Efi's Story: What it's like moving to the UK to start university

25 March 2021

BSc International Management student ambassador, Efi shares her experience of moving to the UK to pursue her studies before the COVID-19 pandemic.

My decision to move to the UK to pursue my undergraduate degree at WBS was one of the best decisions I have made, and it has turned out to be one of the most rewarding changes of my life. However, moving away from my family and friends whilst having to adapt to an entirely new culture and educational system, as well as establish a new social circle, was not something that happened overnight.

I moved to the UK in September 2019 and, I must admit, my first few weeks in the UK were quite overwhelming. When I first arrived I was accompanied by my parents who stayed in a nearby hotel for a couple of days to help me settle in. While their help was valuable, I was looking forward to being entirely independent and seeing other new students socialising and joining in with freshers’ week made me feel like I was missing out. Prior to the pandemic and current restrictions, freshers’ week was a period when so many exciting things were happening on campus, from parties in the Copper Rooms to the societies fair, giving you the perfect opportunity to meet lots of new people. Due to the vast amount of events of campus and the general atmosphere, my first few days of campus were really enjoyable and enabled me to make new friends easily. Don’t get me wrong, being alone for the first time at university can feel a bit daunting, but you always have to remember that everyone is in the same position. I also feel extremely lucky that I was able to experience a ‘normal’ start to university without the restrictions that have come into place as a result of the pandemic.

wall painting

My student accommodation made a big difference in my adjustment process when moving to the UK. Organising and decorating my room was empowering for my new beginning. The biggest advantage was that I was living with people who were the same age as me, with similar goals; however, we all had different nationalities and backgrounds. From living with my parents and my brother for the last 18 years, I was suddenly sharing a kitchen with seven other international and British students who I ended up calling family within just a few months. You are never alone in your student accommodation, which was a huge relief for me and helped me to settle into my new surrounds really quickly.

Meeting my course mates was a slightly awkward yet exciting experience. I vividly remember the first meet and greet session with the rest of my cohort. Being in a room full of strangers from different countries was quite intimidating. Nevertheless, it was during those first few gatherings, organised by WBS, that I met some of my course mates who are still both my lecture and partying buddies. My move to the UK revolutionised the idea that I had for studying, and studying at a UK university can become a collective activity, if you want it to be. Spending long hours in the Learning Grid and in the Library made studying and working on assignments a lot easier for me I was able to share my difficulties and concerns with my friends.

Efi with friend

Before the pandemic, I also enjoyed meeting my friends during my study breaks while grabbing a snack from Pret or meeting for lunch in the Library Café. The collaborative spirit of group study alleviates some of the stress associated with studying, which can be quite overwhelming during your first term. For me, finding the right study style took some time. For example, when I started attending lectures and seminars I would keep handwritten notes of everything as this worked for me at school. However, the difficulty and the size of the materials often don’t allow you to spend too much time on detailed note-taking. Therefore, I adjusted and switched to a combination of handwritten and computer-typed notes. It is also important to not put too much pressure on yourself; being a fresher means you have a lot to adjust to, so it is important to find the right balance between your studies and social life.  If I could give a piece of advice to my fresher-self it would be to worry less and enjoy the process of adjusting. During the first months, making campus feel like home is essential for your emotional wellbeing and, subsequently, for your academic performance.

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