Life in the United Kingdom

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Quarantine requirements

Depending where you are travelling from, you may be required to complete a 14 day quarantine period when you arrive in the UK. UK Government guidance is constantly being updated, so please check the current Exemption List of countries not required to self-isolate upon arrival to see if this applies to you. This also needs to include any transit stops you may have made prior to arrival to the UK.

Test and Trace

The NHS COVID-19 App launched on Thursday 24 September 2020, and we are encouraging all staff, students and our visitors to download the app in our national effort to keep everyone safe.

The app allows you to check your symptoms, book a test, check in and get alerts if you are close to someone who has tested positive, how does this work with the University’s Track and Trace?

Please continue to scan the QR codes around campus, especially in teaching rooms. You will need to use the Herts Mobile Track Trace app when you’re on campus and use the NHS COVID-19 App when you’re off campus. Let’s work together to keep our whole community safe and well. You can read more about our track and trace process on our website.

Download the NHS Test and Trace app on the NHS website.

Download the Herts Mobile app to allow you to check into classrooms and communal areas on campus.

Accommodation

You must arrange your accommodation before you arrive in the UK.

Bringing your family to the UK

The University does not have accommodation suitable for families. If you are bringing your family, or you would prefer to live off campus, we can provide you with information of approved letting agents and guidance on arranging your accommodation. View our approved letting agents on the PAL website. You may also benefit from reading our guide to living off campus, which can be found on our website.

Useful information about eligibility for family members to apply as dependants can be found on the UK Government website. If you are applying for entry clearance for dependants, then a separate application will need to be made for each dependant.

Guidance and policy on making applications for dependants is available on the UK Government website.

Insurance

It is essential for you to take out travel insurance to cover you on your journey to the UK. A good policy should cover you for travel delays, cancellations, medical emergencies and loss of belongings whilst in transit.

If you are applying for a visa to come to the UK for more than six months, then as part of the visa application, you will now need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Further details about this charge and what it covers can be found on the UK Government website.

If you are an EU/EEA student then you will be entitled to NHS health care but you need to complete form EHIC in your home country first*. Unless you are coming from a country with a reciprocal agreement, you will need to pay for any medical care you need if you are staying in the UK for less than six months. In this case you are strongly advised to take out health insurance. To find out if your country has a reciprocal agreement visit the NHS website.

Health cover on a reciprocal agreement can be limited so you may want to consider taking out private medical insurance as well.

Students on short courses or exchange programmes

Students who are going to be in the UK for less than six months may have difficulty opening a bank account because some banks often require you to be studying on a course which will last more than six months.

If you think you will have difficulties opening an account then you may find it best to use cash point machines (ATMs) and draw money from a bank account in your home country, bring travellers’ cheques or may wish to consider asking your family to set up a pre-paid MasterCard to cover the duration of your time in the UK.

*All issues regarding the European Union may be subject to change at short notice. Please refer to the UK Government website for clarification.

Transport

This year you will need to ensure you wear a face covering while on public transport. This will include your flight, transport to campus and any use of public transport during your studies.

British culture

Language

There are a huge range of British accents, and people from different parts of the UK can speak quite distinctly. If you don’t hear what someone says, don’t feel embarrassed to ask someone to repeat themselves.

Behaviour

Social behaviour in the UK may differ from what you’re used to. The United Kingdom is a very open, socially accepting nation so you may see differences in public displays of affection, clothing choices, and attitudes to same sex relationships. Although this might seem new or strange, it’s important not to stare, point, or laugh at things that may seem different or odd to you.

It is also considered rude to spit in public when in the UK.

Weather

The United Kingdom may have a very different climate to what you’re used to, so it’s important to prepare before you arrive. During Autumn and Winter (from September to March), British weather is often cold and wet, so make sure you have warm clothes and a waterproof coat. During the summer the UK can experience high temperatures, so it is important to stay hydrated and not spend too long in the sun.

You can find more detailed information on the weather in Hatfield by visiting the BBC Weather Centre website.

Food

Food in the UK is inspired by cultures from across the globe, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to try new things! There are plenty of large supermarkets in the local area where you’ll be able to find everything you need to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet. If you’re looking for a taste of home, there are plenty of supermarkets around Hertfordshire and London who sell authentic ingredients from across the world.

