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CUSU International Freshers’ Guide for overseas students Contents: 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 email@example.com Secretary Dheer Mehta firstname.lastname@example.org Academic Officer Christian Kim email@example.com Social Officer Earl Deng firstname.lastname@example.org Publicity Officer Mai Yasuhara email@example.com Welfare Officer Leah Aw firstname.lastname@example.org Freshers Officer Shan Yee Fok email@example.com 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: http://www.cusu.cam.ac.uk/international/ 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. Gowns 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 stores: 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. Visas 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: http://www.ukcosa.org.uk/pages/advice.htm 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: http://www.ukvisa.gov.uk 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. Meningitis 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 Timetables: National Express timetables for coaches to Cambridge are found here: http://www.nationalexpress.com/neh.cfm 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: http://www.cam.ac.uk/cambarea/trains/ Another useful link for buses: www.gobycoach.com Tips 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… Banks 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. Barclays: 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: http://www.international.banking.barclays.com/student/main.html HSBC: 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 study 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 cheques. For more information check their website: http://www.banking.hsbc.co.uk/personal/students/student-service/default.htm NatWest: 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: http://www.natwest.co.uk/frontpage/dhtml/index.htm 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. Website: http://www.royalbankscot.co.uk/ Lloyds: 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. Website: http://www.international.banking.barclays.com/student/main.html Healthcare 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. Food 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 up-market. 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. Bicycles 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 (www.cusu.cam.ac.uk/international) for updates. 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: www.argos.co.uk 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 (www.cusu.cam.ac.uk/international) 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 updates. 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- firstname.lastname@example.org) 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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