The Storm Before the Calm

  • 1 August 2016, 06:19

So. Much. To. Do. Those four words echo through my head every morning as soon as I hear that buzz roar on my nightstand. The alarm clock on my cellphone interrupts my dreams buzzing loudly as if to remind me, “You haven’t applied for your Visa yet! Did you forget how important that is?” Or to sarcastically pipe in, “So, are you planning on living on the streets…or in an apartment? You should probably make those arrangements.” After I willingly find the snooze button a few more times, and in an effort to finally roll out of bed, my thoughts gravitate to, “Just make coffee first, and then think about it.”


So I’ve had my coffee. Now I’ll think about it.


The truth is, it feels like if I can make it through these couple of weeks battling the fierce, relentless Triple P (planning, paperwork, and packing), school will be a walk in the park. Can I get an AMEN?!


…Actually, I might be overreacting. It’s not that bad.

Here are 13 of the most important things I have done to get ready for life as a student at the University of Dundee!


  1. Get my Visa.


I’ll be the first to admit I am no expert on all things Visa-related…as I have not completed the process yet…but hear me out! I have, in fact, made headway in the process, so I can tell you a few key things to note:

Make sure to be in contact with the University of Dundee to receive your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number as soon as absolutely possible. This number must be issued to you by the University. And if you have not been in contact with them specifically asking for the CAS number, chances are that you do not already have it. It’s also very, veeeeery, verrrry important, so I wouldn’t recommend guessing it.

Once you have your CAS number, you can complete the online Visa application.

Click HERE to fill out the online Visa application.

Heads up, fellow penny pinchers, there is a fee of £328 for anyone outside of the UK applying for a Visa.

Make an appointment with a US Department of Homeland Security application support centre (ASC) near you to have biometric information recorded… i.e. fingerprints.

>>>A recent Visa-related post by a fellow blogger can be found HERE.<<<


  1. Find a place to live.

University Housing is a wonderfully convenient option. The facilities come with everything necessary like a kitchen, wifi, and laundry service, and even more. Rooms are private and most include a private bathroom. Basically, you tell them you need a room and BAM. Done. EZ PZ. The kitchens and living spaces are shared, and the convenience of living on or near campus really can’t be beat.

The Old Mill. (Insert me loosing my nerdy ish over how excited I am to be living in this beautiful, historic building). The process of securing my room in The Old Mill was almost effortless. I applied online through, paid my deposit, and then got a call from a very sweet lady who helped me through the whole process. She confirmed everything and even was in contact with the landlord for me. She helped me with my account and tenancy agreements. I couldn’t have felt more confident that my housing agreement was taken care of.

The University of Dundee does a great job of listing all accommodation options on their website. Many privately owned leasing agents are available in addition to the University housing. Go to THIS website to get more information on all of the accommodation resources that the University of Dundee provides. You won’t regret it!


  1. Sell my extras.

Every time I travel, I always get the feeling that I don’t even need all of the things I left at home. I get thoughts about all the stuff I have at home to and it makes me feel cluttered and claustrophobic. I feel like if I can live without it for an extended period of time, it must not be necessary. This time around, I’m choosing to sell and donate most of the things I don’t end up packing. Aaand also it’s less that my parents have to store for me while I am gone. They really like that reason.

Tradesy and Poshmark are wonderful websites where you can sell gently used clothes that you wont be bringing with you.


  1. Make a budget.

Loans. Its not free money…its not free money. I have had to remind myself of this a few times. My schooling is not paid for through scholarships or grants, so I am taking out student loans to do this really awesome thing called a Master’s program. It’s pretty simple, but a budget is really the most responsible thing I can do for myself throughout this program. TIP: It’s also really helpful to have an awesome friend to hold you accountable for your spending and then return the favor for them. Try it!


  1. Tell my bank I am going to be abroad.

My bank is quick to put my account and debit/credit cards on hold if they see any transactions from a location outside of my typical stomping ground. No complaints though, it’s actually a really wonderful service which I am grateful for in regards to potential identity theft. Hypothetically speaking, though, it would clearly be a pain if I had a cart full of groceries ready to be paid in Dundee and my account was put on hold because my bank didn’t think I would be shopping in Scotland. Dropping a quick note to your bank ahead of time saves many headaches in the end.


  1. Get off parent’s phone plan.

I’m about to turn another year older and another year closer to fully adult-ing. I’m the oldest child in my family and my parents are raising two daughters younger than me. It’s about stinking time I do them a favor and get off their cell phone plan, eh? They agree.

