The international Information Fayre welcomed over 2,000 international fresher students last Thursday. The Wessex Scene has interviewed both new and old students to find out more about this vibrant event.
The SUSU square is swarming with stalls selling fruit, muffins and Italian bread. A warm autumn sun bathes the path to the Student Union building. Unknown languages buzz on the reception floor. There is a rush as people run towards workshops, take pictures of newfound friends and talk to the welcome team.
Suhanyaa Kumarchandran from Sri Lanka and Siti Sarah Omar from Malaysia sit behind the Welcome Desk, dressed in light blue t-shirts. I was so tired from the jet lag! And it took me three to four months to get used to the weather.
They direct and inform students from all over the world who arrived to the UK just a few days ago, many for their first time.
I was so tired from the jet lag! And it took me three to four months to get used to the weather.
Suhanyaa and Siti remember their first days in England some years ago. “I got here only a few days before the course started because of problems with the visa”, Suhanyaa says. “I missed the induction.”
Siti thinks back to her fresher’s time: “I was so tired from the jet lag! And it took me three to four months to get used to the weather. I had the flu for ages.” Suhanyaa agrees and points out that it took her a month to figure everything out.
White welcome packs rest on student arms. Screaming green signs tell everyone to move down the stairs. A workshop on English culture takes place on first floor. While waiting for the next session to start, two sweaty guys walk out from a squash room. People from SUSU, the University and HOSTuk welcome the long line of students into the room.
Out of eight students around the table, six have arrived to England within the last three days. Lanxi from Beijing laughs, comments on her jetlag and adds that “Southampton is so different from Beijing”. Yujia Sun from China agrees: “It is so quiet here. And beautiful.” Many nod in agreement. ‘The sky is so blue and there are so many green trees compared to my city’, Xinze Chzen explains.
Leng from Thailand has already lived in England for three years but remembers the cultural shock he experienced upon arriving. When me and my friends couldn’t find the bus stop, a man came up to us and helped us straight away.
The buildings are different, people are speaking fast and the city grows quiet when shops close for the night. ‘Here you can have privacy’, he says. Yujia Sun, Yang Lu and Xinze Chzen are also struck by how friendly people are. Even if accents can be difficult to understand, many are willing to help. Xinze Chzen recalls a shopping trip to ASDA: “When my friends and I couldn’t find the bus stop, a man came up to us and helped us straight away.”
When me and my friends couldn’t find the bus stop, a man came up to us and helped us straight away.
They seem relaxed even if this is just their second day since arriving. Maybe a little bit tired, but otherwise talkative, happy and interactive. A few days ago they were at home. Tossed into a new culture, they are now half-way around the globe.