Studying at the University of Leeds is a thrilling and exciting experience. Not only will you join a world top-100 university, but you will discover a variety of cultures, opinions, and experiences that would be hard to find elsewhere. Add to that the friendly people, the fantastic cuisine options and the many sights in or around Leeds and you will be all set. However, at some point you will probably miss your family back home —it would only be normal to do so. To offset this feeling, some people decide to bring their family members to the UK. In my case, I came here with my spouse —as many students from Latin America, Africa and SEA do—, so let me give you some pointers on travelling with your significant other (i.e.: spouse or unmarried civil partner).
Before you and your partner make the decision to come to Leeds together, it is very important to ask yourselves some questions:
- What will he/she be doing in Leeds while you are studying? Options include finding a job here, working remotely for your home country, taking online or in-person (when the pandemic eventually allows it) courses, or just taking some time off and pursuing hobbies.
- Will he/she enjoy it here? Remember you will be very busy with essays, assignments and, in due time, the holy dissertation.
- Will he/she be able to make friends? You will likely hit it off with the people in your course, but that does not necessarily mean he/she will want to join the group for pub quiz night.
- And what about the language? While it might be a problem if his/her English is not good enough, it could mean an opportunity to improve it big time.
There are, of course, legal requirements that you have to meet to be allowed to bring someone in the UK on your student visa. First of all, you have to be studying full-time at postgraduate level and your chosen programme should take at least nine months to be completed. Secondly, there are some fees to pay, including £475 for the visa and some £300 for the healthcare surcharge. Finally, you must show that your dependants (a category that encompasses not only spouses and unmarried civil partners but also children) can be supported while they’re in the UK. For the latest information, please visit the British government’s site.
You should keep in mind the main reason you will be in Leeds: to study and to complete your programme. With that said, if you are lucky enough to bring your partner with you, the key is to strike a balance. How so? Check out these tips:
- Whether your partner works, studies or is taking time off, it is essential that the both of you have a corresponding routine. Have breakfast together, make 9-5 your study time (and insist on him/her keeping busy during ‘office hours’) and then have dinner together, before catching the latest show on Netflix.
- Take time to relax and travel. In our case, we make day trips almost every single weekend to some of the nearby historic towns and other breathtaking places (check out my recommendations here).
- Do your chores. You might stress before crucial deadlines, but be sure to still cook, do the dishes or the laundry, and clean the bathroom if those are your tasks.
- Support each other. Yes, there are a lot of perks of living in another country, but, even if you are with your significant other, there will be times you will miss home, your friends and your family. When these situations arise, don’t hold back and talk about the issues that upset you. Communication is fundamental.
Flor and I got married not too long before coming to Leeds, so we planned my master’s programme as a two-people experience from the word go. I would study and she would find a job, ideally in the field of human resources, in which she had been working for some time in Buenos Aires. Luckily —or due to her can-do attitude, really—, she found a job at a Leeds recruiting firm within our first month here! For the past year, I’ve been able to focus on my studies (spending, before the Covid-19 situation, the bigger part of my days at university), while she’s been busy working and developing her career at a place she really likes. During the weekends, we both relax, eat out or make day trips. We also made some Argentine friends and she’s met with some of the people of my course. Overall, it’s been awesome and better that we could have expected!
Are you planning on coming to Leeds with your spouse? Drop me an email if you have got any doubts!