Starting university in a new country can be a daunting prospect. Yasamin, a fourth year Film & Media student at the University of Stirling, shares what she wishes she had known before starting university as an international student.
Being an international student can be one of the most exciting yet intimidating moments of your university experience. Moving across the globe to start a new life, away from everything you’ve once known can be nerve-wracking. Here is some advice I wish I had when I first started university as an international student.
1. Everyone is new
One of the biggest things I was nervous about when starting university was making new friends. I thought that since majority of my classmates were Scottish, they probably already had friends or former classmates they knew. Although that is true that didn’t mean that they weren’t looking to find new people to befriend. I soon came to the realisation that everyone is technically new, and everyone has that same exact worry. Don’t rush your friendships, you’ll have plenty of time to make friends in the next few years ahead of you. Most importantly, this is your chance to learn more about other people’s cultures and to celebrate each other!
2. Join clubs!
The University of Stirling has over 120 clubs and societies. It’s easy finding a hobby that you like within those. Joining clubs allows you to meet new people who share the same passions as you do. I took the liberty of joining the International Society and even became their social media manager for two semesters. It was one of the best things I did as it allowed me to get to know everyone and their culture and I even made some great friends because of it. Now I wish I joined much sooner!
3. Ask for help
As an international student, I always felt like I was falling behind on many things, especially in classes. I felt like my essays weren’t as strong as my classmates whose first language was English. After a conversation with my professor and explaining to her how difficult and challenging I was finding certain topics, she guided me on how I could improve. Looking back I wish I had spoken up on these issues sooner, it would have definitely helped me with my nerves and grades.
4. Call home when you need to
Being abroad, you feel like you miss out on a lot of events back home. Birthdays, celebrations, anniversaries. But with the blessing of today’s technology, you could still stay connected with your loved ones. It’s always nice to talk to people who bring you comfort, especially being so far away from home. Don’t forget to call your loved ones once in a while, they miss you just as much as you miss them!
5. Take some time to get to know your surroundings
I had never seen the campus in person before I applied to go to Stirling. But, it’s needless to say that I was completely blown away by the beauty of the campus. It took me quite some time to break myself out of my mentality that I needed to have someone to explore the grounds with. But as I became more comfortable with my usual route, I slowly incorporated exploring more of the campus and soon the city. I like to think of Stirling as my second home now.
6. Learn how to cook
Like many first time students, I had no idea how to cook a proper meal for myself. But looking back at how far I’ve come with the dishes I make. Learning to cook helped me in so many ways; It helps you save a lot of money, rather than always paying for takeout. You could always make things you crave that arent available near you, maybe even making some dishes that you had back home. I definitely called my aunt a lot for certain recipes she used to make that I missed.
The most important lesson is to enjoy the present time. These four years will flash by so fast, make the most of it and step out of your comfort zone and most importantly have fun!