18 February 2020
1. Set Up Your Mobile Phone
This is the biggest challenge on arrival. So in order to use Google Maps to navigate around the city and to find places to live, follow these tips:
- You don't need to get rid of your phone—even iPhones have changeable SIM cards.
- Have your phone 'unlocked' for international use before leaving home, as you'll need this to get your new number in Scotland to work.
- If you want to keep your old number when you return home, request to suspend your service. However, be aware that you may still be charged a small monthly fee.
- Find Princes Street. Walk along there and drop into the numerous phone shops (I use O2). They will walk you through everything.
- You may need to get a temporary SIM card first as you'll likely need to get a bank account set up first to have a debit card for recurring withdrawals. Take this and then return when your bank account is set up if you wish.
2. Research Transport from the Airport
The Airlink 100 bus is the cheapest and there is a stand right outside the airport. They have ticket booths both inside and outside the airport building.
The Edinburgh Tram goes directly from the airport to the same central destination as the Airlink 100 bus.
Taxis cost about £25.00 to the city centre and may be a good option if you have lots of luggage. You can also take the Airlink 100 into town and then a taxi to your accommodation.
3. Ship Your Things
Write Tier-4 Student, University of Edinburgh on your items, or you may be charged import tariffs.
4. Getting To (and Around) Edinburgh
- For last minute cheap flights for weekend getaways try the following sites:
- The Skyscanner app is good for searching for flights and getting updates on cheap tickets (like Orbitz in the USA)
- Student Universe is a good website for cheaper flights for students
If you're going to use the train to get to other cities in the UK, definitely get a railcard. It costs £30 annually and you get ⅓ off rail fares, so it is worth the investment. They even have a railcard app so you don't even have to carry the card around! Check routes and timetables on the Scotrail website.
If you are planning to ride the bus a lot, I would recommend getting a Ridacard. You can get this in one of Lothian Buses' Travel Shops. Student ridacards cost £48 a month and you get unlimited travel 24/7 across Edinburgh.
If you are not going to be taking the bus a lot but don't want to carry physical tickets or want to save paper, download the m-tickets app. You can also use a contactless debit card to buy a ticket on the bus. Buses take exact change so if you are planning to use coins, be mindful of that.
5. Set Up a Bank Account
There is a range of banking choice in Edinburgh, including:
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Bank of Scotland
- Santander, who have a branch in Potterrow on the central University campus
6. Register with a Doctor
I would recommend registering with the nearest GP soon after your arrival, preferably during the orientation week. The healthcare surcharge you paid with your visa application will cover all your medical expenses while you are here in the UK, including GP appointments, prescribed medications, and so on. You can register at the University Clinic (go online to look at their schedule through the University website) or find a clinic near you and just walk in and register.
7. Look Into Temporary Housing
Pollock Halls is a University housing facility which offers temporary housing while you're looking for another place. It's not super cheap, but has a kitchen area on each floor and is safe. Cheapest rates are through Booking.com.
Other temporary accommodation can be found using the following sites:
8. Arrange Permanent Accommodation
There are lots of University student accommodation options, so choose the one that suits you best.
Private Student Accommodation
There is a lot of private student accommodation around Edinburgh if you don't want to stay in university accommodation.
There are a number of websites that might be useful if you want to rent a private flat. Do note that finding accommodation in August can be tough because of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
9. Get Advice on Campus
The Advice Place in Potterrow has a postgraduate guide for arriving on campus that includes networking activities in the whole University. Look into these if you want to have non-programme friends to hang out with once in a while. The Advice Place offers help about everything from accommodation and study help to anything else student-related.
10. Explore Edinburgh's Main Locations
Princes Street is one of those rare streets that will offer you almost everything. Go shopping, visit a museum, eat at a nice restaurant and take a calming walk in the Princes Street Gardens. What a perfect day! An 18-minute walk from the Business School.
A 5-minute walk from the Business School. Go for a relaxing walk around the Meadows and kill time between classes.
A lively area full of bars, restaurants, and shopping. A 10-minute walk from the Business School.
A 30-minute walk from the Business School. Beautiful walks, good exercise (stairs and so on).
The Royal Mile
The most well-known street in Edinburgh, so much to do there! A 13-minute walk from the Business School.
11. Get Your Groceries
There are small grocery stores almost everywhere around Edinburgh. There is a medium-sized Tesco 5 minutes from the Business School, as well as a Sainsbury's and Lidl. If you like shopping at big grocery stores, you can either go in-store or order online from the following websites. Waitrose is a little bit more expensive, but they have a good selection.
12. Try Out Tourist Activities
- Look up Edinburgh Free Walking Tours. This is the best way to learn about the city. It is a 2-hour tour around Edinburgh and it is free! If you enjoy it, I would recommend booking their Harry Potter tour.
- Check out the Edinburgh iCentre on the High Street, who have all sorts of tours.
- Stop by the International and Exchange Students Society (IESS). They do trips almost every weekend and host other exciting events!
I would recommend travelling in the first semester as you will have more free time.
13. Find a Gym
These are all over the city and the Edinburgh Quartermile one is an 8-minute walk from the Business School. It's open 24/7 and costs £19.99 a month.
University of Edinburgh Gym
About £100 for the year, lots of classes and options, plus pool facilities. A 15-minute walk from the Business School.
It you are an 'outdoorsy' kind of person like me, you might enjoy a jog around Arthur's Seat. It is a 15-minute walk from the Business School, and is a peaceful area where you can jog, walk, cycle, or hike.
14. Check Out the Student Union
Teviot has multiple bars in it and is located on campus. It is the oldest purpose-built student union building in the world. The Loft Bar is one of my favourites!
Vrinda Narain is studying for the MSc in Marketing