Although international student life in the UK can be thrilling, it can also be overwhelming at times.
Experiencing new cultures and studying outside your home country is, of course, an incredible opportunity.
But on the flip side, there may also be some challenges that come with being an international student.
Moving away from family and friends to spend an academic year(s) in another country can be taxing, especially if you are adjusting to a new atmosphere, weather and culture.
So this blog is an international students’ guide for students who are considering moving to the UK for their studies to help you prepare for this new lifestyle and make the most of your time here!
How to prepare for university exams in the UK as an international student
University courses in the UK often have many different types of assessments.
For some courses, students are required to take exams and for others, students may be assessed by essays, presentations, practicals or internships.
One of the most important things you should do after accepting your admission offer is to learn about your coursework and how it is going to be assessed.
This can be crucial for students who have many essay-based assessments but may not have written an academic essay in the same style as the standard at UK universities, which can bring their grades down if not tackled.
Most of your exam information is accessible on your university website so you should get yourself familiar with your university course dashboard, learn about your course assessment and start learning how to approach these different assessment types.
How to avoid homesickness when studying abroad
Homesickness is inevitable when moving to university, but it can be a lot worse when you are moving abroad to study.
For example, one key thing that you may not realise until you come to the UK, is how important your local cuisine is to your everyday life.
You may soon find that your favourite dish that you have eaten in your country for 20 years is not easy to find in the UK.
The UK is home to a lot of diversity and different cuisines, which means that you are very likely to find a store for some of your country’s food, however, this is not guaranteed.
Whilst you may be able to cope if you do not get to see this food in the next few years, you may find it quite challenging at first in your first three to six months at university.
To help with homesickness, one tip is to bring some of your favourite ingredients with you, and if you are very lucky, you may eventually find a store with other items for your favourite recipe.
So, instead of stocking your double 23kg with other things you will typically find in the UK, you should instead replace it with things from your country that you may not find here to help you feel closer to home!
How to adjust to studying abroad in the UK
When moving to a new country for university, you will meet people from different countries, religions, ethnicity, and cultures.
The UK has a lot of diversity, and this is especially true at UK universities where there are a mixture of both international students and students who lived in the UK before university on campus.
Coming to a UK university with an open mind to understand, tolerate, and respect everyone’s rights is essential to helping you adjust to different cultures when studying as an international student.
So, it is important to be considerate to everyone throughout your stay, even if the cultural norm where you are studying is not the same as your home country.
How to make friends as an international student
It can get lonely studying abroad and being away from family and friends can be quite isolating.
By putting yourself out there and making the effort to make friends at university, you can help to ease this loneliness.
It can be hard at first to make friends and connect with people from different cultures.
Factors such as language or cultural barriers can make it hard for international students in UK universities to get along with people they genuinely like.
However, there are many ways that you can navigate these difficulties and make some great friends whilst studying abroad.
The best place to start is your department.
Make friends with your coursemates and don’t hesitate to invite someone over for a chat or go for a coffee at your favourite cafe.
You should also take part in university social events and go with the intention of networking and meeting people.
Do not be scared to say the first hello and introduce yourself, your hobbies and other things of interest as many people will also be nervous and waiting for someone to speak up first!
The friends you make will be there even after university, so it’s important to put the effort in.
You will be happy you did it!
How many hours can international students work in UK?
International students in the UK are allowed to work for 20 hours a week.
However, some international students in the UK sabotage their stay by breaking this rule, which can be especially hard for people who have the intention of extending their time in the UK after university.
Although these students will want to get around this to simply earn some extra money whilst at university, they can end up getting in to trouble.
Every country in the world has its dos and don’ts but if you don’t want to be forced to end your studies in the UK early, try to follow the rules of your visa when studying abroad as well as any other laws.
Where can you find international student support?
Being an international student in the UK can be challenging.
Although some days you will feel happy and you’ll be having fun with your friends, there may be other days where you are burnt out and are not feeling motivated.
On these other days, you may be wrapped up in bed with homesickness and struggling to get your coursework done because of how you’re feeling.
In these moments, do not be afraid or feel shy to ask for help when you need it.
Adjusting to a new environment is never easy.
If you need someone to help you with your coursework, do not hesitate to ask for advice from your tutor.
And if you need someone to talk to, try speaking to a student counsellor or get mental health support from the campus wellbeing service.
Your university will usually have international student services that can provide other additional support and advice for international students in the UK.
Make use of all these services as they are there to help you enjoy your time at university and succeed in your studies!
Using this advice can help you adjust to international student life and make the most out of your experience.
Good luck with your next steps as an international student in the UK!