As you come towards the end of your course of study, the prospect of returning home will probably be very much on your mind. There is much to consider, and you should start your preparations early, as you may well find that leaving the UK will take almost as much planning and organisation as your arrival did. Here are some practical things that you may need to consider:
- Making Travel Arrangements
- Sending Your Belongings Home
- Shipping companies
- Notification of Your Departure
- Leaving Your Job/Tax Refunds
- Leave a Forwarding Address
- Career Considerations
- Other Preparations
It is important to book early, in order to get the best fares and make sure you get a seat on the flight of your choice. Fares can vary considerably so consult several travel agents to compare prices. You can get a listing of travel agents and their telephone numbers by searching in the online Yellow Pages directory.
If you've been in the UK for very long, you've probably accumulated quite a few possessions and you'll need to decide which ones you want to take home. Don't leave this until the last minute because you might need time to sell a few things.
Airlines charge a high price for excess baggage, so check with your airline what the baggage allowance is and consider sending additional items via a freight company (we have included a list of local and national companies in the Appendix). To check that you are not in possession of anything that cannot be taken into your home country, contact your country's embassy or consulate in London. It is also worth checking whether the authorities in your home country will charge any excise duties on goods you are importing. If the shipping costs and excise duties would come to more than the cost of replacing the items when you get home, you may wish to consider selling them before you leave. Items can be advertised on the University Notice Board.
Following is a list of several freight companies. You can search the online Yellow Pages directory. We suggest you telephone several companies and compare prices. Before calling for quotes, think about what services you need i.e. do you need the company to collect from your door in the UK and deliver to your door overseas, or can you collect the baggage from the port or airport yourself? How soon do you need the goods to arrive at their destination? Do you want your goods sent by sea or air? Generally if the goods are to be sent by sea, the shipping company will need to know the dimensions of the goods in order to give you a quote; for air freight you will need to give the weight.
Many companies offer discounts for students, so make sure you tell them that you are a student. MBE Mail Boxes Etc is a local company and they offer free boxes and tape to students for sending your belongings in.
Do take out an insurance policy to cover your goods whilst in transit and check what it covers. This can be arranged through the freight company.
PLEASE NOTE: The following companies are listed for your information only. They are NOT university services and therefore we cannot recommmend them or vouch for the quality of service they provide. Please note that the International Office cannot accept responsibility for the actions of any of these companies.
Pack and Send Bristol Central
Specialist Packing & Shipping for International Staff & Students
3-4 Transom House, Victoria Street, Bristol
MBE Mail Boxes Etc
3 Edgar Buildings, George Street, Bath
Tel: 01225 483777
Tel: 01225 464191 or 0800 019 8557
32, Fourth Avenue, Westfield Trading Estate, Midsomer Norton, Radstock, Avon BA3 4XE
Tel: 01761 410185
Crown Road, Bristol, Avon, BS30 8XS
Tel: 0117 9600666
Head Office, Hythe Road, Smeeth, Ashford, Kent
Tel: 0800 216698
International House, Kennet Road, Dartford, Kent DA1 4QN
Tel: 0800 021 4290
Fax: 01322 556882
If you need to store your belongings somewhere during the vacations, Safestore Spaces (Tel: 0800 444800) in Bath offer storage space. The cost depends on the size required (for a minimum of 7 days) but students receive a 20% discount (this includes insurance for up to £2,000) and they will collect at a special student rate (confirm these conditions still apply before booking).
Various offices and services will want to know when you intend to leave, for example:
- Your bank - Discuss with your bank whether you should close your account before leaving the UK, or leave it open (to clear outstanding bills, etc.). If they advise you to close your account, your bank will inform you of the correct procedure for doing this. Inform your bank if you have any Direct Debits or Standing Order payments you wish to cancel.
- Your landlord - Notify your landlord or University accommodation office that you are leaving. Check your tenancy agreement to see how much notice you need to give. If you are in private residence, arrange for the property to be inspected so that your bond/deposit can be returned to you before you leave.
- Utilities companies - Make sure all utilities bills (gas, water, electricity, telephone) are paid up to date. If the bills are in your name, give notification that you are leaving, otherwise charges will continue to be made to you.
- Rental companies - If you are renting anything, such as a television or telephone, check on the contract how much notice has to be given.
