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What should I be bringing with me to the UK?

ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
edited September 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
So, I'm going to be studying abroad in Edinburgh this semester, and my plane flies out this Tuesday. Exciting!

The airline I'm taking allows for about 100 lbs worth of stuff, though in truth I probably only have about 70 lbs worth of space (seeing as there is also a 62 inch dimension limit, which essentially means I can only have one "big" bag and another small one, and each bag can only weight 50 lbs). If I go over any of these limits I'd be looking at $100 in fees, which would suck.

Obviously, space is an issue, and I still want to be as prepared as I can for this semester. Preferably, I'd like to avoid having to spend an obscene amount of money in the UK when I could be saving on buying those things in the United States.

For example, I've been told to stock up on contact lens fluid, because apparently the stuff is much more expensive in the UK than it is here. I've also been told to buy most of my clothes here, because it can get significantly more expensive in the UK, especially if I were to plan on buying an entire winter wardrobe (which I don't).

Is there anything else like that which I really should be trying to stuff in my luggage to save on expenses? On the flip side, what are the things I can afford to just buy when I get there? I know I'll be buying pillows and bedsheets when I get there, for example, because those things would take up way too much space in transport, and it'd probably be more cost-efficient to just get it there.

ChopperDave on
3DS code: 3007-8077-4055

Posts

  • Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User
    edited August 2007
    When you get there make sure you have a cup, a fork and a knife.

    I know it's not the same with all programs but my program in Ireland moved around a lot and there wasn't always a guarantee that we'd have access to utensils (because we often had access to kitchens we usually cooked our own food and trying to deal with hot water using a plastic utensil just doesn't fly).

    Edit: I picked each of these up for about a euro a piece (stainless steel flatware and a glass sifter).

  • FibretipFibretip Registered User
    edited August 2007
    when you get to the uk seek out a big Tesco, or a Woolworths. In there you should be able to get all your pillows, bedding, plates, knives, forks etc nice and cheap. Failing those check out an Argos, they often have pretty decent prices on basic stuff. Tesco also sell pretty decent cheap clothes, along with Primark and Peacocks ($9 shirts etc) not the greatest quality obviously, but I lived in their clothes most of my way through school, so they're the best option if you're looking to get new gear once you're here for cheap.

    I believe in angels, not the kind with wings, no...not the kind with halos, the kind who bring you home
  • PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Hey,
    I just graduated from the University of Edinburgh and have lived in Edinburgh for the last 5 years, so please feel free to direct any questions my way :-)

    First off, what Uni/Course are you going to? If you know what campus you're studying in that would help too.

    Are you staying in university halls of residence? If so which one. If not, do you have a flat organised?


    Everything is much more expensive in the UK at the moment, so yes, anything non-perishable that you see yourself needing you should bring over with you. Edinburgh is also a very expensive city to live in (compared to other parts of Scotland). Although once you get your bearings, it becomes a lot cheaper!


    R.e. pillows and bedsheets and stuff, that sort of depends where you'll be living. My girlfriend stayed at Pollock Halls of Residence last year (which is University of Edinburgh catered halls of residence) and I think they supplied bedsheets and things. They only had a tiny pantry with a toaster and a microwave so not much opportunity for cooking.

    If you give me a few details about where you'll be staying though I can let you know how easy it will be to pick things up :-)

    You'll love this city though! It's braw :-)

  • BaldHermanBaldHerman Registered User
    edited August 2007
    How much contact lens fluid do you need? Unless you're buying it by the gallon then the difference is going to be insignificant.

  • GenuineEntropyGenuineEntropy Registered User
    edited August 2007
    I live in the UK and often work takes me out to the states. You've got the major money savers listed in your first post: clothing and pharmaceuticals. If you plan on calling home a lot, make sure to pick up one of those dial-abroad cards as international phone calls in Britain can cost a fortune.

    Oh, and bring money. Lots of money. Scotland isn't quite as bad as England, but it's well know that the UK is one of the most expensive places to live in Europe.

  • ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Ponge wrote: »
    experience!

    I will be over at Warrender Park Road, which is a self-catered flat. Which...might not have been my brightest decision, seeing as I can't cook for beans. But I AM closer to Old College than King College, thankfully, seeing as I'm a humanities major.

