My Experience as an International Student: Navigating a World of Challenges and Discoveries 

students enjoying a tree's shade

Studying abroad and leaving everything behind is no easy feat. As an Uzbek girl who embarked on her journey to study in the UK, I can attest to the bravery required to adjust to a foreign country. Today, I want to share my real-life experiences and the lessons I learned as I navigated through the challenges that came my way. 

As a self-funded international student, life in the UK presented its fair share of difficulties. Arriving late in the autumn term, my husband and I struggled to find suitable accommodation. We ended up spending a significant amount of money on hotels for two months until we finally secured a rental property. Additionally, finding a job for my husband, who had limited English proficiency, proved to be a financial hurdle. These challenges undoubtedly affected my studies. To anyone considering studying abroad, I highly recommend arriving earlier and proactively addressing these types of issues to ensure a smoother transition. 

Adjusting to a new culture and lifestyle took time and required an open mind. I was constantly comparing the differences and similarities between my home country and the UK. One striking aspect was the friendliness and willingness of British people to help. I vividly recall a time when I appeared lost on my way to a lecture, and a kind stranger approached me, asking if I needed assistance. This act of kindness left a lasting impression. Another notable difference was the patience displayed while queuing in the UK. Unlike in my home country, where people often rush to be first, the British demonstrated remarkable patience and orderliness. 

Exploring the local communities and attractions was an essential part of my international student experience. Upon arriving in Reading, I was eager to discover the beautiful places the city had to offer. One such place was Coversham Lake, which captivated me with its natural beauty and refreshing air. Additionally, Reading Town Centre provided a plethora of activities. The Oracle, a favorite mall of mine, housed various brand shops with reasonably priced clothing. I also had the pleasure of trying out some remarkable cafes, with Jollibee being my top recommendation. 

Food adaptability posed another challenge that every international student should consider. While I developed a liking for certain British dishes, I couldn’t help but miss the flavors of my national cuisine, such as Plov, Samsa, and Manti. Interestingly, my time in the UK transformed me into a skilled cook. Preparing our Uzbek dishes at home not only allowed me to satisfy my cravings but also helped save money that would have otherwise been spent on eating out. Big stores like Aldi and Tesco provided all the necessary ingredients, making it easy to recreate the tastes of home. 

Despite my proficiency in English, language barriers were still a hurdle, especially when faced with different accents, such as the Indian accent. To overcome this, I actively sought opportunities to practice and improve my understanding. Making friends played a crucial role in this endeavor, as it not only helped me combat loneliness and boredom but also enhanced my language skills. I made friends by initiating conversations with my classmates at university, participating in events organized by the Students Union, and connecting with new acquaintances on social media. These friendships have the potential to last a lifetime, and I encourage other international students to follow a similar path if they ever feel alone or bored. 

Finally, the most significant challenge I faced was undoubtedly homesickness. Initially, I longed to return to my home country, missing my beloved family members, especially my son. Being far away from them was incredibly difficult. However, the wonders of technology allowed me to have video chats with them almost every day. They would also share photos and videos, keeping me connected and providing a sense of closeness. 

In conclusion, starting my life in the UK as an international student was far from easy, but it was undeniably meaningful. It helped me recognize the importance of family, friends, food, and everything associated with my home country. Moreover, it allowed me to discover a new version of myself—one that was stronger and more patient. These valuable experiences will forever hold a special place in my heart. 

Now, I’m curious about your story as an international student. Share your experiences and let’s celebrate the diverse journeys we’ve embarked on. 

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