Ultimate Guide to Supermarkets in the UK

Supermarkets in the UK

There are many supermarket chains in the UK from where you can buy food, groceries, daily utilities, etc. without straining your budget.  To make your life easier, we have curated a list of the best supermarkets in the UK! 

Tesco

Tesco Supermarkets in UK

Tesco is the biggest chain of supermarkets in the UK. Tesco Superstores are standard large supermarkets, stocking groceries and a much smaller range of non-food goods. You can look out for its ‘Everyday Value’ range for the cheapest prices. Tesco Extra shops are large and stock nearly all of Tesco’s product ranges. Tesco Express is like a convenience store, which is open late (usually till 11 pm) but keeps a smaller quantity of stock with slightly raised prices. 

Pro Tip: Sign up for their loyalty “Clubcard” to earn a point per £1 spent. These can be redeemed against future purchases & save you big bucks in the long run!

Sainsbury’s

sainsbury's supermarkets in UK

Sainsbury’s is the second-largest chain of supermarkets in the UK after Tesco. You can get everything from groceries and clothing to home-ware and electricals. While Tesco and Sainsbury’s are similar, the latter has a better reputation for quality. Similar to Tesco Express, there are Sainsbury’s Local stores which are smaller in size and offer basic supplies at steeper prices.

Pro Tip: Check out the Sainsbury’s Basics range for economically priced, everyday essentials.

Aldi 

Aldi supermarket in UK

Aldi is a German chain of supermarkets, which is growing in popularity in the UK due to its pocket-friendly prices. It has stores opened in affluent locations, including Knutsford and Bury St. Edmunds. You will tend to find Aldis outside central London and when you find one, we recommend you stock up its value-for-money branded goods. It has recently launched smaller stores called Aldi Local, with the first store in Balham, southern London. The store has a slightly smaller number of products than a regular Aldi, with a preference for fresh products. 

Pro Tip: The store’s own brand products are about 50% cheaper than similar items from bigger brands but just as great in quality. 

Lidl

Lidl supermarket in UK

Similar to Aldi, Lidlis another German brand which is perhaps the cheapest option. It offers a large range of lesser-known brands but stocks a huge variety of products. There are over 760 stores across the UK, so you’re sure to find one near you for groceries, fruits, and more.

Pro Tip: The in-store bakery offers freshly baked goods from just 15p! 

Asda

Asda supermarkets in UK

Owned by the US retail giant Walmart, Asda operates over 500 stores in the UK. It stocks a wide variety of products at reliably low prices. Just like Aldi, most of Asda’s larger stores are located away from central London.  It is worth visiting an Asda store if you are planning to stock your trolley with anything other than groceries.

Pro Tip: The George range is your best bet for reasonably-priced home-ware and casual clothes. 

Poundland

Poundland supermarkets in UK

Poundland is a British variety store chain founded in 1990. In Poundland, you can find all kinds of products for £1, from chocolates and stationery to cleaning supplies & home accessories. 

Pro Tip: Use the MySupermarket app to compare regular prices of products to their discounted prices in Poundland to get more bang for your buck! 

Marks & Spencer

Mark and Spencer supermarket in UK

Marks and Spencer, popularly known as “Marks and Sparks”, or “M&S”, has 959 stores across the UK, including 615 that only sell food products. Their largest shop is at Marble Arch, on Oxford Street in London. M&S main shops feature a selection of the company’s clothing, home-ware,  beauty products, and M&S Foodhall. You can also find ‘Marks & Spencer Simply Food’ shops at the railway stations which specialize in food. Although M&S is one of the more expensive supermarkets in the UK, it’s “Dine In” specials offers has cheaper evening meal options. 

Pro Tip: Keep an eye on their bargain shelves for products close to the expiry date at throwaway prices. 

Waitrose

Supermarkets in the UK

Waitrose is the most high-end supermarkets in UK with so much stuff that you will get puzzled, what to buy and what not to. If Waitrose is your only supermarket option, seek out their Essentials range for more affordable basics. You can also apply for a Waitrose loyalty card which entitles you to free tea and coffee from the store. If you shop in-store and spend over £10, you are entitled to a discount off your shopping to the value of the newspaper of your choice.

Pro Tip: Offers change on the first Wednesday of each month, so be sure to stock up before they run out. 