    My family is paying for a study abroad program, and one of their optional extras was to buy bedding materials, so that's been taken care of. Right now I'm thinking of packing (if I can fit them all):

    -a bunch of t-shirts (I'm a tshirt and jeans guy)
    -3 long sleeve shirts (i've been able to brave new england winters in just a tee, jeans, and heavy coat, and I usually just wear these under my tees if it's REALLY cold. figure i can buy some cheap ones over at Wools if need be)
    -one heavy coat
    -2 or 3 pairs of jeans (the things have a tendency to add a ton of weight if you have too many)
    -2 pair khakis
    -2 dress shirts (if i ever want to go to a trashy club...which i probably won't)
    -1 sports coat ensemble
    -underwear and socks

    plus:

    -dopkit with toiletries i can use for the first few weeks (toothpaste, toothbrush, razor, shampoo, etc, etc).
    -5 or 6 tubes of my medicated topical creme (no other medications)
    -4 or 5 bars of doctor-recommended soap (Purpose, do they have it over there?)
    -3 or 4 bottles of Renu

    also, bringing my acoustic guitar. i'm assuming there are music shops in the area and that i won't have to bring my own strings/maintenence equipment...

    anything important that i'm forgetting? anything i can afford to buy over there?

    3DS code: 3007-8077-4055
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    if you're taking any gadgets, travel power adapter with transformer block. if any devices you're taking are dual voltage (which you can check on the power adapter), then you only need a plug adapter.

    there are these space-saving storage bags you can get from container store (walmart may have cheaper versions) that help to pack clothing/bedding (http://www.containerstore.com/browse/Product.jhtml?CATID=251&PRODID=67055). you've probably seen infomercials for them. they break easily but they should last you the trips there and back. probably not a good idea for the sportscoat though.

  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Ponge wrote: »
    experience!

    I will be over at Warrender Park Road, which is a self-catered flat. Which...might not have been my brightest decision, seeing as I can't cook for beans. But I AM closer to Old College than King College, thankfully, seeing as I'm a humanities major.

    My family is paying for a study abroad program, and one of their optional extras was to buy bedding materials, so that's been taken care of. Right now I'm thinking of packing (if I can fit them all):

    -a bunch of t-shirts (I'm a tshirt and jeans guy)
    -3 long sleeve shirts (i've been able to brave new england winters in just a tee, jeans, and heavy coat, and I usually just wear these under my tees if it's REALLY cold. figure i can buy some cheap ones over at Wools if need be)
    -one heavy coat
    -2 or 3 pairs of jeans (the things have a tendency to add a ton of weight if you have too many)
    -2 pair khakis
    -2 dress shirts (if i ever want to go to a trashy club...which i probably won't)
    -1 sports coat ensemble
    -underwear and socks

    plus:

    -dopkit with toiletries i can use for the first few weeks (toothpaste, toothbrush, razor, shampoo, etc, etc).
    -5 or 6 tubes of my medicated topical creme (no other medications)
    -4 or 5 bars of doctor-recommended soap (Purpose, do they have it over there?)
    -3 or 4 bottles of Renu

    also, bringing my acoustic guitar. i'm assuming there are music shops in the area and that i won't have to bring my own strings/maintenence equipment...

    anything important that i'm forgetting? anything i can afford to buy over there?


    Hah, I live on Warrender Park Road :p Really nice area actually. Probably the best part of Edinburgh to live in. There's loads of music shops around so you don't need to worry. Clothes aren't that expensive if you're willing to put up with stuff from supermarkets etc. There's a couple of nice small shops really close that are great when you just need to pick up stuff in a hurry.

    Everything in the UK is more expensive, it's just something you'll have to get used to. Otherwise the only other real tip I have is bring a laptop, or if not at least a portable hard-drive with all your music and movies on it.

    Word to the wise, this is Edinburgh, it's going to be cold. It get's very windy, and very wet. If you've got a favourite hat and scarf, now's the time to pack them.

    edit: You probably now more about freshers week than I do, but make an effort to go out to as much stuff as possible and join as many societies you think you might want to turn up to as possible.

  • corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    We do have soap here you know! Hehe.

    As has been said, as long as you buy in a big supermarket things here in the UK aren't too expensive. Be prepaid for $5 cups of coffee and so on though.

    Ad Astra Per Aspera
  • ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    corcorigan wrote: »
    We do have soap here you know! Hehe.

