International student, Lorria, tells us about her experiences at University…
An anxiously received acceptance letter, several bittersweet celebrations, a 12 hour flight and 6 overweight suitcases later, I found my exhausted self still travelling and onboard a 3-hour coach headed to my new home away from home. As a fellow international student at Cardiff Univeristy with graduation just around the corner, I can confidently say that studying abroad is both a rewarding but daunting experience definitely worth experiencing.
A warm welcome from Cardiff University
Studying abroad can seem slightly overwhelming at first, especially when your familiar home of 18 years is no longer just a train ride away. Sadly, getting used to university life abroad will come easier to some than others. But there’s no need to worry, take all the time you need to adjust! You’ve just moved to a whole new country! It’s also comforting to know that there are 7, 000 others just in the same boat as you. Cardiff University is proud to have accepted students from over 100 countries around the world. With an extensive and extremely welcoming International Student Support team (ISS), your Cardiff home is just about to get a whole lot cosier.
Top tips for important documents
First things first, you will need to get all your super important legal documents sorted out. Avoid unwanted confrontation with immigration officers and learn from my awkward police registration experience; make 100% use of ISS’s immigration advice for international students. Whether you need extra student identification or you’re unsure if your country classifies for a police registration (I know I was), the ISS provides helpful solutions from issuing student ID cards to holding weekly Police Registration services. Another headache are visas and ‘the right to enter the country’ stuff. Luckily, ISS simplifies things by providing help for any students requiring visa extensions, advice on post-study work visas to avoid the infamous questions of ‘what are you planning with your future?’ at family gatherings and employment regulations while studying, because you gotta find a way to pay for rent AND those extra drinks.
Speaking of finances, money can become very tricky as an international student. Between paying pricier tuition fees and buying over-priced imported groceries that remind you of a taste of home, you will search for several desperate attempts to save money. Interestingly then, you will find yourself comparing UK prices to prices at home and wondering why you didn’t treasure that extra cheap corner shop back at home rather than an over-priced £1.50 chocolate bar from Sainsbury’s. For those who find it hard to stick to a daily budget or are struggling with adult-y bills, the ISS provides emergency loans or more advice and help can be found through the Advice and Money team at the Student Support Services.
Another thing I’ve discovered is that even though English is my first language, it can be quite confusing when you come to actually live in the UK. Tea is dinner, dinner is lunch, french fries are chips and chips are crisps – it can all get a bit too much. To clear up any miscommunication, Cardiff Uni provides English language and foundation programs to help any international students looking to brush up on their English skills, or are looking to build on more useful skills to make their CV more convincing because they too, like me, have spent the last 3 years curled up in bed avoiding all responsibilities.
You’re not alone!
For newcomers, induction events are also available and the best place to meet like-minded people. Yes, they’re terrifying, but I found it helpful to remember that when you’re feeling nervous, most people are probably feeling the same – everyone is starting new. Take part in the ISS’s social activities, whether you’re setting in or trying to meet new people cause this is your opportunity to try new things! After all, you are away from the overly-protective ties of your parents, or you’re looking to create and find a new version of yourself – whatever it is, uni is a great time for an experimental, self-discovery journey.
Lastly, I’m sad to honestly admit that homesickness is definitely a large part of studying abroad, no matter how old you are or how much fun you’re having. The uni also provides a vast array of enjoyable and student-friendly activities where you can momentarily forget your worries long enough until the next long-awaited holiday back home. Check out all the advice and support that the Health and Wellbeing team offer to Cardiff University students. My last piece of advice: don’t forget to Skype your family once in a while because they’re probably missing you just as much as you miss them.
For more information about ISS
The International Student Support can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)29 2087 6009 and reached at the Student Support Centre in the Student Union from 9am- 5pm Mondays to Fridays.
This March the University is celebrating the unique cultures and shared experiences of students and staff at Cardiff University through a series of globally themed events. The events, arranged jointly between Cardiff University and the International Students Association take place from the 24 to the 3o of March. Check out the Global Week blog post for more information on all the activities taking place.
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Lorria Sahmet, International Student, Cardiff University
The Student Support Centrehas a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice and Money, Careers and Employability, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing, Disability and Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.