Arriving in a foreign country and having to immediately isolate yourself from the world is not ideal, but it is necessary in order to protect yourself and your fellow Dundonians! Staying in a room, alone, for 14 days might sound like a nightmare for some (or a blessing if you’re too anxious about university!), but it can actually be quite enjoyable and a great way to settle into student life. Worry not, I can help you enjoy your self-isolation by giving you all my tips and tricks that helped me out during my 14 days (and give you the advice I wish I had gotten!). Here is my story about self-isolating this September, hope it can take even a bit of stress off your shoulders!
I arrived late in the evening of the 23rd of September. My taxi driver was a very friendly middle-aged man who wouldn’t let me stay alone in the West Park parking lot until I found my way to the reception. He was a very crucial part of my arrival, so my first tip for you would be to take advantage of the University taxi refund scheme (up to £75, freshers only, unfortunately), and book yourself a taxi to drive you to your accommodation. I would suggest looking at https://gettransfer.com/en, as this is the website I used and I recommend it, because I think it caters to all budgets. Having someone to help you not get lost and give you an extra hand with your luggage is always a plus!
Editor’s note: Whilst this was true of Sofia’s experience at the time, the University’s refund scheme ended in January 2022. For the most up to date information on arriving on campus, you should refer to our Travel guide.
My second tip would be to check out banks and phone providers before your arrival to the UK. It is really important to know the fees your current phone provider charges for outgoing and incoming calls from the UK and abroad. I personally decided to keep my home country number active for now, as the provider does not plan to charge me extra for calls and texts, at least until the end of 2020. Most student accommodation include a free one month trial of a pay-as-you go SIM card that you can use if you feel indifferent towards the different phone providers. As for banking, I would suggest checking out mobile banking apps like Revolut and Monzo, as many banks charge onwards of 3% for every transaction made in a foreign currency or a foreign country, whereas Revolut for example, charges zero commission on transactions, as long as you use the same currency as the country you are located in. Furthermore, currency exchange is almost free, with charges ranging from 10 cents to completely free, in my experience of changing EUR into GBP.
My third most important tip would be to socialize with students online prior to your arrival. My fellow international freshmen and I started organizing video calls right before moving or during their first days in their student halls/apartments. For me, and for any other self-isolating student, this was our only contact with others for those 14 days and it meant a great deal to us, so much so that we all still participate in these calls, even though we are all out of self-isolation. Apart from that, the University has also provided two dedicated pages for freshmen: University of Dundee Undergraduate Freshers 2020 (Official), ResLife at University of Dundee 2020-21, along with pages dedicated to University student accommodation like West Park 2020-21, Belmont 2020-21, Heathfield 2020-21 and Seabraes 2020-21.
It is a great way to find students from the same course or country as you! Having someone to share your struggles/fears/worries with, and get valuable advice in return is a necessity for all students in my opinion.
My fourth tip would be to take care of your mental and physical health once you arrive on campus. What I did to ensure that I felt at home in my student accommodation was to pre-order bedding sets and room decor that I liked. While the university does not accept packages on your behalf, you can always ask your new flat mates to safekeep the packages for you! (Major shoutout to my friend Lara who helped me with the delivery of the packages and with their unboxing, couldn’t have done it without you ❤️)
I would highly recommend buying fairy lights and maybe even a tapestry of your choice that you can pin on the pinboard. Buy decorations that will make your room feel like a safe space. If you are self-isolating, I would also suggest pre-ordering cutlery and groceries for the first two weeks, or at least to last you for your first week in Dundee. The stores I would recommend, as they are cheaper than most because they charge less in delivery and packing fees, would be ASDA and Iceland. Both are fairly easy to navigate and have a large variety of groceries and home accessories, on top of their budget-friendly prices.
Finally, I would like to wish all of you an amazing journey to Dundee. We all cannot wait to welcome you in semester 2 and beyond. Cheers to the new chapter in our lives!