Like a Fish Out of Water

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Loneliness is a common feeling freshers cope with, but international students are further challenged with a language and culture barrier. Maja Hultman has some tips on how to feel included in English universities.

Moving to England was one of the most liberating experiences in my life. Still, exclusion from English student life can easily be one of the first realities to dawn on those arriving from foreign lands.

It is tempting for students to stick with friends from home countries, and finding English friends can seem like a needless exertion.

TOP FIVE TIPS 1. Step outside your comfort zone. 2. Talk, talk, talk. 3. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. 4. Show interest in English culture. 5. Get involved!

Many students, however, beg to differ. Upon returning from summer university in Sweden, James McEwan appreciated his new Swedish friends:

‘They made my time in the country more fulfilling and enjoyable. I learnt the culture and language much quicker.’

One of the easiest ways to make English friends is living in halls of residence. By talking about your home country and expressing a will to learn the English culture, other students can relate to your situation and help you. Klara Meedt from Germany advises international freshers: ‘Don’t be shy. Just start talking and you will make friends.’

By taking advantage of halls you can prevent isolation, instead of succumbing to it. The trick is to force yourself out of the comfort zone. It is challenging but, as the saying goes, what does not kill you makes you stronger. Going on weekly ASDA shops or participating in the flat’s going-outs are some simple ways of making friends.

If flatmates are out of your reach it is easy to meet up with course mates; think library session or lunch. ‘Sharing interests or hobbies is a great ice-breaker’ suggests Emmie Olson from Sweden. Joining societies is the perfect solution – whether you like photography or rugby, in a society you will meet like-minded people.

International freshers will have the most fun if they are simply themselves and are willing to make the effort. Remember, if others managed, you can also do it. Fact.

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