Tag Archives: social

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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Five ways to kill time without your phone

No phones!This month’s guest blogpost is provided by Oliver Long, a writer for The Student Housing Company:

Who else remembers when killing time involved exactly that; waiting for time to pass, and not doing much? No, we don’t either. Nowadays, any free moment we have is spent with our faces buried deep in our smartphones – a real 21st-century problem.

While it’s true that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even emails work great as time-killing tools, it can be good for the soul to stay off your phone every now and then. That’s why we’ve looked into five offline, productive things to do without your phone – for those who think detox retreats are too much but the Moment app is too little.

Observe Your Surroundings

If you can spare a couple minutes away from your phone everyday, you may notice something amazing that’s happening all around you – real life! Once you’re done observing, you can then get back on your phone and turn all these observations into excellent tweets…if you can condense them into 280 characters or fewer.

Explore the Real World

Inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places, but you wouldn’t know unless you go out and explore the possibilities. Incidentally, taking a walk is also a great way to unwind and declutter your mind of all the study-related stress you may have. Take this opportunity to relax and recharge. You can pay a visit to a local area you’ve never been before; the park, the gallery, or the museum, where you may even learn a new thing or two. Speaking of learning…

Learn Something New

Perhaps you’ve been wanting to take up photography? This would be the time to do it. How about learning a language? Or you could just pick up a book from the library or download an ebook on your Kindle, then you wouldn’t even think about checking your phone. No matter what degree you’re studying, having new skills is only going to enhance your employability in the future. You never know, you may even enjoy it!

Catch Up Over a Coffee

Meet up with a fellow coursemate, go to a Starbucks and just chat and see where the conversation takes you. If you’re really pinching pennies, consider having a friend over for a regular coffee or tea and share ideas over your coursework or something completely unrelated to your studies. Just don’t forget to put your phones away.

Actually Get Work Done

This probably isn’t what you clicked in here for but having no distraction from your phone makes the perfect setting to get some work done. Now you may be thinking “a big part of my studies depends on my phone and the ability to access the internet!”, but if you take a step back from all the technology, you’ll find that there’s more to what you can accomplish without your gadget than you thought.

We hope you’ve found some tips and ideas helpful for next time your phone runs out of juice or when you decide that enough is enough and that the time has come for you to live your life phone-free.

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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The Benefits of Joining Your University’s Outdoor Activity Clubs

Our latest guest blog post describes the benefits of joining your university’s outdoor activity clubs, and is provided by Maria Mangion from outdoor clothing and equipment specialist Trespass:

After you’ve successfully converted your dream of studying abroad in the UK to a tangible reality, it’s time to think of what’s next. While your studies will be enough to keep you on your toes with a new culture, systems of learning and knowledge to digest, you’ll soon settle into the gentle uphill curve of university life. And what better way to glide over the hurdles with flying colours than supplementing this intellectual journey with a parallel, physically active one?

As you integrate into the British tertiary education lifestyle, you’ll notice that extracurricular activities play an important role in the university establishment. Most universities have clubs or societies dedicated to outdoor activities. In spite of the gloomy weather testing our limitlessness all year round, we have a healthy outdoors culture reflected on campuses nationwide. Students, alumni and sometimes even staff form clusters of enthusiasts who organise events throughout the year, from outdoor expeditions and weekend getaways to social gatherings at the pub.

A little research will help you discover whether your institution currently has one of these clubs, or you can speak to student advisors if you’d like to dig deeper. Don’t let the calendar pages turn until you register; utilise your new university’s resources and inform yourself as early as possible as most clubs have introductory meetings towards the beginning of the academic year.

From the fun, ‘Munro-bagging’ spirit of the Dundee University Rucksack Club to the nurturing, socially eventful environment of the Sheffield Hallam University Climbing Club, there are plenty of benefits to joining such a club, and we’re going to delve into each.

Stay Fit and Active

The most obvious of these benefits – and the effects of which you’ll start feeling immediately – is staying fit and active throughout your studies. Physical activity not only elevates your fitness levels and keeps you energised, healthy and strong, it also boosts brain function and regulates your mood so you’re able to perform better in class – a win-win decision.

Climbing in the outdoors

The advantage here is that you don’t need to plan or schedule your workouts, or train alone. Motivation is included in the mix as you’re given dates and times to stick to on a regular basis, and being a part of the club will encourage you to participate more conscientiously than if you were to attempt to take up an outdoor activity by yourself.

In addition to the excellent short-term benefits, you’ll be whipping yourself into shape in a collectively supportive atmosphere and setting a great precedent for keeping fit throughout your adult life.

Gain Bonus Credit on your Degree

Joining a club can pay back dividends in terms of your final graduating certificate. Some institutions formally recognise involvement in their clubs or societies by adding bonus ‘points’ or ‘credits’ to your degree at the end of your studies, which feature on your transcript.

Even if your university does not maintain this practice, your commitment to outdoor activities will be regarded favourably by prospective employers. You’ll be delighted to include this extracurricular leap of action in your CV as proof of your achievements at university. Having that extra edge over the sea of post-graduation jobseekers will help you to stand out and ultimately be rewarded for not simply doing the bare minimum to get by, as most do. Think of it as an extra accomplishment badge for your future!

Socialise and Make New Friends

This new era can be daunting; with loads to learn and a big move to a foreign country to top it off, the first phase of university life might prove socially challenging. As a student, you’ll find that there is a focus on individual learning and development and solitary research, meaning socialising and making new friends can become a struggle – especially if you’re not a natural extrovert.

Sports is an endeavour that has brought people together since the dawn of history, and it’s easier to meet new people and bond over a common interest in the organised setting of a club. Spending a day climbing cliffs or trekking in the hills gives you ample time to get to know the club members organically. The exciting backdrops will be a stimulant to your interactions and are the perfect grounds for the forging of long friendships.

Get Outdoors and Explore the Area

A fabulous way to familiarise yourself with the area where your university is and explore the city or town’s environs is through a club. You’ll be diving into exploits featuring your immediate surroundings and learning about the place you’ll be calling home.

Most clubs organise activities within their location and peruse the land closest to campus, so you can embark on enjoyable outdoor adventures while absorbing everything about your new base. Being outdoors is healthy for mind, body and spirit, and is the most beneficial way of kicking study stress to the curb. The wonders of the wilderness are the cherry on the cake.

Exploring the outdoors

Learn New Skills

Of course, every outdoor activity is in itself a specialised sport, and especially if you’re a beginner, you’ll be acquiring many useful and interesting skills to serve you for a lifetime. Most clubs will have highly experienced members who can give you training and first-hand advice for free while you improve at your own pace.

Whether it’s mountaineering using crampons and ice axes or hiking across long distances with backpacks and walking boots on to tackle diverse terrain, you’ll be gaining unique transferable skills that can be adopted for a variety of applications.

Make Lifetime Memories

Finally, it’s important to remember that your time at university is a very special period in your life that will come to pass too quickly in most cases, so it’s wise to make the most out of it. The memories you will form through pursuing outdoor activities through a university club will stay with you for life, and with so many landscapes and challenges conquered, you’ll be a richer student and human being at the end.

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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