BE SURE TO SETTLE ALL DEBTS BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE UK. It is in your interest to do so. Your UK bank may be able to collect the money from your home bank and students in debt to the University will be unable to graduate.
Check whether you can reclaim money on any of the following: Car tax; TV licence; travel cards; telephone rental;
VAT refunds: You might be entitled to a refund of Value Added Tax (VAT) on certain goods that you bought in the UK, but only if you are taking them outside the EU within 3 months of the end of the month in which you purchased them.
Further information about the scheme is available from shops which advertise 'Tax-free shopping' and from the National Advice Service, Tel: 0845 010 9000 or on the HM Customs & Excise website.
If you have worked during the past year and intend to return home the following information may be useful:
- You should try and leave a small amount of money in your UK bank account so that you can still receive any payments due to you. These payments could be a late payment due to a holiday pay scheme from your employer, late salary payments or unexpected refunds.
- You should also ask your bank about how to close the account from your home country to make sure that you know about the procedure before you leave the UK.
- You should ensure that your employer has the correct address to enable them to forward any outstanding payments or correspondence to you.
Reclaiming Tax: Form P85
If you fill out the Form P85 BEFORE you leave the country it will enable you to claim any overpaid tax due to you, although you can claim back overpaid tax for up to six years previous to the current tax year. However, it is probably best to claim back any overpaid tax as soon as you leave your employment so you can get help with the form if you need it; it is also easier to obtain your P45 and other documents while you are still in the country. Their website explains how the system for reclaiming overpaid tax works, or you can call the tax office on 0845 3021443.
It may be helpful to give your home address to a number of people, so that they can keep in touch with you and forward any correspondence or important information:
- Friends and colleagues
- The University's Alumni Association. Please let Alumni Relations know if you change address, by emailing email@example.com. Have a look at their website to see what they can offer you at www.bath.ac.uk/alumni. All graduates will be sent an alumni magazine in the autumn
- The Post Office (who will send mail to your new address, for a fee)
- Organisations to which you belong
- Publications to which you subscribe
To help you in your professional life at home, you might wish to contact a few people who can comment on your abilities and work, such as an academic member of staff, or employer, and provide you with a written reference. The Careers Advisory Services on campus may also be able to assist you with researching employment possibilities.
Reverse culture shock
Just when you thought you'd got over your culture shock in the UK, you arrive home and find yourself going through it all over again! In fact, moving back to your home environment after being away can be more of a culture shock than the UK was. You expect your home to be thoroughly familiar to you, but instead you find you experience it differently. You'll re-evaluate your own culture in terms of what you've experienced elsewhere. Many students are surprised that it can take some time to readjust to living in their home country again.
Some potential areas of difficulty are:
Family and friends: You may have changed considerably while you have been away from home, but your family may expect you to be just as you were when you left and can find it hard to accommodate your changes.
Work: Colleagues who have not studied overseas may regard you with envy or hostility, or they may have unrealistic expectations of what you can achieve. You may feel frustrated by different working practices or procedures and a lack of funding may mean you lack opportunities to develop the skills you worked so hard to develop in the UK.
Economic and political conditions: You may feel out of touch with political events. Your country may have suffered recession, or dramatic economic growth since you left, both of which will mean you have to adapt to different circumstances on your return.
Customs and ideas: When you came to the UK, you probably had to adapt to a number of cultural differences, which in time you came to take for granted. On returning home, you may find that it takes time before once familiar customs and ideas seem normal again. Areas that could present challenges include preparing and serving food; style of dress; timekeeping; gender roles and behaviour; bureaucratic procedures.
Preparing for reverse culture shock
- Take the contact details of friends you have made in the UK so you can stay in touch after you have returned home;
- Read newspapers and magazines from home so you are up to date with news and developments there;
- Remember the skills you developed when you first arrived in the UK and had to adapt to a new culture and use them;
- Talk with students who live near you and have also studied abroad about their experiences. Your local British Council office may be able to put you in touch, or the Alumni Office;
- When you get home, give yourself time to readjust to life there - and give your friends and family time to readjust to the new you.
Although it can take time and there may be ups and downs, the majority of students successfully readjust to their home culture and renew old ties and relationships. It is best to be aware that problems could arise, but these should not outweigh the thrilling experience of going home.