1. Mobile phone
This is the biggest challenge upon arrival. So in order to use Google Maps to navigate around the city and to call on 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 prior to leaving home as you’ll need this to get your new number in Scotland to work.
- If you want to keep your old number for when you return home, request to suspend your service. However, beware that you may still be charged a small monthly fee.
- Find Princes Street. Walk along there and drop into the numerous phone shops like O2 or Virgin Mobile store (I use O2, both are good). 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. Transportation from the airport
- Airlink bus is the cheapest and there is a stand right outside the airport. They have a ticket booth in the airport building.
- Taxis are about £25.00 and may be a good option if you have lots of luggage. You can also take the Airlink bus in to town and then a taxi to your accommodation.
- The Edinburgh Tram goes directly from the airport to the same central destination as the Airlink bus.
3. Shipping your things
Write “TIER-4 STUDENT, University of Edinburgh” on your items, or you will be charged import tariffs.
4. Getting around whilst in Edinburgh
Road and Tram
- CityCabs: download this app for calling a cab quickly…a lot like Uber.
- M-Tickets: Use this to load up with bus tickets. Buses take exact change otherwise and this is easier.
- Bus and Tram Transport for Edinburgh: This tells you the stops and bus number….or use Google.
- If you’re going to use the train to get to other cities in the UK, definitely get a railcard. Always carry it with you on the train! Check routes and timetables on the Scotrail site.
- Student discounts can include up to 50% off tickets and discounts to special events.
- For last minute cheap flights for weekend getaways – Flybe, EasyJet, RyanAir
- The Skyscanner app is good for searching flights and getting updates on cheap tickets (Like Orbitz in the States.)
- Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland are good.
- Santander are on the main campus in Potterrow (our Student Union building).
6. Temporary housing
- Booking.com, Hostels app, and Orbitz.com
- Pollock Halls (a University housing facility) offers temporary housing whilst 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.
- Under 25 . . . student housing can be fun, but you’ll share a bathroom with 6 other people.
- Over 25 . . . see previous note on temporary housing.
- August: It is tough to find a place to move-in during August because of the Fringe Festival. Everyone sublets their place for a lot of money over the festival period so want to avoid letting to permanent residents.
- Websites: Citylets.co.uk, Gumtree.com, Spareroom.co.uk, Easyroommate.com
8. Getting advice on campus
They have a Postgraduate Guide for arriving on campus that includes networking activities with the whole University. Look into these if you want to have non-programme friends to hang out with once in a while. They offer advice about everything from accommodation, study help, to anything student-related.
- The Meadows: 5 minute walk to the Business School.
- The Grassmarket: Lots of bars, Fun area, 10 minute walk to the Business school.
- Nicholson Street/Crawford: 15-20 Minute walk to campus, very “Undergrad” area (Pollock Halls is near here).
- New Town: 30 minute, beautiful walk, good exercise (stairs and such).
The local stores tend to be small, but most delivery is FREE!! So you can order online from any of the following local store websites:
- Look up ‘Edinburgh Free Walking Tours’. This is the best way to learn about the city.
- Check out the Edinburgh iCentre above Waverley Station near Princes Street. All sorts of tours there.
- Stop by the International Student Society. They do trips almost every weekend.
Note: I recommend keeping travel to a minimum in the first semester. If you get behind it will catch up to you fast.
PureGym: These are all over the city and there is one near the Business School. It’s £19 a month, a little more private and nice.
University Gym (Centre for Sports and Exercise): About £100 for the year, lots of classes and options, plus pool facilities. 15 minute walk from campus.
Teviot has multiple bars in it and is located on campus. It is the oldest student union building in the world. Enjoy the Library bar to start with!
Register as soon as possible. It’s all free. I recommend the University Clinic (go online to look at their schedule through the University website) if you live in the local area. Or find a clinic near you and just walk in and sign-up. Again… FREE!!!!!