Diary in the UK

Landing in the UK after one month, the I am back again~~~ This might be another lengthy blog post, as I plan to document my life in the UK for this year. It will include guides on BRP, GP, bank cards, and perhaps even a Vlog? (Maybe)

This post was translated from my Chinese blog post with the aid of ChatGpt.


I booked Finnair AY088 + AY1373 flights, which included a layover at Helsinki Airport in Finland before landing at Edinburgh Airport. The entire journey takes approximately 15 hours.

Shanghai Pudong International Airport - Departure

The departure time for the first leg of the flight was at 10:20 am. I arrived at the airport around 7:30 am, and I recommend arriving at least 3 hours in advance. The check-in and baggage drop-off lines can be quite long, especially if you are flying with an airline like Finnair that is strict about cabin baggage. They might ask you to repack your luggage on the spot, which can be time-consuming.


At the check-in counter, airline staff will weigh your cabin baggage. Only bags that are within the weight limit are allowed for check-in. If your cabin baggage is overweight, you’ll have to open it, redistribute the weight, and then get it weighed again. I had previously weighed my luggage at home, and I had one 20-inch cabin suitcase and one small backpack, totaling 8kg. The staff visually estimated my bag’s weight and allowed me to proceed without actually weighing it (lucky me!). Some heavier items (e.g., power banks) can be placed in your pockets temporarily to meet weight restrictions.

After that, I waited in line for approximately half an hour to reach the check-in counter. I had a checked baggage allowance of two pieces, each weighing up to 23kg. In reality, they allow a slight overweight, like 23.5kg is generally fine. If your cabin baggage is significantly overweight, consider purchasing additional baggage allowance in advance; it’s much cheaper than buying it at the airport.

Security Check

Next is the security check. You’ll need to scan a QR code and complete a customs declaration for departure. After filling it out, you’ll receive a QR code, which the staff at the entrance will scan. If you have family accompanying you to the airport, this is where you’ll have to say goodbye. Inside, another staff member will scan your QR code, and then it’s the usual X-ray machines and security checks. We won’t cover the boarding process here.

In-Flight Experience

I must compliment Finnair’s aircraft. They have screens on the seats where you can watch live broadcasts from two cameras: one on the belly of the plane and another on the tail. During my awake hours, I spent about half the time staring at this live feed. The other half, I was playing Angry Birds (haha). During the first leg of the flight, they served two meals, which were average in taste. They also offered a Finnish specialty, blueberry juice. Unfortunately, my brain malfunctioned, and I forgot how to say blueberries in English…

Regarding protective measures, as the first leg of the journey was departing from China, most passengers were only wearing masks. Some passengers put on full protective gear, goggles, or face shields before landing. A few even wore gloves, but I don’t recommend gloves as your hands might sweat, making it difficult to provide fingerprints at immigration. If you choose to wear protective gear, consider wearing lighter clothing underneath. I initially wore a down jacket and felt like I was melting inside. Onboard, they also provide a small packet of heavily scented hand sanitizer.

Helsinki Airport - Layover


During the layover, follow the signs and the crowd. After descending a flight of stairs, you’ll need to go through security again, and your cabin baggage will be inspected once more. If you’re wearing protective gear, you can usually keep it on, and the staff will let you pass through the security gate. My layover for this flight was over two hours, which was quite comfortable. Some duty-free shops were open at the airport if you’re bored and want to take a look. The airport was relatively empty, and most foreigners were wearing masks. Overall, it felt quite safe.


Boarding is done in groups, and your group will be indicated on your ticket. Wait until they call your group, and then queue up, maintaining a 2-meter distance from others, following the footprint markers on the ground. Before boarding, I recommend staying hydrated and using the restroom as the second flight carries a higher risk. The plane will serve beverages as usual, and passengers tend to remove their masks to eat and drink, which can be risky. If you’re traveling with friends on the same flight, consider selecting seats together in advance.

Edinburgh Airport - Arrival

The second flight tends to land ahead of schedule, usually about half an hour early. After landing, you’ll climb a flight of stairs and navigate through the airport to reach immigration. Immigration in Scotland is relatively relaxed; they rarely check your luggage. At the immigration counter, the officer will inspect your passport and ask you some questions. Just answer truthfully. They will stamp your passport with an entry stamp. I recommend checking if this stamp is legible as you’ll need to show it when collecting your BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) at your university. After clearing immigration, proceed to the baggage claim area. Once you’ve collected your luggage, you can exit the airport. The entire process, from exiting the plane to leaving the airport, took me about 40 minutes.

