Freshers Guide 2012/2013
…adapted from all the Freshers guides before
Where things are cheaper (usually home!!)
Internet & Laptops
- Passport. Ensure that its validity is longer than your intended staying time. Make sure you have photocopies of your passport stowed away somewhere safe in your luggage.
- A valid visa in your passport.
- Letter of acceptance from University of Edinburgh.
- Financial statement. This can be either a statement from your bank or sponsor. A bank draft of sufficient money (meaning quite a large one) might suffice.
- A health certificate showing that you are in good health. You can get a copy of the medical examination form from the British High Commission for your doctor to fill up. You will need this to get through customs.
- An X-Ray. Request the X-ray from the doctor performing the above examination for you.
- Address of your accommodation in Edinburgh. If not confirmed, just use the Pollock Halls address. Pollock Halls of Residence, 18 Holyrood Park Road, Edinburgh EH16 5AY
- Directions to get to your accommodation.
- A senior’s UK contact number, just in case.
Textbooks are in general 2-3 times more expensive in Edinburgh. (It is quite ironic when you open the book and it reads, “Printed in Singapore”!) Most people borrow textbooks from the college library and departmental libraries, which are quite well stocked. However, the latest editions are often on short-term loans, which allow you to only have that book for a few hours. Most of the textbooks can be bought from Popular Bookshop, Clementi Bookstore and the NUS Co-op. You may wish to purchase second-hand textbooks from seniors at discounted prices. Experienced seniors or department reps may be able to help you.
Some courses (e.g. Logic 1) have textbooks that you don’t ever have to use. Check with seniors or the Course Reviewer to check before you get your books.
All halls come with an Internet connection – Starting September 09 most will also come with wireless access. In Pollock Halls, wireless access is available in pantries and common rooms but it is still recommended to use a network cable for connectivity in your room. You’ll require a network cable (category 5e UTP cable) to connect to the network socket. It is much cheaper to get this cable from Singapore (if you ever require them), Pollock Halls and shops sell these at exorbitant prices. Some of your seniors might also have extra ones to give away. Laptops are useful, but large-screen desktops are pretty awesome for games. Many people (not Singaporeans though) bring both.
Computer labs are available in the University campuses and Pollock Halls of Residence. Appleton Tower has 3 floors of labs open 24/7 for students in the school of Informatics.
Stationery is much more expensive in Edinburgh. Try bringing all the pens, refills, mechanical pencils and compasses etc that you’ll need with you. As a gauge, a pen costs about £2. You might like to consider bringing some foolscap paper, as it is quite pricey in Edinburgh, and paper quality is generally lower (i.e. 60-70gsm compared to the 80gsm usually available in Singapore). You may get them at about £1.99 per book. The cheapest foolscap paper is found in Sainsburys at Cameron Toll. Some departments require drawing equipment like Tsquares, flexicurves, scaled rulers. It is not necessary to buy this equipment as you can always borrow them from seniors.
Graphic calculators aren’t allowed in exams, but they’re useful to check assignment answers with.
The power sockets and voltage ratings in Edinburgh are the same as those in Singapore. Printers, speakers and monitors can be obtained in Argos, Curry’s, PC World, Maplin or ebuyer for reasonable prices. Some online shops provide free delivery too. An all-in-one printer with print, copy and scan function costs around £30. A basic printer costs £20. Printer ink cartridges cost at least £8. USB thumbdrives and external hard drives will probably come in useful.
The library and other places around campus offer printing for around 5p per page.
Like most major cities, Edinburgh does sell toiletries. You can buy them in supermarkets, Boots, Semichem and other shops.
Moisturiser and lip balm are advisable. It gets very dry, especially in winter. Both are cheaper in Singapore.
Some brands such as Shokobutsu, Darlie and Ginvera etc. are not available in Edinburgh. If you are particular about the brands you use, confirm with seniors before bringing your whole year’s supply along. Also, Colgate costs about 2-3 times more in Edinburgh.
Most medicines are readily available from high street pharmacies like Boots (equivalent to Guardian Pharmacy) without prescription. In Scotland, students are granted free medical consultation under the coverage of NHS (National Health Service). You may not want to see a doctor for minor illnesses though, so bring along (or buy) some Panadol and other general medication.
The selection of Chinese herbs in Edinburgh is very limited and expensive, but Aihua Supermarket does sell pi pa gao for an exorbitant price!
If you live in Pollock Halls, you get to use a microwave and toaster. If you live in self-catered accommodation, you get a stove, grill and oven. Things you might want to bring/get:
- A Rice Cooker. They can be bought at Argos for £20, but the range of rice cookers available is limited. Rice cookers aren’t allowed in your room in Pollock.
- A set of cutlery and chopsticks. Mugs can be bought for £0.5-2.
- Tableware such as plates and bowls. These are reasonably priced in Argos and Ikea. As low as £0.15 each.
- Saucepans / wok / pot. You can buy them in Argos, Ikea or supermarkets. [£5 – £15 each, depending on quality]. Self-catered accommodation comes with an electric stove, so food in a wok won’t cook as well as it does over flames in Singapore.
- You may also want to bring some of your favourite foodstuffs and seasonings like Bah-Kut-Teh and curry powder, claypot rice paste, chicken rice paste etc. However, please do check what you are allowed and not allowed to bring through customs.
Bring along your IC or driver’s licence as proof of age to enter pubs and clubs. This saves you the hassle of having to use your passport. The international student identity card (ISIC) is not accepted as proof of age. If you have a driving license, it’s not necessary to bring your IC overseas (which is safer in case you lose your wallet in Edinburgh).