As an international student, I've moved away from home to a new country - and loved it. If you're thinking of doing the same, here's my advice on managing nerves and what to do during your first days in a completely new city.
I am halfway through my course now but I still remember how tough it was when I had to decide what to do after secondary school.
My dream has always been to study abroad – therefore, since I was young, I have had English classes in order to acquire a good level of English that would enable me to reach my dream.
Everything seemed to be going well... I had met all the entry requirements, I had found a house to rent and I had prepared boxes full of clothes and things I wanted to bring with me in this new adventure. But guess what? One week before leaving, with a flight ticket already booked, I just didn’t feel ready to go abroad.
With my family completely shocked about my last-minute change of mind, I started uni in my home country instead.
Everyone who starts something new may have mixed feelings: excitement combined with nerves, happiness, amazement, uncertainty, confusion and more. However, I wasn’t feeling any of these. I was just thinking about how it would have been to study abroad and the amazing experience I was missing. If I had to follow my gut feeling and put my fears aside, I would have definitely come back to my original decision and start at the uni I actually wanted to be at: ARU in Cambridge. So this is what I did.
I re-applied to ARU and started in January of the same year. And here I am now! After almost two years I can say that it was the best decision ever.
However, when I moved to Cambridge, I did not know anyone, I had never been in the city before and I was quite stressed. I did not know quite a few of the idiomatic expressions people use and I was used to the American accent. Consequently, sometimes I could not understand everything in a conversation and I felt quite out of place and uncomfortable.
For these reasons, I do think that everyone – especially if coming from another country – would find my following advice useful.
- Make sure to arrive a few days before the beginning of your course to have time to get to know your new city. Why not do a city tour?
- If you think your English needs improvement, contact the ARU Language Centre and they will definitely give you a hand.
- Pop in to the International Office on campus: they are the best people to talk to for advice and suggestions.
- The best way to make friends is to get involved from day zero. Attend the Freshers' Week, be sure to take part in social events organised by the Students' Union. You can find their events calendar on the SU website.
- Do not feel you have to cope with all these new things by yourself. At ARU, there is a Student Services Team as well as a Wellbeing Service available to help; for money matters, there is the Money Advice Service. You have plenty of options.
I hope you feel a bit reassured now!
My final thought is: do not let your fears prevent you from working towards your goal and achieving your dreams.