    As has been said, as long as you buy in a big supermarket things here in the UK aren't too expensive. Be prepaid for $5 cups of coffee and so on though.

    Well, I was asking about a very specific brand of soap, called Purpose. It's got benzyl peroxide in it, very handy for keeping acne at bay.

    I'm bringing my laptop (and shoes, too, forgot to mention them *facepalm*). Probably won't bring too many DVDs, seeing as my laptop will be the only place I can play them. Bummer that I can't buy anything over there with the region-restrictions :/

    Also, I guess I'll have to meet up with you cats while I'm there, especially Rook. Seeing as we're basically neighbors.

    3DS code: 3007-8077-4055
  • jungletekjungletek Registered User
    edited September 2007
    Probably won't bring too many DVDs, seeing as my laptop will be the only place I can play them. Bummer that I can't buy anything over there with the region-restrictions :/

    Fear not the buying of foreign DVDs. Have a look at this link for easy ways around region coding. (Apologies in advance to mods if linking to such things isn't kosher... I been away from here for a while)

    I prefer DVD Region+CSS Free personally, but find one you like. Enjoy, have fun at school mate.

    there's a sprite commercial where lebron james is just waving his dick at a bunch of 4-year-olds
  • FibretipFibretip Registered User
    edited September 2007
    yeah we're not as anal about region coding here in the uk. My $35 dvd player plays all regions without any fiddling. Check out amazon uk once you're here... almost everything they stock is region free. the chances are anyone you make friends with will have a region free player that you could use, i can't think of anyone i know that doesn't.

    only problem you'll have is sometimes places have super old tv's that can't support NTSC signals, so you'll possibly be watching in black and white

    I believe in angels, not the kind with wings, no...not the kind with halos, the kind who bring you home
  • FawkesFawkes __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2007
    -a bunch of t-shirts (I'm a tshirt and jeans guy)
    -3 long sleeve shirts (i've been able to brave new england winters in just a tee, jeans, and heavy coat, and I usually just wear these under my tees if it's REALLY cold. figure i can buy some cheap ones over at Wools if need be)
    -one heavy coat
    -2 or 3 pairs of jeans (the things have a tendency to add a ton of weight if you have too many)

    Oh ho ho. See the error you are making there is that, I imagine, you can survive new england winters in just a tee, jeans and a heavy coat because when you are indoors, the US tends to have halfway decent heating in winter / air-conditioning in summer. This does not apply in the UK. Especially in older universities, like Edinburgh. Especially in humanities departments which usually haven't been refurbished recently like the new-fangled science places. Also:
    Rook wrote:
    It get's very windy, and very wet.

    That's the bit that will likely mess you up more than the cold. Think 360' drizzle for at least 13 months of the year. If you don't like being wet, prepare some kind of waterproof clothing, or cover yourself in ducks.

    Aside from that, you can actually get plenty of the stuff you are bringing quite cheaply in the UK. Been a while since I was Stateside & know the dollar is high, but there are plenty of shops on Princes Street in Edinburgh where you can get decent but cheap jeans, shirts etc, places like Topshop, H&M or such. IE the jeans I'm wearing right now were £15 ($30?) from the Topshop there.

    jclast wrote:
    Well shit. To the edit-mobile!
  • WeeSneakWeeSneak Registered User
    edited September 2007

    figure i can buy some cheap ones over at Wools if need be


    Do not nickname our stores Yank, we done that, and we call it "Woolies", not Wools.

    Jk, but really, find out about washer/dryer facilites at where you are going to be living, if there is none, i guess you will be out a fortune at the Dry Cleaners.

    sigmh7.jpg
  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    If Edinburgh is much like the rest of the UK I would highly advise you to bring a pair of dress shoes (I think thats what you americans call them, I mean a pair of nice black leather shoes). If you end up going to bars, clubs etc then as a guy if you arent wearing nice shoes there is a strong chance you wont get in. Wearing decent shoes is (at least in England) your passport to all the nice places.

    Believe the people who tell you scottish weather is a bit wet and horrible in the winter, bring a decent waterproof coat.

    Honestly there is nothing that you cannot get in the UK, its just that there is nothing that you are going to like having to buy in the UK. If you can bring it, then do.

