02 September 2014

Made It Out Of America - What's Next?


I'm all for those posts that tell you you need to pack, book a flight, and then you're there
Actually I'm not. 
What crazy person is trying to make you believe it's that easy to move across the world?

If you haven't noticed from my previous posts, there is a LOT to do before you even take off out of America.
And as much as you would think I would know, I had no idea how much work stills to be done once you physically get into London.

So no fear, I'm here.
Going through all the mess ups and stress so I can report back and make sure you don't have to!

Soooooo here we go:


A lot of waiting, but easy for the most part.  You'll have to go through Immigration, where they'll ask you what you're doing here, how long you're staying, etc. etc.
I was SO nervous the first time I came when I studied abroad a few years ago. I was ready for interrogation, but I mean look at me. I'm pretty innocent - they just don't care.
Have all your documents in the case that they may ask for them, but they only care that you've got a Visa whether it be a visitor's, student, etc.

I took everything I could find within my London files and printed them - I've still got them in a folder in my room in the event that I will need them:
- University Acceptance Letter
- Loan Acceptance Letter (or whatever proof that you have sufficient funds)
- Visa Application
- Scanned Passport Photo Page & Student Visa Page
- Accommodation Confirmation Emails & Receipts

(and while you're printing, you may as well print out your resume + recommendation letters just to have if you are looking into going job searching in the city...)



Not a challenge either, but you want to make sure you are doing what's best for your wallet.
Heather and I travelled in with 5 bags between us. Seeing that October was impossible when we each only had one, there was no way we were taking the Tube.

Thank god for airport carts, because we would not have gotten through the airport without them.

Before we landed in London, I booked a car to pick us up using Expressways Services.
You can schedule a car to pick you up, which is SO much easier than dealing with it before you get there. It's also a flat-fee, so you aren't paying by the mile or the minute, which with London traffic is definitely the best way to go.

And they hold up that really cool sign with your name on it, which made me feel pretty VIP.



We've been going through circles trying to settle ourselves here regarding monthly plans, bank accounts, etc.
It's tough, and I have about twelve drafts on Excel of updated budgets.
But believe me, it helps.

Not having the closest to exact estimate throws you off completely.
For example, I know my budget - and right now, I will be going into the negatives (aka broke) in the next 8 months.
This lets me know what needs to be saved in what areas of life in order to keep myself above water so that I can survive financially here, and having started these budgets so early, I was able to have a real idea of how much I will need to take out with loans.

If you haven't already assumed that you'll be spending more money within your first month of arrival,
let me be the one to tell you - you'll be spending more money within the first month of arrival.

You'll need to purchase some things you will not be able to pack, so having the first month/6-week budget is crucial
These things range from:
- Deposit and/or first installment of accommodation rent
- Unlimited weekly/monthly Tube pass
- Bedding
- Kitchenware
- Groceries
- Starting up you mobile phone plan
- Any extras: for example, I knew I needed to purchase a bigger professional-looking purse when I got here because I had no room to pack one

This should give you a pretty good idea of how your first month will go, and where you're time and money will be going towards.

Dealing with money, I should also mention getting a UK bank account.
You'll need this to receive loans, as well as start a mobile phone plan.

This has been an obstacle for us.
Banks are asking for a few more required documents than I am able to get at the current moment, as university enrollment doesn't begin for another two weeks - which is where I will get some papers they are asking for.

BUT - I will make a personal recommendation on Barclays, who is only asking for our US Passport to open an account.
It is the third bank that I have been to, and I wish it were the first.
The process with them has been incredible easy so far, so I will say to any international - for the sake of your time (and sanity), visit them first.
They are also international partners with Bank of America, which makes working with US and UK banks a little easier.



And that's all I've got for you now.
I've been here for two weeks now, and am still working on some of the things on these lists.
And when it doesn't work out for me, you'll be the first to know not to do it yourself.




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