King’s is a great place to be an international student – in fact, around 1/3 of King’s undergraduates are international! Here’s some info on how to get to Cambridge from abroad (sadly, we don’t have the luxury of getting parents to drop us off…) and settling in, including information on opening a bank account and registering with a GP. If you have any questions, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should also have a look at the international CUSU (iCUSU) website for loads of great resources that might come in handy.
Getting to Cambridge
It may well be your first time travelling alone to a place you don’t know much without knowing anyone around. But don’t worry! Once you get to Cambridge, it’s going to be all good!
You will most likely be landing in Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton or Stansted airport. Cambridge does have a local airport but only serve minor destinations. If you are lucky enough to be arriving there, you just take a cab from Cambridge airport to college and that’s it!
Heathrow / Gatwick / Luton / Stansted
All of the main airports have direct coach service by National Express to Cambridge. From Heathrow, the journey can take more than 4 hours, so be prepared! Book online for cheap tickets (but if you’re worried your flight won’t arrive on time, you can also buy tickets at the airport).
Get a student coach card (1/3 discount) its worth it if you do the journey a few times! Coach tickets from Heathrow to Cambridge can be anything from 15GBP – 35GBP one way.
You can also take the underground to King’s Cross Station in London and take the train from there. Its quicker but more hassle because you have to move around. Pricewise its quite similar. Coach tends to be cheaper if you book in advance.
If you really want to get to Cambridge quick, take the Heathrow express to Paddington station (15mins) and underground (subway)/taxi to King’s Cross Station, then take the train to Cambridge from there. This is the most expensive but the quickest way!
London City Airport
There’s no coach service from City airport to Cambridge, so take the underground to King’s Cross, then the train.
Arriving in Cambridge
You are going to have heavy luggage to drag around. Just take a cab to “King’s College”. Since its quite central, it won’t cost you a lot. It should be around 7-10GBP
If you need directions, or if you’re lost you can call the college porters at 0044 1223 331100 – they’re available 24/7 and always happy to help!
As for transport within Cambridge, you chose the right college when it comes to getting around! Everything is walking distance, and you can pretty much go anywhere with a bike. Many choose to buy a bike when they get here. Don’t forget to register it with the porters! Cambridge is a bike-friendly city, but always be ware of cars and pedestrians (tourists)!
There’s a bus service around Cambridge, but you won’t use it often often. There’s a useful bus route from the city centre to the train station, from which you can get to London in an hour!
There are many banks available for students in Cambridge. They are mostly centrally located, not far from King’s, BUT: only 2 offer free student bank accounts for international students (especially those with a non-EU/UK passport)! Those 2 are: Barclays and Lloyds.
Other banks account come at a fee, but with additional goodies such as insurance and free SIM cards. If you require insurance or other perks, it may be a good idea to consider other bank accounts. Banks with Cambridge branches that do not offer free accounts for international students are: NatWest, HSBC, Santander, Halifax, Virgin Bank, and Bank of Scotland.
Have a look on each bank’s website for their offer before you come!
What to look for when opening an account:
- How much is it per month?
- How much does it cost per international transfer/withdrawal abroad?
- Do I want insurance and other perks?
- Do I get overdraft?
- Typically, international student accounts do not receive overdraft, so be ware!
Opening a bank account takes around 2 weeks; so the sooner you get it sorted, the better!
What you need to open a bank account:
Usually, you will require the following:
- College letter that confirms you are a student at King’s
- Cash you want to put into the account
- Other documents specified by the bank (e.g. location of residence, residence permit, visas etc…)
Getting your phone sorted out soon also helps a lot, as you’re quite busy meeting new people during fresher’s week and its quite good to be able to exchange numbers to meet up later!
Mobile phone contracts are divided into two:
A pre-paid method is highly recommended for internationals due to the fact that terms are very short in Cambridge, and you are outside the country for a large proportion of the year. Getting a pre-paid avoids you paying monthly fees when you are back home.
If you have a smartphone (especially an iPhone) make sure its sim-unlocked by your provider so you can use it abroad. Check with your network provider as well to make sure you can use your phone in the UK!
Network coverage varies from provider to provider. The most common ones in the UK are:
- 3 mobile
- EE (merger of T-Mobile and Orange)
- Virgin Media
- Giffgaff (Runs on O2 network)
All offer different contracts, so have a look on their website! Giffgaff is highly recommended as it is a pay-as-you-go sim card contract and allows you to pay only when you’re in Cambridge. With data usage, the price for a month tends to be 7.50 GBP (250MB, unlimited texts, 200 free minutes) to 20 GBP (1200min, unlimited texts and data).
You can’t sign a contract without being here for standard companies, but you can order a giffgaff sim card to your communicated address at King’s. Then your sim will be waiting for you when you arrive!
You’re going to be living away from your parents and away from your doctor. We aren’t perfect, and anyone can get sick in Cambridge. Whether it’s from too much partying or just a cold, it’s always good to know a doctor around that can help you. Of course, there’s the college nurse that’s available to you, but the college requires you to sign up to a GP in Cambridge. There are quite a few around Cambridge, and you will get more details when you get here. But here’s a few that you can consider:
- GP above Boots: 28 Petty Cury, Cambridge, CB2 3ND, United Kingdom – This one is right above Boots which is 5 mins away from King’s. Really easy to find, its just on the second floor.
- Trumpington Street Medical Practice: 56 Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RG, UK – This is also really close to King’s. Most of King’s students are signed up here or at Boots because of convenience.
There are more around, and you can find their details online, so have a look around!
A GP is not necessarily someone you visit frequently – but registering with one is a requirement so don’t forget!
What to bring to register with a GP:
- A copy of a vaccination card or information on any medical issues you have
- Insurance details
If you forget any, there is no problem. It’s just handy to have them just in case they ask!
iCUSU freshers’ week
The Internationals’ Cambridge University Student Union, iCUSU, organizes an international freshers’ week every year just one week before the official fresher’s week! While you may not be able to attend the fresher’s squash, you have the chance to attend other events, so make sure you like their Facebook page to keep up-to-date with new info! It’s a great opportunity to meet other internationals that go to other colleges!
If you can’t go to the international freshers’ fair, don’t worry! The majority of international students don’t go, because they don’t have accommodation in Cambridge at the time. You can just arrive normally and meet plenty of people once you do – you’ll settle in just fine!