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Topic: Starting course this coming fall....eeeek!  (Read 1100 times)

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Starting course this coming fall....eeeek!
« on: June 02, 2013, 05:27:44 PM »
Hello everyone,

I'm starting a MSc Neuroscience and Education course at the University of Bristol in October. I'm very excited but I'm feeling a bit lost due to the limited information there is available regarding US students studying in the UK. I would greatly appreciate any words of wisdom/advice you guys can give me! I'm still waiting on my FAFSA results, have applied for an international scholarship with UoB, applied for housing, have a VISA appointment in a few weeks....am I missing anything!? What did you pack for a year long course? What funding resources are available? Thanks for any help you can give me!


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Re: Starting course this coming fall....eeeek!
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2013, 05:50:24 PM »
Welcome to the forum :).

I'm sure you'll have a great time at the University of Bristol - Bristol is my hometown and I also studied for my MSc masters degree at Bristol University in 2006/07 as well.

One question, as you didn't mention it, but have you been issued your Tier 4 Certificate of Sponsorship from the university yet? You won't be able to apply for the visa or attend your visa appointment until you have it.

In terms of funding resources, very little will be available for you in the UK. In order to get the visa, you will need to show you have all your funding already in place before you leave the US - you need to show you have your tuition fees for the year (£13,500), plus £7,200 in living costs, so that's £20,700 in total ($31,500) and you may need to show proof that all of that money will be available to you before your course starts ... so you'll either need it all in your bank account for 28 days before you apply for the visa, or you need confirmed US loans to cover the amount (either FAFSA or Sallie Mae, or other private loans etc.).

In terms of packing for a year-long course, I spent the 2003/04 academic year studying abroad at the University of New Mexico (and I also moved there as a grad student in 2008). I packed 1 suitcase with clothes (a mix of summer and winter clothes) and some toiletries. I can't remember taking much else with me, to be honest - everything else I needed, I bought when I was there (school supplies, extra clothing and toiletries etc.).

It depends where you are from in the US as to what weather you are used to, but the UK doesn't get all that warm in the summer... the summer average temperature is about 68 degrees. You might get the odd few days in a row where it gets up into the high 70s or low 80s but that's about it (maybe 10 days a year max). It's been pretty cold here lately - last week, we had highs of only about 55 degrees F, while this week, it's getting up to 65 degrees, maybe 70 at a push... which seems warm after the cold spell lately (we were still getting air and ground frosts in early May).


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Re: Starting course this coming fall....eeeek!
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2013, 04:06:03 PM »
Thank you!  :)

I really appreciate your response! I've changed my VISA application to mid-July so that (hopefully) I will know what sort of funding I will receive from FAFSA. I've also contacted UoB regarding the Tier 4 certificate of sponsorship. I really hope this gives me enough time to get my paperwork processed since the great migration across the pond is occurring at the end of September. All of this form-filling-out, box-checking, finger-crossing, and waiting is so tedious!

I'm from Washington state so our weather is relatively similar to the UK. Right now it's 55 degrees F, though I love our mild weather so I think I'll be right at home in Bristol. :) I'm trying to avoid having to purchase too much once I arrive besides the necessities, but I realize that my entire room can't be shipped... I admire your ability to pack so minimally since that is a skill I'm still working on.

Thank you again for all of your help. I'm really grateful to hear from someone who experienced something similar.


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Re: Starting course this coming fall....eeeek!
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2013, 04:40:33 PM »
I really appreciate your response! I've changed my VISA application to mid-July so that (hopefully) I will know what sort of funding I will receive from FAFSA. I've also contacted UoB regarding the Tier 4 certificate of sponsorship. I really hope this gives me enough time to get my paperwork processed since the great migration across the pond is occurring at the end of September. All of this form-filling-out, box-checking, finger-crossing, and waiting is so tedious!

I just had a quick look at the UoB website and I see that term does not start until September 23rd... which means that the earliest date you can have your visa appointment is June 23rd (because you cannot apply more than 3 months before the start date of your course).

The Certificate of Sponsorship (CAS) is THE most important part of the application - no CAS means no visa, so you will definitely need it before you can apply for your visa. Most universities don't issue them until June or July though.

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I'm from Washington state so our weather is relatively similar to the UK. Right now it's 55 degrees F, though I love our mild weather so I think I'll be right at home in Bristol. :)

That's good - you'll be used to the rain then :P. Actually, I think that on average Bristol gets less rainfall than the Seattle area though, so maybe it will be nicer:). (Apologies for all the weather talk - I'm a meteorologist :P).

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I'm trying to avoid having to purchase too much once I arrive besides the necessities, but I realize that my entire room can't be shipped... I admire your ability to pack so minimally since that is a skill I'm still working on.


It's been quite a while since I did that year abroad (10 years now!), so I can't remember exactly what I took with me... it was all in one suitcase though. We were having a heatwave in the UK that summer, so it was actually about 95 F in Bristol the week before I moved :P.

When I moved back over to the US in 2008, I took just 2 suitcases with me... and I was potentially going to be living in the US for 4-6 years (I moved back to the UK after 8 months though). One of the suitcases contained mainly British food that I was stocking up on :P.

I'm used to packing minimally though - I've moved 12 times in the last 5 years, and in 2 weeks I'm moving to the Falkland Islands for 5 months (for work), so I've had to learn to keep it simple :P.

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Thank you again for all of your help. I'm really grateful to hear from someone who experienced something similar.

