International Postgraduate Students in the UK
International students are an integral part of the UK university system. Non-UK domiciled students flock to the UK every year to take up both undergraduate and postgraduate courses, enticed by fair prices and the British tradition of multiculturalism and openness in society. International postgraduate students are the norm, not the exception to the rule, in the UK. The majority of taught postgraduates in the UK (70% of the total) are international students and they also take up a large percentage (46% of the total) of research postgraduates as well.
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The UK is a popular choice for international postgraduate students, but that doesn’t mean some students aren’t wary about moving to a new country and adapting to a new culture. Here are some tips for international students in the UK on how to quiet your fears and make the most of the experience.
Also, bear in mind that UK universities have an excellent student support system - so if you feel in need of any help do contact the Student Welfare team at your university.
Embrace British Culture
It can be a little scary stepping into an entirely new country, but British culture and attitudes are nothing to be afraid of. British people are generally friendly, warm and always willing to make a new friend or help you out if you’re in need. The society is accepting and definitely not monolithic: chicken tikka masala has been called our national dish and people of every colour and creed walk our streets. Being British is all about loving our strange traditions while incorporating new people and new ideas into our patchwork society.
If you’re worried that you won’t fit in when you arrive in the UK, then don’t be afraid to swot up beforehand on British popular culture if you’re worried about feeling out of the loop. Watch British TV shows like Downton Abbey or listen to British bands that are big right now like Mumford & Sons. That way you know you’ll always have a conversation topic to fall back on if you feel out of place.
Many international students are worried about making friends and of feeling out of the loop, and the best way to combat this is to take advantage of university societies . While this is usually bandied about as general advice for both undergraduates and postgraduates, it’s especially important for international students as it provides you with a solid forum for meeting people with your interests, even if your interests are slightly unusual . The sooner you make friends, the sooner you’ll begin to feel at home in the UK.
Bring a Piece of Home with You
British people are from all kinds of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and we encourage everybody to be proud of where they come from. Don’t feel like you must hide yourself to assimilate into the UK: instead celebrate difference and let your new British friends in on why your country of origin is amazing. Cook your national dish for them or play them songs by bands popular in your country. Sharing a little piece of home will help you feel more at home in your new area.
There’s also nothing wrong with feeling a little homesick. If your home country has a society in your university: join it. It will give you an opportunity to meet up with people from your country and enjoy the simple pleasures of talking in your mother tongue and eating food from home. If there’s not a ‘Nepal Society’ for example, then set one up!
Don’t Be Afraid to Travel
The UK is a country of variety, so don’t be afraid to break out of your university campus, town or city and just explore the UK . Take advantage of your time in the UK to examine our history by visiting our great landmarks. From Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-upon Avon to the marvel of Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, there are plenty of things to do to keep you busy and help you feel more at home in the UK.
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