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What it's like being a student from outside the UK

By RACristina 05 Nov 2018

We, students from other places in Europe and even from all over the world, leave our homes and cultures to discover the British lifestyle, get lost in its cold weather and lovely cities. And we also come to get a degree in University, but that's not the point, is it?

Here are my thoughts on the good and not so good experiences when moving to another country:

If you are from a foreign country and you have just moved to the UK, you have already succeeded in the first step of this new life experience: you got out of your comfort zone! You packed your life in a few bags, your ambitions and fears on your shoulders, and your pockets full of coins and crumpled bus tickets. There is no going back.

Daily actions, just like paying in the grocery shop or talking to the guy in the post office can become a real challenge. Once you have spent around 20 minutes trying to get people to understand you, either you end up giving up on the conversation, or end up with a sort of funny and embarrassing story to tell your friends back home.

Personal advice: Take care when you order your food in Subway, you could end up with a cold sandwich filled with lettuce and ketchup!

There are plenty of ways to meet people at University, through your course, accommodation or societies. 

If you are not a sociable person or just too shy to start a conversation: don’t stress about it. Everyone is in the same situation and, anyway, friends come to your life just like debts to your bank account, trust me. However, my advice is to exceed your own limits: it’s definitely worth it! You will meet lots of great people from all over the world.


It’s always exciting at the beginning getting to know a new culture, immerse yourself in their food, their music styles, their meal times, their traditions and their opposite way of driving. But after only a few months your brain feels the need to bring up your own traditions and you find yourself dancing “bachata” in the shower, using words like “despacito” to describe how slow the time passes during your 9am lectures, trying to do a mix between the Spanish “tortilla” and the English scrambled eggs, or simply adding French crêpes on your English brunch.

One of the funniest parts of living in a different country is when someone tries to talk to you, but you wouldn’t understand it even if you had spent the whole summer listening to One Direction or the BBC, because there are so many accents in the UK, all of them different from each other and with local words proudly pronounced such as “Worcestershire”.


But the main shock for many students coming from outside the UK is the lovely English wet weather. Luckily, we international students can catch a few tiny rays of sun when we first arrive in September, so at least we can catch a tan to survive the following 6 weeks.

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