    Your puny weapons are useless against me
  • BaldHermanBaldHerman Registered User
    edited September 2007
    tbloxham wrote: »
    If Edinburgh is much like the rest of the UK I would highly advise you to bring a pair of dress shoes (I think thats what you americans call them, I mean a pair of nice black leather shoes). If you end up going to bars, clubs etc then as a guy if you arent wearing nice shoes there is a strong chance you wont get in. Wearing decent shoes is (at least in England) your passport to all the nice places.

    Being told you can't come in because "there aren't enough girls with you" is the biggest kick in the teeth. :(

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    tbloxham wrote: »
    If Edinburgh is much like the rest of the UK I would highly advise you to bring a pair of dress shoes (I think thats what you americans call them, I mean a pair of nice black leather shoes). If you end up going to bars, clubs etc then as a guy if you arent wearing nice shoes there is a strong chance you wont get in. Wearing decent shoes is (at least in England) your passport to all the nice places.

    Not really the case in Glasgow, and I haven't been out a lot in Edinburgh, but when I have I've never had trouble wearing my manky Merrell trainers. Still, probably worth considering depending on your typical choice of drinking haunt.

    Regarding weather, wear layers, because as previously mentioned, a lot of places don't have the most effective heating. You don't want to find yourself in a situation where your choices are baking in a heavy jacket, or freezing in a tee. Make sure that any sort of outdoor jacket is relatively windproof as well, especially in Edinburgh. Their speciality is freezing winds that'll cut through fleece and wool like it wasn't there.

  • ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Alright, looks like I should be on the lookout for (1) light wind breaker and (1) sweater to supplement the one I will be bringing. I'm beginning to think I might just buy some cheap long sleeve tees and a sweater or two when I arrive, shouldn't be too bad on my wallet. I was already planning on bringing my hiking boots, which have proven quite effective at keeping out the rain/snow back in Massachusetts, so there's that. Also, guess I should be on the lookout to bolster my wool socks collection?

    I'm still not THAT worried about the winters, because my college is one of those older establishments in the states that also happens to have awful heating. I've had to spend more than a few nights heating myself in my dorm room with a breaking/broken heater with the weather at 10 degrees F outside. Our humanities buildings were....drafty, as well (and of course, the heated buildings were WAY too hot). We're also prone to some pretty ridiculously crappy conditions like flash snowstorms, hail, and freezing rain (oh god freezing rain).

    I'm thinking that if I can handle cold, wet weather that's an average minimum of 10 degrees F, then I can probably handle cold, wet weather with an average minimum at 30 degrees F. But we'll see. I'm sure this wind and rain you fellows are talking about will make me eat my words.

    I have an American friend who's in Edinburgh who says that casual shoes in most of the pubs aren't a problem. Apparently the only places my Vans will preclude me from are the "up-scale" clubs, and I'll probably be avoiding those most nights anyway.

    3DS code: 3007-8077-4055
  • FawkesFawkes __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2007
    I'm still not THAT worried about the winters, because my college is one of those older establishments in the states that also happens to have awful heating. I've had to spend more than a few nights heating myself in my dorm room with a breaking/broken heater with the weather at 10 degrees F outside. Our humanities buildings were....drafty, as well (and of course, the heated buildings were WAY too hot). We're also prone to some pretty ridiculously crappy conditions like flash snowstorms, hail, and freezing rain (oh god freezing rain).

    You'll probably be fine then. The weather isn't exactly extreme, the constant grey rain & lack of sunshine is more mentally debilitating than physically. This is where pubs come in, and you will have no problem getting in there wearing sneakers (NB: pronounced "tray-nerz"), it's only the clubs that get pissy.

    jclast wrote:
    Well shit. To the edit-mobile!
  • PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Yeah the poncy places like 'Why Not' and 'The Opal Lounge' can have dress codes, but pretty much everywhere else won't mind. Potterrow and Teviot (both in Bristo Square, which is close to Old College) will probably become your best friends during freshers week :-) They're the student unions and very cheap and cheerful.

    My friend stayed in Warrender Park and says it's great. I lived in Marchmont (the area Warrender Park is in) for years and my Girlfriend lives on Warrender Park Road and it's probably the best student area in Edinburgh. Not much in the way of shops, but there's absolutely no trouble, and you're right beside the Meadows (think Edinburgh's much smaller version of Central Park).

    As was said before, do all the freshers week activities that you can, you'll no doubt meet some great people there :-) I got involved in the Untapped Talent music society ([url]http://www.untapped-talent.co.uk)which[/url] is all about getting artists together to start bands and put on gigs. They put on a free gig in freshers week so you should definetly check that out if it sounds interesting to you.

