Preparing Students for life in the UK
The transition to life in the UK can bring many challenges. Whilst some might be anticipated, others can come as more of a surprise, and dealing with both can be difficult.
So, it's important that we help to prepare international students for both the expected and the unexpected.
We've found that there are a number of common wellbeing issues faced by international students during their time in the UK. These issues include differences in things such as the weather, food, accommodation, academic life, and difficulties in making friends (more information about these wellbeing issues can be found here).
Even though these issues are so common, a lot of international students are surprised when they start to experience them during their studies.
This is why preparation is such an important part of managing the transition to life in the UK.
The students we spoke to told us that even though there's a great deal of information dedicated to preparing them for their journey to the UK, issues arise in the areas that this information may not cover.
Things like preparing proper documentation and visa are largely covered within university communications, but preparing students for things like British weather, food and different aspects of British culture may not get the attention they deserve despite these factors being such a challenge for a lot of students.
In the video below, Soha from Pakistan describes how her university held an 'International Student Week' before the beginning of the academic year, to introduce students to different aspects of life in the UK. For Soha, the information provided in this event was so useful, because it provided information on what may seem like basic information, such as transport links in the UK.
But at the same time, it's clear that there were some areas that Soha was not prepared for.
Within the video, Soha tells us about how she struggled with understanding the night culture here in the UK, most likely due to the fact that she was not prepared for the cultural differences she would experience.
One way to prepare students could be by using the ‘FAQ’ style resource. Universities could interview current international students on the issues they've faced when adapting to life in the UK and ask expected questions from an international student's perspective.
If the document could be updated at different stages of a student's journey, it would also prepare them for any questions and issues they may have at various stages of their studies.
Our research shows that there are a lot of grey areas that need to be covered in pre-arrival comms. Some students reported things like not knowing what a ‘seminar’ is, simply because this type of teaching might not exist where they’re from. Whereas others have stated that there were things they struggled with in their accommodation like not knowing how to use a UK heating system because they rarely experience cold weather in their home country.
This is why university comms would also benefit from making sure that existing pre-arrival resources provide well-rounded information to students, covering a thorough explanation of the different aspects of British culture and university life.
- Read Next
- UoN Case Study: Working with other Staff Groups UoN Case Study: Supporting the transition into university life UoN: Understanding the International Student Experience Leeds University Union UoN Case Study: Working with Student Services UoN Case Study: The International Student Welcome Kit UoN Case Study: Our HealthyU Ambassadors UoN Case Study: Mental Health Awareness Training UoN Case Study: Wellbeing Map LUU: Advice for International Students
- UoN Case Study: Working with Student Services Wellbeing Issue in Detail: Making Friends Signposting Pre-arrival Mental Wellbeing Support UoN Case Study: The International Student Welcome Kit LUU: Advice for International Students UoN: Familiarising Students with Health Services UoN Case Study: Wellbeing Map UoN Case Study: Mental Health Awareness Training UoN: Understanding the International Student Experience UoN Case Study: Supporting the transition into university life