Moving to the UK as an International Student
My name is Karishma Mathur and for half of my life I grew up in a small border city in Texas, U.S. called El Paso. For the other half of my life, I spent four years in Lima, Peru, and another four in Maputo, Mozambique. I graduated from high school in El Paso, TX, and did the International Baccalaureate programme that some of you may be familiar with. I chose to study at Manchester because of its high teaching quality, beautiful campus, diverse student body, and the amazing experience of being in a different country and major city. Not to mention, my course of study, which is International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response. This is a course that isn’t offered to undergraduates in many universities, therefore since Manchester is one of the only places to offer it, my decision was easy.
What made me feel at ease whenever I’d think about moving to the UK, was how culturally diverse the country is and especially how The University of Manchester is home to so many students from across the globe, making it one of the most attractive universities for everyone, not just international students to study at, as well as experience the best student life.
It can be daunting to make new friends in an unfamiliar environment but everyone will be going through the same experience, and the student union hosts a variety of events for students to adjust to university life, make friends, and get to know the city better. Every year, there are an infinite amount of socials at the beginning of the year for first year students to get to know each other, so making new friends should not be something to be worried about! It will be normal to miss your home, family and friends and whilst some of your friends have the option of going home on weekends by just catching a train you will most likely not have that option. It can get lonely sometimes but that is just one of the challenges that come with being away from home, and I can assure you it does get easier.
Although I didn’t experience a big culture shock, depending on where you are moving from it is a possibility. However, with that culture shock, you will also find different unique aspects of British life that you will learn to love. For example, small things that I learned to love were British slang, phrases, and expressions, or how they add a couple of x’s after a text. However, one thing I did struggle with quite a bit was the change in weather. Although it is not as bad as some people make it out to be, you should prepare yourself for that and bring an appropriate wardrobe especially if you’re not used to the cold.
In regards to living in Manchester, I would suggest learning how to navigate the local bus transportation system, it is the cheapest and most convenient way of getting around the city. Also, Manchester’s location is very convenient for travel during holidays or the weekends when you have some extra time. For example, it is only 40 minutes on a train to Liverpool, 2 hours and 30 mins to London, etc. and there are several direct flights from Manchester’s airport to various capital cities in Europe such as Lisbon, Madrid, Amsterdam, Paris. Moreover, there is an abundance of big food supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Lidl, Aldi, ASDA, etc. and many of these stores have aisles dedicated to international cuisine where you might find ingredients you’re familiar with back home.