freshers by welcomegong3


									CUSU International
Freshers’ Guide for overseas students
   1) Welcome!
           Introduction to CUSU International
           How to contact us
   2) Before arriving in Cambridge
           Weather
           What to pack
           Immigration information
   3) How to get here
           From the airport
           From London
           Trains/Buses timetables
   4) Settling in Cambridge
           Banks
           Healthcare
           Food
           Bikes
           Phone cards
           Household goods
   5) Freshers Week events

CONGRATULATIONS for getting into Cambridge! You are coming to, in my very
humble opinion, the best university on earth, in the solar system, the universe… you get the
idea. Whether you’re coming here as an undergraduate or a graduate, I can assure you that
your time at Cambridge will be the most fulfilling and exciting experience of your life thus
far. Most people will describe Cambridge as an entire world of its own and on its own. It
seems to function in a way independent from everything else you will have ever
encountered (for example, the week here begins on a Thursday, go figure…). It is our wish
that you settle into this new environment as smoothly as possible and that if you ever need
anything (and I repeat ANYTHING) you know that you have support, and very willing
support at that, right here for you in the form of CUSU International.

So what is CUSU International, I hear you ask? We are part of the Cambridge University
Student Union (CUSU) and our job is to ensure that overseas students get all the help and
support they need. In a nutshell, we are here for YOU. Anything you need, anything you’re
not sure of, we hope that you will not hesitate to come to us and we will definitely do
everything in our power to help you.

CUSU International is a committee of seven people:
Chair             Anna Mae Koo 
Secretary         Dheer Mehta 
Academic Officer Christian Kim
Social Officer    Earl Deng   
Publicity Officer Mai Yasuhara
Welfare Officer   Leah Aw     
Freshers Officer  Shan Yee Fok
I am the last one there on the list – Shan Yee Fok. As Freshers Officer, my job is really to
help all you newcomers (we call you Freshers, because you come to Cambridge fresh with
life and energy before the intense work sucks it all out of you) get used to Cambridge and
help you with whatever problem you may run into upon arrival. We all know that adjusting
to a new environment is no easy task, so please, know that I’m here to help and don’t be
afraid to ask. Feel free to email me should you have any queries before you arrive. Upon
arrival, you will meet a CUSU International committee member right away, as we will be
at the both train and bus stations helping you with your luggage and giving you warm
welcoming smiles and friendly bear hugs!

I’ve written this little guide in the hope that it will help you in your preparations of getting
here, and in finding your way around once you arrive. I want you to feel at home in
Cambridge as soon as possible. I’ve kept all the information as precise as possible, and
have tried to cover everything that I think is important for international students. You will
also be receiving a CUSU Freshers guide with more information about Cambridge life. My
aim here is to cover information that is particularly useful for foreign students. But please,
do check our website on a regular basis for updated information especially since a lot of
information about the start of next term comes out over summer:

I do hope you find this helpful. I know there will be specific questions on specific topics
that I have not covered here, so please email me if you have any questions.

Happy reading folks!

Before you leave…
English Weather (♫Rain rain go away, come again another day…♪)
Before you pack, you should know about the weather in England. Rain. Even if
Cambridge is officially the driest city in the UK, you still have to face rain, or clouds at the
least, for the majority of the time. Another thing: changeability. Something I heard: ‘If
you don’t like the weather in England, just wait five minutes’. It is not uncommon that you
get sunshine, rain, hail and gale all in the same day! I know this may sound a little gloomy,
but on the other hand, when the sun comes out, you see Cambridge in all its glorious
beauty – this way, you never take the quaint historic city for granted!

Autumn:      Mostly Rain. 13-18°C / 55 -64°F. Starts to get quite chilly at night.
Winter:      More Rain. Sometimes snow – then its quite beautiful. Anywhere between
             freezing and 10°C / 50°F. A very wet time to be in England. Lasts from about
             mid-November to about mid-February, sometimes even March.
Spring:      Ever heard of the April showers? More rain! Interspersed with sunshine. 13-15°C /
             55-59°F. Still can be quite chilly, but we’re on our way to summer!
Summer:      Sunny, breezy – Cambridge is fantastic in Easter Term. Around 20°C / 68°F. Still
             some cloudy days.

