Table of Contents
Congratulations, you've made it to the UK! Even though that sounds exciting and fascinating, there's a little voice in the back of your mind who’s worried about what's about to happen in your oh-so-waited very first UK visit for PLAB 2.
What will happen at immigration?
Where will I go after landing at the airport?
Well, I have no one to receive me!
How will I reach my accommodation by myself?
How to find the course I've signed up for?
What do I need to bring with me?
- Where are you going to stay?
- How long your stay will be?
- When are you going to the UK?
June. July, August - are the UK's warmest months whereas December, January, February are the coldest. So, if your first visit to the UK is during winter times pack your winter clothes properly as the weather in winter can be with freezing temperatures, icy conditions and sometimes snow.
British weather is known to be very unpredictable. So, they say, there is no such thing as bad weather, it's wrong clothing! Check out our tips for staying warm in our article on winter in the UK.
Don't forget to bring a set of semi-professional clothing for your PLAB 2 exam date. Have a look here, what to expect for the PLABs. Clothing aside, if you think about what papers to bring with you, check out evidences needed for GMC registration application.
What will happen at immigration?
You'll find the line for foreign passports, long and winding. After a long trip (if you live far enough), you'll wonder how you'll keep standing to reach the desk of the border officer. Once you do get there, however, you'll need to stay sharp, as they may ask you a few questions that you need to be prepared for. Also you will need to fill an arrival card for your first visit to the UK. Be sure to fill that in accordance with your travel itinerary.
They may ask for documentation related to your stay, if they feel it necessary to check. Keep your PLAB 2 booking with you as well. Also, where you'll be staying, whatever papers you have related to that. They may even ask you to show all the money you're carrying with you and whether or not it is sufficient for your proposed duration of stay. And don't forget to show your return ticket!
Bottom line, the main questions are:
- Why are you here?
- While you are here, can you support yourself?
I repeat, stay sharp. And be truthful!
The most important documents to keep at hand
- Your passport
- Your boarding passes
- Your PLAB 2 booking confirmation
- You accommodation confirmation document
If you are coming from a country which does not require a visa to visit the UK, you may be wondering what you should say or bring with you to immigration. You can keep all the documents regarding your PLAB stay with you if you wish. Typically you will not be asked that many questions aside from how much money you have on you and your desired length of stay. Return tickets and proof of accommodation bookings vary from country to country, so it is always best to ask your local British consulate if you require these documents.
Travelling from the airport to your destination
Where did you land and where is your destination?
From the experiences of many IMGs, almost always in their first visit to the UK they end up in either the Manchester Airport or London Heathrow Airport. We'll talk about this two.
Before I explain anything else, I would highly recommend that you download this Citymapper app. (Google play and App Store). This app helped me a lot in moving around both London and Manchester. Also Google maps (Google play and App store)has always been a life saver.
Check out Coming to London: Part 2 to find out more about places to buy groceries, treats, and other things from. Also bookmark The journey to PLAB 2 to plan that long-awaited journey to appear in your PLAB 2 exam.
The cost-effective way to travel around London is by tube. It’s one of the ways to go around London, and it's mostly underground.
You will find the tube map in the citymapper app or a simple google search will provide you with it. It may feel a bit confusing, but it's really simple. Line means the tube’s name, e.g. Piccadilly Line is a tube’s name. And this Piccadilly Line can be Eastbound or Westbound. If you notice the map now, this line is colored purple. It's either starting from Heathrow Terminal 5 or Uxbridge and ends at Cockfosters. That means the Eastbound tube from Heathrow Terminals/Uxbridge station will end up in Cockfosters station. So the tube can be called - Eastbound Cockfosters Piccadilly line. On the other hand, Westbound Heathrow Terminal 5 Piccadilly Line will end up in the Airport, but Westbound Uxbridge Piccadilly Line won't go to the Airport.
The map you're seeing in the 'tube map’ is not the physical map, it's just a notation to tell you where the stations are and all. The physical Piccadilly Line’s route looks like this.
I hope I was clear enough. This basic understanding will help you getting along with the app, also in real life and help you to explore your options by yourself.
Let's talk about train fares now! There are 3 ways you can pay for the tube. Oyster card, Contactless card or cash. The intelligent thing is to get an Oyster card as soon as possible. Maybe you will have to make your first journey by cash. This page will give you more insight about fares and payments for the London travel.
Now I will try to break it down to you how things work. Suppose you have just landed in Heathrow Airport and you're travelling with cash.
- Find the Underground Tube station in the terminal of the Heathrow airport.
- Make a one-way ticket for Barking (Common Stations) or Bow Road (Samson’s).
- You can do it by yourself in the machine by cash. If you feel confused ask any staff and they'll make it for you, and hand you over a ticket.
- To go into the platforms you need to slide the ticket in another machine and open the doors.
- Now that you're in, you have no worries about missing the train here. Tubes are coming one after another within a few minutes. So, you missed an Eastbound Cockfosters Piccadilly Line - DO NOT WORRY, you can jump into the next same tube that will be coming within minutes.
- Now the problem is that this Piccadilly line doesn't go to Barking nor to Bow Road. What you need to do is interchange tubes.
- I will refer you to the tube map now again. You'll find Barking in Zone 4 and Bow Road Zone 2. Notice, no purple line (Piccadilly) is on them. Rather, there's green (District line) and pink (Hammersmith and City line).
- My personal advice will be to use the District Line because its interchange with Piccadilly is easier. Now again look at the tube map. In the following stations the purple (Piccadilly) and the green (District) lines go parallel:
- Turnham Green
- Baron's Court
- Earl's Court
- Gloucester Road
- South Kensington
- You can hop out in any of these stations and hop in the Eastbound Upminster/Barking District Line. Done!
- When it reaches Bow road or Barking, on your way out from the station you will have to slide your ticket into the machine again to open the doors and go out.
- Yes, you made it!
During or after the interchange of tubes no ticket showing to anyone or machines is needed. Just hop out and hop in. Simple as that!
Now apply the same technique according to your accommodation address. However, if your accommodation place requires you take buses, let me tell you that the iconic red double-decker London buses don't take cash. So, your best bet is to get an Oyster card at the train station you reached. £10 for the card, £5 go into your balance.
In your first visit to the UK, travelling in Manchester is easier in my opinion than London. The methods of public transport inside the city is either via tram or buses. But the Manchester Airport itself a bit far from the city. So you will need to take overground trains to reach to your first destination around city.
The instructions are very clear on the Google maps app. There is no reason you will be lost. If you don't understand anything don't hesitate for a second to ask around.
The greatest trick to travelling in the UK is knowing the POST CODE of your destination. If you know the post code of where you're going, you'll never get lost.
Good luck and have a safe journey!