Whether you plan on moving to the UK or you have moved, whether your relocation to this destination is for studies or for work, there are things that are a given which you as a foreigner must learn to expect while in the United Kingdom.
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Many people make the mistake of traveling blind, while hoping for the best. This is not recommended, because as an immigrant to the UK, you must know where the pitfalls are, as well as how to navigate them so that your stay in the country can be hassle free.
In this article, we are going to be highlighting 11 things to expect when you arrive the UK. Some of these points might be good, others bad, but whichever the case knowing about them is key to both avoiding conflicts and thriving whether you find yourself in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland or Wales.
What Should You Expect When Moving To The UK?
When moving to UK after Brexit, there are certain realities to be anticipated and prepared for. This is pertinent if you plan on making the most out of your new environment. Immigrants who relocate to the UK from other countries who fail to take note of these points usually complain of culture shock.
Thus, knowing what to expect and being ready cannot be overstated. Some of these points might sound over the top, but trust me, do not take any of them for granted. Understand them and use them all to your benefit while working or studying in the UK.
#1: Be Ready For An Ocean Of White People & Some Black People Who Act Too White
It might sound like a cliché, the phrase; “overseas is the white man’s land”, however there is a semblance of truth to that premise. With the exception of counties like Coventry and Nottingham there are more white people than blacks around countries that make up the United Kingdom.
I remember arriving the university of Northampton to an ocean of white people in the library, for some strange reason this was rather unsettling for me at the time. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, not like I had a fixed expectation, but non the less it was unnerving.
Being a Nigerian who hadn’t seen more than 5 white people in a particular place at one time, I made a conscious effort to search out the black people in the room. I couldn’t find any. It literally took all of 2 hours to meet my first black person. A student whom as it turned out had more white traits than black.
#2: Inquisitive People Who Want To Meet You And Talk To You Because You Look And Sound Different
And there are the inquisitive ones who find your accent as well as skin tone interesting. These will try to find out your nationality and interests the slightest chance they get. Try to be polite with these bunch, be as friendly as possible, because they could be very helpful in the long run.
My first friend in the UK was a London-born Hong Kong guy, by far one of the sweetest people in the world. He literally walked up to me to find out if I was new to that county and we hit it off from there. He went on to introduce me to all his friends, who in turn became my friends as well.
#3: Everybody Will Look To Separate You From Your Money
You are going to find out really quickly that your home country is not too different from the UK. There are broke people everywhere. The ones who are always looking to lend £20 from you or those who want you to get the next order of drinks in the club with a promise to pay back later
There is always that one person who wants your money and is actively trying to separate you from it. Your job is to resist the urge to yield, because once you start handing out cash to so-called ‘people in need’, its going to gradually become a habit for them to ask for hand out every time.
#4: You Will A Letter From Your Sponsor To Open A Bank Account
In moving to the UK, this is one point that you do not want to take for granted. The requirement for a letter of introduction from your sponsor is so important that sometimes I wonder why most people relocating to the UK overlook this point.
I think this is because most people do not actually know who a sponsor is as well as the immense role this principal plays in their stay in the UK. Sometimes your sponsor is the difference between your staying on in the country or being deported.
Who is a sponsor though? A sponsor is an individual, entity or corporate organization that facilitates your relocation from your country to the UK. They provide the documents that make it possible for you to be granted a visa to the United Kingdom.
The parents of a student moving to the UK for studies are not the student’s sponsor, instead the University in which the international student is studying in is the sponsor. Most people tend to misunderstand this concept.
#5: There Will Be Need To Spend Money, But Always Think To Save
One thing you must be mindful about when moving to the UK is the fact that there will always be a need to spend money, but always try to take the path of least resistance, by cutting cost and saving money most of the time.
For instance, if you are moving for work and decide to move with your whole family, which could include your wife and children. And if your kids are below the age of 5, then either you or your wife have to stay with these minors.
The legal age of starting school in the UK is 5 years. Try not to spend money unnecessarily hiring child minders, instead the parent that earns the least by way of income can stay home with the kid/kids at least to a time when he/she is ready to start school.
In doing this alone, a lot of money in unspent income will be saved. Most couples who relocate to the UK make the mistake of hiring child minders and end up paying a lot in child minder wages, factor in electricity, heating, water and other utilities, the result is spending way too much. This must be checked.
Other ways of cutting cost while moving to the UK, is simply by carrying and packing foodstuff while relocating. This saves you the stress and money that might go into purchasing indigenous food from specialized food stores in the UK.
Shopping for clothes from discount stores like Primark and groceries from the 99p store can also go a long way to reinforce your savings and ensure that you spend less in the UK. Eating out in Kebab restaurants instead of in popular restaurant franchise brands such as KFC or McDonalds.
#6: Mandatory Healthcare Surcharge For Your Whole Family
If you are moving to the UK with your family, then the primary applicant is required to pay the compulsory healthcare surcharge of £625 per head. This is non-negotiable and must be done every year for the period in which the family plans to stay in the UK.
This healthcare surcharge is for the NHS who are in charge of offering quality healthcare services to individuals who reside in the UK. Should you or a dependent family member fall ill, then he/she is covered and can receive treatment in any NHS hospital without the hassle of making any payment on site.
#7: International Students Or Workers Don’t Have Access To Student Loan Or Finance
While moving to the UK, it is normal for people to have plans to further their studies, particularly if they get stable in the country. Whether you are an individual who is traveling for work or for studies, going back to school is something that people thrive to do to get ahead in their careers.
However, unless you have gotten your indefinite leave to remain in the UK, immigrants to the United Kingdom are not entitled to any form of student finance, whether it be a student loan or bursary. Obtaining student finance could affect your chances of changing the status of your visa.
