Don’t struggle or waste time trying to work things out alone: either in terms of knowing about the practical things and admin, learning new skills or getting peer and social support.

When you start your fellowship, go and knock on doors – it is good to know who is who – for your career and being more effective in your research.  Arrange meetings with your Head of Department, the teaching fellows, research manager, in fact anyone in your department.  Send an email – say you want to know how things work around here – arrange coffees, you will get some rejections, but that’s fine – announce who you are and show your face. Be helpful and people will be helpful too. – Dr Ali Salehi-Reyhani, JRF, Department of Chemistry

I didn't realise how isolating it could be, not being part of a group.  You are only person at the start.  I now have a group so it’s ok, but I didn't think about having a network to fall back on. Talking to other fellows has been valuable.  You recognise that everyone is in the same situation which has been reassuring and enabling. I am now much more comfortable talking about challenges to strangers and asking them for help.  – Dr Charlotte Dodson, Research Fellow, NHLI

Living in the UK – for fellows moving to the UK or London for the first time

Settling yourself in to life in the UK and London and establishing all the practical arrangements can distract you from getting on with your research in the first few months. So don't have big expectations for how much you will achieve in your research in the first few weeks.

It will take time to arrange accommodation and there are many things you need to arrange, apply for or set up.  This can be overwhelming but there are many sources of support and advice.  Here are some useful sources of general advice, as well as some specific information on the most urgent and important things to arrange when you first arrive.

Support and Advice Available to You

Moving to the UK

Your priorities before and on arrival, as recommended by our international fellows, are:

  • Accommodation:
    • Understand the London housing market – affordable areas to live in
    • Costs and processes involved in renting houses
  • Setting up a bank account:
    • Types of account
    • Procedures and requirements
  • Registering for taxes and health services
  • Finding childcare and schools

Living in London is expensive, it will help if you have properly worked out your net income, planned your finances, know the cost of living and have your budget worked out before you arrive in the UK.  You will have to realise that things will take time to arrange – particularly finances and housing, it can distract you from getting on with your work so prepare for it to take 2-3 months before things are arranged!  I needed some help with housing: I recommend that you use the Imperial accommodation service department (once you have a user name). It is also important to get your National Insurance number and bank account as soon as possible.  You will need the NI number as proof of address. Dr Matteo O. Ciantia, JRF, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Guides and support from Imperial

There are various services and sources of advice and further information collated by Imperial.  The main ones of relevance to you are:

  • The Welcome Office - offers specialist advice and guidance on all aspects of moving to the UK, allowing new staff to settle in their new roles and homes, as effortlessly as possible. They can provide support on a range of topics, including: international relocation, visas and immigration, finding accommodation, schooling and childcare, life in the UK and London, settling in to the College
  • Information for overseas staff - essential information on various topics including: accommodation, childcare, travel, healthcare, bank accounts and pensions
  • Living in the UK – guide for staff at Imperial on living in London, communications, public transport, information about the UK, learning English, public holidays and college closures
  • Centre for Academic English - can help you with both your academic and social English.  The courses are specifically designed to meet the needs of international Imperial members carrying out research in science, engineering and medicine.
  • Parents’ Network - information for parents who are new to the UK 

Information from external organisations can be found here [PDF – External Support for moving to the UK]. 

Settling in to London and Imperial

Whether or not you have come from overseas, you may need some time and support to settle in to living in London.  In addition to the resources on moving to the UK, you may find the following useful:

Local support, Professional and Research related services

In addition to the PDC, there are an overwhelming number of services at Imperial that could potentially help and support you during your fellowship.  Not all of them will be relevant, but at least be aware of what is offered so that you can consider using or engaging with them in future.  All of the following services have been used or recommended by fellows at Imperial who have found their help invaluable.

Local support, Professional and Research related services

Support for parents

If you have children: find out about the support available for families and get your name on the nursery waiting list.  The college has been very supportive of me as a parent – even covering my childcare when I had a course to go to.  I have found it useful to connect with the Parenting Network, which has linked me to Parent Mentors and the Babies and Bumps network, which meet regularly– Dr Susie Maidment, former JRF, Department of Earth Sciences & Engineering

Imperial’s Parents’ Network web pages contains information to supporting expectant parents and parents with children of any age to obtain a good work life balance and to excel at work whilst enjoying being a parent at home.

Information and data management

Library services – As a research fellow, of course you know how to use a library, but have you had a recent refresher on the latest information sources and ways of managing information and literature searches?  These are always developing – make sure you stay up to date and efficient in your use of the library, its services and advice.

Library guidance and services relevant to researchers:

As a researcher coming from overseas, it is important to understand the specific rules around plagiarism and copyright for text and especially images as well as to improve one’s writing style for publications  – English writing skills, reviewing others work etc.  For instance, I have found the quarterly peer-review workshops for organisation theory organised jointly by Imperial College Business School, Oxford and Cambridge professors really helpful. – Dr Yasser Bhatti, Research Fellow, Institute of Global Health Innovation, Department of Surgery & Cancer

Library workshops and one-to-one support:

  • Arrange a 1:1 with your Liaison Librarian, who will be happy to help you with specialist enquires to improve your information management. Email your liaison librarian to ask a question or arrange a meeting.
  • The library’s Open Access and Research Data Management teams can give you specific advice if you contact them directly, and also run outreach sessions during the year. These are often great opportunities to ask questions and get advice so would be useful to research fellows.  These are mainly organised in departments and will be advertised during the year on the Open Access and Data Management web pages.
  • Reference Management: Most workshops offered by the library are aimed mainly at undergraduates.  Fellows are welcome, however, to attend the EndNote sessions which might be of particular interest if you are not already familiar with reference management tools.

Computing

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) – provide high performance computing, virtual servers, management of research data and other research support systems, which are further explained on their web page on ICT for research support
They also offer various eLearning courses that may be of interest to any member of staff.

Statistics advice

Statistical Advisory Service - offers help with, for example, statistics, methodology, and grant applications.
They also provide short courses in statistics and statistical software. 
This is a service you will have to pay for on an hourly basis.

Maximising the impact of your research