My name is Erifyli, I'm from Greece, and I’ve recently graduated from the University of Bath with a degree in International Management. In this blog, I’ll share the experiences and skills I gained as an international student, the challenges I faced, how I dealt with them, and tips for settling into academic life in the UK.
Being an international student, I really enjoyed the experience of studying in the UK, acquired new skills, met some great friends, and grew as a person to a level that I could never reach if I had studied in my home country.
Key skills I’ve developed
Since day one, I was constantly learning and experiencing new things at university. For example, working individually or collaborating with others, helped me to learn and improve several skills, such as teamwork, good communication and writing skills. I also learnt how to approach topics and articulate my arguments well. These are some of the skills that I believe any student will learn during their time in university.
What I found extremely beneficial as an international student was working with people from different academic and cultural backgrounds. I understood that everyone can approach an issue differently, and there are plenty of ways to reach a consensus. This has made me become more well-rounded as a person and understand different perspectives, a very important skill to have.
Despite the amazing experiences I had while living and studying in the UK, initially I struggled with the language, academic expectations, and living alone.
At the very start I had some difficulties speaking constantly in English and not my native language. Even though I was pretty familiar with the language, as I was solely studying in English the last two years of high school, I was more used to writing and reading than speaking.
Something else that challenged me was understanding the academic requirements regarding assignments and group projects. Moving from high school to university, many things change, and one of them is the depth and level of analysis needed. Learning how to approach topics and having to create a well-written piece of work to get a good grade were quite hard for me in the first months of university.
Lastly, regarding living alone, I had to learn many skills to not ruin my clothes (!), cook, clean, and maintain a healthy lifestyle, just like I did at home.
After 4 years of living in the UK, having managed to overcome all these challenges, here are some tips to help you do the same:
If you are struggling with English, it is important to know that the more you practise, the better it will get!
What I suggest is to not solely hang out with students from your own country, or ones who speak your native language, as you will not improve as fast as you will if you interact with international students. It is also a great opportunity to expand your horizons and get out of your comfort zone.
Personally, I had the opportunity to meet some international students, make some great friends, and practise my English as well.
If you think that you need a different way of practising or believe that you need extra help in English or even other languages, you can always contact the Skills Centre and take one of their English courses or attend a PAL language session.
University sounds and is more challenging than high school. However, this should not scare you. There are plenty of ways you can develop and improve your academic skills.
One tip I’d give is to “always discuss”. If you are given an assignment that you are not sure how to approach, discuss it with your course mates, with your professor, and with your flatmates. It’s always good to get different opinions and listen to others’ point of view, especially from those who are familiar with the topic.
Personally, as I was struggling in this area, it really helped me to understand how to approach topics and undertake a good analysis. If you need some help with this or other aspects such as mathematics or digital skills, you can contact the Skills Centre. Their role is to support you so you can do the best you can during your time at university.
It might sound a bit challenging to do everything on your own but, trust me, it isn’t. If you are not familiar with the chores or responsibilities of living alone, you can always ask your parents, friends, and even flatmates if you are living in shared accommodation.
At first, some things may seem confusing, such as setting up a bank account, or paying your bills, but after a while it will be extremely easy, so there is nothing to worry about. Student Support can also give you lots of help.
Being an international student, living away from your home, and having to deal with different academic expectations as well as personal matters, it’s important to know that the University of Bath is a very well-connected community that strives to give its students the best experience possible. You can always reach out and resolve any question you might have.
The Skills Centre has developed an online course called 'Passport to Study Success' to provide new international students with an introduction to studying in the UK and the skills that are vital for academic success. Students can self-enrol on the course using the code ‘Success’.