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International Student Matrix: Warwick’s faraway freshers

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Before Warwick, I’d never left Asia before, so everything was a bit of a culture shock at first. I grew up in Bangkok, the land of motorbike taxis and never-ending summers. To be dropped into a situation in which I would be travelling by bus and wearing five layers of clothing to stay warm was disorientating to say the least.

At first, my main struggle was making friends, as most students in my accommodation were British and knew their wayaround, while I was still trying to tell the difference between a 50p coin and a pound. I ultimately did manage to catch on, after realising that it’s best to count out your change before you hop on the bus.

I learnt that you either love or hate Marmite, that pancakes are not thick and fluffy but thin and flat and that Sunday roasts are an integral part of British culture.

Having local friends helped me a lot. From them I learnt that you either love or hate Marmite, that pancakes are not thick and fluffy but thin and flat and that Sunday roasts are an integral part of British culture.

Being from a very hot climate, I struggled to adapt to the cold all that well to begin with. Winter was not all building snowmen and having snowball fights, much to my disappointment. The rain is not warm, but icy. Cold, piercing droplets send shivers through any exposed body part, as I found out the hard way. Invest in at least one good coat, skid-proof boots and gloves. Don’t bother with foldable umbrellas, they won’t withstand the bitter British wind.

If it does get too cold, you can always count on your British friends to offer you a nice warm cup of tea!

Sandhya Dhawan


Living alone in a country that you’ve never been to before is an intimidating prospect for any 18 year-old. Fortunately, or unfortunately, most of my coursemates were British, as were the majority of my flatmates, so I had plenty of opportunity to get acclimatised over the course of my first year.

My introduction to British nightlife was probably the biggest culture shock. I am still amazed at the amount of alcohol and average ‘lad’ can consume.

My introduction to British nightlife was probably the biggest culture shock. I am still amazed at the amount of alcohol and average ‘lad’ can consume.

I soon learnt that not holding doors open for people in a corridor is an offense worthy of death glares, Tesco Everyday Value products will become a running joke throughout your entire degree and that the word pants actually means underwear. Pants as I know them are called trosuers.

Not being able to understand all the words that my British counterparts said, and having to laugh nervously while completely mystified as to what direction the conversation was heading became the norm in the first few weeks. Urban Dictionary was to come to my aid embarrasingly frequently.

What is the North? I am still not quite sure where this invisible line that divides the country is drawn.

Lunch, usually a lavish affair at home, is just a piece of cheese and a slice of ham between bread in England and dinner is a preposterus 6pm! Pudding was dessert, dinner was tea and tea was tea too – but only in the North. What is the North? I am still not quite sure where this invisible line that divides the country is drawn.

Coming from two very orthodox countries, the UAE and India, the exhilarating sense of liberation that came from being able to air my uncensored opinions about independent grocery shopping was a well-needed breath of fresh air.

But most of all, the friendly faces around Warwick made me feel more at home than I ever expected. Welcome to the UK, the weather is terrible but you’ll learn to love it!

Lakshmi Ajay

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