To begin with, the thing I wish I knew the most before coming to the UK from Australia was how strict the Tier 4 student visa process really was. It would have saved a lot of time and stress if I had looked into the UK government requirements for the bank statement as an identifier for sufficient maintenance and tuition funds properly instead of just trusting that what I had was enough. I ended up arriving here really close to the beginning of the course and as a result things felt rushed and were really stressful at first. So, to save yourself some unnecessary stress, I would advise that you read through every point about the visa requirements carefully and email the international students/student visa team at Cranfield University whenever you are unsure about something – they definitely helped a lot and respond promptly to any enquiries or concerns.
You can find more information about Tier 4 visa requirements for studying in the UK here
Once the tier 4 visa was sorted, I flew to London from Australia and arrived at Cranfield with no long term accommodation arranged. I managed to get a room on campus but definitely try and organise this before you arrive, and I would suggest staying on campus since transportation to and from the university via public transport is not always reliable or on time. If you’re planning on staying somewhere in Cranfield Village, make sure you have a bike or another way to get to the university if the bus doesn’t come. Also, before you sign any rental agreement, ensure that you are very comfortable with the living arrangements. Meet your housemates and see if they are reasonable people and that the landlord seems like a trustworthy person (I met one who wanted to be paid in cash and felt a bit suspicious about the agreement). Once you sign the contract, there is no way to change your accommodation.
Now for the part about the Finance and Management MSc in particular. Make sure you go and talk to lots of people in the first week, because that’s when most of the friendship groups are formed and you will be spending a lot of time with them over the next year. Go to Reggie’s (the canteen in the Mitchell Hall accommodation lobby) and Cranberries (the other main food place) with people from your class for lunches after the lectures. Reggie’s is a little cheaper, and if you are going to be staying at Mitchell Hall you actually get £8 (at the time of writing this) for food a day included with the rent. This only applies to Mitchell Hall though, not any other accommodation, however, you can also use this to pay for Costa coffee on campus and at Cranberries.
When it comes to your room, I can only speak for Mitchell Hall, but I quickly went and bought some extra storage boxes, cups, cutlery and a bowl etc. to have breakfast here in my room each morning. There is a shared kitchen close to every room where you can store things in a fridge. These kitchens only contain a microwave, fridge, kettle and sink, so if you are planning on cooking when you are here it would be advisable to stay in another residential hall with shared and fully equipped kitchens. One good place to look for storage or anything for your room online is Wilko, or at the big Tesco at Kingston Centre which has a home department. I would recommend going to somewhere like Tesco and buying all your bedding from there, as it is good quality and excellent value for money.
With regards to the classes, if your class is at 8:30am, even though there is another one at 10:45, the professors tend to be (rightfully) displeased when people overflow the later class and hardly anyone shows up for the earlier one. So to avoid getting into trouble, try and make it to the right class. The amount of students in the lectures is quite small and they are quite interactive as the lecturers often ask for input from everyone. One thing to know is to bring instant coffee in your bag to the lecturers, or a thermos with coffee (if you are a caffeine addict or just find it hard to wake up properly in the morning) since there is usually a break after every hour and you can go out and sit down and recharge with some coffee using the hot water dispenser. They do have coffee machines you can pay for, but in the end it makes more sense and is way cheaper to bring your own coffee or tea with you. There are mugs and sugar which you can take as well.
When you are here as a student you can sign up for 6 months of Amazon prime for free, which is definitely worth it as it takes quite a while to go to the big shopping centre (Milton Keynes Intu, around 35 minutes by bus). It’s also heavy and inconvenient to bring everything back by hand. Also, with Tesco or other grocery stores, you can sign up for delivery, where you pay a set price each month and pick a time. Make sure you know that the delivery drivers can sometimes come early, so be sure to be close to your residence hall around the time you arrange them to come to avoid having to run back.
For last term’s exam period, the assignments were quite close to the exams and the exam period felt like it came out of nowhere. Make sure you stay on top of exams and try to not leave assignments until the last minute. For essays, if you are unsure of what is expected of you, you should go and speak to the professor and ask for clarification on what is required. This is something I wish I had done – instead I simply had to do my best with what I assumed, but I would’ve saved a lot of stress if I’d gone and spoken to them beforehand. If you don’t have a mock exam for one module, ask around and see if someone has one from a previous student they may still be in contact with. Or if you know someone who went here before, ask them if they could provide you with a mock exam. These are a great way to test how much you know about the module – and seem to be quite similar to the actual exams we had in the first term.
Ok, I think I’ve covered just about everything. But one last thing, if there is a puddle on the side of the road next to the pavement, don’t walk on that side. Cars drive past all the time and the puddle ends up all over you. Better to be safe than sorry 🙂
I believe the challenging content of the course modules and intense study load of this course overall has taught me how important it is to manage my time efficiently in order to balance study with free time and hobbies. I really like the friends I’ve made here and the social aspect of always being around people, as well as the independence that comes with living by myself. I am very happy with my decision to study this course and I know that I will always look back at the intellectually stimulating and enjoyable time at Cranfield. I hope you all have a fantastic year as well.