These supermarkets in UK are present at very convenient locations, so you can easily visit them and stock up the items you require. Got a pro-tip you’d like to share? Tweet us to be featured in the next blog!

Ultimate Guide to UK Currency Exchange

UK currency

When you are moving abroad for studies, the biggest dilemma that we all face is when, where, and how we will exchange our home currency to the local currency. There are many ways by which you can get your currency exchanged but most of them turn out to be quite disappointing due to various reasons. But you need not worry, with the following tips, you’ll make the most of every cent you spend. With these tips, doing UK currency exchange will be a cakewalk.

Currency exchange is the process of exchanging one’s home currency into the currency of the country he/she is visiting. The exchange can be for anything be it tourism, studies or commerce, etc. For those visiting UK, the currency used throughout the UK is British Pound (GBP- £), made up of 100 pence (p). The pound is also known as Sterling or pound sterling. In slang term, pound or sterling pound is called quid and pence is referred to as “pee”. The coins come in denominations of 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, and £2 whereas the notes come in denominations of £5, £10, £20, and £50. These are the denominations that you will get when you will exchange your local currency to pound.

UK currency in notes and coins

Why should you avoid exchanging currency at the airport?

Which is the best place to exchange currency before a trip? The answer should never be the airport. Avoid UK currency exchange at the airport as it the worst place to exchange foreign currency. On exchanging currency from popular booths like Forex, and Travelex that can be easily spotted at the airports, you may end up losing about 15% of the cash you require.

UK currency exchange at airport

Why should you contact your local bank?

You can contact your local banks before travelling and find out what are the UK currency exchange rates. Local banks are more likely to offer better exchange rates and may not charge a fee for it. Also, try to practice the70/30 rule, in which you load 70% of your total expense in forex card and carry the rest 30% in cash in the form of local currency.

Which is the best place to exchange currency?

No matter what your destination is, exchanging foreign currency at a government institution is always better. Visit your nearest post office or a government bank as they can provide you with better exchange rates than local agents or private dealers.

Click on this link to know how to open a bank account in the UK

Should you pay using your debit/credit cards?

Don’t overuse your international debit card or credit cards because that will result in unnecessary convenience and transaction fees. Make use of credit card only for large purchases and debit card for withdrawing money from the ATM.

You can also read this blog: How to find part-time jobs in the UK.

Which places should you avoid?

If you don’t want to pay high conversion fees plus get a poor exchange rate, you must avoid exchanging currency near popular tourist attractions or in the city centre. Instead, we recommend you to opt for less popular tourist areas so that you can get better exchange rates and thus save some money.

If you need more help regarding forex exchange, send us a tweet! We’re always available to make your student experience truly hassle-free. We will help you purchase, sell, and transfer international currency anywhere in the world through our trusted partners at Niyo. Indian students can use their Niyo Global card worldwide with zero Forex markup.

London Pre-Departure: Have a Worry-Free Stay!

Details of the London Pre-Departure Event

Moving to a foreign country to pursue a new life is never easy, especially as a student. Finding safe accommodation and acclimating to a new culture in addition to balancing your studies are just some of the many challenges faced by students going to London.  This is why we’re hosting a super-informative London pre-departure event just for you at The Imperial hotel in New Delhi on Saturday, 13th July from 5 PM to 9 PM!   

Why should you attend this London pre-departure event?

This pre-departure event caters to students headed to London universities this year. Whether you are on the waiting list for campus accommodation or are still considering your options, this is the perfect event ! Get expert advice from London-based student accommodation advisers and learn about life in London before making a choice. 

So what we are offering is…

Consult student housing experts and choose from premium student residences in over 12 locations across central London. Each student accommodation is located close to the city’s top university campuses with bills-inclusive rent and exclusive access to onsite facilities like gym, laundry, cinema, and more. You can also avail special offers like rent-free stay for 1 week and free airport transfer at the event. 

Register for free!

Registration to the London pre-departure event is absolutely free for those with an offer letter from a London university. Don’t forget to save your spot! Visit here or call +91-8262906907 to register today. 

How to Care for Your Mental Health at Uni

Mental Health

With the pressure to succeed, keep up social appearances, and figure out student debt, university is an increasingly stressful experience. One out of four students struggle with mental health issues globally, making it all the more important to start a dialogue around mental health today. While there are many ways to check in with yourself and make sure you’re doing okay, the first step is to remind yourself that you’re not alone.

