Freshers: Before Leaving

Freshers Guide 2012/2013

…adapted from all the Freshers guides before


Before Leaving             Bring/Buy?             Clothes             Settling In

Before Leaving

Visas, Flights and More

Getting an Unconditional Firm offer

Applying for Accommodation

Immigration and Visas

Banking and Money Matters

Medical Matters

Pre-Departure Checklist

Getting an Unconditional Firm offer

Sometimes the University takes an insanely long time to process information/transcripts/grades. If they ask for an English qualification, SAT works but you have to get it approved. Whatever you need, call them. Seriously. Things happen quickly when you call.

If you haven’t applied for accommodation yet, here is a short overview of the types of accommodation offered:

  • Catered Accommodation (Pollock Halls): John Burnett House is the most expensive and probably the most luxurious of them all. Chancellors Court is slightly less pricey but has an active night life – expect to see people taking cabs out every night to different clubs (there’s a different “designated-posh” club night every day of the week) – but is new and shiny, and is en-suite. Holland House and Masson House are less shiny, but still en-suite. The other houses are roughly similar, but Grant House has a reputation for being shit, mainly because it’s literally situated in the shadow of Chancellors – not to mention having the main entrance nearest to the dumpsters at the cafeteria, John McIntyre Conference Centre (JMCC). People can’t seem to come to a consensus about food there. Some people think it’s fine, others think it’s crap, but its interior looks decently nice even if the food may be horrible.There’s a microlab, a tiny library like room, and music practice rooms in Holland House open to all who live in Pollock Halls. Almost every house has a common room equipped with a table tennis table and a piano. Each house also has pantries for you to store your food in. People might steal it. In conclusion: Pollock gives you food if you can’t cook and keeps you close to roughly 40% of the first-year population, but if you want proper meals in the middle of the night or think 15min is a trek to the main campus, you may want to consider self-catered.
  • Self-Catered Accommodation: Most self-catered accommodation looks roughly similar on the inside – Some have larger hallways (like Darroch Court) and others have strangely shaped roofs (Robertson’s Close) but they’re essentially the same. In 4 person flats there’s a toilet and a bath (in separate rooms). In 5 person flats there are 2 bathrooms, one with a toilet and another with both a toilet and a bath. 6 person flats have 2 fully equipped bathrooms. Accommodation also occasionally runs small in 2 person flats or large in houses with 15-ish people.Some pots and pans are provided in the kitchen, together with a kettle, but not a toaster. Self-catered accommodation tends to have less fire alarms than catered, in case you don’t want to get out and wait in the cold at 4am.The most important thing when choosing self-catered accommodation is location!!

In all honesty, the chances of you getting your first choice are slim. The chances of you getting any of your choices isn’t that great either. But most people like their accommodation in the end, so don’t worry too much about it!!
If you’ve applied for accommodation and haven’t gotten a letter by July/August, you may want to call up the Accommodation Office. Alternatively, you can always write or send an email to them. Fret not, all international students are guaranteed a place in university accommodation. However, should you not have a roof over your head, please inform any of the seniors. We will definitely arrange something for you.

Another thing to do before you leave for Edinburgh is to apply for internet access. This can only be done after you have received your accommodation offer – full instructions on how to apply come with the offer. If you apply early, you should technically have internet access the moment you step into your room. In reality, the information they want you to fill in will probably change, so you won’t have internet anyway. If that happens, copy the information again and send it to one of the seniors who will help you register, or do it at an internet cafe.

If you’re wondering whether to buy a bedding pack for £30, you can get cheaper and nicer bedding elsewhere – unless you mind the inconvenience or just need some assurance of comfort for your first night.

Contact for University of Edinburgh Accommodation Services:
Mail: Accommodation Services
Reception Centre, Pollock Halls
18 Holyrood Park Road
EH16 5AY
United Kingdom
Phone: + 44 (0)131 667 1971
Fax: + 44 (0)131 667 0330
*further contact details available here

Immigration and Visas

Exit Permit (Singaporean Males only)

Nsmen should apply for their exit permit online through or from Exit Permit Office in CMPB or Safra Tampines. Pre-enlisted or Disrupted Servicemen – please check with CMPB or MINDEF.

Student Visa Application

If you are not an EEA national and you intend to stay in the UK for more than six months, you will need to get an entry clearance or visa before you travel. Details on the application procedures, fees, and documents required can be found here (link to external site).

Take note that visa regulations for international students have been tightened slightly starting in the 2009/2010 year, so you might want to settle it earlier, just in case. It shouldn’t take more than a week or two though, based on past years.

Banking and Money Matters

Prepare your bank draft / money order / statement early. They are usually valid for a few months. Excluding school fees but including accommodation, an average student in Edinburgh spends about £4500 – £6000 over 9 months. Remember to bring enough cash to tide over the first month while the bank clears your bank draft and set your account up. Unless you have an international student bank account, you should bring about £1000, which will definitely last for at least a month. Due to the influx of new students to Edinburgh during the first few weeks of the term, banks will take about 1-3 weeks to process your application depending on the bank and branch. Some seniors have experienced worse, so just bear with it.

If you want to save the initial hassle, you can set up an international bank account with HSBC. There are two outlets in the city centre, but they are slightly more inconvenient to get to compared to Scottish & English banks.

Medical Matters

Go for a full medical check-up and a chest x-ray. Request for a medical certificate. Tell them that you are a student going overseas. For the bespectacled, go for an eye check-up and buy an extra pair of spectacles. Consultation of such services is expensive and you can hardly get a decent pair of spectacles comparable to the prices of spectacles in Singapore. Contact lens users are advised to bring extra saline and multi-purpose solutions as these costs about £4 – £5 per bottle. You might want to get a flu vaccination. Meningitis vaccination is important for students living in the UK. You can get this vaccination for free, at University Health Service, located in the university.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  1. Have you applied for University accommodation? If so, and you have had this confirmed, remember to bring your accommodation contract. Don’t forget to carry this contract in your hand luggage.
  2. Check that your passport is valid and not about to expire. Take a photocopy of your passport (pages with your personal details and your visa page).
  3. Apply for a visa for the period of your study in the UK (if you are a visa national), or Entry Clearance for all other non-EEA countries.
  4. Make your travel arrangements and remember your travel tickets. Labels for your luggage. Note that airlines in the UK are strictly enforcing hand baggage policies so only carry the minimum through security.
  5. Make a list of the contents of your luggage for insurance purposes.
  6. Weigh your luggage to ensure that it is within your baggage allowance.
  7. Vaccination certificates, if required.
  8. Any prescribed drugs you are taking and a letter from your doctor explaining what they are for.
  9. Financial information (bank statement/sponsor’s letter). Don’t forget to carry these documents in your hand luggage. Bank reference or a letter from your home bank.
  10. Bring some travellers’ cheques and some UK currency for about 4 weeks.
  11. Driver’s Licence (if appropriate). Information here. (information from external site)
  12. Clothes/shoes (including warm/waterproof clothing). September can be cool and rainy!
  13. Sporting Equipment (if desired).
  14. Passport-size photographs: we suggest approximately 6 for various purposes. There are booths available here but they are expensive.

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