Pre-departure Tips: Pembroke-King’s Programme

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I participated with UCEAP (UC system)  which takes care of a lot of things so my tips may be a little different from other schools and countries but here are some important information to take note of when applying for the summer Pembroke-King’s Programme at the University of Cambridge.


The online application can be found on this website: 

Usually the application opens around October, and ends around January although it is sometimes extended. Its really easy to fill out and honestly, I recommend just getting all the passport stuff out of the way as soon as possible so you have everything together.

The hardest part would be getting a letter of recommendation. I asked a bunch of professors and got a lot of offers back even though I’m that kid in class who doesn’t talk so don’t be afraid to ask. Send an email to all your professors even if you think its annoying, and it’ll probably annoy them haha, but it doesn’t hurt to try!

Once you are accepted, you will have to lock down your spot in the program so you can sign up for your classes. To do this, you will have to pay for accommodation.


Accommodations for the program come in five price ranges. I paid for Bodley’s Court in King’s College which was built in 1893 (not too bad honestly) and part of band 4. Its really close to the river and the rooms are pretty big (as compared to UC dorms).

I signed up for the program really early so they actually opened up other options later into the application period, such as Spalding Hostel which is band 3 and where my sister lived when she attended. The hostel is near King’s College as well and a pretty nice place too!

Meals are included although not enough for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday but there are plenty of choices around town.

Read more about accommodations here:  

I also have a post on most of the accommodations with pictures: 


Once again, I stress, get your passport as soon as you can. It doesn’t hurt to have one (I know it costs, but its good to have one around). If you’re an American citizen, you can get a student visa upon arrival in London. Make sure to not stop in Ireland beforehand because it will make your access void!! In order to get the visa upon arrival at the airport you will need:

1. Passport

2. UK Host University Acceptance Letter (a print-out of acceptance email is fine if the host university did not send a hard-copy letter)

3. Proof that you will depart the UK before your Student Visitor Visa expires a. Flight/other travel itinerary or ticket.

4. Evidence of Financial Support (£1015/month) Bank statements, letters of a financial aid letter from your university works.

5. Official Transcript

If you’re not an American citizen (for example, you may hold Chinese nationality), then you have to apply for your visa before leaving. You will need biometrics so prepare time.

For more information on which kind of visa and what process you should go for visit here: 

Make your account and apply for your visa here: 

Flight Tickets:

You will need proof of your departure from UK after the program ends so its best to get round trip tickets. I recommend buying from STA Travel which gives student discounts and is relatively more lenient on date changes and cancellations. 

Money matters:

For no ATM transaction fee, I picked a Bank of America Travel Rewards Card. Its paired with Barclays and BNP Paribas which are found in most major European cities. You can use the card to withdraw money without transaction fee. One of my friends also used a Citibank World Elite card and some people recommend a Charles Schwab one.


I have T-Mobile which gives me unlimited data (you can use facetime audio, etc. to call people) and text abroad but when my sister went (before this plan came into existence) bought a prepaid SIM card (Vodafone) when she arrived at Heathrow. T-Mobile is highly recommended because its convenient to have with good signal and covers all the European countries so its good to have when you’re traveling around during the program. Of course, if its easier to get a SIM card (switching carriers and all that), definitely get one once you arrive!

Read more about the T-Mobile plan: 

Getting to Cambridge-Transportation tickets:

Its definitely recommended to buy tickets (bus or train) for your transportation to Cambridge prior to arrival. I arrived at Heathrow (which is usually the airport for international flights) and decided to take the bus to Cambridge city center, where I would then take a short taxi ride (or walk, but you if you will be carrying luggage, it might be easier to catch a ride) to  King’s College Porters’ Lodge (the check-in location for arrival). The bus ride takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes so buy your tickets accordingly!

Bus tickets can be found here: 

Taking the train is around the same price as the bus but you will have to take the tube (cheapest option at £5.50) to the train station. You can grab an Oyster card (transportation card) at the Piccadilly Line station in Heathrow and you will be riding to King’s Cross St. Pancras Station. From there, you would take the train to the Cambridge railway station where you would then take a taxi to school. The train ride also takes around 2 houts, but keep in mind the transportation time you will take while on the tube.

Tickets and times can be found here: 

Taxis are the easiest and most convenient way to get to the university but London drivers are often unfamiliar with Cambridge (which has many one-way streets) and the cost would be higher so the train and bus methods are recommended.

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