No problem at all - I'm glad to help :). I know I haven't done the same thing US to UK, but a lot of international students are in the same boat, no matter which country they're in. When I returned to the UK after my year abroad, I was on the committee for the Study Abroad Society and was part of the team helping new international students when they arrived in the UK and organising social activities for the society :).


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Re: Starting course this coming fall....eeeek!
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2013, 04:55:22 AM »
Wait a second, you said that you have booked a visa appointment for mid-July, but what exactly have you booked and where?

I did not realise this until a few minutes ago (when I checked the Worldbridge website), but as of April 25th 2013, it is no longer possible to book in-person premium appointments at the NYC consulate for Tier 4 student visa applications...so you should not have been able to book any type of visa appointment at all.

All visa applications made in the US must be mailed to NYC and no appointments can be made for any visas at all... this means that you cannot do anything in relation to your visa application until you have received your CAS.

The process for applying for your visa will be the following:

- Wait for your CAS to arrive and for your FAFSA funding confirmation

- Fill out the online Tier 4 visa application (http://www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk/)

- Submit the application and pay for the visa online. At this time, you will be prompted to book a biometrics appointment (fingerprints and photo) at one of the 129 USCIS application support centers across the US. You can see what USCIS centers are available near you here (but you cannot book an appointment until you have applied online): https://egov.uscis.gov/crisgwi/go?action=offices.type&OfficeLocator.office_type=ASC

- You attend your biometrics appointment at the USCIS center you have chosen (you must print the biometrics appointment confirmation sheet and take it with you, along with your passport)

- You make sure you have all the documents for your visa application (including your passport, printed online application form and biometrics confirmation sheet which will be stamped at the appointment) and then mail them to the NYC consulate within 14 days of the biometrics appointment. You must include a pre-paid, self-addressed return envelope for return of your documents and visa.

- If you wish, on the day you mail the documents (before mailing), you can go to the Worldbridge website and purchase 'Priority Processing' for $150... this is a 48-hour visa processing service (https://www.visainfoservices.com/pages/content.aspx?tag=Services_page).

- You then wait for the visa to be processed and returned to you.

To reiterate:

- there is no longer any way to book an in-person visa appointment for a Tier 4 student visa

- you cannot start any of the visa application process until after you have received your CAS from UoB.


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Re: Starting course this coming fall....eeeek!
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2013, 10:24:21 PM »
ksand has done an excellent job here so far!  But if it helps, I'll chime in too.

I studied at the Uni of Nottingham from 2010-2011. 

The visa process did not take too long, and it would be helpful if you clarified what exactly you've booked for July as that is a little confusing, but ksand listed all the most relevant links, so maybe that will help some?

One thing that occurs at some point between the university issuing a CAS and actually applying for the visa is actually having your loans certified.  The loan certification process also requires a CAS. (Unless of course things have changed since 2010, which is definitely possible!)

In addition, depending on your Neuroscience course, you may have to apply for ATAS approval (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) as part of the visa process.  I had to for my Biochemistry Master's, but this may be due to the nature of my course- which was ~95% research.  If ATAS approval is required it will be noted on your CAS. 

I'm very excited but I'm feeling a bit lost due to the limited information there is available regarding US students studying in the UK.
Check out other posts on this forum, and I'll try to dig up a link to a website that at one point I thought was useful.. There's a lot more information than you may currently think.  A lot of people also have personal blogs which can describe certain aspects about UK life. There's also a thread somewhere here on UKY about things we tend to miss most about the US, to prepare yourself, or, in the event that you decide to stock up on certain items before coming-- for me it was Secret deodorant (now I just use Mitchum), and Neosporin (I must be allergic to Savlon cream or something!? It irritates my skin)

What did you pack for a year long course?
I checked 1 large(ish) suitcase, 1 carry-on suitcase, and 1 backpack as my personal item.  I personally figured it wasn't worth it to pay extra to haul over all my stuff, when I could pay the same to just buy new stuff.  There's also the fact that there's typically less space in apartments/flats/closets, etc here, so you may not have room for everything you bring over!  Pretty sure I left packing to the last minute...

What funding resources are available?
As ksand mentioned, there will be little funding available to you as an international student once you arrive, as you will have already demonstrated that you can support yourself for the year without additional funding.  However, you will be allowed to work Part Time (20 hours/week) during your studies, and Full Time during school breaks.  Personally, I did not have enough time to have a job on the side as I was in the lab until around 7pm each night, and wasn't about to be a bartender/waitress after having spent all day on my feet.  But obviously experiences/expectations will vary, and I'm sure it'll work out just fine!
2007-Short Term Student;   2010-T4;   2011-T1 PSW;   2013-FLR(M);    2015-ILR;    2016 - Citizenship (approved!)


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Re: Starting course this coming fall....eeeek!
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2013, 08:59:40 PM »
Thanks so much for all of your advice! The appointment I made will be at the USCIS ASC Seattle Application Support Center. I think that's where I get my biometrics which I then mail to the British Consulate in New York. At least this is what VISA4UK is telling me to do. I'm following the steps on UoB's website so hopefully that's right, though I emailed them about my CAS and am still waiting on a response.

I do plan on working so that will definitely be of help. To expedite the process, are there any legal forms or documents I can get while still in the US? For instance, I have a food handler's permit. Will I need to get a new one if I end up working in a restaurant? Is there anything you wish someone would have told you before you started your experience abroad?

I haven't started packing yet, but if the majority of you were able to accomplish it in only one suitcase, it must be possible. I think I need to seriously begin culling my closet, though compression bags might help in that department. Is there anything you wished you brought with you to the UK?

And ksand24, no apologies necessary. It's helpful to know what to expect :)

 


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