Preparing For Uni? Stop Stressing Out!
University is a big word. It is a big word because it carries so much determination, expectation and accomplishment with it wherever it goes. If you aim to go to university, then you probably know the feeling it evokes when you even think about it.
There’s stage 1, where all you do is think about it, it’s like a crush that never goes away. With stage 1, you continue to work hard to achieve the grades you need. After that comes stage 2, which is when you actually get accepted to University. This is the beginning of what seems like a never-ending preparation for 3 or 4 years of your life. It is, however, not as never-ending as it may seem at first. To put it into perspective, so many before you have done it, so why can’t you? Fret not, I’m here to help.
Step 1: A basic Google search
As the acceptance letter sits beautifully on your now very cluttered desk, you need to start finding out more about where you’re going. Of course, you will have (hopefully) already done this before you applied. However, there’s always something new to discover or learn about a place. I’ve been in Malaysia my whole life but it seems like there’s always a new spot in the city to hang out in. Start with the University itself, followed by an online exploration of the city that you’ll be living in. This includes the weather.
If you feel unsatisfied with a basic Google search, start making friends. Most Universities create Facebook groups and Twitter accounts. There are usually even Facebook groups for your on campus accommodation, if you choose to live on campus. This way, you get to meet or at least talk to some your fellow freshers. I have found that this is the best way to shake off a bit of the pre-University nerves. You get to meet loads of people that are in the same place as you which makes you feel less alone in this uphill battle. You might even get to meet some people that you may already know, or people that are flying off to university from the same country as you.
More often than not, these Facebook groups and Twitter accounts allow you to ask as many questions as you want about the university and the city. You’ll get current students answering your questions personally. So ask away – ask about the city, ask about the campus, ask about the best places to hang out in. As a student, sometimes the best answers comes from other students because they know what a student might be interested in. A travel website can tell you the best places to visit as a tourist, but a fellow student can tell you the best places to visit on a student budget.
Step 2: Getting Your Visa Done
The answer to your question is yes, it is stressful, but only if you don’t know where to start. Take it from me, you should ask the people who have already been through the process. There is a 100% chance that they will tell you that the process isn’t as stressful as it seems on paper. First, find the Visa websites for the country you’re going to and find out which type of Visa you will be needing.
If you’re planning on studying in the UK, you will most likely need a Tier 4 Visa. Here’s a website that will guide you out of the abyss and hopefully get you a successful Visa application – http://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/malaysia/. You can also ring Malaysian British Educational Cooperation Services (MABECS) and their consultants will answer all your queries regarding your UK Visa Applications. The contact details can be found HERE
Upon receiving your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studience (CAS) from your university, you will have to submit an online application. Fill in the online form, get a tuberculosis test done from the assigned centers (there is a specific list approved by the UKBA which can be found HERE), make an appointment with the Visa office and make sure you have all your documents. Last but not least, show up for your appointment on time! All of this is stated on the website given. After all that, you’re all set!
Step 3: Shopping & Packing
There’s a reason ‘check the weather’ is included in step 1. In order to go shopping, you need to know what to buy and what you already have. Otherwise, you will be spending loads of money on things that you probably won’t need. Keep track of weather forecasts so you know if you’ll need a jumper or a hat. Know yourself before you shop or pack. The golden rule of packing is asking yourself the following: “Am I going to shop there?” If you’re anything like me, you probably will. Aim to be financially and spatially savvy, do some research, ask around, compare the prices of clothing items in the country you’re in and in the country you’re going to. Chances are, super thick coats are probably more expensive in tropical Malaysia than freezing-cold England. You can also take it to another level and find out when all the sales are.
When packing, take a minute to explore your room and reevaluate your belongings. What do you really use and need on a daily basis? Is there ever a time that you’re going to need that particular thing? If not, then why bring it along? Remember, you are charged a whole lot of money for excess baggage. To ensure you’ve packed right, ask someone else to go through your luggage i.e your mother. They’ll probably nitpick and ask questions, and if you can’t answer why you need a particular item, then you don’t need it! And never ever choose last minute packing as an option – I did and I have regretted it since.
Lastly, weigh your luggage before you leave for the airport. Missing your flight and/or paying extra money is not a fun start for the long journey you have ahead of you.
Step 4: Flying Off
Before leaving for the airport, do the usual check your parents always do before a trip. Passport, travel documents, boarding pass, medication, cash, a book or two, gadgets. Make sure that you have everything you need before your journey. Make sure that you are at the airport at least 2 hours before your departure time.
Ultimately, begin your journey with a positive attitude and embrace the adventure. Even though for some it may seem purely academic, you’re still embarking on a new adventure every time you do something new.
And remember, university preparation doesn’t have to be stressful. So many others have done it before you and they’ve made it through. So, start Google-ing!
Siti Hasmah Charles Mok is an 18 year old adventure enthusiast. She will be studying law at the University of Sussex in Brighton. She’s obsessed with film, books, music and everything fashion. If you ever see her, do say hi!