    Self catering is the much better choice to be honest. The food at Pollock Halls of Residence is a little bit crappy, and it's so much better being able to eat when and where you want each day. You should check out Edinburgh Bargain Stores on South Clerk street when you get here, it sells pretty much everything you'll need (cutlery, plates, bedding, candles etc) and it's nice and cheap. Theres an ikea outside of town that organises free buses from Bristo Square during freshers week.

    Princes Street is okay for shopping, but truthfully Glasgow is much better for that if you're going to go further afield.

    The Uni Gym is a real bargain too if you're into that. I think it's £80ish for the entire year, so much cheaper than the other places in Edinburgh.

    What course is it that you're studying? I'm guessing maybe Law since you mentioned the Old College?

  • ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Ponge wrote: »
    As was said before, do all the freshers week activities that you can, you'll no doubt meet some great people there :-) I got involved in the Untapped Talent music society ([url]http://www.untapped-talent.co.uk)which[/url] is all about getting artists together to start bands and put on gigs. They put on a free gig in freshers week so you should definetly check that out if it sounds interesting to you.

    Oh geez, that sounds awesome. Can you tell me more about this?

    It's unfortunate, because due to shipping constraints and expenses I can only afford to bring one of my instruments (I have an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and pedal steel guitar). I long ago decided on bringing my acoustic guitar, since that takes up the least space and requires pretty much no set-up, but now I'm wishing I could bring all three, cause I'd love to play in a band while I'm there. My pedal steel has made me pretty sought-after on my own campus, not too many people play that thing and its a cool sound to have...
    Ponge wrote: »
    The Uni Gym is a real bargain too if you're into that. I think it's £80ish for the entire year, so much cheaper than the other places in Edinburgh

    Glad to hear, I was hoping I could get a cheap gym membership while I was there. How far is that from Warrender Park Rd?
    What course is it that you're studying? I'm guessing maybe Law since you mentioned the Old College?

    Right now I'm going to be studying Scottish Lit, Linguistics, and International Law. Though I'm hoping I can maybe transfer into a course in Arabic and/or Human Rights in International Law. I understand that Old College tends to be more Humanities oriented and Kings College more science oriented which is why I mentioned them, but I might be talking out of my ass.


    Can anyone explain to me the benefits of the student union over there? We don't have these over here in the US, seeing as we're not a bunch of goddamn commies :lol:. My study abroad adviser keeps on mentioning that I need to get a travelling students' membership with one and that it can give me shopping discounts and certain stores, but I wouldn't mind knowing a little bit more about my options.

    3DS code: 3007-8077-4055
  • PongePonge Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Well officially the students unions are there to campaign for our rights and stuff, and they do that a bit. But mostly they just run the 4 bars (2 at bristo square, 1 at the pleasance, and 1 at Kings Buildings) that are very, very cheap. Theyre great fun most nights.

    You should check out the Untapped Talent website http://www.untapped-talent.co.uk because they really are a great society. Ive not had much to do with them for a year or so due to time constraints, but they really do a good job. They have a practice room down at the Kings Buildings which is free for members (you can book it in 1 or 2 hour slots) with a drum kit and amps and P.A set up. Its not the most amazing of kit, but it's decent enough. Their website is probably the best place to set up a band, just post on their forum and especially during freshers week when it's really busy you should get plenty of replies.

    You're right about the colleges too, Bristo Square/Old College is the humanities campus, and the Kings Buildings are the Science buildings.

    There is a discount card that you can get for 15quid or so from Sta Travel, but honestly, your University of Edinburgh card will get you loads of discounts.

    The gym is about 20 minutes walk from WPR or about 5 minutes from Old College. It's at 'The Pleasance' which is another student union.

    Definately go on as many pub crawls as you can in freshers week (if thats your thing), and go say hi to your neighbours in WPR.

  • FawkesFawkes __BANNED USERS
    edited September 2007
    Can anyone explain to me the benefits of the student union over there? We don't have these over here in the US, seeing as we're not a bunch of goddamn commies :lol:. My study abroad adviser keeps on mentioning that I need to get a travelling students' membership with one and that it can give me shopping discounts and certain stores, but I wouldn't mind knowing a little bit more about my options.