What Clothing To Bring
 Winter coat – waterproof and windproof
   Gloves
   Scarf
   Warm boots
   Comfortable walking shoes

TIP: Dress in layers!

Because winter takes up such substantial part of the year, it’s a good idea to bring lots of
warm clothing – a winter coat is definitely a must and is preferable if waterproof and even
better if it blocks the wind. Apparently there are no mountains between Cambridge and
Siberia, to give you an idea of our frosty breezes. Gloves and scarves are always useful
though you may want to purchase a Cambridge- or your college-scarf when you arrive (they
are quite warm and woolly as well). You want to have comfortable shoes since the city
centre of Cambridge is a pedestrian zone and covered in cobblestones, meaning you will be
on your feet most of the time, and girls – do bring some flat-heeled shoes. Boots are
definitely recommended especially since it gets so cold and wet in winter. It’s advisable to
dress in layers in winter, as it’s always heated indoors and you will find that most people
wear t-shirts under their coats and pullovers.

Formal Wear
You will have a matriculation photo as well as a matriculation dinner at the beginning of
term where you will have to look smart.
Men: Suit with shirt and tie. Black leather shoes, black socks
Women: Black Dress or white blouse with black skirt. Nice shoes.

Moreover, Cambridge is has a system of ‘Formal Halls’ – where your college dining-hall
serves a fancy dinner – which is a big part of the university social life. Men are required to
wear suits and women have to be in a smart dress code.

Your college will require you to buy gowns - you will need them for the matriculation
photo and for formal hall. Each college has its own gown style. Sometimes it is possible
to buy them within college, but it’s cheaper to buy them from the university clothing

   Club Outfitters: This is just next to Great St. Mary’s Church, very near Market Square.
   A E Clothier: On Pembroke St.

Other things you may want to pack
You may want to bring your own crockery, cutlery, and kitchenware, though bear in
mind that everything you need, can be bought in Cambridge. It’s advisable to contact
your college to inquire whether they provide bed linen, pillows and blankets, but I would
recommend that you have your own duvet cover – it gets really cold at night in winter, and
anyway, it’s always nice to have a comfortable bed to snuggle into! This also can be bought
in Cambridge if you feel it is too bulky to carry.

Some things to know about Immigration
Some students like to bring food/snacks from their own country in case they miss their
home cuisine – if you intend to do the same, be careful about bringing meat as the UK has
quite stringent laws especially after food-and-mouth.
 If you’re from the European Economic Area (EEA, i.e. from Austria, Belgium,
   Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein,
   Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK), you do not
   need a visa. You can apply for a residence permit if you wish to live in the UK after
   your studies.
 You will need a visa if you are on the ‘visa-national list’, which can be found at this
   website: or you can email me and I can find
   out for you. Also, a visa is required if:
           o You are from the territories formerly comprising the Socialist Federal
               Republic of Yugoslavia excluding Croatia and Slovenia
           o You hold a passport issued by the former Soviet Union of by the former
               Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
           o You are a stateless person
           o You hold non-national documents

More information on visas can be found at:

Medical Check-up
 Medical Forms – checked by your GP
 Chest X-ray
Your college will send you medical forms. Be sure to fill these in and have them checked
by your GP. Also take a chest x-ray and take it with you through immigration. There will
be a health check-up on arrival in Britain, and it could take up to four hours if your
medical forms are not completed and if you don’t have an x-ray.

Some colleges require this and some do not. But it is advisable to have this vaccination
because the age group 18-25 is most vulnerable. You can have the vaccination here in the
UK if you prefer – for free as well.