1. What is mental health?

Mental health is the state of your emotional and psychological well-being. It’s just as important as your physical fitness and shapes the quality of your life. University can be a particularly challenging time for your mental health, especially if you are living away from home for the first time.

2. Symptoms of Poor Mental Health

Whether you suspect your mental health is at risk, or there is simply room for improvement, it is advisable to seek a professional diagnosis from a General Practitioner (GP). That being said, there are a few common symptoms that may help you give your mental health the attention it deserves.

(i) Anxiety and/or panic attacks: A panic attack usually comes with an increased heart rate, excessive sweating, blurred vision, and shortness of breath.

(ii) Eating disorder: An eating disorder can manifest in several ways. You could be binge-eating or losing your appetite for no real reason, or even courting negative thoughts about your body and diet.

(iii) Sleep disorder: If you find yourself unable to sleep for nights on end, or even sleeping excessively to shut out the world, you may have a stress-induced sleeping disorder.

(iv) Mood swings: These occur when you swing between periods of intense joy and crushing despair.

(v) Self-harm: If you’re prone to physically hurting yourself as a means to cope with emotional distress, or have had suicidal thoughts, your mental health is at risk.

This is by no means a conclusive list of symptoms, and yours may be far more subtle. Always consult a mental health professional in case of doubts.

3. How to Ask for Help

There are several ways to seek help for your mental health on campus. Your university will either have college welfare officers you can speak to or centralized counselling services. In either case, the student union is the best source for all information. You may be asked to complete a form and be placed on a waiting list, based on how urgently you need professional help.

If you have an academic tutor, or a pastoral guide, you may also feel more comfortable talking to them first. If you don’t wish to speak in person, there are Nightline services available on most campuses. These are voluntary services provided by trained students for when who need someone to just hear you out.

Finally, you may also seek free mental healthcare at the National Health Service (NHS). To avail this, you may need the recommendation of a GP first, which is easy to find.

Whatever be the state of your mental health, it’s always a good idea to check in with yourself. University can be a roller-coaster of emotions, so it’s okay to not be okay.

College Traditions on Valentines Day You Need to Know

Valentine's Day

Celebrated in the name of St. Valentine,  14th February is a day of love for many. Not to fall behind, many universities also participate with quirky rituals of their own. Check out these offbeat and fun Valentine’s Day traditions followed by colleges around the world.

Newcastle University, UK

Ditch the chocolates and flowers — students in Newcastle have a unique approach to this romantic holiday. The student union organizes an Anti-Valentine’s film night every year, where only movies with zero references to love are screened.  So if you’re alone or heartbroken up North this Valentine’s Day,  head right over!

Simmons University, USA

At Simmons University in Boston, Valentine’s Day isn’t about celebrating just romantic love. Students use the opportunity to show their appreciation for friends and even professors. The most exciting part of the day, however, is the fancy annual soiree. Hosted in iconic venues across Boston, Massachusetts, it’s a fun excuse for students to invite a date!

University of Glasgow, UK

As the self-proclaimed City of Love, you best believe Glasgow has a cute Valentine’s Day tradition. The church of St John Duns Scotus in Scotland holds a special service for lovers each year, with prayers for those who are still looking for it. This is quite fitting as locals believe the church contains a relic of St Valentine, decorated with beautiful roses. It’s a popular spot for proposals as well, so watch out if your partner wants to take you there!

Alverno College, USA

Milwaukee’s top-ranked women’s Catholic college has a super inclusive take on the day of love. The college organizes a Little Sweetheart’s party every year. This is open not just to students but their friends and family as well. Guests spend the day on group activities like DIY crafts and baking for a celebration that’s fun for all ages.

What’s your favourite Valentine’s Day tradition? Tell us on Instagram or Twitter to be featured in our next blog! If you need date ideas that are easy on the pocket, head over here instead.

What to Pack When You Move to Australia

pack for Australia

Once you’ve figured out your university, student accommodation, and travel details, you’ll need to know how to pack right for your stay Down Under. Follow our list of things that you’ll need to pack for Australia so you’re prepared well in advance.

