First Things First:
Moving to a new country for university: it is a daunting prospect and comes with different challenges and hurdles which understandably can cause nerves and anxiety.
It is normal that when you land, new worries and concerns will hit you which you didn’t have before boarding the plane. You are probably feeling the added stress of having to immerse yourself in a new culture, navigate the different language (and the strange English sayings that accompany it) and adapt to new social situations.
Sound familiar? And Scary?
The good news is that you are not alone. Hundreds of students come to study in British universities every year and Britain is a diverse country and home to people from all over the world. British universities pride themselves on being welcoming and accessible and international students make up an important (and highly successful) part of the student population and are very active in university life. This means universities are used to welcoming international students and helping them get acclimatised to their new environment.
Halls of Residence or University Accommodation
If you are moving to study at undergraduate level, you may be staying in student accommodation, likely halls of residence (or simply, ‘halls’, as they are they are widely known). As a first year student, you will be known as a ‘fresher’ and like you, most freshers live in halls. Some universities have halls specifically for international students.
Here you will have your own bedroom amongst other freshers and either your own or a shared bathroom. Halls can be catered (all your meals are provided) or self-catered (you must cook your own meals).
The people you meet in halls are likely to be your closest friends for the first few weeks of university, perhaps throughout your whole university life. Although they may not have travelled as far, most people in your halls will also be moving away from home for the first time and will not know anyone. The first few days are an opportunity to bond with those you live with and explore the university together during ‘Freshers Week’.
When you arrive at your university, you will not be immediately expected to start studying, There is a week of adjustment, known as ‘freshers week’. This is a week for new students to become familiar with the university and all it has to offer, including its facilities, sports and social teams and campus.
Many universities put on events specifically for international students which can help acclimatise you to the culture and customs. Things like movie nights, trips to local attractions and restaurants are likely to be included and will give to the opportunity to experience these things with other international students.
There is a reputation for freshers week to be a little wild. Universities put on events almost every night at the Students Union involving a musical or popular culture guest and many students take this as an opportunity to drink and be merry.
There is no expectation for any student to be drunk at all hours of the day (or night) nor to drink at all. Even if you do not choose to drink yourself, do not be surprised to see your fellow students engaging in some hilarious behaviour. Don’t be alarmed if you also see someone from your halls stealing a traffic cone. This is a time honoured student tradition in Britain and the reason for stealing it is still completely unknown to all British students, foreign and domestic.
Freshers’ fairs and events
If rowdy nightlife is not for you, there is plenty to see and do during the day in freshers week. Most universities will have fairs which showcase all the different societies and sports teams that students can join during their time at university.
The variety of societies and sports teams is wide and joining one is a great way to meet new people and become accustomed to the area and a part on university life.
Sports can range from traditional English sports such as rugby and football to the unusual, such as ultimate frisbee and even quidditch. Societies are also varied, from writing for the student newspaper to joining a society dedicated to making and drinking cocktails. Most academic subject areas also have a student society such as the English Society or Geography Society.
Joining a sports team or society can widen your social outreach and also can have a positive impact on your professional goals as it can provide leadership opportunities later in university life. Even if you have not tried a particular sport or activity before, many teams are tailored to new students and welcome those who are completely new.
Most universities have an International Students Society which, should you choose to join, can support you and offer an opportunity to meet with other students from all over the world. There is also usually a centre for English Language support within most universities which may offer conversation classes or extra support if needed.
Continue reading Part 2 here…
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