Getting to Cambridge…
From the Airports
You will be flying into one of London’s three airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted. All
three are linked to Cambridge by bus/coach (National Express and Jetlink) and by train.
I recommend taking the coach, especially if you’re flying into Heathrow because then you
don’t have to carry your luggage into the London Underground (tube/metro) system, and it
takes you right to Cambridge city centre (Drummond Street coach station). The railway
station, on the other hand, is about a thirty-minute walk from town, and you will need to
take a taxi to your college.
Heathrow:        Heathrow Express runs high-speed trains from
                  all terminals to Paddington Station from 0515 to
                  2340 daily. You then change to the
                  Hammersmith and City line (pink coloured) to       From 0700 to 2100 you
                  King’s Cross to go to Cambridge. This is the       will never have to wait
                  quickest route - about 30mins from Heathrow to      more than 40 minutes
                  King’s Cross. The train to Cambridge should           for the next coach
                  take around an hour.                                provided by National
                 Terminals 1,2,3 and 4 care connected to the        Express. It takes about
                  London Underground via the Piccadilly Line.         two hours 35 minutes
                  You need to get to King’s Cross and change           to get to Cambridge.
                  trains to reach Cambridge. Using this route, it
                  takes over an hour to go from Heathrow to
                  King’s Cross
Gatwick:         Gatwick Express trains will take you to            From 0500 to 2100
                  London’s Victoria Coach Station and from there     there are regular
                  you can take a coach up to Cambridge. From         coaches to Cambridge,
                  Victoria Coach Station, there is a bus to          again not more than 40
                  Cambridge every half hour beginning 0930.          minute in between.
                  Duration about 2 to 4 hours depending on how       Around 4 hours to get
                  many stops in between.                             to Cambridge
Stansted:        Stansted Express trains provide a fast and         From 0800 to 2330
                  frequent service to London’s Liverpool Street      there are regular
                  Station, where you can catch a train up to         coaches to Cambridge.
                  Cambridge. Train up to Cambridge should be         1 hour travel time.
                  just over an hour.

London to Cambridge
 There are regular trains from King’s Cross Station and Liverpool Street station.
 Coaches provided by National Express to Cambridge Drummer Street Station from
   Victoria Coach Station in central London

 National Express timetables for coaches to Cambridge are found here:
   Use the Journey Planner to find the exact times, and you can even book your tickets
   online, although usually you can buy bus tickets just before you get on the bus – they
   are hardly ever full.
 Train timetables can be found here:
 Another useful link for buses:

   1) It’s recommended to get a Young Person’s Railcard. For about £18 a year, you will
      get almost 30% off most train tickets. A day return ticket to London with this card,
      inclusive of one day all zones travel card costs around £10.
   2) National Express Coach Cards will get you good discounts on coach tickets within
      the UK
Once in Cambridge…
Setting up a bank account is probably one of the first things you should do upon arrival.
Different banks have different policies, and here is an outline of the basic features of back
accounts at different banks. Hopefully, you can find one that suits you best.

Where: Market Square
What you need to bring to the bank:
 Passport
 Headed and dated letter from your college addressed to Barclays (ask your tutor)
            o Confirming full name
            o Confirming course details
            o Confirming UK and Overseas Address including postcode
            o Signed by Bursar or the Tutor
This bank has two types of bank accounts you can choose from:
    1) Cash Card Account: This is the most basic account – you open an account, and
        Barclays gives you a cash card. That’s it. You can withdraw up to £300 a day, 24
        hours a day. But only if you have the funds available i.e. you’re not allowed to have
        an overdraft. The downside is that this does not come with a chequebook, or
        international phone banking, or a credit card.
    2) Student Solutions: This account comes with more service. You will be provided
        with a debit card, a Barclaycard credit card (which comes with Waterstone’s book
        vouchers), a chequebook, and international phone and Internet banking which means
        that you can access your account anywhere in the world. However, you must have
        £1000 permanently in the account.
For more information check their website:

