Sammi Cheuk, University of Bristol

It takes a while to get used to studying abroad, so here are a few things that you can do to help you adjust into your UK university life.

There is a lot of freedom for students studying at a university in the UK. For example, there is no attendance register for lectures, so it is up to you whether you choose to attend one or not, and some students will choose to attend more lectures than others. As an international student, there might also be language-related challenges and you may find it hard to keep up with the lecturer. However, attending lectures will not only help you get a better understanding of your course, learning things that you can’t find in textbooks, they will also help you improve your English. In the lectures I attend as a Biomedical Science student, my lecturers often include findings from their own research, informing us of the latest developments.

Unlike in high school, you will rarely bump into your lecturers in the corridor, and they are often very busy, which means that you need to take the initiative to find them if you want some help. This might seem a bit scary at first, but don’t be shy, lecturers are very passionate about their subject and they are usually more than happy to answer your questions. They might even give you a more detailed explanation than you expected.

Apart from studying, living away from home means that your parents won’t be there to constantly remind you of what you need to do and when to do it – you will be the one taking care of yourself. In my case, I need to balance my university work with my part-time jobs, household chores and social life, so having great time-management skills is essential for me. One thing which I find helpful is to have a healthy sleep schedule – getting enough sleep has allowed me to work more efficiently during the day. Another thing which you will definitely find useful once you have started university is being able to cook a few dishes. Eating out occasionally is an exciting thing, but it can be very expensive if you eat out too frequently. Doing your own cooking has a lot of benefits. On the one hand, it can save you a lot of money; on the other hand, you can make good use of the time and mingle with your flatmates. It’s always great to bond over food.

Universities are usually more culturally diverse than high schools, which means that it is very likely that you will have flatmates from all over the world. Living in university halls is very different from living at home, where your family knows you really well, so it is important to understand and accept that everyone has their own unique lifestyle. If you are worried about making new friends, there are a lot of societies to choose from where you can meet people with the same hobbies.

There will be times when you feel homesick and lonely, but your family and friends from home are only one call away, so don’t forget to talk to them regularly and express how you feel.

We all need time to adjust to a new environment, and studying overseas can mean a very different environment from the one you are used to, but if you relax and stay open-minded, your time abroad will pass very quickly.