Looking at those numbers, that tells you in every gathering of 10 students; you're likely one of two international students in attendance.
That sounds intimidating if you ask me. But, hey, the UK has a long history of accepting and training international students. So, if others could survive, why won’t you?
This post wants to equip you with some essential tools we believe you’ll need throughout your stay in the UK. For example, do you know there are salons like these nail salons in Sheffield that offer international students special discounts? That and many more are what you’ll discover in this post.
1. Get funding anywhere you can
Your first survival tip is funding.
Believe it or not, the UK is a very expensive country.
According to recent stats, the monthly cost of apartments could cost as much as ₤600+. In one year alone, that’s roughly ₤6000+. We haven’t yet considered feeding costs, transportation costs, everyday schooling costs, and your other essential needs.
We also haven’t considered your actual tuition fee, which for international students can be between ₤10,000 and ₤30,000 per year.
If you’re lucky to have a parent or a sponsor who’s willing to shoulder all your bills, then good for you. But for those who don't, your best bet at survival is to source funds in whatever way you can. Be it scholarship, grants, loans, or generous contributions from family and friends, leverage every funding source you can find.
To put it simply, money is crucial to your chances of survival in the UK. The more money you have, the smoother your study year will be. So, make sure you find money anywhere you can before you go.
2. Prepare to live as a student
Coming to the UK can be a big deal for most students. The thoughts of studying internationally and the prospects of meeting people from other cultures can rub off on one's ego and attitude to life. But I want you to slow down, soak the reality in, and remind yourself you're still a student.
Before you get too carried away, you should constantly remind yourself that:
- Being a student means finding coupon codes where others would shop directly
- Being a student means looking for cheaper transportation where others would take taxis
- Being a student means not joking with the small number of government-approved working hours you've got
- Being a student means finding a small hustle or starting a small business to help offset some of your bills.
- When you eventually start a business or a side hustle, being a student means leveraging all the free business advertisement ideas in the world to get the word out about your hustle.
When you constantly remember your status, you’ll know to look for opportunities where others wouldn’t.
Speaking of opportunities, NiceLocal is a great handy tool for all international students going to the UK. The online search engine has a collection of all pocket-friendly service destinations in the UK. Talk about gadget repair shops, beauty service centers, diners & restaurants, men & women's salons, etc.
For example, suppose you attend a school in Wolverhampton and need to cut your hair. You can simply hop on the NiceLocal platform to find the best pocket-friendly salon for men’s haircuts in Wolverhampton.
This is, indeed, a good way to find student-friendly opportunities that would save you a lot of money.
3. Brush up on your understanding of the English language
Look, schooling in the UK means getting exposed to the real, native speakers of the English language. As such, expect the words to probably sound differently, the speed to not be what you’re used to, and the sentence structures to blow you away.
Even though you passed your TOEFL and IELTS excellently, that’s still no guarantee you won’t struggle with the language barrier when you get to the UK.
The best way to prepare for survival is to familiarize yourself with native English speakers before you go. That means listening to UK music, watching UK movies (You've got Netflix), reading books written by UK authors, and getting acclimatized with the language.
Of course, that’s still no guarantee you will fit in when you touchdown in the UK, but it’s a good beginning. Most schools have special departments designed to help international students with their English. Some of these units run in-sessional (during the session) or pre-sessional (before the session commences) programs. You should check with your school to see how theirs work.
4. Prepare your mind for cultural differences
Yes, I mean like literally. You have to prepare your mind for the cultural differences you will meet. Tell yourself, "hey Shelley, things are going to be different (probably weird) over here. But don't be fazed; you'll soon get used to them."
Saying this to yourself pre-departure or just as you arrive is a great way to prepare your mind for the tough ride ahead.
Because believe it or not, it won’t be easy. You will have to get used to a new way of life, new food, new beliefs, a Western approach to life, new rules, new weather. In short, a new everything.
Heck, for the first few days, you may not even know where to get certain things. Just to buy a snack down the street, you may need to ask up to five people for directions.
Thanks to apps like Google Maps, finding locations and getting directions is now easy. And also tools like NiceLocal that makes it possible to find almost any service provider anywhere one finds himself. For example, with the NiceLocal app, I can easily locate a beauty parlor near me in Bristol if I need to do my pedicure in South West.
5. Prepare for a different way of study
If you're the type who doesn't like the idea of a pre-class study, you may find it hard to cope with the UK lecture style.
In the UK, most lecturers give out handouts and presentation slides before the class day. The intention is for students to brush up on facts and knowledge before coming to class. That way, the lecturer only has to explain key facts and not waste time touching up on every aspect of a concept.
If you attend classes without doing adequate pre-study, you may struggle to understand key terms or statements made during the lecture.
The only way to cope with the lecture style in this part of the world is to get prepared ahead of time. If you have a class slated for Thursday, 8 AM, do your due diligence to research the topic for the day. Also, take your time to study any material handed out by the lecturers.
6. Prepare to work independently and in groups
There is something called seminar study in the UK. This is where a group of students spend time with the lecturer discussing key concepts. Usually, the students do most of the talking in a seminar, as the lecturer looks to examine their understanding of the subject of discussion.
If you’re not comfortable voicing your opinion in public, you may have trouble with these seminar arrangements. Because no matter how hard you try to hide from it, you’ll almost always belong to a group.
My advice is that you should start working on yourself (oratory skills and self-esteem) before the commencement of your program. This is important to help you deal with common internal challenges that may deter you from having a great academic performance.
7. Get ready physically for a challenging phase in your life
Most international students who travel to the UK take up the 20-hour per week work schedule opportunity the UK government offers.
The idea is to work on the side while you're schooling.
If this is your plan, too, then it’s important to note that things might get tough before they get better. Up until now, you’ve probably never mixed work with schooling before. Now that you plan to, you must know that your body might not be ready for it.
For starters, imagine you have classes up to 2 PM every day. Then you work from 4 PM to 8 PM, daily. And then the next morning, you have to get up to repeat the same routine. How long before your body breaks down? Well, if you're built different, maybe you might be able to weather the storm.
But if not, then you definitely want to devise an actionable plan. Here are some tips to help with that.
- Find a part-time job that gives allowance for a proper work-study-rest balance. That is, a job that leaves adequate space between when your lecture ends and when you resume duty.
- Prepare your mind for a clogged calendar
- Eat well, drink plenty of water, and make the most of your resting periods
- If you can, don’t throw other engagements into the mix. Really, now may not be a good time to join social clubs, gym classes, and all of that. But if you think you can manage all of that along with your work-study schedule, then why not?
- Learn how to manage stress. You can read blogs on how to do that
- Keep your eyes on the prize to stay focused