Glasgow - Airport Pickup

Originally, I had arranged to share a ride with a friend, but my friend bailed on me. So, I ended up booking a Chinese airport pickup service, which cost £90, roughly the same as an Uber. I found the pickup service on a WeChat public account, which acted as an intermediary and charged a £20 fee. If you know someone in the UK, I recommend asking them for recommendations and contacting the driver directly. The journey from Edinburgh to Glasgow’s student accommodation took about an hour. If you’re landing at Glasgow Airport, it’s even simpler. After exiting the airport, just take a taxi. It’s about a 10-minute ride from Glasgow Airport to the Kelvin Court Residences.


I stayed at Kelvin Court, which is part of the Unite Student group. Before checking in, you need to provide your estimated arrival time on the apartment’s app called MyUnite. If, like me, you arrive late when the reception is closed, you can knock on the brightly lit window on the right side, and a staff member will come to open the door. Inside, you’ll need to hand over your passport to the staff. After some clicking and typing, they’ll give you an envelope containing your room key and mailbox key. I recommend checking if the keys are inside; in my case, they were missing the mailbox key. I had to go back to the reception a few days later to get it. The bald receptionist was very helpful and even walked me to the entrance of my block. Additionally, the university provided some snack packs at the apartment during check-in. The receptionist will give you one, and it contains quite a variety of items, including biscuits, juice, chips, pasta, milk, jam, canned goods, and more (enough to be a happy couch potato for a few days).

Collecting BRP/Campus Card

Booking an Appointment

If you specified your CAS’s Additional Collection Location Code (ACL) for Biometric Residence Permit delivery when applying for your visa, your BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) will be sent to the university. Once the university receives your BRP, they will send you an email reminding you to book an appointment to collect it. I recommend booking the BRP collection appointment only after receiving this email; otherwise, you might make a wasted trip. You can book your appointment at the following website, using your university account to log in and select a time slot.

Book an Appointment

After booking, you will receive an email with details of your BRP collection time and location. Typically, it will be at the Kelvin Gallery, located across from the library. However, for some reason, I was directed to the Kelvin Gallery inside the main building. If you’re not familiar with these locations, you can search on the university’s map website.

University Map


I recommend arriving 5-10 minutes early on the collection day; there’s no need to be overly early. I arrived 20 minutes ahead and was asked to wait outside…

Essential Documents

  • Passport
  • BRP Letter

Recommended Documents

  • Plane ticket (to ensure the entry stamp is clear)

The BRP collection process at Kelvin Gallery is as follows:

  • Enter from the back of the main building, directly facing two red phone booths.
  • Go up the stairs on your right to the fourth floor, where you’ll find the Kelvin Gallery.
  • A staff member will take you to a small table to check your passport and BRP letter. If the entry stamp is unclear, they may check your plane ticket.
  • Once your identity is confirmed, they’ll take you to the BRP collection window.
  • Hand over your passport to the staff, and they’ll ask you to step back to maintain social distance (haha).
  • After a series of clicks and clacks, they’ll ask you to remove your mask briefly for identity confirmation.
  • Once confirmed, they’ll give you your BRP.
  • Next, they’ll direct you to window number 8 on the other side to collect your campus card.
  • Hand over your BRP and passport.
  • After a short wait, the staff will present your student card through the glass for you to confirm if it’s correct.
  • Once confirmed, you can take your card and be on your way.

Opening a Bank Account

I brought a Bank of China ZhongJun credit card with me from China, which worked fine for daily use. However, the interest rate for British pounds in Chinese banks is negligible and can be ignored. Additionally, while abroad, you may receive risk control calls from Bank of China, which could potentially lead to your card being locked. Therefore, I decided to open a local Scottish bank account as well as a Starling online bank credit card.

Starling, like Monzo, is an online bank with no physical branches. To deposit money into your account, you’ll need to visit a post office. These accounts are suitable for everyday use, and you can keep a small amount of pounds in them for daily expenses, minimizing potential losses in case of fraud. I chose Starling mainly because of its aesthetics; I found Monzo’s fluorescent orange card too striking, and I personally prefer Starling’s blue.

The process of opening an online bank account is relatively straightforward. Download the app and follow the steps; I won’t go into detail here. Instead, I’ll focus on the process of opening an account with the Bank of Scotland.

Printing a Bank Letter

You can download a Bank Letter from the University of Glasgow’s My Glasgow online platform in PDF format.

