It can be quite daunting to travel to an unknown country and study in an unfamiliar environment. Here, Soniya let us know just what it is like to come to the UK and what you should know before studying abroad! Soniya is a Masters student studying “International Strategic Marketing” at the University of Glasgow.
Q: When you were studying abroad did you ever experience culture shock?
A: This was my first time in Glasgow but not the first time in the country. So for me it wasn’t the worst because I’m from Mumbai and my lifestyle here and there are almost the same. In terms of culture and peoples’ day to day life, it’s kind of different from people living in India. However, I don’t think that’s a problem. It’s actually really good to experience the lifestyle here and the people are very welcoming here. Therefore, you don’t feel like you are in a new place or you don’t belong here.
Q: What was the biggest difference between your home country and the country you studied abroad in?
A: I would say lifestyle again. It is because people here live a different than at home. People here relax more and enjoy life. For them, it’s not just about work.
Q: How did you deal with homesickness and being away from your family?
A: Sometimes when you face some problems at work or university, you need someone to push you and you need your family for that. Sometimes I need my family and I feel better when I talk to them. Everyone will feel homesickness but it depends on your high and lows in your life. Sometimes its during your struggles and that is when you need a little ‘push’.
Q: Did you ever experience stereotypes?
A: I think that people feel in a certain way about Chinese people like they are not open and they do not mix up well or they are kind of introverts. I think this affects how people talk to them because if you know that someone is not going to talk to you then you might not put that much effort and the connection is lost. I feel like there are quite of stereotypes but a lot of the times stereotypes are not true. If you talk to them then I’m sure they are welcoming and open-minded.
Q: Did you join any sports or activities and if so, did these help you to fit in and meet people?
A: Yes I did. First of all, the Freshers Week. I think every university has a good Freshers Week. I am sure my Facebook friends list went to 700-800 in one week so it was like BOOM! If you are welcoming and open enough then it is not very difficult to make friends. I bought tickets to Freshers events as well as social events and workshops that helps you enhance your employability in the business world. I think getting involved does help you a lot. The best thing about Freshers was that there was a lot of things happening each day and if you don’t like it then you could always switch. I strongly recommend people to attend Freshers!
Q: How hard or easy did you find it to make friends abroad?
A: It is not a big deal at all. As I said, everyone are new and come from cultural backgrounds. However, we are all here for a reason and we need to make friends and get to know each other. I think it is fine and it is not a big deal.
Q: How much did you pack for your time abroad? And would you advise taking a lot of your things with you or packing light?
A: I over packed. Even if it is for a small trip, I always over pack but this was HUGE and I had so much stuff in the luggage that I don’t remember and it’s just there. Nevertheless, I realised now that I didn’t even needed that. Suprisingly, I didn’t need to pay for extra luggage but I had exactly the amount allowed on the flight. I was allowed two bags (23kg each) and my total weight came to 45kg. Moreover, I also have so much stuff bought over here as well so now I don’t know how to take them back home!
Q: What did you do about your phone contract/SIM card and bank account in a new country?
A: I had a UK sim card from before. I also had a foreign exchange travel card that I use for all my travels. It is easier to use as the transactions are quite easy. You just need money from your currency and where ever you go, you can use it. You could also just bring some extra cash.
Q: How did you choose the country and city you studied in? Why did you want to study there?
A: Like every international student, you have a pro and con list for every university you want to go to. I had that and I knew what I wanted to do. So based on what I wanted to do, I selected some courses that are of my interest and then started to find out what my best options are. Glasgow was my second option. I did this all manually through the internet. Actually, it took me like two months because I wanted to be sure of what I’m doing. I spoke to friends, family and a few people who can help. According to their suggestions and my own research, I picked here.
Q: What are some top tips people should know before they move abroad?
A: I learned a lot and it definitely helped me grow a lot. So yes, you should definitely be open to opportunities, meeting new people or getting involved with activities because it is not a big deal. When you are starting doing it then I am sure you will enjoy it and learn something from it because I literally learned other things from friends and not only things about university.
Moreover, if you want to ask more questions about studying abroad, do not hesitate and join Hellouni community! Register on our website and get in contact with ambassadors from various universities around the world.