Preparing to Return Home
Completing your course at Staffordshire University is a great achievement, and one which you should be immensely proud of.
It was not long ago that you were at home, planning your journey here - thinking about what to pack, imagining your new life in Stoke-on-Trent - and now it is time to start planning all over again!
We have put together some tips to help you, so that you don't forget anything when you are preparing to return home.
When to Leave
You need to have left the UK or have submitted a valid visa application by midnight on the day your visa expires. Please be aware that overstaying in the UK after your visa expires, even by one day, is in breach of the immigration rules and could have serious consequences for any future visa applications you make. The UKVI implement exit checks on journeys out of the UK so they will have it on record if you leave the UK after your visa has expired. If your visa has been curtailed (cut short) because you have completed your course early or been withdrawn then you will have a new earlier date that you will have to leave the UK by. The International Student Support team will have emailed you information about this, and you should expect to be contacted separately (by letter or email) by the UKVI to confirm your new visa expiry date. If you have any questions about this, please contact International Student Support.
Switching Your Visa CategoryIf you’re thinking of studying another course and applying for another Tier 4 visa, or switching from your current visa to another visa category, then you should read the information available here. Not all students are able to apply for a new visa, and those who are may have to go home to apply for it, so it’s important you plan in advance.
Check Your ResultsIt might sound obvious, but don’t forget to check your exam results on e:Vision, and emails whether you’re back in your home country, or still in the UK. Hopefully, this will tell you how amazingly you’ve done in your degree, but if for any reason things haven’t gone quite as you’d hoped you need to understand your options in advance. If you want to appeal a decision there is a time limit by which you must do so, and if you have resit exams, then it’s important you know in advance when these will be.
GraduationIf your graduation ceremony is after your visa expiry, then you will need to leave the UK before your visa expires, and then travel back to the UK for the ceremony on a Standard Visitor Visa. If you have family or friends who wish to attend your graduation, and they are also non-EEA nationals then they too will need a Standard Visitor Visa to attend. There is important information for you and your guests about how to apply for this visa on our webpage.
Clearing Out Your Accommodation
Taking things home
If you’ve been here for a while, you probably have more things with you than you could easily carry on the plane. You should check with your airline about how much luggage you can take. Paying for excess luggage can be expensive, and there are specialist companies who will ship bags and boxes for students to their homes, such as sendmybag and unibaggage.
If you have large items or lots of text books, then you can see if you can sell them on campus to other students. Try advertising on noticeboards in your department, accommodation or on your department’s Facebook page. There are also websites where you can sell your textbooks quickly and easily, and they will even pay for the postage costs. Try webuybooks or fatbrain.
There are charity shops in Stoke and Hanley who will be happy to receive your books, kitchen items, bedding, clothes, shoes and electronic items. Just make sure everything’s clean and still usable. There is also a red charity donation bin on campus, in the carpark opposite Spode Halls.
Who Do I Tell That I am Leaving the UK?
• Once you’re home, email the International Student Support team that you have left and send a picture/scan of the entry stamp in your passport, your boarding pass and your flight ticket so that your student record can be updated.
• Make sure your address is correct on e:Vision, so that any correspondence from the University reaches you at home.
• You should shut down your UK bank account before you leave the UK. You will need to attend the bank in person to do this, most banks will require you to take your bank card, passport and proof of your address.
• If you are in private accommodation and pay your own bills, most utility companies have information about moving house on their webpages. You should check there for guidance about how and when to cancel your contracts. Check this information in advance in case there is a minimum number of weeks’ notice you are required to give.
• If you have children with you in the UK, and they are attending school or nursery here then you should notify them well in advance that your child is leaving.
• If you are receiving post at your UK address, you can set up an automatic redirection through the Royal Mail, so that your letters will be sent to your address in your home country. There is a fee for this, but it’s worth doing if you are concerned about missing any letters. You may also wish to give your home address to a number of people in the UK, so that they can forward any correspondence of important information.
Refunds and Deposits
If you are living in private accommodation (not in University halls of residence) and have paid a deposit, then you should check your contract or speak to your landlord about how to arrange for a return of your deposit when you leave. Landlords cannot keep your deposit for no reason, and they cannot charge you for ‘wear and tear’ (the normal deterioration of property through normal use). It is law in the UK that your deposit is protected under a government scheme. You can read more information about housing deposits here.
Income Tax Refund
If you have been working in the UK, and paying income tax you may be entitled to a partial tax refund. You can find information about how to claim a tax refund here.