My Glasgow

  • Log in to My Glasgow.
  • Click on My Student Center in the right sidebar.
  • Under My Academic Record in the top left corner, click on Bank and Certifying Letters.
  • Choose Bank Letter.
  • The university provides a list of nearby bank branches. You can select one if it’s convenient for you. If your branch isn’t listed, you can manually enter the details in the box below. Fill in the information, submit, download the PDF, and print it out.

The Bank of Scotland’s address format is as follows (using the Glasgow Partick branch as an example):

Bank of Scotland
258/262 Dumbarton Road
G11 6TU

You can find the Bank of Scotland’s branch addresses on their official website. Enter the postal code to search.

Find a branch

Important: When entering your address for the Bank of Scotland, there are only two fields. The first field is for your flat number, and the second is for your door number and street name. You don’t need to specify the room number, as there is no place for it in the bank’s records. For example, my address format was as follows. If the address format isn’t correct, be sure to update your Term address in My Glasgow.

30, Yorkhill Street
G3 8RY

Online Application

I applied for an account with the Bank of Scotland. First, you need to visit the bank’s website to apply for an account. Choose the Classic Account. The Student Account can only be applied for if you have lived in the UK for more than three years, so it’s not available for one-year master’s students.

Please note that you should be cautious about the timing because if you remain inactive for an extended period, your application may be automatically canceled, and all the information you entered will disappear. The application link is as follows:

Apply for a Bank Account

Personal Details

  • After opening the application link, scroll down to find the green Apply Today button.
  • It will first ask if you are an existing Bank of Scotland customer. Select No.
  • Next, it will ask if you have previously started an application and still need to provide proof of ID to complete it. Select No.
  • Is this going to be your main account? Select Yes.
  • Scroll down through a long list of instructions for personal information use, and then click Continue.
  • Continue filling in your personal details such as name, gender, date of birth, nationality, etc.
  • After filling in your nationality, it will ask if you are Chinese. Select Yes.
  • Fill in the date you arrived in the UK.
  • Do you have indefinite leave to remain? Select Yes.
  • Click Continue to proceed to the next page.

Address Details

  • Fill in your UK address postal code and room number. Ensure that this matches exactly with what is written on your Bank Letter; otherwise, you might make a wasted trip.
  • Click Find Address. Note that the automatically provided address may not be accurate, so you’ll need to modify it manually.
  • Click Change Address, and then select Select Address. Scroll to the bottom and choose Address not listed. Then, manually enter your address.
  • In the First line of address, write your flat number, for example, Z818.
  • In the Second line of address, enter your apartment’s door number and street, such as 30, Yorkhill Street.
  • For Town/City, write Glasgow, and fill in the postal code.
  • Do you have a partner or spouse? Generally, select No.
  • Do you rent or own your home? Generally, select I rent my home.
  • Do you rent from the Council? Generally, select No.
  • How much do you pay for your rent each month? Enter the monthly rent, which is typically around £640 for Kelvin Court.
  • How much do you pay towards childcare costs, maintenance, and school/university fees each month? Calculate your annual tuition fees divided by 12.
  • Do you pay taxes outside the UK? Generally, select No.
  • Then click Continue to proceed to the next page.

Financial Status

  • Are you currently employed? Generally, select No.
  • What is your status? Generally, select I’m in full-time education.
  • Fill in your monthly take-home pay and other allowed income, which is typically your annual expenses divided by 12. I filled in £3000.
  • For your total amount of savings, select £25,000-£50,000.
  • Do you pay taxes outside the UK? Generally, select No.

Contact Details and Marketing Preferences

  • Fill in your UK mobile phone number.
  • Provide your email address, making sure it’s one you regularly use because important emails will be sent to this address.
  • In the marketing preferences section, I kept only online banking and mobile banking selected. This won’t affect your receipt of account change notifications.
  • Click Submit.

Providing Identity Proof

Here, only UK driver’s licenses and passports are accepted as identity proof. Since we only have a BRP, you’ll need to provide identity proof at a physical branch.

The bank will send you an email with a reference number. Remember this number; you’ll need it when opening your account in person.

This concludes the online application process.

In-Person Account Opening

After receiving the email, you can visit any branch of the Bank of Scotland to open your account within 14 days, and no further appointment is required.