    Student unions essentially provide cheaper services (ie gyms etc), organise extra-curricular societies & sports teams, and provide lots of cheap alcohol. The union is specific to the university you attend, there aren't lots of national student unions around that you pick and choose from. I'm not 100% sure about Edinburgh, but when I was at university student union membership was automatic and free. They made money from the bars & you paid to join societies etc, so it's run very much on a pay-for-use basis. Also they aren't nationality specific afaik. If you're an enrolled student at Edinburgh, you should have a student union membership just like everyone else, shouldn't be any need for travelling membership or whatnot - to be honest, sounds like your study abroad adviser is a bit confused. Either that or things have changed a lot in the last 5 years.

    EDIT: Here you go - http://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/

    Pretty sure that's the one. Ponge can correct me if wrong. Looks like you just pick up your union card in freshers week, then that's it.

    jclast wrote:
    Well shit. To the edit-mobile!
  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I recently moved to the UK, so these things are still a little fresh in my mind (and in some cases unresolved!)


    1) Like any place really, you need to work on getting your name on mail addressed to your residence - doing this helps you prove that you are actually a regular person who can be trusted to borrow books from a library, sign up for banks, utilities, mobile phones etc - Possibly your college will help with this.

    2) Banks - Sort this out before you come over if you can - and by that, I mean try and open a bank account for the UK while still in the US. If you can't manage this, then bring over bank statements (official ones, with your name and old address on it) and that will help you get a bank account at some places ( HSBC seems to).

    3) Working - I have no idea if you are able to work with your visa (if you have one), or if you even intend to, being a student and all. But if you do, then you will need to get a National Insurance Number, or suffer slightly higher tax rates on your income. In London it can take well over a month between booking an appointment and actually having it, then it can take a while for it to actually get granted (3 weeks and counting for me lol:()

    4) Medical -You will probably have a student medical service, but if not, you should register with a doctor. You can find doctors at the NHS website (www.nhs.org iirc), but your college may also have a list. Pays to sort this out early, just in case, rather than after you get sick. Oh, and I've found Boots (a pharmacy chain) pretty good for medication and the like - they even sell ok food, like sandwiches)

    5) Stop converting dollars to pounds, it will only make you sad

    6) If you can afford it, plan a trip somewhere nice early on - can help if you are having issues with a new city. Maybe rally a posse and go deal to that punk Nessie?

    7) Some books, movies and games are inexplicably delayed before release in the UK. Fuck knows why, but it happens reasonably often, and if you are from the US you may not be used to this. It can be so bad that I've found in a couple of cases even NZ beats the UK for stuff.

    8) Coffee - So far as I can tell, most coffee in England is espresso (Scotland might be similar), if you like it the other way, you might have to specially request that (I know an American guy who does this all the time in London)

    9) If you are from the US then you might want to prepare yourself for extensive debate about your country's ruler, system, foreign policy choices, history, culture and the like. That seems to follow American students about, possibly because students (especially when drunk) like to discuss/argue this kind of thing?

    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Kalkino wrote: »
    2) Banks - Sort this out before you come over if you can - and by that, I mean try and open a bank account for the UK while still in the US. If you can't manage this, then bring over bank statements (official ones, with your name and old address on it) and that will help you get a bank account at some places ( HSBC seems to).

    I don't recommend worrying about opening a bank account while in the US. You will get charged good money for the privilege, and won't see any real benefit from it. You'll want to go with the bank with the most cashpoints around, and the best deals for international students. Having moved from UK->US and UK->NZ, both times I opened the account when I arrived.

    The trick is to bring enough money in traveller's cheques so you can live and pay expenses for about a month (two weeks minimum) and have your parents signed over as having authority on your US bank account, then have them wire all the cash you want/need to your UK account.
    9) If you are from the US then you might want to prepare yourself for extensive debate about your country's ruler, system, foreign policy choices, history, culture and the like. That seems to follow American students about, possibly because students (especially when drunk) like to discuss/argue this kind of thing?

    They like to discuss it because they don't understand that the US is nothing like the UK. When all the media output is from New York/SF/LA, who have cultures and ideals similar to the UK's viewpoint on things, when someone like George W Bush gets elected twice, they don't understand. And the British love a good scapegoat.

  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Oh sure, if you have the right documents with you, you can get a bank account in 30 minutes, and your ATM debit card in a week. But without the right documents it seems to be a lot harder.

