Wondering life is like as an international student in the United Kingdom? Today on GoAbroad, we bring you a guest post from INTO University Partnerships, with tips on what studying abroad in the UK encompasses, and some of the differences you'll encounter!
So...what is life really like as an international student in the UK?
This is the question that must be in the hearts and minds of so many international students who decide to study in the UK. Will you experience a culture shock that will leave you feeling forever alien? Or will you embrace the UK lifestyle and join the many millions of people who've settled in this diverse yet largely tolerant society over many centuries?
The answers will depend on what country you're from and what your own core values are when it comes to religion, morals, politics and so on. Other answers depend on which part of the UK you decide to live. There are massive differences, for example, between north and south, town and country, and between one city and another.
As a student, you will have the huge benefit of being among like-minded people whose status and young years create a certain homogeneity! The UK is of course a melting pot of cultures – and this will be reflected to a certain extent in the university you attend.
You almost certainly will not experience the extremes of socio-economic conditions that make life in this country so difficult for certain ethnic and sociological sub-groups.
Living as a student in the UK will see you become part of a vibrant community where most people will be living away from their parents for the first time in their lives. Meeting you, as an international student, will only add to their new set of experiences. You can swap the highlights of your life, trade on your backgrounds and generally discover a new world of opportunity and friendships.
Away from the social side, you will find that academic traditions in the UK are tolerant of new ideas and cultures – especially with non-UK students whose presence can only add to the richness of university life.
If you move into halls of residence as a first-year 'fresher', this may at first be a lonely experience if you don't make an effort to join in the social life and mix with fellow residents in your hall. If you move into a flat or share a house with other students on your course, you could be taking a first step towards making life-long friendships.
Food and drink play a big part in the lives of UK students – drinks, especially. Living away from home for the first time can lead many students into a life of experimentation and excess. This is a country full of pubs and bars where the drinking culture is ingrained into the student lifestyle.
Hand in hand with this goes a free and easy approach to relationships. Students have endless opportunities to explore their sexuality like never before. For most people, this is a temporary phase that often leads on to forging strong relationships – or even marriage!
To say this is a 'culture shock' may be an overstatement for many whose home countries have similar views and cultural values. For most people, whatever their background, living the UK student life in a vibrant academic and social environment will be an exciting and truly life-enhancing experience.
INTO University Partnerships provide preparation courses for international students who want to study a degree in the UK, US or China. Read the INTO Higher Blog for an insight in to living and studying abroad!