1. Clothing

With a tropical influenced climate, Australia is best enjoyed with layered clothing. Tees, shorts, and jeans should be comfortable enough for most days. Girls can include tops, dresses, and skirts for day-to-day wear. Casual shoes will get you around the campus and city just fine but when you want to hit the beach, flip-flops (known as “thongs” in Australia) will come in handy. Don’t forget to bring swimwear or “togs” as you will spend a lot of your free time at the beach or pool with your mates. Throw in a jacket and some sweaters for the colder months as well.

2. Room Essentials

You’ll have to take your own bedding, toiletries, and kitchenware as most student accommodation provide only a mattress with the bed. Keep in mind the baggage limit and prioritise things you can’t buy in the country. Carrying excessive stuff overseas may be annoying. This is why we offer complete room kits that are delivered to your doorstep in Australia.

3. Sun Protection

When you pack for Australia, definitely throw in a sunscreen with high SPF. A hat and sunglasses are also important to protect your skin from the scorching sun. Stay in the shade and you’ll be just fine!

4. Miscellaneous

It goes without saying that you should pack sufficient stationery to make the most of your student life. Laptops, cameras, and any other electronics that you plan to bring will need to be plugged in with a suitable power adapter, so make sure you get one.

Keep our checklist handy when you pack for Australia so you don’t forget anything! Think we missed something? Tweet us your packing essentials to be featured on the next blog. Happy packing!

How to Open Your Bank Account in Australia

Open Your Bank Account in Australia

As an overseas student, it’s easy to open your bank account in Australia. It’s important to know your options to make the right choice. Ask yourself the following questions before taking the plunge!

What Kind of Account Do You Need?

There are 3 types of bank accounts available – transaction, savings, and student accounts. A transaction account is ideal for day-to-day expenses. If you plan to transfer large sums of money for tuition fee, rent, etc. a savings account is the way to go. It offers a higher rate of interest to help you earn on the side. Some banks also offer a student account, which is usually some variation of the transaction account with added perks to sweeten the deal!

Which Bank Should You Choose?

The ideal bank will offer unlimited deposits and withdrawals, no monthly service fee, no minimum balance, free overseas cash withdrawal, fee-free international money transfer, and no overdraft fee. An extensive ATM network is also important so you don’t have to pay a processing fee for using a different bank’s ATM.

Some banks also throw in special offers and freebies for students. Westpac, for instance, provides a complimentary discount card with up to 40% off on hotels, restaurants, airfare, and more. Other options are ANZ , NAB, Commonwealth Bank , and Citibank.

What Documents Will You Need?

To open your bank account in Australia online, you must keep some details handy. These include your passport number and expiry date, e-mail, contact number, date and city of arrival in Australia. This is enough to create an account and transfer money. On reaching Australia, visit your bank to submit a copy of your university acceptance letter, visa, student ID card, and proof of residence like a tenancy agreement or utility bill. If you’re yet to find accommodation, contact us today!

How Long Will It Take?

You can open a bank account online up to 12 months before your arrival. It takes about 10 minutes to complete the form! On arriving in Australia, you will have at least 3 weeks to visit the local branch and verify your identity. You may be able to collect your debit card immediately. If not, it will be delivered to your Australian address within a week.

If you need more help to open your bank account, send us a tweet! We’re always available to make your student experience truly hassle-free.

Your Ultimate Guide to Healthcare in Australia

Healthcare in Australia

Getting healthcare in Australia as an overseas student is easier than you think! Before buying an insurance plan, you should know all your options. This handy guide will help you get the  most value for your money and ensure that your best interests are covered!

What is OSHC?

OSHC, or the Overseas Student Health Cover, is designed to help international students meet all medical costs during their time in Australia.  Local students, on the other hand, are covered by Medicare under the national healthcare system.

Why Do You Need It?

International students from countries other than Belgium, Norway, and Sweden will need to purchase OSHC before arriving in Australia. It’s a legal requirement by the Dept. of Home Affairs to secure a student visa.

What Does It Cover?

All OSHC plans cover some basic amenities. These include visiting a general practitioner, ambulance service, surgery, hospital stay in shared wards, some prosthetic devices, and medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).  Some plans may also cover physiotherapy, dental, and optical treatments.

Where Can You Get It?

Several private insurers offer OSHC to overseas students. The most popular are the Australian Health Management, BUPA Australia, Medibank Private, and Allianz Global. Many universities also partner with insurance providers, so you can directly set up your OSHC through them. However, it’s not mandatory to opt for your university’s recommendation. So if you find a better plan, go for it!

