Alfred from our SU Welcome Desk has compiled this handy guide for incoming International students covering everything from where to eat, how to register with a GP and what to bring!
So you’re coming to study at Goldsmiths! Now what? Despite a worldwide pandemic you have pulled through and received an offer to come and study at Goldsmiths. The nervousness of flying away from home to come to live in a strange new city is heightened by the fact that you want to make sure you have a mask and hand sanitiser ready for your flight to the UK. But what else should you prepare for?
If you’ve managed to get a place in halls, then congrats! And don’t worry about communal living. By the time you get to Goldsmiths, the campus will have undergone more security and safety tests against Covid-19 than you did to get on the plane. Living in halls is also a great opportunity to meet new people with a whole set of interests and who come from all over the world, just like you!
If you’re going to live in private accommodation, make sure to use our Goldsmiths SU Housing Facebook page, where you’ll find potential flatmates to team up with as well as plenty of potential rooms and flats.
It’s also wise to give a look at the University of London Housing Services as well, since they also have many rooms and flats advertised and provide all sorts of essential information and support for students who are looking for accommodation.
The boring/important stuff...
Don’t forget to go on Mygoldsmiths to download your council tax exemption letter if you are studying full-time - you don’t want to pay for it until you have graduated and have a job (in all honesty, you won’t want to do it even then!)
If you don’t come from an English speaking country you want to make sure you do your IELTS before you enroll. Hopefully you have done the exam already, but if not, it’s not too late! Just look for the next available date in your country.
More boringly, you may want to book yourself an appointment for a NI number if you plan to work in the UK while studying. If you don’t know where to start with that, just follow this link. Speaking of enrolment, make sure you bring along your equivalent of your A-Levels, or anything else that the University has requested. Enrolment will be online this year but you want to make sure to have a copy for peace of mind!
Your personal health...
At Goldsmiths there is the opportunity to sign up to a local GP as well. Check GP surgeries close to where you’re living and sign up. For sexual health clinics, especially if you are LGBTQ+, you may want to check out Dean Street and Cliniq, they offer a great, free service and you need to drop in there just once to sign up and get treatment. Of course for more questions you can ask our Welcome Desk team, who also can sign you up for a free condom scheme and who will be more than happy to help you with any other queries you have about sexual health.
If you are trans and are worried about the name that you will have to use for your enrolment, we just want to let you know you have the opportunity to request for your preferred name to be used on the register and VLE. If you also want your degree with your chosen name, it is actually fairly easy to do so (and with that also get your preferred name registered with your bank account and GP). You can apply for a Deed poll. It costs around £20 and is easy and straightforward to apply for. Just consult this link to learn more.
Money and finance...
You will also want to open a bank account! While it will be free and easy to do with almost any bank (Santander even has a branch in the campus, and Barclays is a good choice as they are basically everywhere), I would 100% recommend to open a online bank account with banks like Monzo. Not only because you can do it from home, but because you can use the card even back home as it doesn’t have any currency exchange fees - you will save so much money.
Food and drink...
Now before you leave home and friends behind, you may want to look in the pantry and think hard. Is there any long-life food item that you especially love? You may want to bring one pack of that spice or pasta with you for your first two weeks there, just in case the only place in London where you can find it is some West End market that will charge you three times more for it.
If you cannot do that, do not lose all hope. You are actually quite lucky because in South London there are plenty of ethnic markets and shops. New Cross, Greenwich, Forest Hill, Peckham and Crystal Palace will provide all the ingredients you need whether you are Polish or Chinese. And for the Italians, Crystal Palace and Dulwich have great restaurants and shops where you will find orecchiette and bufala mozzarella that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!
Get to know the local area...
While South London is unique and perhaps more scruffy on the surface than the fancy streets and markets in the West End, deep down it is a green paradise that will provide you with delicious food and great pubs. You will eventually want to explore the world outside the Goldsmiths/New Cross bubble (which can often provide you with all you need to have a good time out), so don’t fear the unknown - take a 10 minute bus,and go local!
Nunhead Cemetery can be reached on foot and is a gorgeous, gothic, Victorian gem where you can go for a stroll and philosophise. You could go all the way to Hyde Park (and you absolutely should, at least once) but around you there are many gorgeous green spaces with colorful high streets and great second hand shops. Peckham Rye is a few minutes away by bus and Peckham High Street offers roof bars and small charming restaurants tucked under the rail arches.
A bus will also take you to East Dulwich, which has plenty of pubs and restaurants to offer as well as the Picturehouse Cinema. With the Overground you can get to Forest Hill in less than 10 minutes and go visit the Horniman Museum, free and just as good as the British Museum - plus it has a much nicer and greener garden! And then, a couple of stops after Forest Hill, there is Crystal Palace. The palace is not there but there are still ruins in the park, which itself is gorgeous and has sculptures of Victorian dinosaurs and a huge sports centre.
Few people know that Crystal Palace also has a Sunday market which is just as groovy as Camden Market and also much less plagued by tourists. The same goes for lovely Greenwich, which has also a beautiful park and two (free!) museums: the Naval History museums and the Queens House, where they do LGBTQ! History events through the year.
Of course you will realise that London is huge and has so many things to offer that it would take a whole book to list them all. The bottom line is, the areas around New Cross are great, so make sure you fully enjoy it. And since it is also cheaper than Central and West London, your wallet will also thank you. In exchange, you will support an economy of small businesses, a huge number of them owned by entrepreneurs and lovely folks from various BAME backgrounds. What more could you ask for?
Hopefully now you are more prepared and even more excited for this new adventure. And if once you are in London you need more advice, get in touch with us and our welcome desk team - they will always be happy to help you!