The documents you need to bring are as follows:

  • BRP
  • Bank Letter (printed on A4 paper)
  • The reference number from your appointment email

The in-person process is as follows:

  • Bank of Scotland branches open at 9:30 AM from Monday to Friday. I arrived around 10 AM, and due to the pandemic, there weren’t many people.
  • After a short wait, a branch manager will approach you and ask about your business. Tell them you want to open an account.
  • They might ask you to wait for a moment while they find a staff member responsible for account opening.
  • Follow the staff member to a small room nearby to complete the account opening.
  • Hand over the required documents to the staff member.
  • The staff member will ask for your reference number.
  • Then, you’ll need to wait while they process your application.
  • Once completed, they will provide you with a receipt that contains the information you need for transferring money from your home country (IBAN, Swift Code, etc.).
  • You can also download and register for mobile banking during this time.
  • Your bank card will be sent to your residence within 5 working days.
  • Your PIN will be sent separately a few working days after your bank card arrives.

Police Registration

Police registration in Scotland resumed on April 23rd. You can find the email address of the police station in your area on the official website below. Email the police station to make an appointment for registration. In your email, it’s advisable to include the following information; otherwise, the police may reply and ask for this information, which could delay the process:

  • Full name
  • Nationality
  • Address
  • Date of arrival in the UK, departure country, and quarantine information
  • Whether you’ve registered with the police before. If so, specify the date and location.

Police Station Contact

The police station’s response time is generally very quick, and you’ll usually receive a reply within a day or two. They will inform you of the registration date, location, and any specific instructions. This appointment time cannot be changed, so if you can’t make it on the scheduled day, you’ll need to reschedule. Additionally, due to the need for social distancing, the number of daily registrations is limited. For example, I sent an email in early May, and my registration was scheduled for August.

When you go for registration, make sure to bring the following documents:

  • Passport
  • BRP
  • The two papers that were sent along with your BRP when you applied for your visa (BRP Letter)
  • Police registration form, which you can fill out and print. If you’re unsure how to fill it out, you can leave it blank, and the staff will assist you.
  • 2 passport-sized photos
  • CAS or unconditional offer letter
  • Proof of residence, which you can obtain from your accommodation provider

Previously, due to the pandemic, police registration in Scotland was entirely suspended. I emailed the police in January, and their response was to wait until the police stations reopened before making an appointment. You won’t be fined for not making an appointment before the stations are open.

The email I got back from the police department at the time is below:


We have suspended services due to Covid 19.

Please use this email as evidence that the OVRO Glasgow department will shut from 23rd November 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic restrictions being imposed and will be closed until further notice. Please keep checking the Police Scotland website for updates of when we will re-open to make an appointment to register then. Please do not email or go into other Police Stations in Scotland.

Those required to register or update their certificates as part of their visa conditions should not worry about the seven day registration period, this decision has been taken in conjunction with the Home Office and deemed as a reasonable excuse for failing to register within the seven days stated in the legislation.


OVRO Glasgow

Registering with a General Practitioner (GP)

A GP, or General Practitioner, is a primary care doctor. You can see them for general health concerns, but for emergencies, it’s best to call 999 for an ambulance.

I recommend registering with a GP after arriving in the UK, especially since you’ve already paid a substantial healthcare fee (£400+) through the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) when applying for your visa. After registration, you can get prescriptions from your GP and collect medications for free at pharmacies, except in England where there’s a £9.15 prescription fee.

You can find basic information about GPs near you by entering your postcode on the following websites:

For Scotland:
Find a GP in Scotland

For England:
Find a GP in England

I recommend choosing a GP close to your residence rather than the university’s GP. Getting medical care when you’re unwell is much more convenient if your GP is nearby. You can also check Google Maps for reviews of different GP practices to avoid any potential issues.

After selecting a GP from the websites above, you can visit the GP’s website to find out what information you need to register. As an example, for the GP I registered with, I had to download three forms from their website: GPR form, New Patient Questionnaire, and Ethnicity Form. After filling them out and printing them, I took these forms along with my passport/BRP to the GP’s reception to complete the registration. Some GPs may also require proof of address, so please check their official website or call them for specific requirements.

NHS Low-Income Scheme (LIS) - A Way to Get Healthcare for Free or at Reduced Costs

The NHS Low-Income Scheme (LIS) allows eligible individuals to receive free or reduced-cost healthcare services in the UK. This means you can get free or cheaper prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests, and more. To apply for LIS, you’ll need to complete an HC1 form.

