Written by Lillian Steele 26th August, 2023
Edited by Beth Evans
Welcome to Plymouth! Wherever you're travelling from, congrats on getting here, i'm so excited for you. My name is Lillie, and I'm currently in my second year studying costume production, and I'm from Seattle, Washington, in the USA. Here are my tips for getting settled in town and some things that I wish I had known when I first arrived.
The best thing to do when you first arrive will be a grocery run, there are tons of shops all over that you can buy basics from like toilet roll, snacks, or meds. The hours in the UK are a bit different than I was used to in the US, so be aware that larger shops usually close around 8, but on Sundays everything closes early at 4:30 or 5pm, so plan accordingly!
For the late night basics (and snacks) I would recommend going to smaller convenience stores, like Co-op, Sainsbury's Local, or Tesco Express. These are usually open until 10pm or 11pm which will save you if you’re jet lagged or arrive late. There isn't a “Big Tesco” in town, so I would recommend Sainsburys, or Aldi if you're up for the walk. Sainsburys has everything you might need, but Aldi will be slightly cheaper. There are also several Asian grocery stores near the main shopping area that are great and pretty affordable.
Here are my personal translations;
For the Americans, B&M is like a Grocery Outlet, Sainsburys is like Fred Meyer, M&S is kind of like a fancy Trader Joes. Boots is like Walgreens, and Tesco is honestly like Fred Meyer also. There is also Aldi and Lidl (which are basically the same) that you can get to pretty easily from the uni.
Getting a sim card was something I left until 2 months after I arrived because I was so confused, but not to worry, there is wifi all over town. I would recommend not getting a contract because they won't let you have enough flexibility for your situation. I use giffgaff, which has been very affordable and decently easy to use. They don't have physical stores, so you will have to order a sim card online.
My biggest piece of advice is to meet people as soon as possible! Even if they won't be lifelong friends, it is invaluable to have someone there who can help you out and distract you from your homesickness. Also it is so comforting to make friends with other international students! They will understand so much about your situation and you can complain about weird British things together. There are tons of fun pubs around town, I love the Bread & Roses for the live music, but basically anywhere will be a good time if you have some friends along.
There are countless other things I could ramble about, but these are the main things that I wish I had known to ease my mind during the first few weeks. Remember that there are always kind people around at AUP that will be happy to help. You can also contact me for a chat and a drink anytime!
Best of luck!
To follow along with Lillie's costume practice, follow along online: @lillie_sigrid_