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of insurance depends upon the extent of coverage. On an average, you will shell out $477 each year. If you’re moving to Australia with a partner and/or kids, you can opt for dual or multi-family plans instead. The first will cover either a partner or children below 18 years. The multi-family plan covers multiple dependents.

How Do You Use It?

When you get medical treatment in Australia, you have two options. You can either send the unpaid bill directly to your insurance provider, or pay it yourself and apply for a reimbursement. When buying medicines, you have to pay the chemist first before claiming the money back from your OSHC provider.

Got more questions about healthcare in Australia? We’re here for you! Tweet us at @living_uni for more details. For help with accommodation and related services, check out our website instead.

5 New Year Resolutions You Need to Know

5 New Year Resolutions

A new year calls for a fresh start, but that’s easier said than done. Sticking to new plans and goals aren’t easy, which is why we’ve created a simple list of lifestyle changes that are totally doable. Follow these 5 new year resolutions to take 2019 by storm!

1. Start Small

Give yourself short-term goals and build up to them by introducing micro-routines in your daily life. Taking small steps at regular intervals will help you stay focused and stay on the right path. Otherwise, you open yourself up to being overwhelmed and risk burning out.

2. Create a Morning Routine

You might have heard it before but let’s be real, time and again it has been proven how powerful a morning routine is. Get enough shut eye by sticking to a regular sleep cycle. It not only makes you more lively and energised but also improves concentration and reduces stress. Incorporate a morning workout session followed by a heavy breakfast so you’re ready to take on the world! Gratitude journaling before you start the day can be very helpful as well.

3. Declutter

Your productivity will take a hit if you’re living in a messy space. Organise your room and/or work space in such a way so that you never have to rummage for the essentials. Remove items and peripherals that are unnecessary from your immediate environment and you will start to notice that you can still get your work done with less. This doesn’t mean that you have to throw away everything, but you do need to be mindful of the things you use every day.

4. Detox Your Social Media

If you’re like us, you probably hop from one app to another as soon as you grab your phone. Turning off notifications from apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others, while keeping it on only for essential apps will reduce the need of checking your phone every millisecond. Keeping a tab on your social media usage can exponentially boost your efficiency.

5. Don’t Wait for Inspiration

You can’t procrastinate your way out of important things that need to be done. The key is to not rely on those fleeting moments of inspiration and to just begin with tasks at hand.

We’re not gonna lie, following through with these 5 new year resolutions won’t be a cakewalk. You won’t see results overnight, so it’s important to keep at it. Good luck!

How to Decorate Your Uni Room for Christmas

Christmas decoration ideas

If you’re eager to pack your bags and run on home for Christmas, we totally understand. But as you’re counting down to the big day, why not get in the holiday spirit while you wait? Your student pad deserves some festive loving, and these three Christmas decoration ideas will keep you in good cheer.

1. Keep it Green

It won’t feel like Christmas without a few pines, spruces and firs. Adding an artificial tree or even a festive wreath will instantly make your room Christmassy. You can get them for dirt cheap on Amazon. If space is an issue, why not tape some green tinsel to a wall in the shape of a tree to celebrate the yuletide season without much hassle? Throw in some teardrop swags or tinsel garlands to set the scene with the rich tones of the fall season. Don’t forget to hang a mistletoe over the doorway for good luck!

2. Light it Up

String lights are a surefire way to brighten up your room when it comes to Christmas decoration ideas. Bright fairy lights can be wrapped around your bed frame or draped across furniture to achieve that festive glow. You can also string ‘em across your ceiling or weave them in and out of empty glass bottles for a fun centerpiece that doesn’t break the bank. Introduce holiday warmth to the room with a scented candle or two. If you’re wary of smoke detectors, swap ‘em for LED candles and a room spray for the same effect.

3. Party City

The best part about Christmas decoration ideas is that there are no rules! You can hang up stockings with candies and little treats for your housemates or play carols over the speaker for a festive air. You can even set up Polaroid shots with your mates in ugly Christmas jumpers. It’ll give you something to laugh about when you return in the New Year.

These Christmas decoration ideas will not only add pizzazz to your room but also make it cozy and welcoming for the holiday season. For more whimsical ideas and the latest of student life in your inbox, subscribe to our monthly newsletter!