Tag Archives: study

Staying Focused When You’re Missing Home

Studying away from homeThis month’s guest blogpost is provided by Dom Gibson, the educational content editor at Tutorful, the UK’s fastest-growing tutoring marketplace. He spends most of his day researching new topics in education and writing articles on the subject. He spent a year abroad in Germany whilst at university, so knows a thing or two about the highs and lows of studying away from home! He is a passionate learner and believes education is the most valuable gift a person can be given, which is nice, because so does Tutorful. You can find details of some of the subjects they cover, including languages, here:

Moving away from your home to study at university opens a new chapter in your life. Whether it’s your first degree, or your third, it brings new opportunities for learning, making friends and exploring a whole new world. At the same time, it often brings a solid dose of that homesickness.

Homesickness is very common amongst students starting a new course, at a new campus. Even if many students do not tend to express it, everyone has felt the sense of sadness at missing home. This is especially true for the first few months of your new life on campus. It is perfectly natural. You miss the home, the family, the friends, the lifestyle back home – simply because you’ve been used to it for such a long time.

Missing home provides you with an opportunity to grow as a person. Some emotional pain is the key ingredient to emotional growth. The good news is that this feeling goes away with time. Here are some tried-and-tested tips that will help you beat the ‘blues’ and let you get up-to-speed with your new life at university.

Get out of your room

That’s it. Don’t sit in a corner and think too much about this feeling of homesickness. The more you isolate yourself, the stronger the feeling is going to get. To beat it, get out, go on a walk, explore the eateries at your new university, check out the sports facilities, go swimming or simply visit the nearby town. Divert yourself and get busy; find things that you enjoy and indulge. This may be as simple as finding yourself a cafe, getting comfortable and having a quiet cup of tea or coffee.

Get busy

Every university comes with a wide range of opportunities for curricular and extracurricular activities. The first few months of your new course are the perfect time to find and join the ones that match your interests, especially if you are feeling homesick. Joining these activities will embed you in social groups with interests similar to you. It will also give you an opportunity to spend your time constructively.

Ask yourself what is a better use of your time: to sit in your room and think about all things home, or to build a prototype, find a position on a sports team, become a member of a charitable society, a music group or something similarly productive. It may be understandably hard and you may have to drag yourself to do things during those first few weeks but if you succeed, you will be the stronger and better for it.

Define your goals and focus

You have joined your university for a reason. It is time for you to define concrete goals in line with that reason. Do you want to score the highest academic results and secure scholarships? Are you looking to join a research-intensive field during your final year? Do you have a definite career towards which you want to work? The time to start work on these goals is the first months of the initial year.

Defining your goals will help you focus on them more clearly and ward away the feeling of homesickness. A good rule-of-thumb is to define short-term as well as long-term goals. You can give yourself weekly or monthly milestones or challenges. Completing them will give you a sense of achievement that you are heading in the right direction.

Connect with other people

When you arrive at university as a new student, you are a complete stranger to your surroundings, even more so if you’ve travelled from another country! This means that you have to get used to the surroundings, and to make an effort to form new social connections in the classroom, at your accommodation and around the campus in general.

Doing so will be a lot easier if you are socially active. Simply join the communities, organisations or clubs that you find interesting or that are relevant to your course. This will immediately open the doors to various social groups where you can share your thoughts, grow intellectually and form friendships.

Have Constructive Fun

Yes, you are at the university to study, learn and work towards a career goal. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Everyone has his or her own idea of fun. An awesome way of maximising your time at university is to combine fun with productivity. You can, for instance, learn new languages at the university and enrol on language courses that you find interesting. Many universities offer free conversational language exchanges which are a great way to meet people, hone your abilities and make the most of your free time.

You can even explore tutoring and teaching opportunities at the university or in the cities or towns nearby. Getting yourself set up as a language tutor can give you a great opportunity to earn a bit of extra cash, subsidising your living costs whilst helping you to connect with local people and really get the most out of your time experiencing another culture. You could cover anything from French to Mandarin and everything in between – it’s really up to you! Before taking on any work (paid or voluntary), check the terms of your visa (if you require one) as some may not permit you to work or may place limits on your working hours. More guidance on this is available on the UKCISA website.

Such courses, qualifications and work may require as little as an hour of your time on a daily basis. The long-term rewards can be significant – from stand-out qualifications which give you an academic edge over peers, to work experience as freelance teacher or tutor.

