Tag Archives: international students

Advice for Living in Student Accommodation

Communal living roomThis month’s blogpost is provided by Sophie Barber from Beaumont House, who provide student accommodation in West London for all UK and International students. Their accommodation is an inclusive, calm and supportive environment, ideal for postgraduate and international students.

Finding student accommodation can be a difficult task, especially if you are an international student coming to the UK for the first time. At first, it can seem as though all of your energy is spent on finding the perfect place to live! Then, it’s a big relief when you finally find somewhere.

However, during the busy period of finding somewhere to live, we sometimes forget that we will actually be living here! Whether you are studying in the UK for one term, three years or even more, it’s important to get some advice on living with other students. We’ve outlined some top tips below so that you can make the most out of living in the UK.

Socialise with your housemates

How you start your life at university tends to be how it will continue. In those first few days in your new room, flat or house, you will have plenty of opportunities to socialise with your housemates and get to know them. Everyone will be in the same boat as you, so there’s no need to be nervous.

You can start by getting a takeaway meal together, or playing some board games as a house. After a few weeks, you will probably find that you have already made great friends in your housemates!

Create a jobs rota

University accommodation can get messy – that’s just a fact. However, there are ways to prevent things from getting too out of hand! It’s a good idea to make a cleaning or jobs rota with your housemates. That way, everyone plays a role in looking after your accommodation and keeping things tidy.

The jobs might include taking the bins out, hoovering or keeping the kitchen tidy. However you decide to do it, make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities and stays on top of things.

Work out a way to split bills

Although some student accommodation comes with bills included, there may be things that you need to work out with your housemates. These can include gas and electricity, the internet, your TV licence and water. There are a number of apps which allow you to split the costs between you, or you could set up a monthly bank transfer to whoever is paying.

Even if your bills are included, you will still need to consider shared household items such as toilet roll, washing-up liquid and soap. You can create a communal money pot for these items, or make sure that there is a fair rota for who buys them.

Set boundaries

While socialising with the other students in your accommodation is great, it’s also important to have your own boundaries, particularly if you have a heavy workload. If you’re stressed or just want some alone time, let your housemates know that you won’t be around as much.

This also works both ways, so if you can tell that one of your housemates needs to get their head down and do some work, try to let them get on with it.

Communicate

If you begin to get frustrated with one of the people you are living with, it is important to approach the situation in a mature way. There is no point harbouring grudges or talking behind their back as nothing will get solved this way.

The best approach is to address them about the issue in a calm and polite way. If you can communicate with your housemates, it helps any problems get solved a lot easier.

Be supportive

The final thing to remember about living in student accommodation is to be supportive of your housemates. University can get stressful and there may be times when they need a shoulder to cry on.

If one of your housemates comes to you with a problem, help them to find a solution or at least listen to them talk about it. Then, if you are ever having a difficult time in the future, you can rely on them to be there for you.

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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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How do UK universities fare on the world stage?

This month’s guest blogpost is provided by Adam Maidment, a writer for Pure Student Living, which provides luxurious student accommodation for students across London:

In May, the annual Times Higher Education (THE) University World Reputation Rankings list was revealed. It aims to highlight the world’s most prestigious universities and highlight those that are doing the best in terms of providing successful candidates ready for the workplace.

The UK was well-represented with ten placements in the hundred-long list. The UK was the second most-represented nation, after the US, which had forty-three placements. Two UK universities – the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford – appeared in fourth and fifth place respectively. With the UK taking up one tenth of the THE list, just how well do the UK’s universities compare to other countries?

Individual treatment

Comparing the top two nations on the list – the US and the UK – it seems that if you want a more individual and one-on-one learning experience, then the UK is the better option.

In most UK universities, students will be assigned into smaller class groups after regular lectures. These seminar classes enable students to discuss and debate ideas and key points from the lectures in depth with dedicated members of staff and other students in their class. The knowledge gained from these sessions is then useful throughout the rest of their studies.

It seems that such discussion groups or seminars do not really figure in most US universities until the very last year of the degree programme. This means that for most of the course, students studying in the US will have to depend on lectures as the main source for the majority of their knowledge. Nor will they have the same number of opportunities to have designated one-on-one discussions. In some cases, postgraduate students are assigned to run discussion groups but as they are not members of staff, their knowledge can be somewhat limited.

Specialist subjects

It’s not uncommon for students in Australia to take double or combined degrees, whilst many university students in the US will be asked to take on a broad range of subjects in their first year: these are one they wish to major in, and another, which can be totally unrelated, that they want to minor in. Some US universities won’t even require students to decide on their major subject until the second year.

If there is a particular subject that you know you really want to focus on, studying in the UK might be your best option as there is there is much more scope for specialisation. In most UK institutions, there is the option to take on such a degree.

If you’re still wanting to take on a combined honours course, these are also available in the UK, but they usually involve subjects that relate to each other in some way.

One of the best places to study

In December, the UK HE International Unit found that student satisfaction amongst international students in UK universities was at 91 percent, which was massively higher than any other major English-speaking destination.

With internationally recognised qualifications and ten places within the THE list, the UK really is one of the best places to study. UCAS reports that as many as 430,000 students from over 180 different countries choose to study in the UK.

As a multicultural country, studying in the UK opens up opportunities to experience new cultures and backgrounds. With English being one of the most-recognised languages around the world, being fully immersed in the language will only help international students develop their careers even further after their studies.

What you get out of your university experience depends on what you put into it. Wherever you choose to study, if you don’t work hard then you’re not going to reach your full potential. Choose a degree programme that suits your interests, career prospects, and optimises your own learning.

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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