Freshers’ Week is the week that all students, new or returning, look forward to. It’s the week of freebies, refreshments…and the parties. But if you’re an international student coming to the UK for the first time, then chances are you are probably really excited, freaking out a little and kind of confused about what exactly you need to do in Fresher’s Week. But don’t worry. We’ve got a checklist for you! But that’s not all. Keep reading to find out how useful and fun I found the International Welcome Programme!
Tip 1 – Streatham Campus can be quite confusing initially so make sure you grab a map. Also, you will definitely get lost at least once in your first week here (we’ve all done it!) but don’t panic and ask someone to point you to where you want to go. The Welcome Team wear pink t-shirts all week so you can always ask them.
Most of Fresher’s events happen around the Forum so you really just need to know your way there for the first couple of days.
Tip 2 – Make sure you don’t exhaust yourself by trying to doing lots of things within the first few days. Select the things you want to attend at the beginning of the week. Lots of events happen more than once, so pick the time that suits you best. The International Student Support team is great and always ready to help! Look out for the talks by Sue O’Hara! These are incredible and you’ll definitely enjoy them along with getting lots of information!
- Check into your accommodation– Once you’ve reached Exeter, the first thing to do is obviously checking into your accommodation. Get your keys, enter your room, put your luggage down and take a deep breath, before flopping into a chair! Phew! You made it to the University of Exeter! Don’t forget to inspect your room, fill in the inventory form and return it to the reception on time.
- Collect your BRP (if you have one) – This is the most important thing to do in your first week here. Collect your BRP card ASAP at the International Student Clearance at Seminar Rooms 1-3 in the Forum.
- Speaking of the International Student Clearance – This is where you collect your BRP and present any documents to the University (if you need to do this, it would be specified in your offer letter but it’s normally things like your passport, entry visa vignette and any qualifications they’ve asked for in your CAS). The good thing is that you can do this all through Arrivals Weekend and Fresher’s Week (It’s only till 13:00 on Friday so make sure you get there before then). If you haven’t finished it by then, you can go to the Admissions team at the Reception area of the Innovation Centre (Streatham Campus) and they’ll be able to help. But ideally, get it done as soon as possible and don’t wait ’till the end of the week. These are the most urgent tasks to do. When you’re done with these, you can relax!
- Collect your UniCard at the Forum.
- Collect your Freshers’ pack from the Guild, at Devonshire House (if you haven’t got one already or aren’t living at university accommodation)
- International Students Welcome Lecture – 10.00-11.00 at the Alumni Auditorium in the Forum. This is a really good lecture, so make sure you don’t miss this one! It really helps understand the University and there is a lot of important information.
- Attend the afternoon International Exchange, Study Abroad or Erasmus Student Information Sessions – Like the morning session, these have lots of specific information you need to know for your study here. Make sure you go to the one that is relevant to you!
- Tier 4 Visas: Stay safe, stay legal at 14.30 – DON’T MISS THIS! – This session is really important for international students and it is vital to attend this one. It clears up a lot of the details of the visa conditions. It is made clear how to get advice and you get to meet the international student support people and have the opportunity to ask questions. So it is really very useful to go to. Plus, they have advice about working in the UK.
- Tip 3 – Attend at least one campus tour and one shopping tour. These are guided and the Student Ambassadors know the best places to get different things and the best short-cuts. Speak with the Ambassadors on the trip and ask lots of questions! These trips are great to find the route to the High Street and Sidwell Street. And it’s a great chance to meet some like-minded friends!
- On Tuesday you may have an induction to your course. Check your emails for confirmation from your department.
- Meningitis Immunisation drop in clinic, 9.00-11.00 – If you haven’t had a meningitis vaccination, I strongly suggest getting it. But you need to have registered with the Heath Centre before this. Another tip – The clinic is repeated on Friday as well but it is really crowded and has a long waiting time that day. So getting it done on Tuesday is a good idea. If you haven’t managed to get the vaccination by the end of Fresher’s week, you can always go to the Student Health Centre later and they’ll sort it out for you.
- Introduction to British Culture, 14.00-15.00 – While this might sound silly, its actually a really fun talk to go to. It’s hilarious and gives a fun insight into British Culture. But mostly, its a lot of fun. Did I say that already? I loved the talk when I attended it, so I may be a little biased, but if you can, do attend this talk!
- Discover Exeter walking tour – I really recommend this tour. You not only get to see the nice sights in Exeter but this tour leads to some hidden gems that you’d probably never know were there otherwise. It’s a long walk so I’d suggest some good walking shoes! But you learn loads and the rich multicultural history of Exeter might just surprise you!
- Enjoy the rest of Tuesday by going to the fun events like International Students’ Pudding Club or Postgraduate Welcome Dinner. These are really great fun and you get to meet loads of people! It’s a great way to make friends.
- Essential Guide to University Life in the UK , 11.00-13.00, Don’t miss this! – Another really important talk, make sure you attend this one. It gives a lot of details about Police Registration, healthcare and banking. Some of the procedures here (things like healthcare) can be really confusing (it was for me!), so this talk helps demystify a lot of things.
- Register with a healthcare and bank– After the previous talk, you’ll have a better idea about this so get going and register!
- English Language Support for International Students, 13.30-14.30 – This is a good talk to attend if English isn’t your first language and only if you feel that some support might be helpful.
- International Students’ Welcome Party, DON’T MISS THIS! – This is an incredibly fun event and a brilliant way to make friends. The best part of the evening is definitely the traditional folk dances! It was the most fun I’d ever had dancing and I couldn’t stop grinning the whole evening! I made some great friends and its one of the most memorable parts of Freshers’ Week.
Have fun with the different events! Check out the events run by different societies.
- Police Registration, 09.00-17.00 – If you need to do a police registration, (the talk on Wednesday will have already given you lots of information about it) so don’t worry and go in to the Forum and get yourself registered. Book an appointment online (its just less hassle that way). If you’ve got any questions about it or are not sure if you need to register, head over to the Forum and someone there will help you.
- Study Skills for International Students 12.00-13.30 – I found this talk really useful when I attended it. Quite a lot of the assessment and assignment types were different from what I was used to previously, so this really helped me understand them better. There are some really helpful tips about plagiarism, which I was grateful for because plagiarism scares the wits out of me! So definitely do attend this session if you’re a little unsure about your coursework and would like to know where to find study skills resources!
- Working during your studies, 14.00-15.00 – If you are planning to gain some work experience during your time at Exeter, don’t miss this talk. It is very informative and details how to keep within the visa restrictions. It also includes information about getting a National Insurance Number. Don’t know what that is? I didn’t either before attending this talk!
- Activities Fair – Definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects of Freshers Week, find out everything you need to know about societies and activities in Exeter. Do sign up to your favourite societies. Assign at least an hour or two if you want to go through the entire fair, or pick up a progaramme and visit your favourite societies. It’ll be spread across campus so make sure you know where your favourite societies are. You can find more about societies beforehand at the Guild website.
Apart from these, you’ll have an induction for your course. Keep an eye out for when its confirmed and don’t forget to attend it. It’s easy to get caught up in the Freshers’ events and lose track of time, so make a note of it! These are just the events that you need to go to but there are a whole host of other events to enjoy, from tours, (like the totally awesome the Jurassic coast trip) to society events and Freshers’ parties!
Make the most of Fresher’s Week. Get the necessary things done and then enjoy the rest of the week completely. Welcome to University of Exeter!