The International

Ever considered studying or working abroad? Here, one of our student bloggers Constantin shares his reflections on making the transition to another country – in his case, to come to the UK to study here at Leeds.

Multiculturalism! That’s probably one of the best things at Leeds University.That fact that you’re in an environment full of people from pretty much any other place in the world is an amazing thing to explore and take advantage of. As an EU student, I am part of that blend of people that makes this place so great to be in.

However, being an international student is not all milk and honey. As you can imagine, it’s not easy coming to a new country, where you have no idea what it’s like, you don’t know pretty much anyone and to top it off, has a very “special” weather. And so, this brings a very interesting and unique set of challenges that home students don’t have.

So far in my 5 years since I’ve been in the UK, I have to say that I’ve encountered things that I couldn’t have even imagined back home. Throughout this time, the biggest challenge for me was adapting to the weather and staying positive and upbeat as much as I could. That wasn’t easy at all, especially since I’m very much “sun powered” and my disposition is directly proportional to the amount of sun there is. That is probably one of the biggest things that affects a foreign student in the UK, and it certainly takes a bit of getting used to. I still have no idea how the Brits managed to build this country with this kind of weather. Total respect for that!

Another big thing is the culture. I have to be honest, I haven’t visited a lot of other countries in my life, but based on the conversations and interactions I had with other foreign students, the UK has it’s own culture, quite different from others. Of course, there’s good and bad, just like in everything, but everyone seems to be quite positive about everything, even if the sky is crashing down on them. That’s one type of social pressure I gladly accept. Both at university and within a professional environment, everyone is relaxed and open to helping others and listening to them. That’s a great place to be in.

This relaxation can however be a bit tiring sometimes, especially of you’re really focused on achieving very good results at what you do, while everyone else around you is having parties, drinking and making noise. I’ve noticed that can be the case with a lot of people, especially at university, and that was one of the biggest cultural shocks for me.

In terms of how people treat you though, I have absolutely nothing to complain about. Everyone, from you average man on the street, to students, teachers, people at work or pretty much anyone you encounter, treats you just like one of their own. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Europe, Asia, or even Antarctica (if someone decides to live there someday), you’re no different to a Brit in their eyes. That was and still is the case for me, at least. And that’s an amazing thing, as discrimination is one of the biggest obstacles a new international student can stumble upon. There are however legal differences, but that’s to be expected.

So I have to say, being an international student at Leeds University is a great thing. People are interested in finding out about you and the place you’re from, which is always a nice thing. However, if you find yourself in a position where you need help, you can always contact the International Student Office where you can find people that know pretty much anything you need to know as part of your university life in Leeds. They are helpful and very nice. I’m sure that they won’t mind a visit even if you don’t have any problems.

See our wesbsite for useful information on working abroad or further study abroad, or come and talk to us to discuss options and ideas.  For information about studying abroad as part of your degree at Leeds, visit the Study Abroad Office

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Filed under Advice, Develop your employability, International

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