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Life in London: How to Adjust to Studying Abroad

Life in London: How to Adjust to Studying Abroad main image

Sponsored by City, University of London

Excited, anxious, hesitant, determined, confused – sound familiar? The lead-up to making the big move to study abroad can leave you feeling full of mixed emotions.

Many talk about the four phases of studying abroad:

  • The ‘Honeymoon Phase’ where everything is exciting and you want to do as much as you can in between studying and lectures.
  • The ‘Crisis Phase’ is where reality hits. You might feel homesick, lost and unsure what to do next.
  • But hold on, the ‘Adjustment Phase’ is just around the corner. Although you may be feeling a little unsure, you’re starting to find your feet and adjust to the local culture.
  • Then comes the ‘Resolution Phase’, where you’ll feel a lot more comfortable and confident as you find your everyday routine.

It’s easy to worry a little bit and think whether you’ve done the right thing, but it’s important to remind yourself why you’re doing it in the first place. Just like these international students at City, University of London…

 Still wondering what you can do to make the adjustment to studying abroad easier? Read on to find out.

Try and find out as much as you can about your new city and country

Take London, for example. One of the world’s most visited cities, London prides itself on its arts, culture and history. It’s home to thousands of green spaces and parks, 170 museums (most of them offer free admission), as well as all the cafés, restaurants, bars and shops you could dream of (hello, Oxford Street!). Oh, and it’s also ranked the world’s best student city according to the QS Best Student Cities 2019.

But don’t take just our word for it. City, University of London Finance BSc (Hons) student Ibrahim told us what led him to choose to study abroad here: “I decided to choose the vibrant capital because of its diverse culture and the fact that there is just so much to do here.”

While Patricia, an Economics MSc student from Brazil told us: “Living abroad is an experience that makes you grow up and see the world from a whole new perspective. London is a global and cosmopolitan city and I couldn’t have chosen better.”

Even the weather can be a big adjustment for a lot of people, something which Natasha, who’s currently studying Biomedical Engineering BEng (Hons) definitely experienced. She said: “Kenya offers an equatorial climate and we do not experience harsh winters. In my first year, I was very fascinated by the snow and extreme changes in weather, even though it was difficult to adapt to.”

Opt for shared accommodation

Shared accommodation can make life settling into a new city that little bit easier. In the UK, there are student accommodation options galore, from halls of residence where you share a communal area with others but have your own bedroom (and usually your own bathroom), all the way to private housing where you can live independently.

For Ibrahim, it was a bit of a challenge trying to adjust during his first week living in a brand-new city, but it wasn’t long before he got to know his flatmates better.  

“When I met my flatmates, I realized they were in the same situation as me, so we all helped each other make the transition to living in London easier.”

From movie nights to study sessions, living in shared student accommodation is a great way to meet new people and make new friends.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

It’s important to be open-minded and be aware of local customs and traditions. You might even have friends or family who’ve already visited London, so you could be a little more acquainted with the city than you realize – ask them questions if you’re unsure of anything.

A scheme at City, University of London called CityBuddies, pairs up new undergraduate students with current students on their course who can show them around campus and help them settle in during the first few months of university. 

Seek support and speak to others

Support can come from your university, classmates, flatmates, professors and of course, home. Touching base every now and again can help curb those feelings of homesickness – but try and avoid doing this every day as it can make the adjustment process even longer.

Living and studying in London means you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of other international students who are more than likely feeling the same as you. Sharing your experiences with one another is a great way to get some reassurance and overcome the culture shock that sometimes comes with moving abroad.

“City’s orientation events for international students were a big part of my adjustment, both in terms of providing useful information as well as being a hub to meet other international students,” said Margot, who participates in City’s ‘Your place in our City’ video (featured above).

“I think diving in head first was my approach – saying ‘yes’ a lot in the first few weeks was key for me,” said the Food Policy MSc student from Chicago.  

Get involved!

You’ve gone beyond your comfort zone once, why not do it again and get involved with a student club at your university?

Whether you have a deep passion for the arts, or a keen interest in sport, there’s bound to be a student club that’s perfect for you. At City there are over 50 student societies and clubs for students to get involved with.

Being part of a student club or society is a great way to escape the stresses of studying and lectures. They’re also a gateway to meeting others who have the same interests and passion as you – potentially leading to lifelong friendships!

Written by Stephanie Lukins
As the Head of Sponsored Content for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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