Here’s a guide on how to fill out the HC1 form for those who are not married or don’t have children:

1.1Type of help neededIf you’ve previously purchased glasses or contact lenses and want a refund, check Glasses or contact lenses.
1.2Marital statusIf you’re not married or in a civil partnership, you can skip the questions related to your partner.
1.3Personal informationFill in your name (in uppercase letters if possible). You can skip the National Insurance number. Provide your phone number in the format (44)0xxxxxxxxxx, and indicate the times you can be reached.
2.1ChildrenCheck No, and skip to Part 3.
3.1Other people living with youRoommates in your apartment don’t count. Check No, and skip to 3.3
4.1SavingsCheck Yes, and after that, fill in the Money in accounts section. The amount should ideally not exceed £10,000, but there have been varying reports of acceptance with different amounts. It’s a bit perplexing.
4.2PropertyCheck No, and skip the rest of the questions in this section.
5.1 - 5.9Welfare and benefitsCheck No, and skip these questions.
6.1EmploymentCheck No, and skip these questions. Proceed to Part 7.
7.1 - 7.6People living with youCheck No, and skip these questions. Skip 7.7.
7.8 - 7.11People living with you (cont.)Check No, and skip these questions. Skip 7.12 and move on to Part 8.
8.1Full-time studentCheck Yes and provide details about your course. For Qualification, I used MSc, Post-graduate. List the university’s name and the start and end dates for all three terms. There’s a question about one-year courses; typically, you would check Yes, and provide the start date for the next academic year if applicable.
8.2Overseas studentCheck Yes, and fill in China.
8.3Payment of tuition feesCheck No, and list Parents as the source of funds.
8.4Received student grantsCheck No, and skip these questions.
8.5Sources of incomeThe top questions are not relevant. In Money from parents, tick the box and fill in your living expenses. For example, £200 / Every Month. This figure varies among applicants.
8.6Living with parentsCheck No.
8.7RentCheck Yes, and fill in your rent amount, e.g., £600 / Every Month. Tick all the boxes below for Heating, Lighting, Cooking, and Hot water. Check Yes for Do you have just one room? and No for Does your rent include any meals? Don’t fill in the details below.
8.8Rent during Christmas and EasterCheck Yes, and fill in your rent amount, e.g., £600 / Every Month.
8.9Summer accommodationFill in the details if applicable.
9Additional informationYou can skip this section.
10aSignature and date in EnglishSign and date the form. Fill in the date.
10bHelping someone else applySkip this section.
Bottom of the formDeclarationTick I have answered all the questions that apply to me and I have signed the declaration above. Don’t worry about the other two options.

If you receive the HC1 form from a pharmacy or elsewhere, fill it out and put it in the provided envelope. Include a copy of your student ID, and then drop it in a mailbox. No postage stamp is required. If you, like me, had to print your own form, you’ll need to mail it. The address is:

NHS Business Services Authority
Bridge House
152 Pilgrim Street

After sending it, you should receive a response in about two to three weeks. The response varies based on your income and can be an HC2 (full help) or HC3 (partial help) certificate. Once you receive the certificate, you can start enjoying the benefits of free or reduced-cost healthcare.

(Note: The HC1(Claim for help with health costs) form is sometimes referred to as the HC1 form or simply HC1.)

Supermarkets Near Kelvin Court

When my roommate and I go shopping, we typically have three main routes: East, West, and North.

  • East: This area mainly features Chinese and small supermarkets.

    • Tesco Express: The smallest Tesco, similar to a convenience store, just a 5-minute walk away.
    • Sainsbury’s Local: The smallest Sainsbury’s, offering limited options.
    • Aijia Chinese Supermarket: A smaller Chinese supermarket with a variety of Chinese seasonings and snacks.
    • Jinli Chinese Supermarket: A medium-sized Chinese supermarket with a wide range of products over two floors.
    • Boots: A tiny Boots store.
  • North: Here, you’ll find Iceland, Waitrose, and a medium-sized Tesco.

    • Iceland: As the name suggests, they specialize in frozen foods, so it’s best for frozen items rather than fresh produce.
    • Waitrose: A high-end supermarket with some premium options.
    • Tesco Metro: A medium-sized Tesco.
  • West: This area has numerous stores, and a thorough exploration can take up to three to four hours.

    • Lidl Vita: A German discount supermarket, ideal for stocking up on pizza, but the quality of vegetables is so-so.
    • Morrisons Vita: Right across from Lidl, known for fresh produce and groceries, including kitchenware.
    • Poundland: Often called the “£1 shop,” it’s known for low prices, though quality varies.
    • Argos: While not a supermarket, it’s nearby and offers a variety of products. Note that you can only pick up items in-store at the moment.
    • Home Bargain: Another discount store where you can often discover inexpensive, decent-quality items.
    • Sainsbury’s: A large supermarket with a wide selection.
    • M&S Simply Food: A high-end supermarket; I usually go there for strawberry tarts!
    • Aijia Chinese Supermarket: A large Chinese supermarket, but I haven’t been inside yet.
    • Boots: A large Boots store with a wide range of cosmetics and daily necessities.

