International Students

What to Expect

Going to university abroad can be both exciting and intimidating. Like any other fresher, you will have to adapt to the new working environment and worry about making new friends. As an international student, there is a chance you might experience a culture shock on top of this as well. Acclimatising to the notoriously changing English weather, adjusting to the hearty English cuisine, and understanding what people around you are saying with all the various British and foreign accents can be very overwhelming.

Fortunately, Keble is known to be one of the, if not the, friendliest colleges in Oxford! The college's environment is very warm and welcoming as well as open to accepting people from all backgrounds and from all around the world. This will hopefully help ease your acclimatisation process to this new (and rather different) chapter of life.

Do not fret, no one will force you to assimilate to British culture, although it might be difficult to do anything about the weather... (which, on that note, most of us start off with being ever-prepared with an umbrella every time we leave college but eventually give up and just brace for the rain). Moreover, there are lots of international societies in Oxford (most countries have their own societies), where you can meet like-minded people who share the culture you are used to, and get recommendations about where to find your home country's cuisine in Oxford.

We do however recommend that you come to Oxford with as open a mind as possible. Adaptability is the key if you want to make the most of your university experience. If you are willing to try out new stuff, you will quickly realise that you can experience some of the most amazing things and meet some of the most interesting people in Oxford.

Before Arrival

International students generally have to deal with a lot more administrative issues than domestic students.

Most importantly, you have to ensure that you hold a valid British Visa which will last for the duration of your entire course. The Visa you need is most likely a Tier 4 (general student) Visa. Details about this can be found on the UK government's website. If you hold an EU/Swiss/Norwegian passport you do not have to worry about a Visa, but should remember to apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in your home country before departure.

You will also need to open a UK bank account once you reach the UK, because college Battels (accommodation and college fees) have to paid fairly early on in the term, and this is a lot easier from a UK bank account. Appointments can be made with the banks directly to facilitate this process. Some banks may take longer than other, and/or provide a smoother process, so do try to check them out and perhaps decide earlier which of the various available banks would suit you and your needs best.

In terms of transferring money from your home country's currency to UK pounds, I can highly recommend TransferWise, which allows you to exchange currency at the market rate against the small fee, which will save you a lot of money compared to traditional bank transfers.

Bringing some warm clothes can be a good idea, as it will get quite cold during the first term. Don't worry too much about wasting luggage space on more practical things, kettles, bedding, hangers etc., as these can easily and cheaply be purchased in Oxford. Boswell & Co is a good place to hunt for homewares, electrical appliances and daily essentials that Tesco does not offer, whilst WHSmith is well-stocked with stationary.

The same applies to books as well. All books you will be requested/want to read during your course can be found in either Keble's own library or the central, Bodleian, libraries. But, of course, if you want to buy a copy for yourself, you can easily purchase them in the bookstores in town, such as Blackwell's, or utilise Amazon to get them shipped to you straight to college.

There are two 'international supermarkets' in Oxford that we usually go to, one near the train station, and the other in Cowley. Other than that, there is quite a fair selection of restaurants offering international cuisines around Oxford, as well as shops/stalls in the Covered Market and at the Gloucester Green market.

Freshers' Week

Freshers' week is the introductory week where all new students are welcomed to the university, and get a chance to meet each other, as well as getting a feel for the college and university as a whole before work starts the following week. The week will be packed with activities of all sorts. Many students choose to go out to bars and clubs in the evenings, but at Keble we make sure there is always an appealing alternative to this.

Either way, make sure to enjoy yourself doing this week, as there is a lot to do and it is a good chance to cut loose a bit before work starts properly. That being said, you don't have to worry too much about making friends (and finding your best ones) right off. Most long-lasting friendships form after the madness of Freshers' week have died down.

As mentioned, we recommend that you do your best to be to meeting different people, and try your best to participate in college life - going to the college's dining hall and JCR meetings or signing up for college clubs and societies are all great places to start. Your college parents and subject reps will be always around if you need any help or advice, and Keble has a great support network that you can rely on. You can think of Keble as your new family, now that you're so far away from home. As with all families, you'll need to do your part to make the most of it, but the support and experiences you'll share in return will be priceless.