ParcelHero’s Survival Guide: An American Student in London

It’s that time of year again, when students across the States think about the new semester. September will bring big changes for any student thinking of moving from America to study in the UK. Hopefully, you’ve already received an acceptance letter, but if you’re looking at options, here’s a complete survival guide to moving from American to study in the UK from the ParcelHero® team. We’ve covered everything from visa requirements to student shipping. If you’re wondering what to pack, we’ve also devoted a section to wardrobe essentials, so you arrive suited and booted for that famous British weather.


Where to Study?
Perhaps, you are thinking of studying in one of London’s many international universities or  you’ve applied for a study abroad program this autumn. Keep in mind if you apply to a British university, they do not accept SAT or Act scores. Most British universities require ‘A levels’ in their entry requirements.

If you are considering completing an undergraduate program in the UK and returning to the US once the course is finished, it’s worth considering a dual accredited program. Richmond, the International University in London offers dual accreditation in the UK & USA while around the UK, Glasgow University is renowned for its Vet Fee Pass program, which links to US universities like Purdue, Penn and the University of Connecticut. Don’t just think of short-term goals like getting greater international exposure, think how the program will help you achieve long-term professional and academic goals. Will you be able to network with alumni or apply for international internships?


Visa Requirements & Healthcare
Student visas take some time to arrange and will require certain documents, including proof of how you will support yourself in the UK. Visit the government’s section on student visas for more information. There are many private hospitals in Britain, which accept international insurance. However, most visitors use NHS public facilities. Check with your insurance provider before travelling.

Work or Travel?
How will you spend your time when you are not studying? If you will be working, most student visas do not allow students to work more than 20 hours a week. However, thanks to the reach of the digital world it’s possible to work and travel with freelance projects online. Websites like and are good places to look, but you will need to follow their payment, tax and profile guidelines.

If you are lucky enough to spend your non study time exploring the rest of Europe or hopping on the Eurostar to Paris, consider purchasing a Eurail pass, which allows you to visit many European countries with discount fares. The pass is valid for 28 countries and most train services.


What to Pack?
Besides the obvious essentials like toiletries, sheets, a backpack and your laptop, you’ll need plenty of warm clothing (until the summer term anyway). Any clothing bearing a ‘waterproof’ or ‘water-resistant’ label is always useful. as you may know, the weather in the UK can be somewhat unpredictable. It’s possible to experience four seasons in one day. Any British label like Barbour or Hunter is a great place to stock up on British wardrobe essentials, or check out ASOS for cheaper alternatives. In amongst your fave frocks or funky sweats, make sure you have included:

  • Wellies (Rain boots)
  • Jumpers (Sweaters)
  • Plenty of Trousers (Pants)
  • Windbreakers, Ponchos (packaway)
  • Parka, Pea-coat or something woolly, with a hood (coats)
  • Hat, scarves & gloves
  • Umbrella


Avoid Excess Baggage Fees at the Airport
Many Americans are shocked by the strict luggage allowances for European carriers. If you take a second connection flight within in the UK, the baggage allowance will be stricter. To avoid paying excess baggage fees , many students opt to send their bags with a courier to their student hall. ParcelHero’s door-to-door luggage delivery service is ideal if need to send household items, extra clothing or books to your student accommodation. Once the year is finished, you can arrange for your items to be picked up by a courier and delivered back home to await your return. How many extra ‘jars of ale’ can you enjoy in the student bar with your savings?


This is a big dilemma for many students and the primary drain on the student budget. Life on campus can be cheaper, saving you the expense of paying electricity bills, council tax and other bills. Getting a bank account and renting can be difficult for students in the UK. Most banks only allow a basic account, while some agencies require students to pay 6 or 12 months upfront. One of the main advantages of living on campus is the facilities. With a computer lab, food halls and the advantage of being close to all your friends and teachers, it’s worth considering living on campus at least for the first year, until you get adjusted to British life and have set up a bank account.

If you do decide to live off campus, it provides invaluable experiences as it gives students the chance to make local friends and truly get the most out of their study abroad experience.


Network Effectively
Don’t get bogged down in student life. Use your time effectively in the UK to network with businesses, organisations and contacts in your field of study. Many employers are looking to employ students in apprenticeship or internship schemes. If you gain international employment experience, this will make your CV or resume stand out to future employers. If you have some employment experience, set up a student LinkedIn account now. Don’t wait until after graduation, many recruiters are looking to employ students in part-time positions.

Moving to the UK will be a big change for any student. Hopefully, with our survival guide, you’ve got the basics covered, so you can concentrate on making the most of a great opportunity in a great country in a great continent.

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