Remember, smoking in public places is illegal in the UK, and many establishments enforce fines for doing so.

Opening a bank account

If you are on a course lasting at least six months or more, you should be able to open a bank account here in the UK. You should check with the bank first to see what sort of account and services they offer, and remember to ask about any hidden fees.

  1. Register as a student (you must be fully registered before completing step
  2. Complete a bank letter request form from the Ask Herts Hubs.
  3. You will be sent an email when your letter is ready for collection - it could take up to 5 working days.
  4. Collect your letter from the Student Centre in the Hutton Hub, on College Lane Campus.
  5. Take your letter and passport to the bank. The bank will also ask you to complete an application form.

HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, and Santander are some of the most popular banks in the UK, all of which have branches located in Hatfield. The UK also has two major digital banks; Monzo and Starling, which do not require any physical interaction to open or use an account.

Applying for a phone contract

If you need to get a new phone contract in the UK, you can either find a phone shop in town, or apply online via any of the popular phone companies listed below. Many students have their contracts paid for them by their parents, but should you want to pay for your own, you may be credit checked. You can check your credit rating for free online, but if you've not had a credit card or a job with regular income, you are unlikely to have a high enough credit score.

If this is the case, don't worry! Most networks offer deals for students if you search for them, as well as companies such as VOXI and Smarty which are created for people aged 25 or younger and offer unique plans without credit checks.

O2, EE, Three Mobile, and Vodafone are the four major networks that are likely to have their own high street shops, but other companies such as GiffGaff, ID Mobile, Smarty, VOXI, and Ecotalk each have competitive pricing and unique selling points, so it's worth shopping around to find which company offers the right contract for you.

For example; Smarty takes your unused data each month and turns it into a discount on your next bill, while Ecotalk brands itself as an environmentally friendly provider, using 100% renewable energy.

It is generally cheaper to buy your own phone, and find a SIM-only or Pay-as-you-go contract, but if you do so make sure to get your device insured, since the phone company won't offer upgrades on these types of contracts.

Travelling during your studies

Getting around the UK is fantastic way to spend your free time during your studies. There's lot of places to visit, all of which are easily accessible by train from Hatfield Train Station.

Manchester

Manchester
The second largest city in the UK, famous for Manchester United F.C. and the splitting of the atom.

York

York
A historic walled city known for it's impressive cathedral and Roman/Medieval architecture.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge
A prehistoric ring of standing stones, each stone stands around 13 feet high and weighs 25 tons.

Liverpool

Liverpool
The birthplace of The Beatles, and home to Liverpool F.C. and Everton F.C.

Lincoln

Lincoln
A Medieval/Victorian city known for its cathedral and castle; which houses a copy of the Magna Carta.

Lake District

Lake District
A mountainous region famous for its lakes, forests, and mountains, as well as associations with poets.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh
The capital of Scotland, home to the scenic Edinburgh Castle, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Cardiff

Cardiff
The capital of Wales, famed for the shooting location of BBC shows; Doctor Who and Sherlock.

Cambridge

Cambridge
A world-famous university city, home to seven colleges and two universities, as well as multiple museums.

Brighton

Brighton
A seaside resort town known for its nightlife, arts scene, and regency-era buildings and arcades.

Birmingham

Birmingham
A city that primarily grew in the industrial revolution; now home to a huge arts subculture.

Bath

Bath
Known for its incredibly Roman-built baths, and the canal system that runs all the way to Oxford.

Exploring the local area

Don't want to travel far to visit some landmarks? Hertfordshire and London have some amazing places to visit during your studies.If you're looking to get around the Hatfield area, there's lots of transport links provided by the University's Bus Company as well as easy access to a National Rail Train Station.

Tower of London

Tower of London
A historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London.

The Shard

The Shard
The Shard is a 95-storey skyscraper in Southwark, designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano.

Stanborough Park

Stanborough Park
A 126-acre park on the border of Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City, known for its two large lakes.

Stadium

Emirates Stadium
Located in Royal Holloway, London, the Emirates Stadium is one of the largest football stadiums in England and home of Arsenal F.C.

St Albans Cathedral

St Albans Cathedral
A beautiful cathedral in St Albans comprised on ancient Normal architecture, situated in a large park.

