Living in the UK as an International Student

So the title is pretty self explanatory on this one. For this post I’m just going to talk a little bit about life as an International student 😊.

It is understandable to be a little nervous about moving countries, especially if you have never been there before. I never really felt anxious, I was only ever excited to jump ship, and I think it’s that excitement and positive attitude I have held that has helped me enjoy my time living in the UK, and made the adjustment pretty easy.

Nonetheless, there are of course some challenges that come with living abroad in the UK. Probably the biggest of this is homesickness. It can be very easy to miss home when you’re thousands of miles away from it. I find I tend to miss the food most of all, and then all the little cultural nuances that just make Kenya the ridiculous and lovable place that it is. Because, now, thankfully, we live in an age of ever advancing technology, it is fairly easy to keep in touch with those at home. This may be through calls, video chats, messaging, etcetera, etcetera, which does help when you’re missing friends and family. One thing that comes in handy is to look for people from your country or region, and these can be a great support system for you if you’re ever feeling down about being away. There are loads of countries, regions, and religions that have their own societies that then organise social events. Unluckily for me, there’s not that many East Africans in Surrey, and so I haven’t had this luxury. What I do, instead is try to bring a little bit of my home country to the UK! Whenever I go home I always come back with loads of spices, teas, and other stuff that remind me of home (mostly food related, because food is very important to me) and I use these throughout the year. It’s a nice way to get that little bit of home in, and can also be a great bonding experience between you and your friends.

Another thing that can be quite hard is the long flights and the fact that you don’t get to go home as easily or as often. A lot of my friends that are from the UK will have weekends where they just pop home for a few days, but that’s not something I can do. During term time it isn’t that much of a big deal, as I usually have work I have to do anyway, or other things planned. It does, however, become noticeable during reading weeks and Easter holidays, as I don’t go home for either of these. To make sure I don’t bore myself to death (and also to be somewhat productive), I use this period to work full-time and earn a bit of extra money. I also use this time to do some travelling and exploring, both within and outside the UK. Last year alone, I went to Brighton, Berlin, Rome and Venice – more on these trips and other general travelling advice to come!

Last but not least is the challenges of acclimating to another culture, accents and all. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on British colloquialisms, but once I got there it turns out some of the slang is on another level. It took a little while to catch on to what others were saying sometimes. I’d just stand there with a dumbfounded look on my face trying to figure out what was going on. Nevertheless, I powered through, and I’d like to think I’ve now got a pretty good understanding of most things British.

That said I do still thoroughly enjoy my life here in the UK. It’s been amazing getting to forge a home away from home, and build international experiences and memories that I can carry around with me for the rest of my days. It may get hard at times, but the benefits definitely outweigh the challenges, in my opinion. And, in all of this, I have gotten to experience this amazing adventure in the lovely town of Guildford, Surrey. I can imagine this doesn’t sound like the most exciting place. And, granted, it not being a city, it is bound to be less bustling than one. That said, it is a big town and you can find pretty much all the major chains, as well as anything else that you may need. It also has an incredible food scene (I’ve mentioned how I love my food) – there’s over a hundred places to eat in Guildford and you could easily go the full three or four years looking for a new place each time and still not trying them all. There’s also lovely places to explore and activities to do. And even if you’ve done all of this, and/or it just doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can hop on a train and be in London or Brighton, for example, in no time. As is the common theme with pretty much all my posts, it’s all about what you make it. And I’ve found I’m making it pretty well here!


Until next time,

Ciku. (: