Dear Future UEA Exchange Student
This one goes out to all those Clarkies who will follow in my footsteps and attend UEA in the fall or in the spring.
I have officially been here for 2 months and have just under a month remaining in my time here. It has gone all-together too fast, and if I could, I would stay for the year. That being said, there are a few things I wish people had told me before I came here and so for you I’m going to hope that this short letter helps.
Bring money for laundry. At Clark, laundry is free so long as you use cold water. At UEA you need to get a laundry card and use that laundry card to pay for your washing and drying. It’s somewhere around £2.40 for washing and £1.50 for drying. Don’t make any mistakes, because then you not only have to wait around for your laundry for an extra hour, you end up paying way too much.
Bring money for printing. At Clark, you get a printing allowance. There’s no printing allowance here, and pages cost £0.03 each.
Bring money for the gym. At Clark, the gym is included in the tuition price… or something like that. Anyhow, once you pay Clark, you can get into the gym with your Clark ID. Here you need you ID AND you have to pay a fee. It’s £6.00 for initiation and £1.50 for each time you want to use the gym. Budget accordingly. Unless you’er here for the year, there isn’t an easy way to do a one-lump sum.
Bring money for clubs / societies. At Clark we pay the ‘Activities Fee’ at the beginning of the year and that covers all of our club memberships. Here at UEA you pay for the clubs you want to participate in. Don’t pay right away, see if you’re actually interested. It’s £3.00 per society and £5.00 per club.
Bring money for transportation. Kind of goes without saying, right? But this is more to help you with your budgeting. The bus from UEA to the city centre (which is pretty much what you’ll be using it for) is £2.50 one way or £4.00 round trip. THIS IS ONLY IF YOU’RE 19 OR OVER (I don’t know what it is for young-persons. But my assumption is everyone coming abroad from Clark will be at least 19) There are bus passes you can buy, if you think you’re going to use it a lot, they might be worth the money. ABC taxi has a flat rate of £6.00 most nights, they’re great for getting home after a night on the town. But make sure if you don’t need the taxi any more that you call and tell them!
Bring money for trips. Some of the best money I’ve spent is on trips. UEA offered a London trip through Proscenium tours and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had – plus it made me some AMAZING friends. They aren’t going to London next semester, but I still urge you to take advantage of it.
Beds are not XL Twin. Plan accordingly. Especially if you’re like me and saved money by purchasing your sheets in the states. (as far as I can tell they’re just regular twin, like your bed at home)
Paper is a different size. So if you’re bringing notebooks or binders with you, know the handouts won’t fit without much un-needed effort.
There are no meal-plans. This one’s pretty obvious… you won’t be signing up for a meal plan. So you have to make all your own food. So don’t forget to budget for pots, pans, plates, bowls, silver-ware, and weekly grocery visits. And, if you’re anything like me, weekly coffee visits to the Direct Cafe on campus.
Buy groceries twice a week. I really wish I’d realised this before I did… but the food here goes bad WAY faster than it does in the states. Don’t go buying £30.00 of food thinking it’ll last you a week, because by the time you get to most of it, it will have gone bad and you’ll really regret wasting that money. Instead plan to go on smaller food trips multiple times a week. Try planning your meals out.
The weather is pretty much exactly like Massachusetts. Seriously. I packed for MA… and Clark has already had more intense weather than I have. Mind you it’s getting cold now.
You will have so much free time. So bring money to DO things. Or bring books. Or find a hobby. Or something. My new hobby turned out to be sleeping for the first time in years. It’s been great.
Get used to signing your name. You have to sign for any transaction done with a ‘swipe’ debit card. My signature is B-E-A-U-tiful!
Hope this helps you get ready for the best experience of your life! UEA is brilliant, and I’m so jealous that you’ll be here. Say hi to everyone for me!
And for basic budgeting tips…
Here are the approximate amounts I spend on different things regularly:
- £15.00+/- on groceries, twice a week.
- £20.00 - £30.00 per time on the city (if you’re going to clubs, entry fees range from £4.00 - £7.00 on average)
- £10.00 on films
- £5.00 on coffee
- £4.00 on the bus to Norwich, city centre (return)
- £6.00 on the bus to London (one-way)
- £5.00 - £20.00 on clothes
- £6.00 - £10.00 on restaurant meals (there is a GREAT fish and chips shop that’s decently cheap close to a cute pub off market street, I suggest you try it)
- £1.00+/- on printing for classes per week
- £5.00 on snacks per week (I get hungry + really lazy about once a week)
And that’s most of it… Everything adds up! I saved up $2,000 before coming abroad for miscellaneous expenses and it wasn’t enough. Start saving now! Or get the Tier 4 Visa and get a job.