Tag Archives: friends

What can I do over the Christmas holidays?

Christmas treeThis month’s blog post is from Andrew Davey, Project Manager for Prepare for Success and Products Manager for eLanguages, the University of Southampton team behind this website. It is in response to a student question, ‘What can I do in the holidays?’

The Christmas break can be a lonely time for international students who are spending time in the UK away from their families. However, this doesn’t have to be the case! There are often plenty of activities to get involved with, and here are some you might like to try:

Go to a Christmas market

The UK has hundreds (or possibly even thousands) of Christmas markets and fairs. These range from the larger city-based markets we featured on our blog in 2016 through to smaller town or village fairs. Some markets even continue into the new year!

Go to a carol concert or Christmas church service

Carol services are a traditional Christmas celebration in the UK where many people get together, often in a church or cathedral, to sing well-known Christmas songs, known as Christmas carols. These are a great way to enjoy music with plenty of other people – it’s a good idea to arrive early! You can also attend a church service on Christmas Day (times are usually on local websites or outside churches) to find out more about Christmas. If you’d like to stay with a British family or enjoy a traditional Christmas meal, you can also look on the Friends International website to find out more information about this.

Meet up with friends

If you have friends staying in the UK over Christmas, why not meet up with them? There are likely to be other students staying at University or college over the break and they are likely to want some company as well. You could even hold a Christmas party!

Work on your course

Many courses have exams and coursework deadlines in January – so the Christmas break can be a great time to get a head-start preparing for these. Do make sure you get enough rest as well!

However you choose to spend the break, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Prepare for Success team!

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How to Make Friends at University for International Students

A group of student friendsThis month’s guest blogpost is provided by Becs Christofides, a writer for Mears Student Life:

It can be difficult settling into university life as an international student. Many things are new: the country, the culture, the people, and sometimes even the side of the road you’re supposed to drive on. Making friends at university can be a daunting experience for anyone, because the pressure to make friends and meet new people is always there. But to help you feel more at ease, here are five ways to make friends as an international student:

1. Get involved!

To help welcome international students to student life, many universities run welcome events specifically for international students. It’s definitely worth finding out the dates of your welcome week so that you don’t miss out. Once you get to your university, you’ll meet lots of new international students who are going through the same thing. There will often be ice-breakers (ways to get to know each other) too, so you won’t have to worry about starting a conversation, or being nervous and shy. There are many activities to choose from: walking tours, coffee outings, cinema trips, and more. So, take your pick and get yourself involved!

2. Join a society!

Universities are known for their numerous societies and sports clubs. They’re great fun and the perfect place to make new friends. No matter what you’re interested in, there’s plenty of choice to find your preferred hobby. Many university societies run regular social events for students to get to know each other. You’ll have the chance to meet like-minded people who are interested in the same things as you.

Many universities have an International Society specifically for international students to meet each other, go on days out, and make new friends. So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself down to the Freshers’ Fair and sign up!

3. Follow your Students’ Union!

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Whatever your choice of social media, make sure you’re following your students’ union so you can stay updated on events. Club nights, comedy nights, open mics, and quizzes – there’s always something happening in your students’ union. Even if you don’t fancy a big night out, spending time in your students’ union space is a great way to meet students from different areas of your university. There’s nothing stopping you from putting on your own event-night either.

4. Get adding!

Nothing sparks a friendship like making it official on Facebook. Don’t be afraid to connect to your new coursemates, peers, and housemates on social media. Social media is a perfect way to find out what everyone’s doing, giving you the opportunity to join in. Make sure you’re following university pages. There are often Facebook groups for all sorts of different things: specific course pages, university pages, and don’t forget the international students page either. Make sure you’re following all three to be sure not to miss out on anything.

5. Put yourself out there!

University is all about experiencing new things and gives you the chance to meet people from all backgrounds and walks of life. To get the most out of your experience, try putting yourself out of your comfort zone and be brave when it comes to being open to new things. Make that conversation, go to that party, attend that study group. Don’t let any opportunities pass you by. If there’s an invitation, accept it. It’s time to create new experiences and make new friends!

If you’re nervous about settling in to your new university, there is always help on hand. On your first few weeks, there will be student volunteers to advise you on any issues you might have. Remember: everyone is in the same position, so go and enjoy yourself.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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Graduation day!

GraduationThis week’s blogpost is in answer to a student’s question about the end of study on their Master’s degree programme and the graduation ceremony.

At the end of any course that you have successfully completed there is usually a celebration. In the case of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree programme, this often takes the form of a graduation ceremony.

This is an opportunity to dress up and celebrate your success. Students who are about to graduate (called ‘graduands’) hire a gown and mortarboard (headgear) to wear for the ceremony (see image). This is often accompanied by a sash or other item that is specific to the Faculty or university/college from which they are graduating.

The ceremony, which can last up to two hours, includes speeches. All graduating students, if present, are called to the main stage individually to receive their degree certificate.

Invited guests also attend the ceremony. These are often the parents, relatives and/or friends of the person graduating. There are opportunities for both formal photos – a professional photographer is normally available after the ceremony, and informal ones with family and friends.

Finally, everyone attends a drinks and canapés or similar reception with members of teaching staff to celebrate together. Graduation is an event to look forward to and one that will bring back lots of happy memories in the future.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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How can I improve my spoken English in the UK?

Students socialisingToday’s blog post is in reply to a question from a student on the Question Wall:
“I think my reading and writing can improve in the UK through studies but how can I improve my speaking?”

In most universities and colleges in the UK there will be opportunities to improve your academic skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening in an academic context, particularly through the work that you do in seminars, lectures and through reading for and writing course assignments. There may also be extra classes that you can attend, which focus on these skill areas. However, international students might need to make an extra effort to find opportunities to practise speaking English informally, especially to improve their fluency. The best way to do this is obviously to make new English speaking friends and take every opportunity to speak English with them. Making new friends can take a little time so you might want to consider joining a few of the many clubs and societies run by your Student Union to help you meet people when you arrive. You may find new friends who are from your own country but if you want to improve your spoken English, it’s important to socialise with people who don’t speak your language too.

When speaking English informally, don’t be shy or afraid about making mistakes when you speak. To improve your fluency in particular, it’s more important to communicate and practise than to speak without making mistakes. Communication involves listening as well as speaking and many international students find that the first skill they notice improvement in is listening.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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