Before you arrive

Information for new students

If you are a new student joining us at the International Study Centre, you may have some questions about what it's like to live and study in the UK. To help you plan your journey, we’ve put together a useful guide with information on what to do once you have confirmed your place, what to pack and much more.

Download the University of Leeds pre-arrival guide

Living in the UK

Specialist and international foods

Shops both on campus and very close to campus will sell most things you’ll initially need. You may also find that some of the larger supermarkets stock the products that you require.

Social attitudes

Life in Britain will almost certainly be different from what you are used to. It is difficult to define exactly what the ‘British’ way of life is as attitudes and outlooks vary considerably according to where you are in the country. As a home to residents from many different parts of the world and a variety of ethnic backgrounds, Britain has a vibrant, cosmopolitan feel. It won’t take you long before you are accustomed to your new life here and are able to adapt to a whole variety of situations; everything from understanding British etiquette and mannerisms to cooking your own food and running your own bank account.


Tap water in Britain is safe to drink but if you feel wary of this, bottled water and water filters are readily available at most supermarkets, which you could buy on arrival.


Alcohol is available to anyone aged over 18. It’s perfectly acceptable for adults to drink alcohol in moderate amounts. For many British people, drinking is an established part of social life – ‘going out for a drink’ is how they relax or spend time with friends. This doesn’t mean that you have to drink alcohol. If you don’t want to you can always ask for a non-alcoholic drink instead.


Many people in Britain smoke. However, in some ways smoking is less acceptable than drinking, and smoking is banned in all pubs, clubs and restaurants in England, as well as other public places including buses and the London Underground. If you smoke in these places, you have to pay a fine. Some non-smokers find smoke unpleasant and uncomfortable. If you are eating or drinking with friends – especially at someone else’s house – it is polite to ask before you light your cigarette.


To start with everything is new, exciting and different, but as time goes by you may start to wish that things were the way they were back home. Don’t despair as this stage will pass – and much more quickly if you talk to someone about how you are feeling.