The opportunity to meet people from all over the world during their stay in the UK makes studying in the UK a wonderful experience for most international students. However, this does not mean that life in the UK is all easy and comfortable. International students sometimes have their own struggles.
1. Feeling homesick
As many students, international students may feel homesick and sometimes it’s rather difficult for them to return home for a visit. Some students may find it very troubling because they have to be separated from family and friends from home for quite a long time, which means they might need more support from the university.
Nearly all universities in the UK offer professional counselling services to help student overcome difficulties in their life. For international students, it’s very important to have the courage to turn to help and speak with someone confidently about how they feel. Students have to understand, the university staff are there to help.
Students who have got a great mark in IELTS are not necessarily exempt from this. Using English as a second language to communicate with people can be slightly more difficult because of the culture difference, local slangs and accents.
It is not embarrassing! If you ever came across words or sentences you find difficult to understand, just let your friend know so that they can help you.
Universities also have many language support service. Make the most of them and you will find your improvement very exciting and surprising.
3. Culture shock
Culture shock can be physical and emotional. It’s the discomfort people may suffer when they move to live in one country from their original place. There are some symptoms:
sadness or loneliness;
aches and pains;
mood changes or depression;
loss of identity;
feelings of paranoia.
Having a friend from the UK or knowing as much as possible of the country before coming to this country can definitely help. However, culture shock is still hard to avoid especially for students from outside Europe. It’s very helpful to talk it through with a friend or family over the phone but if any of the above symptoms appear, you may need some extra help from the professional.
You can take some part-time job. International students by law are allowed to take a part-time job up to 20h a week during their in the UK. Try the university job shop (if there is one), or learn to make the most use of social media (Facebook, Twitter and so on), you may find some very interesting work not far from your university.
Do a little research of available student discount in the UK. You can get an NUS Card which can give you discounts on Megabus rides and online shopping, a Young Person Card which can save you 1/3 of the train ticket or a student Oyster Card if you are living and studying in London. It is actually amazing to find out how much you can save on food, accommodation and travel while you are a student in this country.
5. Problems Integrating
This is a common problem for people coming from different cultural or academic background. It’s difficult to get used to a new culture. Some students decide to live within their own culture group so they don’t have to think about integrating into a new culture.
Our advice is, do make an effort. Join some student clubs and make contact with people. Universities always have a fully functional student union and there are hundreds of student clubs where you may make many good new friends who have the same interests with you.
All in all, do not let these difficulties scare you. Both the university and the society provide support and help to international students. Sometimes, you just have to give yourself a push and things may change towards a different direction.