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5 challenges and tips for international students in the UK

Carmen Wen Eng, an international student at the University of Portsmouth, shares 5 challenges and tips for international students.
BY Carmen Wen Eng |   02-01-2018
Mozambique Students

My name is Carmen. I am currently doing my second-year degree in Business and Human Resources at the University of Portsmouth. Making the decision to further my studies in the UK was one of the greatest opportunities in my life.

First things first, the idea of living independently in a completely different country and environment was the scariest thought of all. However, the greatest tip I could give to any international student is to be strong and bold. When you have gone through the early stages of living in Portsmouth or anywhere abroad, you will find your university life worthwhile and never want it to end!

Top 5 challenges -
  • Settling down into accommodation: The first thought I had when I arrived in Portsmouth was - where is my accommodation and how do I get there? This is one of the most important things to worry about. But, you will be surprised at how easy the process of moving in will be with the help of University staff.
  • Going through the university registration process: It is scary thinking of registering yourself into university all by yourself. As mentioned, however, you will be surprised at how friendly and helpful the staff at the university will be. You will also be happy to realise how capable you are when you go through it all by yourself.
  • Getting used to the weather: No more living in the microwave! For those who enjoy cold weather, you will enjoy yourself in the UK’s winter. As for those who are not fans of the cold, you will find yourself searching for a radiator everywhere you go.
  • Getting used to the greetings of locals: This is rather odd, but you will find yourself getting confused at how people in parts of the UK greet others with ‘Alright?’ instead of ‘Hi, how are you?’
  • Travelling around the city: As you are still new to Portsmouth, you will think that it is a big city. You will find yourself finding out how to use the public transport, which makes everything within walking distance!

Top 5 tips
  • Research your accommodation options: Before arriving in Portsmouth, make sure you have done your research about the accommodation you will be living in, in terms of location, tenancy agreements, and moving in. In case of student halls, the university website is always available, and you can obtain any information you need before arrival.
  • Follow the guidelines for an easy registration: This is not a difficult process. Make sure to check your emails for information about registration and orientation dates as the university will keep you informed. And what’s left to do is follow the schedule, get yourself registered, and enjoy your orientation week! Don’t be afraid to take part in the activities organized during orientation week, as they are precious opportunities for you to make friends, and to get to know the university more!
  • Here’s the deal about the weather: The first few days will be the toughest, and jetlag doesn’t help either. Before coming to Portsmouth, don’t forget to bring sufficient winter clothing as the weather can be a little ‘too much’ during winter, especially for those who hate the cold. Almost all accommodation is equipped with radiators, so it should be warm while staying indoors.
  • Live local and talk local: You might find yourself overwhelmed with confusion when it comes to local greetings. But, trust me, you will get used to it quickly and will find yourself greeting like the locals soon. For example, when you hear people saying, ‘You alright?’, simply reply ‘I’m good, and you?’ with a smile on your face. Try not to look confused. They are just saying hi, not that you’re not looking alright.
  • Travelling around the city: Almost everything you need - the university, supermarkets and restaurants, are all mostly within walking distance. This is great news as you get to save a lot, plus you can treat the walking as a work-out too. Maps of the city are available in the university, you should be provided with one in your welcome pack during registration or orientation week. Of course, sometimes you might just want to cab it or try the buses when don’t want to walk. Don’t worry, public transport services are never more convenient.

Portsmouth is a beautiful waterfront city. It has a lot to offer to students, and it is vibrant, yet peaceful. Being a Malaysian student here is awesome. You get to know students, make friends from all over the world, and, you get to share your culture with diverse people. Even if it seems to be tough during the early stages, you will definitely not regret your decision. The ‘precious treasures’ of life in Portsmouth are waiting to be discovered by you, and the journey of it will be absolutely worthwhile.



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