If in the 3 months before you leave the UK you have bought items that you were charged VAT for, and you are taking these items back with you outside of the EU, then you may be able to claim back some of the VAT through the VAT Retail Export Scheme. You normally have to have bought the items from a shop that operates this scheme (look out for a sign saying ‘Tax Free Shopping’). You can find more information about this here.
TV License Refund
If you have paid your TV license in advance for the year, and there are least 3 months remaining when you leave the UK, you can apply for a refund for this period. See the details here.
Household Utilities (Private Accommodation)
If you pay your own bills, and have paid in advance for your gas, electricity, water broadband or other service, you should contact the provider to check if there are any refunds available.
To help you with your career plans when you’re back home, it will be very helpful to have references from your time in the UK. At least a month before you leave, contact a few people who know you and can comment on your abilities and your work (for example, an academic supervisor or an employer) and ask them for a reference. You should also ask if they would be happy to be contacted for a reference in the future if you apply for a job. It is considered bad manners not to ask before you include someone as a referee on a job application.
As a Staffordshire University graduate, you have access to The Careers Network here for the rest of your life! Before you leave the UK you should stop in to see them in the Cadman Building to help you prepare a CV that will make you stand out, and to practise your interview technique. Once you’re home, you can access all of the online resources available through their career portal eCoach.
AlumniYou’re now part of the Staffordshire University Alumni; wherever you end up in the world, whatever you end up doing you will always be connected to the University. Our graduates and their successes play an important role in the future success of the University, and we are really proud of you all! Please do keep in touch, the Alumni team would love to hear about your achievements. Maybe you’ll be appearing on the Graduate Stories page very soon.
Reverse Culture Shock
When you first arrived in the UK, it probably took a little while to get used to the language, the accents, English food, the education system, and all the rain. You might have found it all a bit disorientating and felt more homesick for the life you left behind than you expected. Now that Stoke-on-Trent feels familiar, don’t be surprised that you might need some time to readjust to life when you return home. This is called reverse culture shock. Not every student will experience this, just as not every student had difficulties settling in. It’s not something you need to worry about, but simply be aware of it so that you don’t feel frustrated with yourself if you need some time to readjust. Some common issues that students can find challenging to readjust to are:
Family and friends
As happy and exciting as your homecoming will be, it can still be a challenging time for you and the people who’ve been missing you. You might feel that you have changed a lot while you have been in the UK, but your family and friends may expect you to be just the same as when you left, and they may find it difficult to get used to the ‘new you’. Perhaps while you were here you enjoyed a lot of freedom in how you spent your money, who you had relationships with and how you spent your free time, which might be difficult for both you and your family to readjust to. Of course, they will have also changed in the time that you have been away: you may be surprised by how much older your parents and younger siblings seem; and friends may have got married or had children. After your adventure living in another country you might have been looking forward to going back to a familiar and comforting home life, and it can be unsettling when things aren’t quite as you expected.
Customs and Ideas
When you first came to the UK, you probably had to adapt to a number of cultural differences, which in time you came to take for granted. When you return home, you may find that it also takes time before the customs and ideas that were once so familiar to you in your everyday life seem normal again. There are many areas that can present challenges, such as:• how people dress
• how food is prepared and served
• how women and men are expected to behave
• administrative procedures
• attitudes to timekeeping
• tolerance for minority views.
If you have children with you in the UK, it may also be difficult for them to adapt to your home culture. Along with the reasons above, they may also miss the friends they have made over here. They may be going into a school system which is very different from the UK's and where the teaching methods or subjects are unfamiliar.
If you are returning to your previous job at home, you might find that things have changed while you’ve been away and you may have lost touch with important information or developments. In addition, you may sense some jealousy from colleagues who wish they’d had the same opportunity to pursue their education. You may find that lack of equipment or funding means you’re able to use all the skills that you worked so hard to develop during your study.
Economy and Politics
You may find that your country has experienced economic problems and that it is difficult to buy things that you have been used to getting very easily in the UK. You may have to go without some of the conveniences you have got used to while living here. A different government may be in power and there may also be new political groups, so you may feel out of touch with how your country is being run.
How to Prepare
Preparing for reverse culture shock is made easier simply by knowing about it; understanding that you might experience it; and accepting that is a common and very normal reaction. Home students who are only travelling 30 miles away after graduating find it hard to adjust to life after University, and that’s without the challenges of a different language, time zone, culture, religion or reconnecting with loved ones they’ve not seen in a long while. Appreciate what a brave and challenging decision it was to embark on study in another country, and don’t give yourself a hard time for not feeling completely at ease on your first day back at home.