Stepping off the plane and into the UK as an international student, I was filled with a sense of exhilaration and trepidation. My first task was to collect my Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from the Carrington Building at the university. This is a vital document and might even be the most important document for us international students during our stay in the UK.
The Carrington Building, a hub of administrative activity, was bustling with students like me. As I walked in, I felt a surge of nervousness. This was my first real interaction in English, a language I was familiar with, but not my mother tongue. I reminded myself that it is okay to stumble, to search for words. After all, language is a journey, not a destination.
Approaching the counter, I took a deep breath and began to speak. To my surprise, the words came out more fluently than I had anticipated. The staff were patient and understanding, making the process smooth and less daunting. I left the Carrington Building that day, BRP in hand, and a newfound confidence in my ability to communicate in English.
From that day forward, I made a conscious effort to converse in English with everyone I met. I embraced my accent, my unique way of expressing myself. It was not a source of embarrassment, but a testament to my journey as an international student.
As an international student in the UK, my first steps were to register with a General Practitioner (GP) and open a bank account. Having paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of my visa application, I was eligible to use the National Health Service (NHS).
I found a local GP surgery and walked in. Again, speaking in English with the confidence boost from the BRP collection, I explained my purpose. The receptionist was patient and understanding, guiding me through the registration process. I left the surgery with a sense of accomplishment, knowing I had taken a crucial step towards ensuring my wellbeing in the UK.
Next, I visited a local bank to open an account. Armed with my passport, BRP, and university acceptance letter, I met with a bank officer. Despite my initial nervousness, I found myself communicating effectively in English. The bank officer was patient, explaining each step of the process in detail. I left the bank that day with a sense of independence, having taken another significant step in establishing my life in the UK.
These experiences taught me to embrace my journey as an international student, including the challenges of communicating in a second language. I realised that my accent and occasional struggle for words were not sources of embarrassment, but rather integral parts of my unique identity.
As an international student in the UK, I’ve learned that fitting in isn’t about changing who you are, but rather embracing it. I’ve realised that my unique background and experiences add to the rich diversity on campus. I’ve learned to be myself, to express my thoughts and ideas freely, and to respect the perspectives of others.
I’ve found that university experience is not just about academia, but also about personal growth and self-discovery. So, to my fellow international students, I say this: Don’t worry about fitting in. Be yourself, enjoy your university experience, and embrace the journey of discovery that lies ahead.
Good luck for your future endeavours and looking forward to seeing you on campus!!
Check out our helpful International Student Checklist on Essentials for an overview of some of the important things you need to do both before and after you arrive in the UK.