Home to both an international university and a diverse, multicultural population, Southampton is a great place to experience and learn about cultures from all over the world. In this article, we suggest a few ways to take advantage of this and enrich your immersion in other cultures during your time here.
Join an International Society
From France to Mexico to even further afield, many of the university’s clubs and societies are dedicated to other cultures and organize regular events and trips offering you the perfect opportunity to experience the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of other cultures around and on university campuses. Events such as MexSoc’s annual Day of the Dead celebration or the Holi festival are often free or cost very little to get involved with and can be great fun. The annual International Cultural night event organised by Union Southampton acts as an annual showcase for all of these societies and features performances and exhibitions from all corners of the globe.
These societies can also bring the university community together in times of need. For example, in the midst of the tragic terror attacks in France earlier this year vigils and a book of condolence were organised by the French Society, while the Nepalese Society organised fundraisers to support those affected by the recent earthquakes in Nepal.
Immerse yourself in Southampton’s history
As a port city that played a key role in the Second World War and has grown massively in recent decades, Southampton has been shaped by various waves of migration as well as playing a key role in several major international events in recent years.
Museums such as the Seacity Museum (which showcases the history of the Titanic), showcase both Southampton’s history within the UK and the role it has played globally. The Solent Sky Museum in the city centre offers an insight into the city’s key role in the development of the Spitfire and its contribution to the war effort during the 1940s.
Learn a language
Studying at university is the perfect time to pick up a new skill and learn a foreign language. The University offers a number of free basic language classes including French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic among others through the Southampton Language Opportunity programme, full availability of courses and the dates are sent out in emails to all students and can be found on the Southampton Language opportunity website at http://www.southampton.ac.uk/ml/language_opportunity.page
Some societies, such as the Japanese Society, also offer language courses which you can enrol on – giving you the opportunity to get a basic grasp of a language which may not be offered by the University. You can practice your newfound language skills at the weekly Southampton Language Exchange, held either on campus or in the city centre, which allows you to meet and speak with native speakers from several different countries and make friends at the same time. Some societies, such as the French, Spanish and Portuguese societies, regularly organise language cafés to facilitate further practice in the target language, which are free to attend. The best way to get information about these events is to sign up to each society at the bunfight.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also organise your own language exchanges – the language exchange board located in Avenue Campus and the Southampton Language Tandem website both allow you to find a native speaker and organise regular practice sessions in English and the language you want to learn.
Get into the foreign arts scene
Southampton is home to huge array of foreign cinema. The Avenue Campus film collection can be accessed by any student and is home to films in several different languages and the Phoenix World Cinema group regularly organises showings of films from across the world in the Union Films cinema on campus, with reduced price admission for University students. Be sure to check both the Phoenix and Union Films schedules published at the start of each semester for full info.
Even if you don’t speak a Foreign Language, many of the films come with English subtitles and offer a great insight into art and culture in other countries that you may not experience otherwise. International film screenings are also often organised by societies at the University and many of these are free to enter.
Foreign theatre and dance are also set to become more prominent in Southampton in coming years. Comedian Eddie Izzard recently performed at the Nuffield Theatre on campus in French and German, while the forthcoming opening of a large new Arts Centre in the middle of the city means that Southampton is likely to attract more and more touring theatre companies from across the globe.
Enjoy International Cuisine
Sounds like an excuse to go and eat lots of food (maybe it is), but Southampton is home to a huge range of eateries and restaurants with cuisine from across the world.
Although expensive, Ennio’s has been rated the best Italian restaurant in Hampshire, whilst other recent openings have focused on dishes from as far afield as Malaysia. Many establishments offer deals for large groups or some form of student discount, meaning that eating out every once in a while is not as prohibitively expensive as you would think.