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My top tips for a successful international student experience

When it comes to joining a university abroad for your master’s study, it’s important to mentally prepare yourself for the adjustment. Some of us get so caught up with the euphoria of moving abroad that we forget to prepare for the next phase: actually, living here.

Sarosh and friends gather for a photograph

In this month’s blog, I aim to address key points to help you adjust to living in this beautiful city and achieve success in your studies.

1. Manage culture shock by embracing change

Anyone who moves from their comfort zone to a new place is likely to experience some degree of culture shock. It is normal and can vary from person to person. The freer and more open you are to change and making new friends, the easier it will be.

2. Make the most of Freshers and induction events

A Freshers' crew member holds up a sign for a freshers activity

Due to Covid-19 this year, most on-campus fresher events, unfortunately, had to be cancelled. However, the University organised virtual fresher events instead, so that students were able to meet new people from their own bedrooms. I attended a few of them and they turned out to be immensely fun. The fact I was sipping on a pint joking with people I barely knew was a lot of fun. However, by the next academic year, things should get back to normal and physical events will return.

My suggestion is to attend Freshers events and induction socials to meet people, especially at the very start of your time in Newcastle before you get stuck into your studies. Meeting up and talking to people might feel a little awkward at first since you don’t know anyone yet, but all it takes is a few conversations with new people to help you start adjusting and enjoying your social life.

3. Maintain a good work-life balance

Adjusting to learning by myself without much physical interaction due to the Covid safety protocols was tough at the beginning. The best thing to do was to push myself, make the most of it and make sure my mental frame of mind was good. Spending so many hours a day doing lectures and seminar work, I made sure that I prioritised a good amount of time just to do things that made me feel good mentally.

4. Get daily exercise

Getting out of my room for a walk or run was my first form of leisure activity. It’s amazing how much good fresh air and a change of scenery can do for you. By just doing this every day (sometimes twice), I feel a noticeable difference, I am more productive, and I understand things better.

5. Meet your friends regularly

NUBS students in the city - the tyne bridge and The Sage are in the background

Due to restrictions, going indoors into other houses or accommodation venues was not permitted by the government. Instead, I made a point of meeting up outdoors with friends every other day. Luckily, Leazes Park (near the Business School) has been open throughout the pandemic. It soon became my go-to place to meet up with friends and just spend some time joking around, having a good time.

6. Schedule study time to free up your leisure time

Of course, I spend some time on Netflix as well and tend to watch a movie or tv show in the evening. Since I’m most productive in the morning, I scheduled all of my studying time from early morning to early evening to keep my evenings free.

7. Learn how to cook

My honest suggestion for all students planning to move to another country to study and live is to learn how to cook. Thanks to the pandemic, I made a conscious effort to learn, and you have no idea how much it has helped me. Not only did it save money, but it also helped pass time as well. I have Finnish, Thai, and English flatmates. Dinners with them turned out to be fun and I learned how to cook from them.

8. Make friends of different nationalities

To help you settle in, make as many friends as possible. Remember, you’re here for an international experience and global exposure. Making friends from your home country offers you a form of security and comfort zone, but don’t let that prevent you from reaching out and making friends from other countries. You will be amazed at how much you will learn.

9. Sign up to different societies and enjoy your social life

A student trying out paddle boarding in freshers week 2016

Hopefully, by the time you join Uni in September, Covid-19 won’t be hampering your interactions. Sign up to different societies based on your hobbies and likes. Being away from home, living with new friends gives you the chance to explore different forms of entertainment. Newcastle has some of the best nightlife on the continent, go out and experience it. But maintain a good balance between fun and serious time.

10. Stay on top of your coursework

On a serious note, aim to cover all your topics and coursework while it is being conducted. Don’t let yourself fall behind as it can be very difficult to catch up. Time will fly from the day your classes begin. Stay up to date and by the time exams are near, you will be much more confident.

The education system in the UK is much easier than what I was used to while in India. Here the learning is more application-based rather than memorising. It is easy to adapt to and will make your learning fun. Participate in class discussions and make sure you have a good attendance record as well. Just because lectures are recorded and uploaded onto Canvas (the Virtual Learning Environment), don’t become complacent. It’s important that you stay actively engaged to achieve success.

11. Build up your work experience

Once you have settled in, think about taking up a part-time job as well. Not only will it give you a little pocket money, but it will also give you a good talking point on your resume. Skills learned through a job can be showcased in interviews later on.

The University offers plenty of opportunities for students to engage with local companies/organisations to help offer solutions to problems they face. Sign up for them and take part. You will learn, be able to contribute, meet new people, and once again it’s another brilliant talking point on your resume.

 

Everyone is different and has different coping mechanisms. I have just listed out what I did and offered suggestions. Go with the flow and your gut feeling. This is your time to shine. Enjoy your time at university, remember it’s not all about studying and exams. Having fun is also a very important aspect while at Uni.

Study when you must, have fun when you can, and come out with a great degree. Enjoy your time at Uni, make memories, a name for yourself and most importantly, make yourself proud.

Chat to a current student or read more blogs on our Unibuddy messaging platform

Sarosh is a Postgraduate student studying International Financial Analysis Msc at Newcastle University Business School.

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