So, you’re coming to England to study…
Let me tell you how my experience went!
The sun shined through the spaces of the raffia mat covering the door to my hut…
Okay, I’m joking! I’m kind of worried that you thought I was being serious.
I actually finished my first year of university in Nigeria through a program called the International Year One.
I remember how excited I was to move to Manchester to start my second year, I also remember how that excitement turned into hair pulling, nerve racking stress the moment I had to actually go through the whole getting my CAS process.
Let me tell you how it all went down.
GETTING A CAS
The program I had undergone was an NCUK program and so the results had automatically qualified me for entry into second year of my degree.
Now, that sounds absolutely easy right? Like what could possibly go wrong?
It turns out that getting the result was only key in actually getting an unconditional offer from my university. The work was really in getting them to offer me a CAS.
So for those who don’t know what a CAS is, a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS), is a reference number that you will need to apply for your study visa. It is usually issued by your immigration sponsor, which in this case is the university you are trying to get into.
For you to get a CAS, you will usually need to apply for one. This process requires you to answer a couple of questions that proves to the university that you really want to come there to study and you actually have plans.
They will ask questions like “Where do you intend to stay?” and “Why did you choose us?”. These questions felt really weird to me because I imagined someone traveling overseas and not actually having a plan for where they were going to stay…
As you can obviously tell, I messed up the first time. My answers were not detailed enough and I did not hear anything from back from them.
I was stressed, my agent was stressed, my parents was stressed, my “old man” ie my dad was stressed… You get the point.
Somehow, we managed to, after over a million tries, blood and tears, get my application accepted and my CAS issued.
I had already had to move my ticket to a week later and so I literally had a week to get my study visa and get ready to move my entire life abroad to study.
Don’t be vague with any question you are asked. Details will literally save you time and heartbreak. The home office doesn’t like dark and mysterious, she will literally ghost you.
GETTING THE VISA
So, as you can already guess, this process was also unnecessarily hard and nerve-wracking. If you have been following this grand tale of “How many bad things can happen at once.”, you will see that this couldn’t have possibly been easy for me as well. You know how life is, she likes to be consistent.
So, as I was saying, I had just one week to apply for and get my application approved. Now, I was meant to catch my flight on Monday and so I had to get to the embassy on the previous Friday to collect my passport with my decision.
So, I don’t know how many people have actually been to Lagos, Nigeria but the traffic there can be kind of hellish. After nearly five hours in traffic, I missed my appointment and the closing time of the embassy.
As you can already guess, I couldn’t get my documents and the embassy didn’t open all weekend and I had to spend all weekend twiddling my thumbs. So, at that point, my parents and I weren’t sure if my visa had been approved and if we were even leaving on Monday.
What I’m trying to tell you is that we were fifty percent prepared on Monday morning and our flight was leaving that evening. Now, I don’t know if you know how black parents work but they are usually a hundred percent ready days before the flight and at least three hours early to the airport.
My parents and I drove really early to the airport on Monday morning and were even there before they opened. I eventually got my passport and visa and then from there it was “How quickly can you pack your whole life in two boxes but keep them under the maximum baggage weight?”
No matter how bleak things seem and how unsure you are, make sure to be prepared for every situation.
TRAVELLING AND SETTLING IN
As you can imagine, the nine hours I had before my flight were the busiest nine hours of my life. Through some miracle and my mother’s resourcefulness, we
managed to finish all our packing and get to the airport on time.
I managed to squeeze a solid airplane movie in before I fell asleep, after all I had been through, that sleep was welcome and well deserved.
I don’t know if it was because of all the stress I had already endured but when I got to the UK, I was a bit overwhelmed.
The day of my registration was a bit weird because I had a whole clan follow me to the uni to get me set up!
Okay, maybe not a whole clan… There were just four people but still, it felt like a whole clan of people!
Setting up was super easy, the guides and staff were super helpful and I didn’t really experience any difficulties. The amount of people and societies there were mind blowing and for a brief moment, I considered signing up for the medieval society (Emphasis on brief because I realised it was way too much work).
From the moment I got to the UK, I had it in my head that the weather was my friend, that was a great mistake. You will come to realise that the weather is a mean girl from those cliché 2007 romantic comedies.
She will pretend to be warm and the moment you trust her, she will drench you in icy rain. This tragic accident happened on the day of my orientation.
You see, my mum had warned me to wear an extra shirt and a sweater but I was determined to not let the threat of rain faze me, so I wore a shirt made of the flimsiest material ever. I don’t know why I wanted everyone to see that shirt because now that I think about it, the shirt was ugly.
I had already gone through the orientation and was making my way to the bus stop when the weather decided it was her time to show me who is boss, now I don’t know if you know how hot Nigeria is but compared to the UK, I basically live in hell. Imagine being drenched in water that has been in the freezer for days, I was soaked, I was cold and I was pissed.
I am pleased to tell you that I always carry a Jacket, even in the summer. Get one from Amazon if required, they do next day delivery for most items
Never trust the weather. Check the weather forecast at all times, carry a jacket even when the sun is blazing and don’t try to be stronger than the weather. She is boss.
ONE DEGREE LATER…
My coming to the UK experience was very hectic but it was a worthwhile experience. Think of this as an adventure and the moment you start applying, that’s when the adventure starts.
Make the best of everything and remember:
1. Do loads of research about the place you are coming to. The North is the coldest part of the UK and you will find out that accents and culture differ across the UK. Not everyone speaks Queen’s English.
2. Pack for everything, make sure you are fully prepared for the best and the worst situation.
3. Always have back up plans for your back up plans. Unless you can see the future, you are never certain of anything. Make sure you are very organised with your planning, especially if it has to do with things like accommodation, feeding and money.
4. It’s okay to ask questions about things that confuse you, that is how you learn.
5. The culture will be different. Learn the culture, that way you don’t make embarrassing mistakes.
It’s okay to be overwhelmed at first, you’ve literally moved your whole life abroad! Take your time and be kind to yourself, eventually you will grow accustomed to the place and you might even fall in love with it.
If you had similar or very different experiences with coming to the UK, please leave me a comment below.
If you know anyone who might really benefit from this article or just needs a laugh, please share it and spread the love!
Until next time!