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How to adapt when studying in a different country

Leaving your home for university is undeniably a difficult experience, but when it comes to leaving your country to go to university and sailing towards the truly unknown, the difficulties are much greater. One of the most challenging bits is overcoming the cultural barrier and adjusting to everyday life in England. However, there is really nothing to panic about. Where there is a will there is a way, and the way in this case is giving it a little time. No matter where you’re coming from, it’s perfectly understandable that some quintessentially British things will make no sense to you. By the end of first year you may still not fully understand them, but you will have learnt to live with them and not feel too alien in a British setting.

In one way or another, the cultural shock exists for all of us. Yes, we all were shocked, possibly even repulsed upon discovering that the infamous drinking culture isn’t a myth; and we all have almost been run over because of how traffic works here. But the extent to which each one of you will feel it in your everyday lives depends on a lot of different factors. For example, people coming from British or international schools abroad will be much more familiar with English and with how things generally work in British universities than those who did their national diplomas.

The distance to home is a force that can work both ways. Having easy access to your home country can give you the confidence that you are no different to your friends that went to study in other cities of your country. On the other hand, you may find yourself going back more frequently than you should and in this way hindering your socialisation and adaptation to university life in the UK.

There are things you can do to keep a balance between crying over your past life and trying to create a new one in Warwick

Living in a country further away in Europe or on another continent, you will be faced with the possibly hard reality that you came to Warwick to stay. Most of us have to book our Christmas break tickets ages in advance, and many even stay on campus for the whole year, which again can have different effects. Some come to terms with this fact and try to make the best out of it, while others see it as a defeat and grow overly nostalgic.

Both international student profiles exist, both are totally acceptable, and you should under no circumstances feel ashamed of yourself and of how you cope with this new situation. However, there are things you can do to keep a balance between crying over your past life and trying to create a new one in Warwick.

First things first, focus on how you can tackle nostalgia and keep in touch with your culture. Skyping family and friends is a must, although you should try to avoid daily three-hour long sessions that don’t leave time for much else. Coming back to campus life, I really recommend joining the society of your culture. Go to societies’ fair, find their stall, talk to them, and if you like them and what they offer, get a membership!

Everyone is in the same boat and there is nothing to be afraid of. Even if you don’t feel confident about your English language

Personally, I stayed away from cultural societies because I didn’t feel the need to join any, but I do acknowledge that they can offer a home away from home through their events. In this way, you can also meet other compatriots of yours, who will definitely be facing the same difficulties as you, and make friends with people you feel more familiar with in terms of experiences and ideas. Also, picking up your favourite hobby or sport again can help you not lose yourself when everything in your life is changing.

However, if you want to adapt, you need to take this a step further and add a counterbalance to this effort to keep your cultural past intact. So instead of only joining the cultural society I mentioned above and going on a hunt after students from your country, expand your area of focus. Start a new hobby or sport and join societies that look interesting to you. Socialise with your flatmates, other people in your accommodation block, people in your seminars, people sitting next to you in big lecture halls, people in societies’ freshers events you are attending.

Everyone is in the same boat and there is nothing to be afraid of. Even if you don’t feel confident about your English language skills, don’t worry; no one is going to judge you and you are going to grow increasingly comfortable as time goes by. Be open to people from all different walks of life and you will see that making friends from so many different countries, including the UK, and adapting to British university life is feasible. But to be able to do all that, never forget to double-check before crossing a street!


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