14 December, 2011

Some Thoughts on Getting Ready

I hope you don't find this cheeky, but where I would normally write a new blog post about getting our incoming spring 2012 students thinking about money (accessing it abroad, forms to carry it, paying rent, etc.), I'm going to direct you to a blog post I wrote on this very subject last June by clicking here.

Instead, let's take a quick look at the pile of things on your mind right now.
  • I got my visa!/I haven't gotten my visa yet!/I have my student visitor letter!/I haven't gotten my student visitor letter yet!
As I think I start most of my emails, that's great news if you have your visa!  If you haven't already let us know that you have it, please email the London Center.  If your visa is a work in progress, there's no need to start sweating.  Let us know if you have any questions about the process.  Student visitors, if you should have a student visitor letter and don't yet, contact International Programs.  They should have everyone's letters.  These are only needed for students who are not getting visas and do not carry an EU passport.  If you are getting a visa you should not have this letter.
  • I've heard about my work placement (internship)!/I haven't heard about my work placement!
Some people know where they will be working some don't.  It's the nature of the beast.  Some sites take longer to get back to our coordinators than others.  Some students' fields of interest are difficult to find placements in.  All I can say is that our coordinators want to find the best fit they can based on the forms you filled out on our website.  And our best advice is to be open minded.  Placements are easier to find, and often provide more work for students to do, at smaller companies rather than large.  Placements are also harder and harder to come by in the current climate.  Unemployment seems to be spreading like plague.  Work placements are part of the cultural exchange of studying abroad, so even if the work isn't exactly what you had in mind, there is always something to be learned from every experience, even if the lesson is that this isn't the kind of work you want to do.  For the most part our students are happy in their placements, though, so again, please don't sweat this.
  • What do I pack?
Very good question, start with the practical aspects.  What is the luggage/weight limit of the airline?   Research this so that you aren't surprised by surcharges at the airport.  What's the weather like?  If you ask me, it's a cold winter here in London.  It's not a snowey Ithaca winter, but it's chilly and windy.  How much should I pack?  You're coming over for 4 months and will have the ability to do laundry, so don't weigh yourself down with your entire wardrobe.  Bring what you wear to class (aside from pajamas, no one really wears those out of the house in London like they do in college towns) and bring something appropriate for your work placement.  Bring comfortable shoes (some people swear by their rain boots, some say they were a waste of luggage space), most classes utilize London and don't spend the entire semester in the classroom.
  • When do I register for classes?
I promise that's a work in progress.  It is a very busy time in International Programs and Rachel will let everyone know as soon as she can.
  • Where will I live?
Bill has sent out details for a couple student housing options which can be prearranged (Foundation for International Education and Anglo American).  Please drop us an email if you would like more info about these options.  Another option is a home stay.  This means living in a family home somewhere in London.  You often have your own room, and depending on the arrangements this may or may not also include some meals.  As usual, email the London Center if you would like more information.  If you plan on flat hunting during orientation week start thinking about a housing group.  Some students have already started posting on our Facebook group, this is a great forum to get in touch with most of your spring 2012 ICLC classmates.
  • What am I forgetting?
If you would like an ISIC card, do this through OIP as the one you get in America before you arrive comes with insurance.  Plan your budget before you get here.  Rent is advertised by week but usually paid by month.  To figure out your monthly rent multiply the weekly amount by 52 (weeks) and then divide that by 12 (months).  Your deposit is also about 4-6 weeks more of rent (this should be returned to you at the end of your stay).  During fall 2011 our students' rent ranged from about £110-170 per person per week.  Familiarize yourself with the terms Council Tax and TV Licensing.  You are full time students so you are exempt from paying Council Tax, but YOU MUST APPLY FOR YOUR EXEMPTION.  Anywhere that has a television has to buy a tv license.  This fee keeps the BBC commercial free, and not paying can lead to a fine in excess of £1,000.  It can be paid monthly, or the landlord/estate agent may have already paid it.  It is important to know where you stand, because TV Licensing doesn't care if you plead ignorance.  You can't do these things before you arrive, but they may be foreign concepts, so we are raising awareness early.

This on top of finals, and probably loads more thoughts are circling in the developing whirlpool of your mind.  Please don't stress about any of it!  Stay aware of everything going on.  Read people's Facebook posts on our group page, read our emails, read the news.  We want you to find your feet in London as soon as you hit the ground.


PS- The fall 2011 group wishes you well in their new adopted city and sends this message to you:

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