Back to Uni: 6 Tips for International Students

Being an international student at a UK university can be a daunting experience. The culture shock can be unnerving, not to mention the terrible weather and local lingo that continues to baffle me. However, there are a variety of things you can do to make the process of settling in much easier. Luckily, University of Nottingham has one of the highest proportions of international students in the UK. This definitely makes it easier for you to meet people in the same boat. As an international student from Kenya, whose had a good three years of figuring out how to navigate life as an international student at Notts, here are some of my tips…


1. Join societies

This is one of the easiest ways to meet people and make friends with other students who have the same interests as you. There are several societies made specifically for people to meet others from the same cultural backgrounds and countries as them. For example, the Chinese Students Society or the African Caribbean Society, these can be extremely beneficial for dealing with homesickness. Many of them organise events around food, music and cultural festivals, that can almost transport you back home. Other than these, you have sports societies, societies that are based on certain hobbies like photography and chess. There are literally hundreds - but don’t get too carried away and join more than you can commit to. Try out at least one, I promise you, it’ll make your experience that much more interesting. Besides, your university experience isn’t all about studying and getting a degree, it’s about the people you meet and the memories you make doing new and exciting things!


2. Explore Nottingham

Our campus is stunning, but it can also be a little bit of a bubble, so it can be very easy to spend all of your time just on campus or your accommodation. So take the weekends or days off in the week to explore Nottingham as a city. Even though this is my fourth year here, I literally only visited Wollaton Park a few months ago. It was beautiful, we spotted a couple of Deer and saw Wollaton Hall (Fun fact: Wollaton Hall was where they shot Batman!). Nottingham also has loads of cool cafés, bars and art galleries. Have a little google of fun things to do in and around Nottingham and try to tick off one a week.



3. Prepare for the weather

Now for those of us who have moved from perpetually warm and sunny places in the world, Nottingham can get depressingly cold and rainy. It’s no coincidence that British people often discuss the weather, it’s because it’s very unpredictable and usually not that great. Make sure you get some waterproof boots, one or two warm coats for the winter and an umbrella. It took me way too long to purchase an umbrella and now that I have one, I really don't know why I insisted on forever being soaked; hoping that the rain would pass when it never did.


4. Find student discounts

Literally the best part about being a university student is the discounts. I can’t even remember the last time I bought clothes for full price, it’s a perk I'm just not ready to lose. Make sure you sign up to Unidays to get discount codes for clothes, food and electronics! Other than Unidays you can get student discounts for pretty much anything and anywhere in most cases. Just research or ask. In the case for travel within the UK, you can get a coach card for National Express and get 1/3rd off your coach journeys or you can get a railcard and get 1/3rd off trains.


5. Decorate your room with little pieces of home

I don’t know about you, but my favourite part about moving into a new place is decorating my room. Your room is your sanctuary, it’s the place you go to wind down and relax. It’s your home away from home at university. One of the easiest ways to do this, is print pictures of your friends and family and put them up on your walls. You could also bring little bits from your room back home like a tapestry, posters or even your bed sheets!



6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

This is probably the most important one. If you are confused about something or need any kind of help whilst at university, ask a friend, ask your lecturers, ask student services. Literally anyone on campus will most likely point you in the right direction or tell you where to go to find someone that can help you. At the end of the day you’re in a new country, thousands of miles away from home, so it’s important to build the confidence to ask people to help you. You really have nothing to lose.


So with that in mind, if you’re an international student reading this, good luck and remember it’s always okay to feel homesick. Just keep yourself busy, immerse yourself in the Nottingham culture and enjoy your university experience whilst you’re here!