Updated: Jan 6
Given the chance to travel to the UK for studies was a life-changing experience. I had to prepare myself ‘big-time’ for my new life abroad. Although I was able to perfectly convince myself (emotionally) of the many possibilities of living by myself, no one gave us guidelines on what to anticipate.
With innumerable firsthand encounters, it would be a shame not to share it with you. Just like the old saying goes, when in Rome, do what the Romans do. So, to help you out in starting your brand-new journey, here are a few tips for Fil-Global members bound for the UK:
1. Stop converting everything into Philippine peso (₱).
One of the most common mistakes an OFW or international student do is to convert every amount into peso. If a fast food meal costs five pounds, go ahead and pay without using your phone’s calculator. Remember, you’re in another country and the cost of living is different from the one you got used to - the Philippines. You are earning more and paid by the hour so it’s okay to use one hour’s worth of work pay to treat yourself.
2. Stand on the right side at all times.
When standing on walkalators and escalators, always stand on the right side and be polite. The left lane is reserved for people who are in a rush and have the need to walk through you. The same goes for vehicles, the right lane is dedicated to slow-moving cars while the left is for those who need to go at higher speeds.
3. Be prepared to be an extrovert and socialize as much as possible.
If you are used to being shy and have tried to avoid social gatherings back home because you’re never a social butterfly, this time you must do the opposite. Keep in mind that you are in a different country, you have no loved ones or relatives to help you with certain matters so you should make new friends.
I got my first job not by flooding the internet with my CV but just by hanging out with my new housemates who quickly turned to be my newfound friends. British people love to party. That time, there were non-stop social gatherings and I had to accept every invitation because I know new connections can be a big help.
Although, of course with COVID going on, things have changed temporarily. But that doesn’t mean socializing isn’t possible! Conversations are now taken over the internet through chat apps or video calls and it’s another way of meeting new people and building relationships. This pandemic won’t last forever! So, when the time comes when people are allowed to meet physically, remember this tip - socialize as much as you can.
4. It’s okay if you aren’t very fluent in speaking English.
If you’re never comfortable with your English, never fret! You will be surprised that more people speak worse than you. The UK is a melting pot of many races and cultures. People from all over the world visit this place for work, studies, or migration. Some speak broken English and have various accents. You may even have trouble understanding them too and that’s the fun part about it because for once in your life, you will never have to worry about your capability in speaking English.
5. Let your smartphone be your tour guide.
Your smartphone’s GPS will surely come in handy in locating places. The public transportation system in the UK is top-notch. You can just type in the postcode and your smartphone’s navigator will tell you where to go and which buses, tubes, and trams to take to arrive at your destination.
If you aren’t tech-savvy, now’s the time to start learning the functionalities of your phone’s GPS. Personally, when getting around London, it’s that one gadget I’m too afraid to lose.
6. Always bring a jacket and an umbrella.
In the UK, the weather can be very unpredictable. The sunny morning can make you feel confident about how the rest of the day would go, but the dark cloudy skies at noon time will make you realize you were wrong. You can never tell when the next rain shower will fall so be prepared just in case.
7. There’s no need to change your diet, Rice is everywhere.
Can’t live without rice? It’s a good thing that every off-licence (small convenience stores), including huge supermarkets offers this Filipino staple food. Rice meals are commonly sold in restaurants especially those offering Chinese and Indian cuisines. If you’re craving Filipino food, you can find Filipino restaurants commonly at China Town.
8. Your debit card is as good as cash, be sure to secure one.
Paying for goods and even transpo has never been so easy in the UK. You don’t have to worry about being out of cash, though you can easily find ATMs almost everywhere. Off-licenses, even small purchases, will allow you to pay via debit. To be honest, I haven’t encountered one shop in my entire stay in the UK that doesn’t accept debit cards as a mode of payment.
9. Time is gold, even for bus stops - always be on time!
Filipinos have a bad habit of being late. We are used to meeting people an hour past the time set, and this extends to our professional life. Generally, we tend to be considerate about it and move on with the same habit. But if you’re heading to the UK, be prepared to start being on time especially when you’re riding the bus.
The UK’s transport system has an advanced tech system that allows one to know where your bus is at and how many minutes are they expected to arrive at each bus station. Though there are buses that offer 5 or 10-minute intervals of the same route, unfortunately, there are those that arrive in 30-minute intervals. Missing that bus could mean a disaster for your planned activities.
10. Be courteous and polite at all times.
Such a trait isn’t new to us Filipinos. However, for British people, they’re extra vocal about it. So vocal that you’ll be left wondering if they meant what they said, or was it the other way around? You’ll find a lot of locals overusing the word ‘sorry’ for almost anything, ends their statement with ‘please’ for every request, or starts it with ‘would you mind’.
Getting all intrigued about the life in the UK? We have study and internship programs for business and healthcare applicants that offer a 100% job guarantee after course completion. It’s the most famous pathway for those wanting to be residents and citizens in this fascinating country! Want to know more? Contact our friendly agents and have your CVs assessed now.
That’s about it! I hope you’ll find this guide useful on your upcoming journey to the UK. It could be scary thinking about how you’ll be able to survive in a foreign land all by yourself, but I made it! That makes you capable as well! Fear isn’t a reason for you to stop pressing on your dreams. Studying, working, and living abroad is one hell of a ride, nobody would want to miss it for the world.