Where: Market Square
What you need to bring:
 Your passport
 Proof that you have been an HSBC customer elsewhere in the world – they won’t let
    you open an account without this proof, so you must bring a passbook/bank statement,
    which additionally, must show activity within the last three months.
 Headed and dated letter from your college addressed to HSBC
            o Confirming unconditional acceptance to a course in University, duration of
            o Confirmation of UK and oversees address
Their Student Service account comes with a chequebook, debit card, credit card, guaranteed
interest-free overdraft of £1000 in the first year, free internet-banking, specialised student
insurance of £23 a year and discounted commission on foreign currency and travellers
For more information check their website:
Where: Benet Street
What you need to bring to the bank:
 Passport
 Headed and dated letter from your college addressed to Barclays (ask your tutor)
            o Confirming full name
            o Confirming course details
            o Confirming UK and Overseas Address including postcode
            o Signed by Bursar or the Tutor
There is a new Student Package 2003 promotion coming out in August. But the current
student account comes with cash-card or service-card, credit card, telephone and online
banking. You can withdraw up to £250 from a cash machine at any time with not extra
charge. NatWest does not allow overseas students to have overdrafts or chequebooks.
For more information, check their website:

Royal Bank of Scotland:
This back does not yet have a policy for overseas students, so you will be treated the same
as home students.
Where: Trinity Street
What you need to bring to the bank:
 Passport
 Headed and dated letter from your college addressed to Barclays (ask your tutor)
           o Confirming full name
           o Confirming course details
           o Confirming UK and Overseas Address including postcode
           o Signed by Bursar or the Tutor
 Your UCAS acceptance letter
The Student Royalties account offers you a credit card, interest-free overdraft of up to
£2000, and student insurance.

Unfortunately, Lloyds no longer accepts university letters as proof of address. Unless you
have any bills to prove your UK address, you will not be able to set up an account there.
Otherwise, take your passport with your bill, and they can set up a general account for you.

 Medical and Dental care is free for all full-time students
All full-time students at Cambridge are covered by the National Health Service (NHS) for
medical costs. The important thing to remember upon arrival is to register with a surgery (a
medical clinic) so that you have a doctor to go to when you are ill. Dental care is also
covered by the NHS, so be sure to register with a dentist as well.

   Eye-care –not covered by NHS
Eye-care is different. If you wear contact lenses, you will need to have a British eye
prescription before you can buy contact lenses here. So either bring some from home, or
you need to set up an appointment to have your eyes checked.

   Boots: The biggest one in Cambridge, located just behind Market Square
   Specsavers: In the shopping centre near the Bus Station

An eye check-up costs £22.50 and the contact lens fitting costs another £22.50.
However there are certain conditions where you can claim back your money, but these are
very particular, so be prepared to pay if you want to have your eyes checked.

Sainsbury’s is the main supermarket in Cambridge, and is located on Sidney St. Other
supermarkets are probably Marks and Spencer’s and Iceland, but these are probably more
Costs of basic foods:
Rice 1 kg – £2.19
Milk 2 pints – 56p
Eggs, half a dozen – 65p
Bread, one loaf – 65p
Orange Juice, one litre - £1.69

Special supermarkets – there are some specialist supermarkets in Cambridge (for example
Chinese supermarkets), most of them on Mill Rd. Here’s just a couple:
Winfield Chinese Supermarket: 58 Mill Rd.
Cho Mee Chinese Supermarket: 108 Mill Rd.
Nasreen Dar Halal Supermarket: 20 Histon Rd
Arjuna Wholefoods: 12 Mill Rd
Japanese Shop: Corner of Park Street and Jesus Lane, inside Jesus Shopping Forum

There is also an array of restaurants of different cuisines, Italian, French, Turkish, Chinese
etc. But these will be listed in the CUSU guide, which you will get upon arrival.

It’s a good idea to own a bike in Cambridge, especially when you have to rush to lectures.
At the beginning of each term, the Police Station holds a bicycle auction where they sell off
stolen bikes at very low prices. The date of the next auction is not yet confirmed but please
check back to our CUSU International homepage ( for

There are various bicycles stores around Cambridge:
Ben Hayward and Son: 69 Trumpington St.
Howes Cycles: 104 Regent St.
Cambridge Cycle Centre: 8 Botolph Lane
There is also a bicycle stall in Market Square that sells cheap bikes.

