Living in the UK

Climate and clothing

The small city of Bath is in the south of the UK, so the weather is milder than other parts of the country, and extremes of very hot or very cold weather are rare.

Winter temperatures are generally between 1˚C and 4˚C in the daytime, though it can seem colder when it is wet and windy. January is the coldest month. There is snow sometimes, although it does not usually last more than a few days. The average summer daytime temperature is around 20˚, with July and August temperatures sometimes reaching up to 30˚. When you arrive in September for the beginning of the International Foundation Year, the average daytime temperature is 15˚C-18˚C.

You should pack clothes that can easily be layered on top of each other, such as T-shirts, shirts, jumpers and jackets, which will give you the maximum flexibility to meet the changeable weather. Thick warm socks or slippers will be useful to wear indoors in the winter.

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The UK government has introduced an Immigration Health Surcharge of £150 per year which applies to non-EU students whose programme of study in the UK is longer than 6 months. When you make your visa application, you will be asked some questions to see if you need to pay the health surcharge. If so, you need to pay this before you can complete the visa application. After you pay the surcharge, you will have the same access to the National Health Service (NHS) as a UK citizen, including emergency treatment in case of accident. For more information on how to pay for UK healthcare as part of your immigration application, see the relevant page of the UK government website.

When you arrive in the UK and enrol on the International Foundation Year, we will help you to complete the necessary forms so you can register with a local doctor.

If you are not feeling well, you can phone your doctor to make an appointment. Some cities in the UK also have a ‘Walk-in Centre’ where you can see a doctor without an appointment, though you might have to wait if there are several people waiting before you. Most centres are open 7 days a week, and have longer opening hours than doctor’s surgeries. If the doctor prescribes special medicine, then you will need to go to a pharmacy (also known as a chemist) to collect and pay for the medicine, but you will not need to pay to see the doctor.

If you have special medical needs, or if you are undergoing treatment, you should bring any documents showing what the treatment is and what medication you need, and show it to your doctor. Please also let us know of any pre-existing medical problems, or if you need regular medication, so that we can help and support you.

You can buy medicine for minor illnesses such as headaches and colds from a chemist. If you need advice on what to buy, you can consult the pharmacist who is trained to give advice on minor ailments.  Sometimes the pharmacist is a better choice than the doctor if you have only a minor illness.

Emergency health care

In an emergency, you can go to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department of the local hospital. If you or someone else needs an ambulance, call the emergency services on 999. For more information about the services that are available in an emergency, please go to the NHS (National Health Service) website.

Staying healthy

To stay healthy, make sure you eat nutritious meals, get enough physical exercise, and get enough sleep. When you move to a new country where you are away from your family, and where there is a different climate and unfamiliar food, it can affect your health and make you feel stressed. It is very important to do what you can to take care of your health.

Healthy diet

Make sure you eat enough of the right food to keep healthy. This might be the first time that you have cooked for yourself, so take the time to learn how to prepare some simple healthy meals. Some of the other students might be able to share some cooking ideas with you. Be sure to include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet, and also plan your food shopping so you can eat the following every day: fruit (or pure fruit juice) and vegetables, carbohydrate (bread, pasta, cereal or rice), protein (meat, fish, eggs, lentils, nuts), and fat (milk, cheese, yogurt).

Storing food

If you find that you occasionally don’t have time to prepare a meal, you can find cheap and healthy meals available in the college. If you decide to have fun cooking for yourself or with other students, take care to keep everything clean and practise good food hygiene. Make sure that you put chilled food in the fridge and frozen food in the freezer as soon as you can after buying it, and don’t let it get up to room temperature. Always make sure your hands are washed and clean before preparing food, and keep kitchen surfaces clean.

Sleeping well

Sleep is very important for studying well. It is best to avoid making Skype calls or having internet sessions late at night during the week. Try to keep your long-distance phone calls home to times when it will not affect your sleep patterns. Working very late into the night is not the best way to prepare for study so make sure that you use your time well during the day. Your tutor will help you to draw up a study timetable to include your private study time.

Please respect the religious and cultural beliefs of your kitchen mates when storing and preparing foods. This does not mean you cannot prepare certain foods, but you should remain sensitive to different beliefs and customs.



Dental care

Dental treatment is available both through the National Health Service (NHS) and privately. Students who are resident in the UK for longer than 6 months are eligible to see an NHS dentist. You will need to pay for dental check-ups and treatment, but NHS dentists are cheaper than private dentists.

To find your nearest NHS dentist, contact the NHS Advice Line on 111, or ask at the International Office at college. There is sometimes a waiting list for NHS dentists, so you might want to investigate private dentists near you too.

If you need urgent dental treatment, you can ring the NHS Advice Line on
111. They will try to get you an appointment on the same day at a local dentist.

Staying safe

Bath is a very safe city, with low levels of crime, and people are friendly and helpful. However, you should always take care to protect yourself and your belongings wherever you are, so you will find tips below to help keep yourself safe. If you have any worries, come and talk to someone in college you feel comfortable with – your tutor, or a teacher, or the programme leader, or someone in the International Office. We will always listen.

When you are out and about, observe these simple rules.

  • Walk with a friend or group of friends, especially in the evening.
  • Don’t take short cuts at night, stay where there is good lighting and there are more people.
  • Make sure your friends know where you are, and when you will return.
  • Don’t walk home alone late at night – use a taxi instead.
  • Keep your bag closed, and don’t carry large amounts of money or anything valuable.
  • If you have lost your mobile phone, make sure you have enough change or a phone card so you can use a public telephone. Keep your important phone numbers written down somewhere.
  • If you are provoked or bothered by others on the street, it is always safest just to walk away.
  • Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know, and always keep your drink with you.

You should make sure that your belongings are insured against theft and damage. There are many companies who specialise in student insurance, and you can find them by researching on the internet.

You can find more information on keeping safe in the British Council’s leaflet Creating confidence: making sure that your time studying in the UK is safe and enjoyable’ 

In an emergency, you can contact the police by calling 999. UK policemen are friendly and easy to talk to, and they have a duty to protect you. If you want to speak to the police on a subject that is NOT an emergency, call 101 to contact your local police station.