Useful Apps

Here are some apps I installed after coming to the UK:

  • UNiDAYS: Offers various student discounts, including a six-month Amazon Prime Student membership.
  • Railcard: Provides discounts on train tickets, saving you one-third of the fare each time.
  • Trainline: A handy app for booking train tickets.
  • Uber: For taxi services.
  • Google Maps: Prevents you from getting lost.
  • PayPal: Useful for online payments, especially on eBay.
  • Supermarket Apps:
    • Boots: Earn points for cashback; I recommend activating your student membership in-store with your student ID for a 10% discount on purchases.
    • Lidl: Their point system isn’t the best; points reset monthly, and you need to accumulate £100 to get a voucher.
    • Morrisons More: Similar to Lidl, the point system can be slow.
    • Clubcard (Tesco): Collect points for discounts; it takes £150 of spending to get a £1.50 voucher.
  • Online Shopping:
    • eBay: Similar to Taobao, offering affordable items.
    • Amazon: Similar to JD.com.
    • AliExpress: Similar to Taobao Global, but I don’t use it much.
  • Red Scarf: A guide app for international students in the UK, with more detailed information than what I’ve provided here.
  • BiliBili Helper: A VPN for accessing BiliBili in China; it’s free but has ads, which I can tolerate since I don’t use it much.
  • XiaoHongShu (Little Red Book): A platform popular among international students for sharing information, including many guides and recipes.

Shopping Tips

When it comes to furniture and appliances, try to buy second-hand items whenever possible as they are much cheaper. For instance, here are some things I bought after arriving in the UK:

  • Humidifier: Highly recommended, as the air indoors can get very dry due to central heating. I bought mine on eBay.
  • Coat Hangers: I got mine on Amazon for around £10, but you can find them for as little as £5 at the £1 shops.
  • Drying Rack: I bought a second-hand one; you can also check IKEA. Since UK accommodations typically lack balconies, clothes are often dried indoors near radiators.
  • Mini Washing Machine: Laundry in student accommodations can be expensive (around £3.30 per wash and £1.50 for drying). I bought a semi-automatic washing machine for about £50 and, in the long run, it’s more economical. You can find similar deals on eBay or AliExpress.
  • Water Filter Jug: Just for peace of mind; Scotland generally has good tap water.
  • Shower Head with Filter: Supposedly prevents hair loss; I can’t confirm its effectiveness.
  • Rice Cooker: A must-have for rice lovers.
  • UK Power Strip: Power outlets are always in short supply.
  • Laundry Basket: Affordable at Home Bargain.
  • Yoga Mat: Bought for £5.99 at Home Bargain.
  • Trolley for Grocery Shopping: Bought for £7.99 at Home Bargain, though it’s often out of stock.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol: Bought a 5L bottle on Amazon for £13. It’s great for disinfecting.
  • Dirty Clothes Basket: Very affordable at Home Bargain.
  • Oven Gloves: Found them at a £1 shop for £1 or £2.
  • Baking Tray: Also found at a £1 shop.
  • Plastic Basin: Bought at a £1 shop for £1 each.
  • Cutting Board, Knife, and Various Condiments: Chinese supermarkets have them, but they can be a bit pricier.

When shopping for bed linens, note that UK student accommodations often have 3/4 double beds. I recommend buying double-sized bedding, as single-sized ones can be a bit small.

  • Duvet Cover: A cover for your duvet.
  • Duvet Cover Set: Includes duvet cover and pillowcases.
  • Pillowcases: For your pillows.
  • Fitted Sheet/Flat Sheet: A fitted sheet has elastic corners, while a flat sheet is more like the standard sheet you’d find in China.
  • Pillow: Pillow inserts.
  • Duvet: Duvet inserts.

Train Cards

There are various types of train cards in the UK, and most international students typically apply for the 16-25 Railcard, which provides a one-third discount on ticket prices.

