Moving to another country on your own can seem like a rather daunting prospect, but university also offers a great range of exciting opportunities to get involved with, from societies celebrating international culture to making new friends and meeting new people. Here’s 10 top tips on how to settle in and make the most of your new life in Southampton.
- Join a society representing an international culture – just because you’re far away from home doesn’t mean you have to cut all links to where you come from. Southampton has loads of societies representing cultures from across the world – from Japan to Mexico and everywhere else in between, all of which offer a range of exciting events and trips. Some societies even offer language classes so you can really get immersed in the culture.
- Explore the UK – Societies such as the Erasmus Society run trips to many popular areas across the UK and beyond, offering a great chance to experience more than just university. It’s also a chance to make friends from all over the world. If you feel like exploring on your own or with friends Southampton has a great transport network – if you’re in halls you get a bus pass included which you can use to travel all over the city to other parts of the UK which can be reached cheaply and easily. If you want to travel a lot consider getting a railcard, which will reduce the price of most train tickets by a third. You can also obtain cards which will give you a discount on coach fares.
- Get involved with as many different societies as possible – societies represent an amazing opportunity to do what you love, acquire new skills and make new friends and will be the starting point for a whole year of new experiences. Whether you’re into sport, comedy, music or even cake decorating you’re sure to find a society for something you’re interested in.
- Share your own culture – as well as having the opportunity to experience life in Britain first hand, you also have the opportunity to teach UK students a bit about where you come from. Last year through friends from France and South Korea I learnt a lot about life and culture in these countries as a result I even got some French and Korean food cooked for me. This a great way to introduce yourself to other people and learn about each other’s backgrounds in the process.
- Keep in touch with home – Many students can feel homesick from time to time while at university, especially if they live far away and aren’t able to return home very easily. With Skype, Facebook and Whatsapp it’s easier than ever before to stay in touch with home and keep up with what’s happening.
- Open a UK bank account – having a UK account makes paying for things a lot easier, and allows you to get around some of the charges and problems you may have trying to use a foreign card or account in the UK. Look out for bank accounts intended specifically for students, which often come with extra benefits such as discounts and allow you to be overdrawn without being charged.
- Check your documents – not the most interesting of tasks but you could run into major issues if something hasn’t been filled out properly or sent to the right location. Be sure to check the documents you need while in the UK online, and to visit the Advice Centre if you get stuck.
- If your stuck, don’t worry alone – there are plenty of different ways to get help and support while at Southampton, both within the University and the Student’s Union. Nightline is a student-run phone support service that runs through the night from 8pm – 8am, during the day you can also drop into the SUSU Advice Centre or the Student Services Building on Highfield Campus. If you’re in halls you can also get help from the residences team 24 hours a day.
- Get a buddy – if you want a great way to become more involved with UK culture, the university’s Erasmus Society runs a Buddy Scheme, where new international students are paired up with a student from the UK who can help them settle in and get used to life in Southampton. Its also a really easy way to meet new people and get involved with a society at the university.
- Enjoy your newfound freedom – it sounds a bit of a cliché, but university is one of the biggest opportunities of your life. Be sure to take advantage of every possible opportunity and make the most of new experiences.
Featured image by Owen Webb