My Experience as an International Student

A student collecting their BRP from the Student Services Reception.

I am not going to lie, coming to university from another country is essentially very scary. Everything around you is new and different from what you are used to. There is a different culture, different way of doing things, different stores, different foods and all of these can be intimidating. However, it can also be exciting, new and beautiful.

When you get to university, one of the biggest things that we all go through is being alone. We’re alone in a new country where people speak a different language and look at you with different eyes. One of the things I did before arriving was joining as many social media groups as possible. I joined a small international group chat with people from all over the world and now even in my second year of university, some of them are my closest friends. The moment we all arrived in the UK, we started meeting up every day, helping each other when something was confusing or frustrating, creating meaningful connections and slowly, a community was formed.

Some advice I have for any international student is to be open. Be open to new experiences,  friends,  foods, ideas and everything that is happening around you. Go to the random hang out that a friend of a friend invited you to. Sit down at a table in front of Park Bar and speak with someone new ( that is how I met one of my friends during my first few weeks here). Talk with your flatmates and their friends (they are not that scary once you get to know them).

One of the other things that can really help is joining societies that are related to your country/culture. Within RUSU, there are multiple societies that will help you find people coming from the same place as you, who share your culture, ideas and who will help you get used to university. There is the international society which is a great place to meet people from everywhere. I would say one of the most important things that helped me fit in at university in Reading is the international community and group of friends that I built around myself. It always helps to know that there are people going through the same things as you and to share those experiences with them.

The STaR Mentor Scheme is another part of university that a lot of students have found helpful. STaR Mentors are students in the years above you who help you navigate university. Personally, I didn’t use it in the first year because I was so excited about everything, I forgot about all the resources that I had access to. In my second year I am a STaR Mentor and can say that it  makes a difference in someone’s university experience. So, if you are scared or anxious and want someone to talk to who has been through  a similar experience as you, contact your STaR mentor and meet for a coffee.

Reading holds a special place in my heart with  everything I have been through here and the things I learnt by being here. I promise that as long as you are open to the new experiences, you will slowly build your own community and have the best time at university, no matter where you are from.

Use the university’s resources such as the STAR Mentor scheme, the RUSU webpage where you can find a lot of activities, and the Essentials page for internationals on the University of Reading website. Have fun and enjoy the journey!

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