Homesickness is a perfectly natural feeling. At the end of the day, the best way to overcome it is to embrace your new life and your new surroundings. Find things that are of interest or value to you and get busy. Connect with people you like. You have made the choice of going to university and starting a new chapter of your life – and you will be able to write it best if you take its challenges head-on with confidence, boldness and courage.

If you want to learn more about moving to the UK to study, visit our activity “Settling down to study“, which includes a video of students talking about the challenges of studying away from your home country, and “Adapting to a new life“, which will help you to prepare for the cultural challenge of moving abroad.

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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Study Tips for International Students

Revising and studyingThis month’s guest blogpost is provided by Daniel Sefton, a writer for Dwell Student Living:

When you choose to make the UK your home throughout your studies, you are stepping into a new culture, you are trying out a new language, and you might even be experiencing new teaching styles. Studying in the UK can be a challenge if you are not used to the way universities and colleges are structured, but there are a few things that you can do to make your studies a bit easier:

Ask Questions

Make sure you ask plenty of questions when you’re in class, especially if English is not your first language. It’s important that you take in the right information, and if you need your tutors to clarify any concepts for you, don’t hesitate to ask. Even if you think that the question might be worth asking, you should still get your tutor to explain it to you in terms that make sense to you.

Asking the right questions will help you to understand topics when you to come to study for your exams. If you don’t understand a topic and don’t ask, you may find that you have to teach yourself the concepts, which may then have an impact on how you manage your revision time.

Study with Friends

Sometimes it is better to study alone, because you can put real thought into the work that you are doing. One negative to working on your own is that when you encounter a difficult concept which you struggle to understand, you have nobody to ask for help. A solution to this problem is to study with friends.

If you revise with other people, they will be able to help you fill any gaps in your knowledge, while you will help them by explaining any concepts that you already understand. Working collaboratively with other people is a great way to quickly develop your understanding of a topic, so it is worth booking out a private study-space in your university or college library and getting together for a study session.

Practice

Practice makes perfect, so once you feel like you fully understand a topic, it will be time to put your knowledge to the test. Make use of the resources that your university or college has on offer, especially past exam papers and example answers from previous assignments. Find out from your tutor how long your examinations will last for, and recreate exam conditions when you test yourself.

Working in this way will get you used to the atmosphere of the exam hall, which means that when the actual test comes around, you will be able to perform to the best of your ability. Once you have tested yourself, take the time to mark your own work, and use this to find any gaps in your knowledge which you can then work on before your actual exam.

Plan Ahead

When you have settled into your course and have a good understanding of the syllabus (the topics you will be learning), start planning how you are going to study throughout the year. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to absorb all of the information that you are being taught. The best way to retain new information is to dedicate an hour or so each evening to revising what you have learnt throughout the day. When you do this, you should put it into your own words, because this will help to improve your understanding of any confusing concepts. This will be crucial closer to exam season, because you will not be attempting to learn new things – it will just be a case of refreshing your memory.

Use Study Apps

If you need extra help with your studies, you can make use of some of the amazing smartphone apps that are available. There is genuinely an app for everything, so if you can pinpoint what it is that you struggle with, you will be able to find an app to help you.

If you have difficulty with taking in information, you can use apps like Soundnote to record your lectures, which will help you with your revision, because you can play the lecture back at a slower pace. You should check with your lecturer first to make sure they are happy to be recorded in this way. If you struggle planning your time, you can use apps like Class Timetable to plan your time effectively. It’s just a case of finding the right app for you.

Hard Work Pays Off

It can be a challenge trying to learn in a new environment, but with careful planning and hard work, you can be capable of exam success in no time!

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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Getting into Higher Education for Refugees

Aim Higher - University Jargon quizThis month’s guest post is provided by by Julie Watson, Emeritus Fellow in eLearning and creator of Prepare for Success, and follows on from last month’s post about Teaching Syrian and other refugees:

For refugees wishing to enter UK Higher Education, it can be a challenge to know how and where to begin. There are many practical questions such as how to apply; how to finance your studies; how to provide evidence of your previous studies and, of course, how to provide evidence of an adequate level of English.

A very useful website to use as a starting point is Refugee Study. This website contains lots of practical information about scholarships and grants as well as advice about how to obtain funding for study and links to website listing recognised qualifications obtained overseas.

Many of the questions that refugees have are also addressed in the open and free online course (MOOC): Aim Higher: Access to Higher Education for Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Student participants can create an account and select ‘register interest’ to receive information by email about the next running of this MOOC.

