of student clubs and societies you’ll discover. Make sure you pack a pair of trainers and some sports gear so you’re prepared!

Electricals

Along with your laptop and smartphone, you should bring any electronic equipment that you might find useful while studying, like a dictaphone, a good pair of wireless headphones, and an alarm clock to make sure you wake up in time for your lectures!

In the UK, most plugs need to have three prongs to fit into 13-amp sockets, which are the same as those in Kuwait.

Home comforts

It's a good idea to bring a few small things that remind you of home, like pictures of family and friends, books, posters, and other items that make your university accommodation feel comfortable and homely. These will help you settle into your new life in the UK.

Important documents

You might be required to provide some documentation during your first few weeks of university. It's important that you keep all of your documents somewhere safe so you don't lose them – make paper and digital copies of everything, and make sure to keep them all in one place.

Some of the documents you will probably need include:

  • Course acceptance letter
  • Passport-sized photos
  • Confirmation of your accommodation
  • Insurance documents
  • Details of any student finance

And of course, you’ll need your passport for your flight to the UK!

Kitchen items

Depending on whether you’re in catered or self-catered accommodation, you may need to provide your own kitchen items including pots, pans and cutlery. You probably won’t have room in your suitcase to fit everything in, but you’ll be able to source the items you need easily when you arrive.

Bank card

Saving money as a student can be tough. With lots of activities and socialising on campus, it’s easy to let your money situation run away from you.

Getting the right bank card before you travel to university can help. If you’re studying in the UK, a UK-based bank account is essential, which makes life simple when settling into university life.

Introducing Nomo

Nomo is a Sharia-compliant digital account from Boubyan Bank. It takes just a few minutes to apply for your Nomo account from your iPhone, and you don’t need a UK address to apply – you apply using your address in Kuwait and your Civil ID.

A UK-based Nomo account has plenty of useful features for students starting a new semester in the UK, including:

  • Fee-free spending in the UK – using both Apple Pay and debit card

  • Fee-free transfers to UK bank accounts

  • Free transfers from Boubyan accounts – perfect for when your parents want to send you money

  • Regular rewards and offers

Plus, until the end of September, you can earn 5% cashback on all purchases. T&Cs apply.

We can send your debit card to the address that suits you best – either in the UK or in Kuwait.

Coming soon to Nomo

We’ve got lots of exciting new features coming in the next few weeks, including:

  • Payments to mobile contacts, letting you pay your friends back in seconds when they pick up the bill

  • The Nomo app for Android

Heading to university in the UK? Make sure you’re signed up for Nomo before you travel!