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My Top 10 Tips!

My Top 10 Tips: For every international student starting in the UK

Studying abroad can be challenging. I hope the following 10 tips – learnt from my personal experiences as an international student in the UK – can serve as guidelines for you as you settle into your new student life here.

1.       Be Waterproof

You will use umbrellas more frequently than sunglasses. Rainy and windy weather is normal here, so any waterproof clothing, such as raincoats and rain boots, is what you’ll need.

2.       Get a Railcard

If you plan to travel within the UK during your stay, you should consider about buying a railcard. It offers you 1/3 off the rail fares if you travel by train, which is one of the most convenient transportations between cities in the UK.  

3.       Buy Second-hand Things

For a real bargain why not try some second hand items? There are quite a few charity shops around. For example, you can shop for clothes, furniture and kitchen supplies at Oxfam, Barnardo’s and British Heart Foundation, located in most cities.

4.       Find Free Stuff

What’s better than getting something for free? After moving to Manchester, I found some furniture and stationery from some amazing websites where people give away things they don’t need for free. Try: Freecycle, Trash nothing, and Gum Tree. Even though international students may only stay here for a short period of time, we should seriously consider about being environment-friendly wherever we travel. Plus they help save for your next trip!

5.       Beware of Personal Security

ALWAYS lock your doors and windows when you leave your accommodation! I heard from my international friends that a burglary happened because of a tiny gap in the window that they left open for ventilation! My room was broken into when I was working on my Masters dissertation. You can read about this traumatic experience here.

6.       Meet New Friends

We all need friends. If you want to meet friends from multicultural backgrounds but don’t know where to go, I highly recommend international cafés, which are in most big university towns and cities. They have weekly events for casual to deep conversations, games, food and friendship building for free in a safe environment. I still go there to practice my English and meet friends! (Search your local city here: www.friendsinternational.uk)

7.       Get on a Bike

When I first came to Manchester, I mostly travelled by foot or bus in the city. I didn’t even notice the various cycle paths around until I was walking on one and almost got hit! (Please look out for bikers!) I attended some free training to enhance my cycling skills and overcome my anxiety on the roads. Now I cycle everywhere! Cycling enables me to be more mobile and healthier!

8.       Enjoy the Food

Britain is a multicultural and diverse place. We are privileged to enjoy delicious cuisines from all over the world and often all just around the corner. In Manchester, thanks to our Indian, Pakistani and Middle Eastern neighbours, we have the Curry Mile just down Oxford Road. Although you may be on a budget, treat yourself to a delicious meal once in a while.

9.       Daylight Saving Time

Do you know that we change our clocks twice a year in the UK? In Spring time we move them 1 hour forward and in the Autumn we adjust them 1 hour back. In the summer we have longer daylight, around 14 hours per day. In winter it gets a lot darker and colder.

10.   Language

‘How are you, love?’ is equivalent to ‘Hello!’ in Manchester. Keep your cool and reply ‘I am fine thanks. And you?’. ‘Cheers’ is another way of saying ‘thanks’. Adjusting to an English-speaking environment can be tough (Read about my experience).It took me at least a year to get used to the different accents in the UK. Don’t worry if you can’t understand people, be brave and ask for clarifications.

These are just a few tips that I hope help you during your stay. I welcome my readers to leave your top tips for international students in the comments section below.

My final tip is: don’t be a stranger, live like a local!

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