Being away from family is already one of the trickiest parts of university life for many students. This makes termly breaks from studying a perfect time to go home and reconnect with your loved ones. I am sure many of you are looking forward to the Christmas break for this exact reason! For some, though, this is not possible. I spoke to one of Warwick’s international students to understand the struggles of having to stay on campus while it seems everyone else gets to go home.
Hi! First of all, could you give your name, year of study and course, please?
Hi, I’m Howard Adam and am currently in my second-year studying MORSE.
Would you mind telling us where it is you travelled from to attend the university of Warwick? And if you are comfortable tell us a bit about your life at home, is it much different from here in the UK?
I come from Botswana in the South of Africa, and I found it to be very different indeed. Food was a huge cultural shock as even though we use a lot of the same ingredients there’s a lot of differences when it comes to spices. We have a very small population back home so everyone pretty much knows everyone (whether they are related or not). This meant I wasn’t used to people just keeping to themselves which gave me a false sense of people being unfriendly. I soon realised that this is not the case and people are friendly when they get to know you!
A significant difference between the UK and Botswana is the existence of and emphasis on race. For example, in almost all of the official documents you fill out here you have to mention your race or ethnicity. This is something that doesn’t exist in Botswana.
As an international student, how easy was it for you to settle in at the university? It is already a tricky transition without the added pressure of being so far from home!
Settling in was rough initially but I can say that my embassy (Botswana embassy in London) helped a lot in terms of administrative procedures. They told me about opening a bank account and other stuff I needed to do with the Uni. In terms of actually settling in, I needed to make local friends as soon as possible so I was forced to talk to all of my flatmates! I asked them where to buy affordable food, clothes etc. because they knew these places while I didn’t.
Are you able to go home for longer breaks over the Christmas period/Easter/Summer?
Going home is a bit too expensive and so I could probably go back once in the three years of my course to visit but I will probably only go back once I graduate to be honest. In terms of Christmas and easter, I don’t really feel anything in particular as I need to focus on studying for exams in January and April. But I would usually be at a heap of family events if I were at home.
What has the university got on offer over these breaks for international students who cannot go home? Did you take advantage of these?
The “Warwick Presents” has some events to offer. For example, I remember last year we could watch the new Spider Man at the cinema over Christmas. Maybe I didn’t look into it enough, but I don’t know many other things that they do. Maybe it’s because everyone has to go home at some point!
Any advice for freshers who will be staying on campus this Christmas?
Advice to freshers, look at the Warwick Presents website to see what’s on campus. Know which friends are also on campus and make plans – maybe go ice skating! Go to the Christmas markets and if you do have family in the Uk go see them as well!
Thank you so much to Howard for answering these questions. Below is the link to the Warwick Presents website so for anyone staying on campus please be sure to check this out. For anyone staying on campus this winter break, be sure to reach out to friends and take care of yourself and others!