Embarking on postgraduate study is an exciting step in your education, taking you increasingly closer to your envisaged career, and studying abroad can give you an edge over others as it demonstrates independence, open-mindedness and drive. However, studying abroad, whether or not it is for the first time, can be both an exhilarating and daunting prospect.
As a foreign student you will be faced with not only a new environment, but also new people and possibly even different social customs, so it is a good idea to make some contacts before you move. By doing so, you will be able to find out more about your new home, ask questions and perhaps most importantly build friendships so that when you arrive you will not feel alone or isolated – because you won’t be!
A great place to start searching for new contacts is through the university you will be attending. Read through any literature they may have sent you and check out their website for details of social and sporting groups that might interest you. Be proactive and get in touch with organisers to get more information or to register your interest, and don’t be afraid to say you are trying to make new contacts in case they know any other people whose details they could pass on. Start by looking up what sports and societies
are available. Also be sure to ask existing or future tutors if they know anyone they could put you in touch with as they will be vying for your success and this includes your ability to settle in well at your new university.
Social networking is the next step, so find the university’s Facebook or Twitter page and try reaching out to the administrators or members – most people will be more than happy to help or chat with you directly. Forums are another good place to get talking with other, likeminded people, but think outside the box and don’t just look for academic posts. Other places you could try include travel sites, where you can seek to learn more about the area you will be living and get advice on things to do from locals’ perspectives. Again, be proactive and start your own threads so you can find out about exactly what you are interested in and express your desire to make new friends – remember, not all your new contacts need to be students themselves.
The Internet is a vast source of information, so think about your hobbies and interests and investigate what clubs or groups cater for these near your new home, then get emailing to find out more and make some contacts. You may not have time for a job whilst undertaking postgraduate study but if you feel you do, or if you simply have to just to make ends meet, this can be another great way to meet people, so look for possible vacancies that suit your available hours prior to your move so that you can get a foot in the door early and potentially make new contacts at the same time.
Why not make a plan in advance for what you'll do when you get there
and go back to your university’s website or social media pages to keep an eye out for social events for newcomers – there may be a wine and cheese evening or other fun gathering at which postgraduate students can mingle and get to know each other, so start putting dates in your diary for any suitable functions so you don’t miss out. Once you have made some contacts, keep chatting with them to let them know how your preparations are progressing and to find out what they are up to but most importantly, relax and enjoy the experience!
Your student accommodation is also an important consideration, and university Halls of Residence are a great place to meet new friends. However if you are an overseas student coming to live and study in the UK and are not going to be staying in halls, then privately managed student accommodation such as that provided by Fresh Student Living
in the UK is also a great choice of a place to live with a ready-made group of friends living alongside you!
How to get a visa