The International Freshers’ Guide contains almost everything international students must know before coming to Cambridge, including multiple travel options, detailed packing suggestions, inexplicable Cambridge terminology, and juicy secrets about the ISC committee - make sure you take a look at the 2022 International Freshers’ Guide! We’ve also listed several ways you can receive more information from the ISC about coming to Cambridge. Please pay close attention to our social media for updates and events specifically for international Freshers. Additionally, the contact information of each of our committee members can be found in the guide. Feel free to reach out to us about anything that concerns you!
You can also find more general resources to guide you through your time at Cambridge here. You can also contact your college International Officer for general questions, or the Student Advice Service to speak to someone and find further guidance.
Generally, college accommodation is of good quality, most of them are inside or close to your College, and problems are sorted out fairly quickly by informing the Porters or contacting College Maintenance directly. The kitchen facilities are normally good and usually there are laundry facilities too.
Before you arrive, you should have been told where you are living, how much it will cost per term, per month or per week, and when you can move in. On arrival in Cambridge, you should normally go to the Porters’ Lodge of your college, where you can collect you room keys. It may be possible for international students to move into your accommodation before the start of term- you should check and arrange this with your college.
If you wish to check-into your college accommodation prior to the standard accommodation initiating date (usually around 27th Sept), you can submit an application by emailing the Accommodation Team at your College. Please mention you international student status and briefly justify your application.
If you do not have college accommodation:
During term time, most undergraduate students will have their accommodation covered by their colleges. Graduate students on the other hand may only have limited provision of housing (eg. college accommodation provided in their first year). Below are some advice regarding accommodation search:
University Accommodation Service - The Accommodation Service exists to help you in your search for a home in Cambridge. We provide access to properties, both within the private sector as well as University-owned properties, which includes newly constructed, purpose-built and highly sustainable homes for staff in a new district at the North West Cambridge Development.
- College Accommodation Team - Email the Accommodation Team at your College and seek help with securing accommodation. The College may share some student real estate with other colleges at a subsidized cost. The College may also be involved in proving your student status.
Cambridge Accommodation noticeboard - a very useful notice board with constant postings of rooms/flats/houses for rent.
Student Accommodation Service Providers such as Student Castle and Study Inn
The Cambridge Rental Accommodation Facebook group - but please be careful when negotiating contracts with strangers.
Health and Medical services
All full-time students at Cambridge are covered by the National Health Service (NHS) for medical costs, except for eye care and dental care (see below). This means once you are registered with a GP surgery (a medical clinic), you do not have to pay to see a doctor. Medication is separately charged, and with NHS prescriptions generally cost £9.35 per item. However, do check here if you are entitled for a free prescriptions, and if you are going to be needing more than 3 prescriptions within a three-month period, you can get a prescription prepayment certificate to save money. You can buy some medication from pharmacies without prescription. Note that doctors at your GP may not be always available to see all patients – sometimes you may expect to be seen by qualified nurses instead, who will provide you with professional advice and help on your health matter.
So the important thing to remember upon arrival is to register with a GP surgery. You can search for your nearest GP or other NHS services by postcode.
Hospital and emergency services
999 is the emergency number in the UK. You can also call NHS 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do.
The main hospital in Cambridge is Addenbrookes Hospital.
Eye and Dental Care
Eye-care is different. If you wear contact lenses or glasses, you will need to have a British optical prescription before you can buy contact lenses or glasses. So either bring some from home, or set up an appointment to have your eyes checked when you arrive. You are entitled to free NHS eye tests or optical vouchers if you are aged under 16, or 19 and in qualifying full-time education, or fulfill other conditions.
Similarly, NHS dental treatment is free to students under the age of 19 years, or if you fulfill other conditions. NHS charges are payable by students aged 19 years and over. To claim exemption from charges on grounds of low income it is necessary to have a current Certificate of Exemption.
Meningitis vaccines are mandatory for all students in the UK as the 18-25 age group is most vulnerable to this virus, and it can have serious consequences. It is recommended you receive the vaccination either in your home country or once you arrive in UK. You can have the vaccination here in the UK if you prefer and at no cost. If you already had the vaccination previously before coming to UK, please bring a record with you.
Mental Health and Counselling
The University Counselling Service offers confidential counselling to both students and staff of the University, and is often the first port of call for a number of people suffering from mental health problems. The counselling service is able to offer a great deal of support on a whole variety of issues, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and relationship problems. Feel free to contact the Welfare Officer (email@example.com) anytime if you have any issues or would like a chat.
There are societies for many cultural backgrounds. You can find them by looking through the societies directory.