Aerial photo of Portsmouth coast line including the Spinnaker Tower

Tips to help international students settle into university life in Portsmouth

  • 18 August 2021
  • 7 min read

Medha is an International Student Ambassador studying MSc Business and Management. She has a passion for exploring new cities and in this blog shares her 5 tips to help new international students settle into life in Portsmouth.  

As exciting as it may be, moving to a new city can also be stressful, and as a new student in a new place, fear of the unknown is inevitable.

I moved from India to this famous waterfront city and immediately fell in love with the historical stories, structures, food, and just the fact that the sea was so close by.

Once you have settled into your accommodation, it’s good to give yourself some time to soak in the feeling of moving away from home and to start a journey to giving a piece of your heart to your new city.

The 5 tips below helped me get comfortable and familiar with Portsmouth and will hopefully help you too.

1. Register yourself at a local GP: First things first!

Popularly known as GP, (General Practitioner), surgery or doctor’s – this is a medical clinic you need to register with once you move to your new place. They keep a record of your health conditions and are the go-to place for any medical assistance. Being an international student, it was quite interesting to know that once registered with a GP, you could receive free (well, after paying the health surcharge fee with my visa application) medical services and subsidised prescriptive medication. I faced some knee issues two months after I moved in, and the process of booking an appointment online and seeing a doctor in person was quite convenient. They treated me with absolute care and proper diagnosis. 

2. Download travel and food delivery apps, get a railcard

You might feel like a tourist for the first few days and want to go crazy exploring Portsmouth and the nearby cities, food, and all the hidden spots. The very first thing I did was download a few travel apps that would help me get to places (well, apart from Google maps). A few of them were Trainline, First bus, and Uber, which covered all the basic means of travel- rail, bus and taxi services. It was suggested that I buy a railcard online (via the Railcard app) which saved 1/3 of the fare on my train travels, and trust me! You will want to travel to London and other cities by train to view the beautiful countryside and scenery. 

Exploring the local food was another bucket-list experience for me which was made easier by food delivery apps. Some of the popular ones being Deliveroo, Just Eat, and Uber Eats. They offer great discounts to newbies! (P.s. Try the fish and chips at Fisherman’s Kitchen in Southsea, a personal favourite!). 

Despite the help of technology, exploring the city on foot was the best experience. Walking through the surreal narrow lanes passing between the 19th-century houses, hunting for the best fish and chips and fried chicken shops, or just sitting by the beautiful pebble beach - exploring on foot felt like the best way to get to know the heart of Portsmouth. Taking a train to nearby cities like Arundel, London, Southampton, etc. was my other favourite option. The Trainline app has been very helpful for me with updates on the delays, cancellations, or refunds. 

3. Keep a constant check on the weather forecast

Believe it or not, you will be using weather forecasting apps a lot more in this country. Britain is well-known for its dramatic weather changes. At times, it is cloudy in the morning and sunny a bit later, and when it finally looks like a great day to go out, it starts raining and gives you very little time to prepare the right clothing. This is thanks to Britain’s geographical positioning at the edge of the Atlantic. The only way I’m surviving through this is by keeping a constant check on the weather forecast, wearing a waterproof jacket and shoes. Despite that, I’m often caught out by not carrying an umbrella with me.

Quick Tip: You want to make friends with the Brits? Try starting a conversation about the weather!

4. Sort out grocery shopping

It was crazy for me to understand and get used to the fact that every supermarket has a different price for the same product. Back in India, we have something called the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) which sets one price across the whole country for every branded product. Eventually, I figured out which supermarkets are best for what, at least for me. Some people shop from their favourite stores, but I like to pick favourites from every store - frozen food from Iceland, Indian groceries from Asda, bakery and fancy food from Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's (P.s. Lidl’s bakery section is equally fresh and amazing), and Tesco falling under the comfort zone in terms of costing and availability of particular groceries. Portsmouth is lucky to have the major supermarkets in the heart of the city.

5. Join UoP global on Instagram and Facebook

I was too late to understand the importance of joining the social media pages of the University. These platforms keep you updated on the events happening in the University and viewing real-time experiences/stories from the ambassadors. These social media pages are a great platform to make friends from a field of interest. Had I known this earlier, I would have been a lot more engaged than I was. I have to agree that the University has made every possible arrangement to give the best experiences to their students in every aspect.  

Moving to a new city involves exciting adventures and experiences. These tips kick-started a great journey for me, and hopefully, they might help you too.