Raghavi Iyengar, MSc Marketing & Strategy student, shares her thoughts on what to expect when you arrive in the UK as an international student.
Preparing for an adventure
After months of planning, applying to universities and joyous acceptances, the time has finally come to start packing those bags for your next big adventure. For many students, this can be an exceedingly overwhelming time as confusion, a sense of homesickness and general tension start to seep in. For others (like me), the packing begins 6 weeks before the actual departure, causing many to question your lack of hobbies- but hey, we’re planners and we like it! What can only be defined as a chaotic process, can be made slightly more organised by figuring out what the absolute essentials are for making the transition. Thanks to the magic of globalisation, it is fairly easy to find items from your home country on the supermarket shelves.
As someone who has lived in India for the better half of their life, to say food is an important part of my life would be a gross understatement. So, I did what any foodie Indian would do - pile in ALL possible spices that were legal to carry in my suitcase (thank goodness for student baggage allowances!). Only after reaching the UK did I realise that almost everything is easily available and conveniently located. There are Asian stores that specialise in Korean and Chinese foods scattered throughout the town, whilst Indian products are nestled away in Foleshill, which is a short bus ride from the city centre. If you have a finicky palette and like to take responsibility for your own cooking, you’d do well to pick up the utensils like pressure cookers that are compatible with your accommodation’s hobs.
Settling in and getting used to a new lifestyle
Other items like pans, cutlery, and other household goods are easily available for very reasonable prices from stores like Ikea and Wilko in the city centre. It is a good idea to check what is already provided by your accommodation so that you can fill in the gaps within the first few weeks of your arrival. Generally, around September, this time is packed with Welcome Week activities that are a great way to meet new people and familiarise yourself with the town and surroundings. Attend as many events as possible because there’s always loads to do and who knows, you might just find new hobbies that you’ve always wanted to devote time to.
Understandably, you might be apprehensive about joining a new society with no friends to start out, and the thought can be daunting at times. It definitely helps that people here are genuinely helpful, warm and highly approachable- so when in doubt, ask! Be it directions, or general information, you can always count on people around you to put you at ease. The culture and norms here might vary in comparison to your home country and while certain traditions might seem strange or unnerving, step outside your comfort zone and experience these too. Best case scenario, you’ll have a whale of a time and make new friends, or worst-case scenario, you’ll have an interesting story to share!
How to hack British weather
A must-have when coming to study in the UK is (drumroll please…) an umbrella. Reading about British weather and experiencing it are two very different things. The weather forecasts, whilst mostly extremely reliable, are sometimes just short of accurate. However, the weather here is nothing if not unpredictable. I’ve experienced the sunniest winters, the chilliest springs and rainiest summers all in a span of three weeks. Sometimes the lines between the seasons start to blur, and after a while, it doesn’t really matter what the season is called. You know its summer in the UK when the rain gets warmer. Just go with it.
However, it’s important to remember that everyone is different and has varying tolerances to temperature change. If you’re someone who tends to get chilly easily, it’s wise to invest in a mini space heater if your accommodation allows it (as a back up to the radiators in the room) and a few thermals by mid-October to beat the main demand season that rolls in by November. Alternatively, if you are more sensitive towards heat, it’s a good idea to buy a mini fan around April/May.
Take it in your stride and enjoy your experience
Once you have arrived, you will understand why weather plays a major role in any conversation here and why I have dedicated two entire paragraphs to it above. Amid the acclimatising to a whole new world, don’t forget what you’re here to do. Apart from the obvious goal of obtaining a degree from a reputed business school, you’re here to be challenged and grow as individuals. As an international university, the Warwick family is a complex amalgam of students of various cultures and ethnicities which makes the year both extremely interesting but difficult at times. In these times, the words of one Albus Dumbledore come to mind- “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open”. There will be times where situations will be less than ideal and sometimes even challenging and downright stressful. Take these in your stride too because they make the journey so much more wholesome and the destination so much more worth it. The next few months will be the time of your lives and are yours to make or break. Stay true to yourself, work hard and most importantly stay positive!
Discover more about the Warwick Business School student experience on our Life at Warwick web pages.