Phone Cards and Phone calls
The phone card is probably the cheapest way to make international calls. And the cheapest
ones you can buy are from the special supermarkets listed above. If you use these cards on
mobile phones or payphones you might have an addition surcharge of 10p a minute.
Mobile phone companies also offer quite good deals, but it may be better to go for a
company that most of your friends use, as call charges are much cheaper if you call to the
same network. Most of the mobile company stores are situated at Market Square.
There are four main ones in the UK:
   Orange
   T-Mobile
   Vodafone
   MMO2
Just walk into them and they will help you set up a phone account for you. You will have a
choice of:
  Pay as you go – where you buy credit to use, or a
  Service plan - where you pay a certain amount each month for a limited number of
     minutes and text messages.

It may be cheaper to go to retail stores such as:
 Carphone Warehouse
 Phones4you

To set up a land-line in your room:
 For BT: Call BT (British Telecom) at 0800 800 150 and they will help you set up a
   phone line in your room. If there already is a line, then you can your telephone number
   from the Porter’s Lodge of your college. But you will still need to set up a billing
   account by calling the same number.
 For NTL: Plug in your phone into the line in the wall, and it will connect immediately to
   the phone operator of NTL to set up your account details.

Household Goods
If you decided to buy your household goods (crockery, bed linen, telephone) in Cambridge,
there are a couple of stores you can go to:
Argos – This is probably the best place to get your goods – very cheap. It’s in the shopping
centre near the bus station, near Specsavers. You can order online to reserve goods before
you go as well:
BHS – this is probably the cheapest place to get them. It’s in the Grafton Shopping Centre.
Marks and Spencer’s – a little more up-market but good quality guaranteed. It’s in right in
the middle of town, in Market Square.
Robert Sayle – again, a little up-market, but still reasonably priced. You’ll find it on Regent
Street and you’ll definitely see it coming from the railway station.

Freshers’ Week!

Before term starts, there will be a couple of days for Freshers to settle in and make friends,
and all colleges will have organised many parties and activities. We encourage
international students to come a little earlier than the home students as this will give you
more time to settle in and feel more at home when term starts.

To make show you how much we welcome you, CUSU International has organised a few
things during Freshers Week.
Pick up service!
Starting from 2nd October to the 5th, we will have representatives of CUSU International
waiting for you at the railway and bus station to welcome you to Cambridge. That’s how
much we would like to meet you! Make sure you look for our Booth! We will be at the
station from 7 in the morning till 7 at night. However, if you are arriving at Cambridge
outside these hours, please email me (Shan Yee, Freshers officer or Leah Aw, Welfare
officer) and we will work something out.

If, by sheer bad luck, you manage to miss us, then please logon to our website
( and register on our mailing list so that you can be
informed of all our social events throughout the year! And of course, if you have any
problems, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Early Bird Cambridge Crawl
On the 5th of October, CUSU International will bring you around Cambridge to show you
where the most important places are. Do come along! We will be meeting in front of Café
Nero’s at Market Square from 2 – 5pm.

Freshers Fair
Every year at the beginning of term, there is a huge fair at Kelsey Kerridge where everyone
signs up for societies and clubs that they would like to take part in. Make sure you come to
this fair, for this will shape much of your life when you’re not studying! You will be able to
see a list of societies in the CUSU handbook, as well as on the Cambridge University
website. Also, you can also visit our own CUSU International stall and pick up a term
card listing all of our events!

International Freshers Squash
This is your chance to meet other International Freshers. On Sunday 12th October, come for
drinks with CUSU International from 2-5pm and meet people from all over the world,
who are Freshers just like you!

Surgery Hours
The Welfare Officer (Leah Aw) and myself (Shan Yee Fok) will be holding weekly surgery
hours next year. The times are not yet confirmed but keep an eye on our website for any

That’s all folks! Well, I do hope that you have found the information useful.

If there is anything I haven’t covered, please email me (international- and I will get back to you right away.

As for now, I do hope you’re psyched up about coming to Cambridge. It’s a fantastic place
to study, and I’m so sure you’re going to have a blast here!

CUSU International looks forward to meeting you in October!

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