Wondering what is it really like to be an international student studying in the UK? Perhaps you are currently abroad yourself and looking for some top tips on how to settle in for when you arrive here yourself next year. Well, look no further! We have spoken with one our international part time community assistants, Yuexin Li, who is part of the Novel Student team in Sheffield. Yuexin is a first-year student studying a master’s degree in Digital Media and Society at the University of Sheffield.
We had an open chat with Yuexin, who covered all that she has experienced being an international student studying in the UK, from those initial feelings of nervousness, to making new friends at societies, and enjoying Sheffield’s pink sky sunsets! Plus, she provided her top tips for settling in for any international students arriving to the UK.
Why did you choose to study abroad?
Moving abroad is a great and exciting opportunity! It pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and it also offered me a chance to pursue a course I am really interested in. I found life was moving so fast and studying abroad would give me some time to reflect and slow down!
When you first moved over to the UK, how did you feel?
To be honest, I felt nervous and uncertain when I first stepped foot into the UK. I was worried about my poor English, my introverted personality and who my roommates were going to be! My first challenge was to find my out how to get to my accommodation since my mobile data wasn’t working! It took me a little while to find my feet, but I do recommend you plan all these small things in advance, including your mobile contract and transport to and from your accommodation.
How did you settle into your student accommodation?
My friend recommended my current accommodation which helped me to settle in and feel more comfortable (it’s good to know there are other people in your situation, so you can support each other). The accommodation also offers a private washer-dryer, which is a very unique but important offering for me.
What’s your top tip to meeting new friends in a new country?
First of all, just be yourself! I met most of my new friends through my course, but I do recommend you join a university society group. I joined the Sheffield Chinese Students and Scholars Association which helped me to meet new friends with similar interest. Also, in my spare time, I attend different events to meet new people.
The best thing I found out was that people will never mind if your grammar is correct, or if you have a strong accent. So, push yourself out there, try new things and get involved in activities to integrate you into your new community.
What’s your advice to someone who’s a bit anxious about studying overseas?
No matter where you travel, you will always meet friendly people with similar interests to you! Just be yourself, enjoy it and make sure you have a good study/life balance. From my own personal experience, the people in Sheffield are always nice and helpful!
What are your top tips to coping when missing home?
Take advantage of the social media! I call or chat with my family and friends all time and more so when I’m feeling home sick. In your spare time outside of studying, take advantage of the city you live in! Go and explore the local culture, shops, and restaurants! My favourite thing about Sheffield is the peaceful environment and the amazing pink sky during sunset!
I also attend a lot of events organised by the university or my accommodation, they keep my mind occupied and also give me a sense of belonging.
If needed, have you found help and support easily accessible at both your university and accommodation?
Yes. I have used the university’s online mental health service several times, it has really helped me. My accommodation is also very responsive, it’s good to know you have a lot of support around you.
Where is your favourite place to study and why?
I prefer to study in my accommodation. Firstly, I love to study in a cosy environment where I can easily make myself a coffee and some snacks! I also like playing some background music without having to put my headphones in.
We hope that gave you a good insight into being an international student – thank you for being so honest Yuexin!
At Novel, we are dedicated to supporting our residents, that’s why we have staff available 24/7 to assists our residents. We are creating communities of healthier, happier students, a place you can call home and a place where your health and wellbeing takes priority.
Come in and have a chat with Yuexin or any of our Novel staff, they are located at our Hillside House leasing office on:
36 Division Street, Sheffield.
Hopefully see you soon!