My Life as an International Student 2
In the first part of this series, I wrote about my preparation for travel and arrival. In this one, I would like to introduce you to university move-in and the first few weeks of school.
Move-in day is the day you move into your university accommodation. One thing that helped with my first interaction with my flatmates was to leave my door open while unpacking and setting up that first day so that they could come in and say hello or I would yell a greeting if I saw anyone pass by. Leaving your door open makes people feel you are friendly and accessible, but this depends on how comfortable you are with doing this. I picked a self-catered accommodation, so I got all my kitchenware, bedding and stationery ready before arriving, most universities provide the option of getting utensils and beddings for students before arrival, you could find this easier and it could be a reliable way of having all your essentials before moving in. It could also be helpful to use the internet to find shops around so you can plan a budget to avoid impulse buying.
Some people easily adapt to new environments and find it very easy to interact with people they have never been in contact with, however, this is not the case for everybody. In the first few weeks of the academic session during orientations and welcome events, it is good to go out of your comfort zone to meet people, know the opportunities available for you, hearing first-hand about the people and the measures that have been put in place to make your new life easier. There are usually a lot of welcome events and orientations during the first week of resumption, most of these events could generally cater to just new undergraduate students but there are some events that cater exclusively to postgraduate students and these were the ones that I attended because I felt they could be more relatable and have they would help me meet people in same stage as I was.
The first welcome orientation I attended for international students helped me to find a church to worship in (during the meal break, I met people who invited for a Sunday service), I met the people that I eventually formed a friendship group with and also, I got to know about the night-line service that was provided by the students union. There are also events like departmental and course orientations, these should not be neglected either because, useful information is shared with students and it could be your first interaction with your professors and other vital staff in the department. I missed my first departmental meeting because I mixed-up the date and I did not learn how to use university printers till several months after I started attending classes.
Most UK universities try to provide opportunities that cater to all students, these could include volunteering, sports or any other activities one could be interested in. It is good to check out what you might like and involve yourself because these activities or groups could serve as a break from schoolwork, help in relaxation and importantly, help to meet new people. For me, strenuous physical activity was not going to be possible because in plain terms, I do not like participating in sports and rigorous exercise, however, I tried out yoga, playing the violin and also, I became a member of a few fellowships, both religious and volunteer work. One important service most schools provide, is career counselling and networking. This could range from helping you to create and adjusts resumes and cover letters, helping to understand the work environment of the country you are in, some go as far as setting mock job interviews to prepare you for actual job interviews. You may not want to use these services but understand that you paid for it and they are mainly there to offer and provide help.