Posted Aug. 1, 2016
Postgraduate study is tough. It's the next step in an academic journey that takes you from very focused learning, into a more independent and extensive form of research-based study. That's not to say that you won't receive support, but the emphasis now is on you being in the driving seat and you taking the reins. We've put down six easy ways that you can adjust to being a postgrad in the UK if it's not your home country.
1. Non-Study Considerations
The first thing you need to consider outside of your course, is what you have available to you in terms of social and cultural facilities. Universities in the UK have come along way when making sure that international students have access to services that will help them in terms of social and cultural considerations. If you've already applied and been accepted to a university then contact them directly with any concerns you have about potential culture shock.
2. Build Up A Support Network
You may be miles from home but as a postgraduate student, you will be in a welcoming environment. It can be difficult to make new friends but a university is a place where people come together to learn and grow. You should find that the people you come into contact with through your course share a lot of the passions and excitement that you do as well as some of the trepidation to. Reach out to people and try to form a positive connection. If you're a bit on the shy side then look out for mixers and social events run by your course.
3. Investigate Your Destination
Whether you've found the perfect course or you are still deciding, investigate the areas that you might like to be in. The UK is full of diversity – explore it – between the four countries and countless areas within them, there is a huge amount of choice. Take the time to find out what each place offers beyond the university. Perhaps you'll see that a certain city matches your expectations of home or maybe you'll find something completely new that you want to try.
4. Do The Essentials Early
It's inevitable that you will have to arrange a visa along with other legal requirements if you are an international student and wish to study a postgraduate course in the UK. Get this done as early as possible to avoid any undue stress. Postgrad study is intense and time consuming, and the last thing you need to worry about is your eligibility to study when the time comes. Investigate exactly what you need as a foreign national and prepare the documents in advance for when the time comes.
5. Find Good Accommodation
Your home is your castle and it's where you will be spending much of your study time. It’s important to find student accommodation that's comfortable, affordable and within travelling distance of your university. If you choose to go into a shared house then take the time to make sure you have an affinity with your housemates. You will be spending at least a year with them, so make sure you are on the same level or you could cause yourself unnecessary frustration that could impact your learning. If you want to stay at university halls of residence but there is no room at the inn, private companies like Fresh Student Living offer great university-style accommodation. This is a great option as you have the comfort and privacy of your own room or flat, but within a safe and secure environment with fellow students.
6. Have Fun!
Postgraduate study is hugely rewarding and living in a new culture can be an eye opening experience, so remember to enjoy both aspects whenever possible. It's easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of detail, but at the end of the day you are studying so you can learn and grow, plus you are studying abroad so you can experience a new culture. Grasp every opportunity you can to get out there and see the world, and above all else, have fun!
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