There are also MOOCs covering IELTS, which is an examination that many students choose to take to demonstrate their English level for UK study. These include:

There is a lot of jargon around the process of applying to university but a useful resource that explains some important terms has been created by the Aim Higher MOOC team: Aim Higher University Jargon.

Finally, there is of course the Prepare for Success website and its range of learning resources dealing with the academic skills and language needed, and practical aspects of study in higher education in the UK.

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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Getting Ready for Results Day

A student studyingThis month’s guest blogpost is provided by Amy Hirst, a writer for The Student Housing Company:

So you’ve sent off your UCAS application to study in the UK and now you’re waiting on your exam results! With over 400,000 students starting their new lives as undergraduates in Britain every year, there’s never been a more exciting time to apply.

But what about when it comes to results day? How do you keep track of your application and make sure you’ve got the grades you need to start your chosen course? Read our article to find out and to help you get ready for the big day!

Results Day

You can log into UCAS Track to see if you’ve got onto your chosen course. If you’ve achieved the grades you need, your ‘conditional’ offers will show up as ‘unconditional’ and you can celebrate! At this point, your first-choice university will get in touch to let you know what you should do next.

But remember that your exact marks won’t show up on Track. You will need to visit your school to see how you performed in each exam.

If you don’t get the results you want, try not to worry. When you’re just a few marks shy of getting into your chosen university, you can always call them up to see if they will nonetheless accept you.

Clearing

If you don’t get the grades you need, you can still go through Clearing. This is a service that allows you to choose a different course and it’s completely free for international students. Just book a consultation (you can do this via Skype), and your consultant will contact other universities on your behalf.

Once they’ve found a few courses that are suitable for you, just pick the one you like the most and add it as your ‘clearing choice’ on your UCAS account. If you want to find out some extra info about Clearing, read The Student Housing Company’s Uni Application Checklist and you’ll stay one step ahead.

Studying in the UK

As excited as you may be, travelling to Britain can seem daunting. The culture in the UK will probably be different from your own, and if you’re leaving home for the first time, being in a new country might feel scary.

But don’t worry, help is at hand. Most universities have student-support officers available to assist you. There are also plenty of social groups you can join. Whatever you enjoy doing in your spare time, there will be a university society dedicated to it. There are loads of clubs set up just for international undergraduates too, so you can make lots of friends!

Finally, if you’re feeling homesick or overwhelmed by being in a different place, mental health support staff are usually available to talk you through your problems. Make use of them so that you can enjoy your time in Britain!

Whatever you study in the UK, make sure you have fun. Remember that you will be working hard, but you will also develop as an individual. So put yourself out there, make new friends, and enjoy your time as a student.

Get Your Accommodation Sorted

Finding sound accommodation is just as important as getting onto the right course. You need to live in a relaxed and comfortable environment where you can make friends. Find out more about the Student Housing Company’s student accommodation options so you can quickly settle into your new life.

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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Accommodation Choices for International Students in the UK

This month’s guest blogpost is provided by Amy Hirst, a writer for The Student Housing Company:

Once you have secured your place at university in the UK, it is time to start thinking about your accommodation options. It may seem like a daunting task, but if you follow our advice, you will find the accommodation you need.

The Property

When you are thinking about the type of accommodation you want to rent, consider the following points: does the accommodation provider offer property management or security? Is there an en-suite bathroom or will the bathroom facilities be shared? Is there a good communal space? Will there be a good mix of students to socialise with?

The Location

Location is a very important thing to consider when choosing your accommodation. Use a map to check that you are within easy walking distance of your lecture rooms. Does Google Maps show that you are within walking distance of your lectures? If this is not the case, it is important to look into methods and cost of transport to the campus. Try to find out about the average cost of a bus fare to the campus. Many transport companies offer seasonal ticket deals for university students.

Rent and Other Costs

It is very important to consider your budget when you study abroad. There are costs that you may not think about initially. For example, if you are not a full-time student you may have to pay some Council Tax. You should also consider the cost of insuring your items abroad, whether your bills are included in your rent, and if you will need to pay for any new furniture.

Your Contract

When you enter into a contract it is legally binding so take care to read it in full. For example, if you sign a joint contract and one tenant drops out, the remaining tenants will often be liable for the rent due. It is important to be aware of these details.

Contact Your Accommodation Provider

Once you have chosen your accommodation, get in touch with your university if you have decided to go into halls of residence. If you have chosen to rent private accommodation, contact your future landlord or letting agent to secure your new place. If you are an international student looking for accommodation in the UK and are unsure about the next step to take, you can browse the nationwide accommodation options from The Student Housing Company.

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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