Hello everyone 🙂
If you’ve not already read my profile…I’m Amir! I recently went back home for a few weeks to visit my family and came back to the UK a couple of weeks ago and had to self-isolate following the new rules. With new the term starting in less than a month, a lot of new and returning students are coming to/back to Leeds. Therefore, I have made this useful blog about returning to the UK and self-isolating for 14 days (following the government guidelines).
This blog provides recommendations based on my experience of self-isolating and some useful tips that can help you once you arrive in the UK. I will be sharing many useful tips for you so make sure that you read until the end.
First: How to get to Leeds?
The good news is that the university is operating some free airport shuttle services from Manchester and Leeds-Bradford airport on some selected key dates. If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, try to book a flight during that time if it’s possible. If you can’t make it on those selected days, still try to book a flight to those airports because they are much closer to Leeds.
Some countries have limited flights only going to Heathrow or Gatwick therefore your options can be limited to:
- Booking a private taxi which can be expensive, but you can try share a taxi with a group of people from your city/country and it will be cheaper
- Train or bus/coach- no direct route
It’s easier to plan your journey on Google maps then look at national rail or trainline to book either a train or bus. Because of health & safety reasons, you must book your ticket in advance and reserve your seat, so make sure to book your ticket with plenty of time to get through immigration/luggage etc. 3 hours ahead should be safe. Remember to always wear your mask and in case if you needed any help, there are always people there that can help you!
When you have booked your flight, complete the International Arrival form so the university can start preparing for your arrival. The university has also published a very useful Travel information page, giving further directions and information.
Now that your flight(s) are booked, the next thing to check is if you need to self-isolate. You can find this information out on the official UK government websites. For England, you can find a list of exempt countries, guidance and information on this website. It’s important you check this daily a week before you travel, rules change frequently with little notice and you will have to complete this form for the government before you enter into the UK from any country.
I understand this sounds difficult and daunting, especially if this is your first time travelling to the UK but don’t worry, we will do our best to make it easier on you. Here is a short guide on how to isolate once you arrive in Leeds.
Second: Initial arrival and self-isolating
One of the first concern that you may have is how to buy essentials for your room, such as bedding and kitchen utensils. So at least you can sleep comfortably for most of the 14 days as you might not have many other options to do. And even if you, I would suggest that you sleep a lot anyway. You deserve it! (that’s what I tell myself)
As long as you have a credit or debit card that works internationally, you can buy almost everything online and they will deliver it to your address. You can book arrival slots or sometimes next day to 2/3-days deliveries. So, if you’re that organized, you can prepare for deliveries for the next day after your arrival. You can buy very nice and affordable beddings from brands such as Next, Wilko, Dunelm but make sure to check with your accommodation about the type of bed you will have and if they will accept your order before you arrive or not. Alternatively, you can request the university to provide you with bedding if you are staying in university accommodation. You just need to select it on the arrival form– this form will keep reappearing throughout the blog 😉
Food & Utensils
After you’ve figured out your sleeping arrangement, you need to start thinking about food and utensils. Whether you are in private or university accommodation, you can request an initial self-isolating food pack (set to last 3 days) as well as kitchen utensil set from the university by filling out the arrival form.
You can buy food, utensils and so much more online too! You just need to set up an online account on one of the many available supermarkets and do your shopping. I personally order groceries and food from Tesco and Morrison’s; they have good prices and you can find a convenient delivery slot times. There are lots of stores to choose from and they carry a range of international food too. You will be able to buy vegan, vegetarian, halal, Indian, Chinese, Latin American and so much more here…it might not be as authentic as the smaller international supermarkets in Leeds, but it’ll more than do for the days that you cannot leave your room. These online supermarkets also have a wide range of essentials such as kitchen utensils, self-care products, home essentials and many more which you can buy if you wish to!
If you plan to order groceries, I would suggest you check their website before you fly to the UK and find a suitable delivery slot for when you are defiantly in Leeds. For ordering online grocery (or any other online order), you need to have a debit card (visa or master, some online shops accept PayPal too). If buying online groceries is not an option for you, you can contact NHS volunteer responders on 0808 196 3646 (from 8 am to 8 pm). These are volunteers who can help you with delivering shopping, medications or other essentials. They have various methods for delivering your shopping and taking your payments which, you can read about here. They also accept cash!
If you are not really feeling like cooking your own dinner or lunch and would like to get takeaways, you can order from UberEATS, JustEat or Deliveroo. You can easily sign up and put your address. These apps will give you a wide range of options and you can order easily. The delivery drivers also follow safety guidelines and deliver your food completely contact-free. You can pay for the food by a card but also depending on your region and the restaurant you chose; you can pay in cash sometimes!
WASH, WASH, WASH, WASH (and moisturise)!
Make sure to wash your hands regularly and whenever you contact anything from outside of your self-isolation environment. You can buy soaps, hand wash liquid & sanitiser from any of the grocery stores or more specific items from drug stores such as Boots and Superdrug. You can order online from drug stores or along with your online grocery order and use one of the methods that I explained above to receive your order. I would suggest that you bring a travel size bottle of hand wash liquid and hand sanitiser in your luggage in case you needed them.
Depending on your individual circumstances, you might have to go out at some point to get medicine or food when the delivery is not possible. Only go out if you really have to and make sure to wear a face mask and go when it’s not busy. I had to buy a nasal spray to help with some breathing problems and the fastest delivery was in 4 days, so I had to go to the pharmacy very quickly. However, I returned immediately. In these circumstances though, you should contact your accommodation, the international student office or school services to see if they can be of any assistance before leaving.
Thank you for reading this blog up until this point. I’m just making sure that you are fully reading this guide 🙂 Make sure to read until the end, so you won’t miss my useful mobile app suggestions for when you arrive!
I admit that I didn’t do much during my 14 days of self-isolation. But sometimes the most productive thing that you can do is nothing.
On the first day, after being on a flight for 7 hours and then 4 hours on the train to get from London to Leeds, I was too tired to cook. So, I decided to order some pizza for dinner. I ordered 2 pizzas (Yes, both for me) from a local Italian pizzeria in Leeds called Rudy’s pizza. They offer tasty Napoli style pizzas and you can order from Deliveroo! (I’m hoping this mention gets me a sponsorship from them). I ended my night by watching an episode of FRIENDS (the one where Ross is “fine”) and went to bed around 9 p.m. which is the earliest time I have slept in so long!
These 14 days past much faster than I thought. I spend most of my time during these days on sleeping, eating and finishing a new series on Netflix called DARK.
I have been looking forward to 15th day for what it seemed to be a long time at first but passed very quickly. I am very excited because I become a free man today and get to go around the city and campus which I missed a lot during my time away. I woke very early this morning as I have to go to the university to work on the clearing call centre which is on campus. It is a very beautiful day with a soft summer rain. I went walking around the campus and city in the evening after I finished my work and took some pictures for you guys.
Here is a list of few useful apps for you guys to help you during this difficult time as well as the duration of your study in the UK.
- Uber or Amber taxis
- Trainline or national rail (trains and busses)
- Railcard (purchase the student railcard)
- Deliveroo, JustEat or UberEats (food delivery)
- Netflix, Disney+ or Amazon Prime (entertainment to your preference)
- BBC good food (in case you fancy some new recipes)
- UniDays & Totum (student discounts online and in store)
I hope you guys enjoyed this blog/guide and hopefully we will see you in Leeds at some point (when it’s safe). If you had any questions, you can email me or any other ambassadors or you can use our instant messaging system and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Have a safe journey everyone!