If you have not studied in the UK before, as an international student you may find that the academic and national culture is likely to be quite different to that which you are used to. You may well find it difficult to settle in to your studies as well as adapting to UK culture at the same time. You can help yourself do this by effective planning of your stay. Having chosen your university and course, you will need somewhere to live. This will be one of the most important decisions that you will make. If you get this wrong it could be the difference between success and failure.
Staying in halls (student accommodation on campus) is not always possible and not always desirable.
However, it is desirable to be able to be supported by a wider community of students and the wider university community. This will be possible if you take advantage of purpose built student accommodation. This is usually in the form of shared or single apartments. These can range between good quality standard apartments to high end luxury apartments all designed with student living in mind.
The advantage to purpose built student accommodation is that whilst you may have your own private space, you will find that you will have a ready made support network within the complex. Purpose built student apartments, apart from offering good quality worry free accommodation, is usually built near to the university campus or has good transport links, so that you can take advantage of being part of the university community and all that has to offer.
You can, of course, find private houses which have been converted into student accommodation but these tend to be older properties with shared kitchens and bathrooms. This type of accommodation can often be some distance away from campus and you may well find yourself isolated from the university community. Also, you may well find yourself sharing a room with another student and a bathroom with seven other students! The accommodation may also be cramped and is rarely suitable for quiet study – essential for any student, but particularly so if you are new to the country and are trying to adjust to a completely new way of life.
If you get your accommodation right, you will find the process of settling in much easier and your chances of success much greater.
When settling in, do not be afraid to ask for help. You can ask other students, ‘freshers’ like yourself, and students who have successfully been through the same settling in process.
Consider joining the Student Union who organise lots of social events but will also have lots of information about campus life and will be a support mechanism in times of need. Your course lecturers can also be a source of information and support, over and above their academic responsibilities.
Your university will also have a department responsible for the welfare of all its students and may well have a settling in induction programme for its’ international students.
Good luck. Work and play hard.