  • Are you a mature student?: If you are over 26 years old, select Yes, I am a mature student. If you are over 26, you can only buy a one-year card.
  • If you are under 26, you can choose between a one-year card for £30 and a three-year card for £70. However, since most students are on one-year postgraduate courses, the three-year card doesn’t offer much advantage.
  • Personally, I find the digital card more convenient than the physical card, which takes one to two weeks to arrive.
  • The Promotional code is challenging to come by; I couldn’t find any usable ones.
  • When verifying your identity, it’s recommended to choose a passport for convenience, as the information on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) may not match exactly.
  • After making the payment, you’ll be asked if you want cashback, which is over £16. However, it will automatically sign you up for a membership with the first month free and a £15 monthly subscription fee afterward. I chose the cashback option and canceled the membership after receiving the cashback. It just doesn’t sit right with me to let capitalism off so easily!
Apply for a 16-25 Railcard

Sending Mail at the Post Office

The efficiency of handling affairs in the UK can lag behind some other countries. There are instances where something that could be resolved online still requires mailing. Moreover, the capitalist post office does have its ways of being expensive. Here’s a story of how I got taken advantage of when I went to the post office:

I went in and said, "I want to send a letter."
He said, "Alright, place it on the scale to weigh it, and it should arrive by Monday."
I thought the cheapest option should take just two to three days, so I said, "OK."
Then he rapidly typed something on his terminal and said, "It's ready; please make the payment."
I had my Apple Pay ready and nearly placed it on the POS machine, but then I checked the amount: £7.65.
I thought he must have made a mistake and asked, "Is it £7?"
He replied, "Yes, this is the fastest service."
I thought the fastest service should still be delivered by the next day, right?
So I said, "I want the cheaper option; I'm not in a hurry."
Then he told me, "The cheaper option costs just over £3."
I still felt something was off, but I couldn't recall at the moment. So I reluctantly paid the £2 and went home.
It wasn't until I got home that I realized the option he offered was for tracked mail and that the one without tracking cost only £1.53.
But even the tracking option didn't have much use, and charging an extra pound was ridiculous.

In the UK, mailing services typically have three levels:

  • Special Delivery: The fastest and most expensive, arriving before 9 am the next day.
  • 1st Class: First-class mail usually arrives in one to two days.
  • 2nd Class: Second-class mail typically arrives in two to three days.

These services can also be divided into two categories:

  • Standard: Basic mail without tracking and no need for the recipient’s signature.
  • Signed: Mail with tracking that requires the recipient’s signature, with a higher cost.

If you’re not in a hurry, you can tell the postal worker that you want the Standard/Unsigned 2nd Class option to avoid being offered the more expensive Special Delivery option. Here’s a link to check mailing prices:

Mailing Price Finder

Additionally, the UK post office supports printing your postage stamps. The prices on their website are clear, and after printing, you can simply stick the postage on your envelope and drop it into the red mailbox. I plan to try this next time. Here’s the link:

Self Printing

The Vlog of an Old Pigeon

Coo coo coo coo coo coo
Terminal Chuunibyou Phase

Chapter 1 A Journey That Didn’t Start from Platform 9¾

Why can’t we take the Hogwarts Express to school?

Chapter 2 Sorted into Slytherin without Wearing the Sorting Hat

Chuunibyou unleashed.

Chapter 13 Building Snowmen the Muggle Way

No magic allowed outside of school, so we build snowmen like Muggles.

Chapter 4 Why Can’t We Stew Giant Geese in Iron Pots in the UK?

Swans are the Queen’s property, not the Minister of Magic’s. Why can’t we eat them?

Chapter 5 Why Are There Planes in the Sky, But No Broomsticks at School?

Is it because broomstick flying permits got revoked?

Chapter 6 The Magical Vanishing Cabinet

Bam, it’s gone (cue comical slide).
There’s just too much material to edit, so I got lazy. Haha.

Getting Eyeglasses in the UK

Updated on the summer solstice! The old pigeon who just finished exams is back!

There are four main eyeglasses stores in the UK:

  • Specsavers
  • Boots Opticians
  • Vision Express
  • David Clulow (Consider if you’re wealthy; it’s quite expensive)

I chose Specsavers because it’s the closest to home, and they have an online tool for trying on frames with AR (Augmented Reality). Here’s the official website:


Here’s the process for getting prescription glasses with frames:

