Studying abroad can be one of the most challenging, yet formative periods of your life. It is not an easy process, but it is one that takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you in situations that allows you to develop both personally and professionally
If you were fortunate enough to have chosen Sheffield as the university where you will be studying, than you will be happy to find out that they are doing excellent work in supporting international students adapt to the university life.
The first and most important thing to know is that the Students’ Union is led by sabbatical officers, out of which the International Student Officer is there to support all international students and advocate for their rights. They are elected out of the student body and work full time so they are available for you to knock on their door and tell them you problems. You can find the whole officer’s team, including the International Student Officer in the Student Union Building, on the 4th floor.
You can also get involved in several initiatives across the university that support a better integration of international students. One of them is the International Student Committee which advocates for cultural understanding and diversity, organising events such as International Cultural Evening or World Food Festival. You can volunteer with them and even run for a position on the committee, while getting to know loads of amazing people and advocate for cultural understanding both at university and in the wider Sheffield community.
Finally, you can get involved in your national society and share a bit of your culture with everyone else on campus.
This is only a glimpse of what opportunities the university can offer, so you can make the most of your experience, but I would also like to mention a few tips and tricks on what day to day things you could do to adjust better to this new chapter in your life.
Probably one of the most common issues international students are dealing with is homesickness, which may seem inoffensive, but if let to develop can interfere with your studies and your overall experience. Fortunately there are several ways to deal with such a situation, one of which, making sure you speak to someone about it. The Nightline at university is a great place to start, as you can talk with an individual and express your feelings while being completely anonymous.
(more details here: https://www.sheffieldnightline.co.uk/)
Another way is to come together with members of your national society (or set one up!) and have traditional celebrations. And the best advice of all, make sure you stay in touch with your family. With all the deadlines and stress at university, is easy to forget to give your parents a call, but that can help you more than you think in a hard moment.
- Get to know the city
3 or 4 years seems like a long time to spend in a city for your degree. However, as a final year student I can attest that it passess a lot faster than you think, and by the end of your degree you find yourself not knowing the city you have lived on for so long at all. My advice here is to get out there and befriend people in your area, your neighbours, try out the attractions in Sheffield, the coffee shops and the Peak District especially, and truly become part of the community. This will give you a different outlook on the city and make you feel more at home.
- Know what you don’t know and how to fix it
This one applies especially if you have a different education system in your home country. Know what is expected of you as a student, what studying techniques are the most efficient ones and what are your strengths and weaknesses as well as how to apply them best. If you already thought about this but are unsure of where to start, then 301 is here for you. As an international student in Sheffield in my first year I found it difficult to understand what is expected of me in seminars, what is the best way to take notes in a lecture so I can take in all the information presented and hardest of them all, how to go through all the readings I had to do and make sure I extract the right information. The 301 academic workshops have helped me tremendously in getting a hand of all these and perform better, so if you are still unsure why not give it a try by following this link: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/301
And here you have it, a few quick tips on how you can improve some of the most common issues international students are struggling with to make your life a bit easier and the university experience an unforgettable one!