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus
The famous central London junction connecting Regent Street and Piccadilly, known for the iconic LED screens and the statue of Eros.

London Eye

London Eye
Located on the South Bank, the London Eye is Europe's tallest observation wheel, and the UK's most popular tourist attraction.

Hatfield House

Hatfield House
A country house set in a large park on the East side of Hatfield. Hatfield House is frequently used in films and TV, including recent Oscar winner, The Favourite.

Galleria

The Galleria
A designer outlet centre within walking distancing of both campuses. The Galleria houses clothing, household, leisure, and coffee shops.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace
The London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom (currently Queen Elizabeth II), located in Westminster.

Big Ben

Big Ben
Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the Elizabeth Tower at the north end of the Palace of Westminster.

Bayfordbury

Bayfordbury Observatory
Located just six miles from the campuses, our observatory is one of the largest teaching observatories in the UK.

British cuisine

British food is a mixing pot of global cuisines. Here's some of the more traditional dishes that you might expect to see in the UK during your studies.

Sunday Roast

Sunday Roast
A traditional main meal eaten on Sundays; consisting of roasted meats, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, assorted vegetables, and gravy.

Shepherd's Pie

Cottage/Shepherd's Pie
A (non-pastry) pie generally made with a minced red meat cooked in a sauce with various vegetables, topped with a layer of mashed potato that is then baked. Shepherd's Pie refers to a lamb filling, while Cottage Pie has a beef filling.

Pie

Pie and mash
In the UK, the word "pie" most commonly refers to savoury pastries; generally filled with meat and vegetables. These are often eaten with mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Jacket Potato

Jacket potato
A "jacket" potato, is a large potato, baked until the skin is slightly crisply - often filled with butter, cheese, sour cream, or baked beans.

Full English Breakfast

Full English Breakfast
A "full English", also known as a "Fry up" typically consists of pork sausages, bacon, fried eggs, baked beans, black pudding, tomatoes, beans and toast.

Fish and Chips

Fish and chips
Generally bought from shops known as "chippies", the meal consists of battered white fish (mostly cod or haddock) and chips (known elsewhere as "fries").

Understanding British currency

1p

1p/One Pence
The smallest iteration of British currency; commonly referred to as "a penny".

2p

2p/Two Pence
This coin - along with the 1p - is sometimes referred to as "shrapnel" or "coppers" due to the low value and colour.

5p

5p/Five Pence
The smallest British coin, and the lowest value of the four silver coins.

10

10p/Ten Pence
Equivalent to one tenth of a pound sterling. Generally pronounced as "ten pee".

20p

20p/Twenty Pence
Equivalent to one fifth of a pound sterling. Generally pronounced as "twenty pee".

50p

50p/Fifty Pence
Equivalent to half of a pound sterling. Generally pronounced as "fifty pee".

£1

£1/One Pound
One Pound Sterling, colloquially known as "a quid".

£2

£2/Two Pound
The least commonly circulated coin, singularly equivalent to two Pound Sterling.

£5

£5/Five Pounds
Often referred to as "a fiver".

£10

£10/Ten Pounds
Often referred to as "a tenner".

£20

£20/Twenty Pounds
Not as common as the ten or five pound notes - occasionally called "a score".

£50

£50/Fifty Pounds
The least commonly used note, not commonly accepted at some smaller shops.

Staying safe in the UK

  • Avoid displaying expensive items such as watches, jewellery or mobile phones in busy public places
  • Try not to carry large amounts of money with you
  • If you have lost a key or just moved to a new property, it is a good idea to change the locks after speaking with your landlord
  • Make sure your phone is charged when going out in case of emergency, or if you lose the people you are with
  • Always know how you're getting home, especially when going somewhere you don't  know - let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back
  • Register your belongings on immobilise.com, a free UK property register used by the police, insurers, and the second-hand trade - register items like your phone or your bike, anything that may be stolen, in order to assist the police.

Safety and emergency contact numbers

  • 999 Emergency (police, fire, ambulances)
  • 112 Emergency (UK mobile)
  • 111 Non-emergency for health
  • 101 Non-emergency for police
  • +44 (0) 1707 281010 On-campus security
  • +44 (0) 1707 285555 On-campus emergency

Next steps

Please continue to the 'Life on campus' section.

Life on campus