So, I left my parents cell phone plan and right now do not have a contract with any service provider. It really is as liberating as it sounds! I purchased an iPhone off of Amazon (God bless you, Amazon) from a company with great reviews, yada, yada, yada. My plan of action is to do what I did when I lived in Ireland last year. I take my liberated iPhone with me, and visit a store called 3. At 3, I buy a sim card and pay £23 monthly for unlimited data. It’s real, guys. The plan also comes with unlimited texting to anyone else who has service through 3 and it even a handful of minutes which I use to call back home and talk to family and friends. To renew each month, I can either pay online, by calling the company, or by stopping into a 3 store. EZ PZ.


  1. Quit my job.

This summer was my summer between my undergraduate study and moving to University of Dundee for my graduate study. Basically, the name of the game this summer was Make Money. As an intern during the day and a bartender at night, every day seemed like a bit of a marathon. Maybe like running a marathon…backward. Or like running a marathon…while eating donuts. Or like running a marathon…with seventeen people on your back. But a marathon I was happy to do, nonetheless. While it was great to be busy and productive, that chapter is coming to a close soon so that I have time to wind down, pack, and visit family and friends before leaving. I’m giving myself a solid three weeks between work and moving so that I don’t bring stresses along on this trip.


  1. Spend time with family and friends.

As excited and ready as I am to be moving to Scotland, I am packing my last few weeks here with loads and loads of family and friend time. My family is planning a special meal in our home and also a special meal to our favorite Algerian restaurant nearby. I mean, who doesn’t like to celebrate over food?! I have set aside nights to spend with Grandma and Grandpa playing card games and also set aside time to visit friends in Colorado. Who knew saying goodbye could be so eventful, am I right?


  1. Print pictures.

I am grateful to have parents who are supportive of my decision to move away from home to study. They encourage me to take big leaps in life that may seem daunting or brand new, but they are also very adamant that I remember where my home is. Taking photos of home with me is the perfect way for me to kick homesickness. I love having photos with me that remind me how wonderful home is, how much love is there, and how it will be the same when I get back. I know myself well enough to know that by staying busy and focusing on what I am doing in Dundee will keep the wrath of homesickness at bay. Whether I am studying, hanging out with friends, joining clubs, exercising, or watching Netflix, there is always something to do that will make this experience one of its own and one that is not full of wishing I was anywhere else.


  1. Collect recipes.

I don’t know about you, but I find it so fun to learn about other cultures. From their language, to humor, to clothing style, to cuisine, I love it all. And I love sharing mine with them, too. I am bringing a few of my favorite recipes from home that are special to me and ones that my family regularly shares to share with my new friends.

Rhubarb pie

Cheesy chicken and rice

Banana bread


BBQ pork sandwich


  1. List some places I want to visit.

One of the best parts of moving to the UK is thinking about all of the beautiful places I can spend time. I love hiking, but hiking with the thought of an irresistible view at the end? It doesn’t get better than that. Iceland, Ireland, Croatia, Portugal, I mean, my list gets longer every day! And to make it even more dreamland-esque, transportation in Europe has proven itself to be very affordable…especially as an American who is generally bound by outrageous domestic airfares.


  1. Buy hiking gear.

People ask me what I like to do for fun, what I like to do on the weekends, and what makes me happy. My answer? Being outdoors. It doesn’t matter what it is, I just want to be outside! I just love the fresh air and the open space, the colors, and the gentle sounds. You could say there is a correlation between my love of the outdoors and my decision to study environmental science. If you are like me and crave the outdoors and hiking, biking, camping, whatever it is, here are some of my favorite staple items you may want to think about having in your arsenal of outdoor gear.

Durable, light backpack

Hiking boots

Solar phone charger

Womens waterproof hiking pants

Mens waterproof hiking pants

Smartwool socks


  1. Start a personal blog.

Family and friends wish they could be with you, guaranteed. The best thing I have found I can do is to write to them. To make them feel like they are traveling with me and to let them know it would be even better if they were along. To anyone traveling, start a blog. Make it a perfect place to post a picture and a little blerp to go along with it. Not only will it be appreciated by others, you will love that you can look back on these documented moments down the road.


  • Show Comments and Reply Form

    3 Responses to “The Storm Before the Calm”

    1. Rebecca Trengove

      Hi Courtney,
      really enjoyed your post. if you like hiking you are coming to a fab place as the Scottish hills are a superb playground right throughout the year. You might be interested in joining the Rucksack Club as a good way to get out into the hills. Look forward to meeting you when you arrive in Dundee.
      best regards

      • Courtney

        Hi Tash! Thanks for reaching out. I chose to live off campus for financial reasons. I was able to find an affordable flat in The Old Mill which is 5 minutes from campus 🙂

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