  1. Click on Book appointment in the upper right corner.
  2. Enter your postal code to find nearby stores, then click Book online.
  3. Choose Adult eye test.
  4. You’ll be asked if you want a glaucoma test for an additional £10; I didn’t opt for it.
  5. Select a date and time; at my nearest store, the earliest available was 10 days later.
  6. Fill in your personal information. If you have an HC2 (NHS optical voucher), select Yes for the last question, Are you entitled to an NHS eye test?
  7. After submitting, you’ll be prompted to fill out a questionnaire. You’ll also receive an email with a link to the questionnaire, which covers your visual habits.
  8. The day before your appointment, the store will call to confirm your visit and send a confirmation text.
  9. Arrive promptly on the scheduled day; if you’re more than twenty minutes late, your appointment may be canceled.
  10. Upon arrival, inform the front desk of your appointment time. They’ll verify your name, address, and whether it’s your first time getting an eye test in the UK.
  11. Wait in the designated area until the optometrist calls you.
  12. If you currently wear glasses, the optometrist will begin by checking your current glasses’ prescription.
  13. Then, you’ll move to a small room with the optometrist, where various instruments will be used:
    • An instrument similar to the one in China for checking small houses but here, you’ll be looking at a hot air balloon.
    • Next, you’ll focus on a red dot in the instrument. Be prepared for a sudden bright flash that might catch you off guard.
    • Following this, the optometrist will measure your prescription. Your face will be close to the instrument, and you’ll read the letters on a chart. Unlike the Chinese charts, here, each line has multiple letters, and you need to read the last line you can clearly see.
    • The optometrist will adjust the lenses using the instrument and ask if things look better, worse, or the same as before.
    • They’ll also check for astigmatism by asking which of two pictures appears clearer (one or two).
    • Finally, they’ll assess the health of your eyes by shining a light and asking you to look in various directions.
  14. After the eye test, the optometrist will provide you with the results. Then, you’ll proceed to the area where you can choose your frames.
  15. The staff responsible for frames will give you a small tray. When trying on glasses from the display, place them in the tray. Do not put them back on the shelf; the staff will need to sanitize them.
  16. If you have an HC2, frames priced at £49 or below are free. For frames priced higher, you’ll need to pay the difference.
  17. Once you’ve chosen your frames, return the tray to the staff. They may ask if you want additional services, including:
    • Thinning the lenses (the standard cost is £20, but I chose this option because of my high prescription).
    • I picked a £69 frame; British frames can be quite unattractive, and it took me a while to find one that was passable.
    • After the HC2 discount, I only had to pay £29.70. If you select frames priced at £49 or less and don’t thin the lenses, you can get them for free (capitalism’s wool is there for the taking).
    • If you’re getting them for free, the staff might recommend lens coatings, such as anti-reflective, blue light filter, or UV protection.
    • Be aware that there might be a tactic involved; the staff could provide you with a final price without explaining what coatings they’re adding. In this case, you’ll need to ask why it’s so expensive; otherwise, you might end up paying more.
    • If you don’t want coatings, specify that you only want standard lenses without any additional coatings.
  18. With the eyeglass prescription, you can consider getting glasses from Taobao when you return to China. The style options are much better and probably more fashionable than what you’ll find in the UK.
  19. After everything is completed, you’ll receive a card with details about when to pick up your glasses. For me, it was a week later, which is quite fast. During pickup, they will make on-the-spot adjustments if necessary.

Castle Happy Card

I highly recommend this card for friends who enjoy visiting castles. It’s called the HISTORIC SCOTLAND MEMBERSHIP, priced at £30 for an annual membership. With this card, you can enjoy unlimited free visits to historic sites in Scotland, including Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, and more. Additionally, you’ll get a 10% discount at the gift shops within these sites. Since the entrance fees for Edinburgh and Stirling Castles are both £15, visiting each of them once already covers the cost. Any subsequent visits to other castles and historic sites become pure enjoyment. Edinburgh Castle has such breathtaking views; I plan to visit it several more times!

Here’s the registration link:

Castle Happy Card Registration

Once you’re on the website, fill in your personal information for registration. I recommend selecting Direct Debit Annual as the payment method to save 10% on the fee.

As a member, you’ll receive a magazine that you can choose to receive electronically or in print. After registering, you should receive your membership card and an introductory manual within about three to four days.

Of course, if you, like me, discover this card just a few days before your planned visit and the card hasn’t arrived yet, you can still enter the castles with the confirmation email you receive.

Once you have the card, when booking tickets, choose the Scottish Heritage Member Ticket option, and the payment page will show £0.

To Be Continued…

More content to come, but I’ll be delaying it indefinitely. I gave up on registering with the dentist because the materials used for free dental work seem to be black, so I’ll just wait until I’m back in China to deal with it.

KC Room Tour

This might be postponed indefinitely as well. The apartment staff have locked all the doors to vacant rooms, so I can’t access them for filming. I’ll have to wait until my roommates arrive. (Sigh x4)