Moving to a new country can be nerve-racking, regardless of your age and where you’re coming from. We often face obstacles like language barriers, adapting to a new culture, the climate and, if you’re a student, integrating into the University and the local culture. Manchester, with the biggest student population in Europe, can seem overwhelming at first glance. So much to do, so much fun to be had! However, the process of integration can seem scary, especially if English is not your first language or if it’s the first time you’ve ever travelled abroad. We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience!
CC image courtesy of Robert Wade on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/rossendalewadey/4879663775)
Just say ‘YES’
As an international student, prior to moving to Manchester, I told myself that I would stay open-minded when making decisions. One of my main tactics in accomplishing this goal was to say yes to things that made me uncomfortable. If a decision did not negatively impact my health, academic performance or living situation, I would try it at least once. Now, you might ask, why should you do something that makes you uncomfortable? You should because these instances can often be thrilling just by their novelty alone. For example, upon my arrival, I attended many events alone: a student’s worst nightmare. However, over time strangers became friends through whom I made many more friends. If English is not your first language it can seem much easier to hang out with people from your own country, but spending time with native English speakers can help you improve your language skills while making new friends.
Don’t be shy
For students coming from a non-English speaking country, it can be intimidating to engage with native speakers. We are self-conscious about whether we are using the right words and phrases.
Well, don’t be! Even as an American, I often found myself stumbling when it came to identifying certain objects and actions because of US-UK cultural and language differences. I’ve got over many embarrassing mishaps by simply laughing about it! No one expects you to be able to identify every word or cultural reference, so don’t fret and laugh it off.
Do something uniquely local
In a vibrant and diverse city like Manchester, it is easy to stick with who and what you know. However, for students looking to immerse themselves locally by volunteering or trying new food, this list of things to do in Manchester as recommended by a local can be a great starting point. Some of my favourite things to do include trying the different flavours of the Curry Mile, discovering new haunts along Manchester’s extensive canals and listening to jazz bands at Matt & Phreds in the Northern Quarter.
Travel around the UK
Cheap flights make access to the rest of Europe from Manchester easy. However, don’t forget that the best of the UK is also easily accessible by trains and buses. Nomadic Matt suggests some great starting points. For the extensive train traveller, it’s worth buying a 16-25 railcard . It’s only £30 and you get 30% off the price of every ticket. Some of the cities I’ve been to have included Edinburgh, Leeds, Cheltenham and Liverpool, all within five hours away by public transport.
Join the International Society
Joining the International Society can be a great way to meet other students from abroad. The International Society organises various cultural events and language classes that will allow you to make the most out of your time in Manchester and the UK. If you’re not one for travelling alone, the society also arranges weekly guided tours around the country. They can be a great way to meet other students, while satisfying your passion for adventure.
Remember, it’s OK to feel overwhelmed at first, but you’ll have a great experience if you try new things and make the most out of the opportunity to study abroad. If you are struggling with work or need extra advice, come to the MLE workshops and drop-ins or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We run three workshops that are especially helpful to international students: Understanding British culture, Strategies for successful language learning and Academic presentations in a second language. We’ve also got loads more resources, and we create new workshops according to public demand so let us know if there is anything you would like to learn more about.
Thanks for reading and we hope you have a great time in Manchester! Oh, and don’t forget to Tweet us or leave us a comment below with your tips on studying abroad! 🙂
By Fignola from the Student Team