    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Kalkino wrote: »
    Oh sure, if you have the right documents with you, you can get a bank account in 30 minutes, and your ATM debit card in a week. But without the right documents it seems to be a lot harder.

    One would hope that if you are moving to a new country you had properly sorted out your documents :)

    OP: Make a folder full of polypockets with all the documents you think you could ever possibly need. Carry it with you everywhere during the first couple of weeks when you set stuff up. That way, you won't ever be surprised by a request then have to trudge all the way home to get a piece of paper and then go all the way back.

  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Be careful with cash machines. We have a bizarre system set up where most of the banks and building societies are on a network called Link, which allow you to get money from, say, a HSBC machine if you're with NatWest. However, independent commercial enterprises can also access the Link network, and you'll see stand-alone cash machines in convenience stores or bars (run by someone like Bank Machine) that aren't attached to any bank per se.

    The difference with this is that the ones that are attached to a bank are free - those that aren't, are not, and the costs can vary from £1 to £3 for the privilege of gaining access to your own money.

    Make sure you read the instructions on the screen carefully and usually, if it's going to charge you, there's one round the corner that won't.


    It's also worth familiarising yourself with 'Chip and PIN'. I have absolutely no idea if the US operates a similar scheme, but the gist of it is that when you pay for something with plastic, you type in your PIN number on a keypad to authorise the sale rather than signing your name. Just make sure you keep your PIN covered when you type it.

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  • ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Willeth wrote: »
    Be careful with cash machines. We have a bizarre system set up where most of the banks and building societies are on a network called Link, which allow you to get money from, say, a HSBC machine if you're with NatWest. However, independent commercial enterprises can also access the Link network, and you'll see stand-alone cash machines in convenience stores or bars (run by someone like Bank Machine) that aren't attached to any bank per se.

    The difference with this is that the ones that are attached to a bank are free - those that aren't, are not, and the costs can vary from £1 to £3 for the privilege of gaining access to your own money.

    Make sure you read the instructions on the screen carefully and usually, if it's going to charge you, there's one round the corner that won't.


    It's also worth familiarising yourself with 'Chip and PIN'. I have absolutely no idea if the US operates a similar scheme, but the gist of it is that when you pay for something with plastic, you type in your PIN number on a keypad to authorise the sale rather than signing your name. Just make sure you keep your PIN covered when you type it.

    Sounds like you guys have it easier than us. I have to find an ATM run by my own bank at all times, or else I have to pay a $2 or $3 fee. Would these ATMs on the Link network not charge me for an American network?

    And yes, we operate with PINs, so I'm cool with that.

    edit: I should take the time to say that everything regarding insurance, passports, class registration, etc has been taken care of by me or my program (IFSA-Butler). So no need to recommend me to take care of the necessities.

    This thread is mostly about I should and shouldn't be putting into my luggage for moving in. Or, what clothes, perishables, etc should I be packing, and what can I afford to leave behind and just buy at Edinburgh.

    Question for those of you who have been to the university (in other words, Ponge) - how often should I be planning on getting dressed formally? I know St. Andrews does formal parties often, and I'm not sure if that's a sort of tradition that Edinburgh follows at all. It'll mean the difference between me packing, say, 1 dress shirt/tie/slacks combo or 2 or even 3.

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  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Well, the above was all if you already had an account with a UK bank. I have no idea about Link machines charging you for international withdrawals, but I do know that it's up to whoever runs the machine. Someone at your embassy will know, though. In fact, stopping off at your local UK embassy before you leave (or the American one once you arrive) would be a brilliant idea if you're not going to do that already.

    Oh, and I suggest that if you have anything like a cellphone or your DS/PSP, that you pick up charge cables that draw their power from USB. It saves you having to fiddle about with converters and whatnot and you can still use them when you go back home.

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  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Willeth wrote: »
    Well, the above was all if you already had an account with a UK bank. I have no idea about Link machines charging you for international withdrawals,

    They do.

    And your home bank will probably charge you too.

    Wiring large amounts of money is cheaper, and will have a better exchange rate.

    Be very wary of taking money out from a US account in the UK, avoid it if at all possible.

  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    1 dress shirt/tie/slacks combo or 2 or even 3.

    I haven't been to your uni, but one combo should be fine for anywhere that isn't Oxbridge, and even then you don't really need more than one.

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