Freshers’ week is a busy time for any student, but when you have to leave your own country for a new one, it becomes a whole new kettle of fish. International students from around the globe arrive at Southampton year on year filled with excitement, worry and hope for the time they will spend here and their futures. This is what makes higher education in the UK so special – whether you are an international, EU or UK student, you will all have a unique experience.
Coming to university is an amazing experience that allows you to interact with different people, adapt to new environments and develop linguistic skills. For some, university may represent the undergraduate path to their desired career, others may love to travel, but at the end of the day everyone comes together for an experience that will only happen once in their lifetime.
Husain Patel, SUSU International Officer has this to say to all new International Students: “It’s a new culture away from home, new people around. Firstly, I would advise them not to panic. Before coming to Southampton, they should do their basic research about International and Freshers week. These are the best times to get involved in University activities and make friends. They should just be themselves and try to adjust to the new environment. Get used to the new culture. It will take a little time to adjust, but it is important to go with the flow, make friends and not panic.”
“There are International students that become homesick, but they shouldn’t feel out of place at anytime. They should contact their respective International Societies, mingle with them, make friends, get involved with their activities to keep them occupied. They should not at anytime be nervous as the Student’s Union is always happy to help. The other concern is security but the Union has implemented new laws for the safety of all its students.”
Unfortunately in countries like India, universities do not offer combined undergraduate courses, which severely limits a potential students options. This restriction causes international students to flock to countries that are able to provide a more rounded and varied education. The influx ensures that the UK remains one of the worlds super-hubs of higher education, even in the face of the troubles faced by London Metropolitan University, said to be a solitary incident.
Our little island boasts a host of historical, social and cultural aspects that still show through today in the way of beautiful medieval castles, old towns and sports like cricket and football. Although the UK has a long and rich history, it is also one of the most multicultural places in the world, saturated with a mixture of languages and cultures. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were a showcase of our history, music, language and literature, especially in the opening and closing ceremonies. The performances of all the athletes involved were incredible, demonstrating how people can come together and compete in good will and show sportsmanship towards each other on an international level.[quote align=”left” name=”Husain Patel” role=”SUSU International Officer”]It will take a little time to adjust, but it is important to go with the flow, make friends and not panic.[/quote]
Chloe Green, SUSU VP Welfare & Communities, says to those joining us from other contries this year that “SUSU has been working really hard over the last few years to meet the demand for international engagement from an ever-growing cohort of students. We’re learning fast and every year, I think it gets better. This year we have an International Welcome Week which will be host to loads of day and night-time events, designed to be relevant, exciting and accessible to those students. We have orienteering, quizzes, karaoke, workshops: there’s loads! Within SUSU we have good means of representation too, with an International Officer and an International sub-committee, so specific issues can be raised there and that all gets fed back to me as VP Welfare and Communities. I’m not sure what international students will have to expect; it will depend where they come from, in terms of how much of a culture shift they’ll experience. Universally speaking, the weather will almost definitely be worse!”
“The international crisis that London Met university is currently going through is a real wake-up call for unions across the country: international students are an easy target so they are being discriminated against and attacked. London Met has been made an example of and I doubt UKBA will stop there. We will protect our students and ensure their rights are upheld here as best we possibly can. Nobody’s deporting our students, not on my watch. My advice to international students would be the same as to any new student: get involved! Try out as much as you can, join societies and clubs and get stuck in. Throw yourself into a new life in the UK and enjoy it. Also, buy an umbrella.”
However, the UK is also infamous for it’s ‘drinking culture’, which leads to the perception that going on nights out is the biggest part of socialising for students. Don’t feel pressured though; students and facilities in Southampton cater for all students, with hundreds of activities available. The best advice I could give is to dive right in – trying anything and everything and getting involved. That doesn’t mean to go out drinking every night, but at least go outside, socialise, and immerse yourself in the culture.
International freshers’ week begins a week before all other students, allowing for some time to get familiar with the unusual surroundings and experiences. It would be impossible to detail everything that you would need but the best thing to do is just to not worry and experience it![quote align=”left” name=”Chloe Green” role=”SUSU VP Welfare & Communities”]SUSU has been working hard over the last few years to meet the demand for international engagement.[/quote]
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