#8: Credit Scores Are Used To Clear Immigrants To Make Purchase Of Electronic Devices Gadgets
I learnt this the hard way. Here I was fresh off the plane, having paid for my dorm room, unpacked and got my personal space organized. I then hit downtown looking to have my Nokia mobile phone replaced, with a blackberry 9800, which at the time was the latest phone out.
My first stop was the carport located in front of the Waitrose superstore on Boughton green road, after identifying the mobile phone I wanted, then came time to make payment. The cashier requested for my ID card, which of course I found really strange.
He then looked up at me, nodded his head with the sad news that I couldn’t make the purchase because my credit rating wasn’t enough to get the phone. I then tried the T-Mobile, O2, Vodafone and three stores, but all to no avail, my credit score was the obstacle.
In the end, I had to settle for a second hand phone store to get a 9800 blackberry, these type of stores usually do not check for credit scores, plus they are known to collect cash, making these transactions relatively easy to get done.
In moving to the UK from US or any part of the world, you have to be mindful of this. Making electronic gadget purchases in brick-and-mortar stores will require a credit check and if yours is not up to scratch these transactions are usually turned down.
The solution to this problem is going online to shop on ecommerce websites such as amazon, eBay or Argos. These platforms do not require credit checks, plus some of them ensure that goods ordered get to you in 2 to 14 days.
#9: Racism Could Come At You From Any Direction So Be Ready
A lot of people have shared their stories of when they were racial abused while overseas. So, of course this is not new, however until you have your first dose of racial incident you never really know what to expect. Some people even think some of the stories out there are massive exaggerations.
The question is; is there really racist in the UK? Are most people in the UK racist? The simple answer is; yes! There are racist in the United Kingdom, however I cannot say that most people in this region are racist. These incidents are normally targeted at minority groups such as blacks and Asians.
I recommend that if you must go to town, no matter the county you might be living in, I suggest that you do so with a chaperon, this sometimes helps. Most racist are deterred from abusing individuals who move in groups of 2 to 3 people.
#10: Try To Build Bonds With The Locals Instead Of People From Your Country
So, you are a South African who traveled to the UK for work. After signing your employment contract and getting your certificate of sponsorship, you successfully moved with your family and have all relocated to the United Kingdom.
The question now is; having moved to the UK, why make more South African friends? Don’t get me wrong, we all need our compatriots to make us feel at home while far away from home. However, in my experience, these bonds do not lead to any level of career advancement.
Instead of forging bonds with people from your country, I suggest you make more local friends or make friends with people who are from different countries. This comes with more benefits, as you are kept up to speed on happenings as well as opportunities that arise around the country.
#11: Be Careful, Your Husband Or Wife Could Switch Up On You
The man is regarded as the head of the house and this sentiment is shared by most countries not excluding those in the United Kingdom. It is common for a male immigrant to the UK to budget £150 to £200 for the purchase of foodstuff for the month.
This level of financial responsibility is seen as a burden by some men who expect their partners to chip in from time to time. This could lead to disagreements between couples, which if left unchecked can result in partners seeking solace ease where.
There are stories of women who complained that their partners switched up on them months after they relocated to the UK. This happens all the time. Although, before its occurrence, there are usually signs that a partner is disillusioned in some way.
We recommend that after moving to the UK as a family, the man and woman both get jobs in other to collectively contribute towards domestic upkeep. That way they are both independent in their own right.
How Can These Expectations Impact Your Stay After Moving To The UK?
All 11 points on things to expect when moving to the UK have to be taken to heart, as by doing so, one can prevent himself/herself from being overwhelmed or underwhelmed by certain things that could happen in their line of work or course of study in the United Kingdom.
It is also important to use this list as a guide to counsel your children and wards who you might be relocating to the UK with you. Having them commit some of these tips to memory will go a long way in ensuring that their expectations are measured.
The point on racism is key for immigrants to the UK who belong to minority races such as blacks or Asians. Knowing that they need to move around town with companions will go a long way to ensure that they prevent racial incidents from happening.
Also there have been situations in the past were international students have been known to apply for student loans, even though this individual was given, when he applied for a change in visa status, his application was declined. So, immigrants must be guided.
After Moving To The UK, What Can You Do If You Are A Victim Of One Or More Of These Tips?
If you ever fall victim to any of the 11 points highlighted above after moving to the UK, we recommend that you report to your sponsor, so that they can offer support. Do not try to tackle some of these challenges alone, you might be making a tense situation worse.
Do not boycott the chain of command by going straight to the police, if racially abused for instance, if the victim traveled for work, then he/she should report to the line manager who will be sure to take it up with the hierarchy in the company, who will in turn lodge a complaint with the police.
The same thing goes if you are a student, report to your international student office, who will take it up with the higher ups.
If a victim of racism, under no circumstance should you take laws into your hands and pick a fight with the racist who abused you, things might not turn out well for you as the racist could end up playing the victim, filing charges against you instead of the other way around.
A lot of people have experienced massive culture shock after moving to the UK, simply because they did not know what to expect when they relocated overseas. Most people thought the United Kingdom might be similar to their country, but the reverse was indeed the case.
The 11 expectations for people moving to the United Kingdom highlighted above is key to ensuring that your stay in the UK is stress free. Each point must be understood and embodied so that for any given scenario that could play out immigrants to this country know what to do and how to respond.
The list is not exhaustive, there are other expectations that were not covered in this article, those who are moving to the UK or who have already moved must be do so with an open mind, to learn from mistakes so that they don’t repeat themselves in the future.
Which of these points most impacted your stay in the UK? Have you been a victim of any one of the negatives?