Advice for international students
As the first day of term arrives, you may be thinking about what to expect when studying abroad in the UK. One of our former students, Mickey from Hong Kong, provides some advice on how to ensure success.
Tip 1: Organise your time during the long flight to the UK
Enduring a long haul flight is always a challenge even for frequent flyers - being stuck in a seat with minimal opportunities for exercise or entertainment or surfing the Internet. Breaking your flight down to the number of films or TV shows to watch will lead you to check the time frequently, which makes the flight seem longer. It is also important to remember your screen will be small and without high end headphones, watching more than two films will not be as enjoyable as you think.
Sleep is one of the best options to pass time but some people find it difficult to sleep in an upright position. I recommend simple sleep-aids like an eye mask or camomile tea so you do not feel drowsy upon arriving at your destination.
Chatting with your row mates is a very nice thing to do – good practice for your first days at college and it can also devour a chunk of your time in the air. It is relatively easy as long as your row mate is not sleeping and you do not present yourself as a nutter, joking of course. Last, but not least remain serene, it is what can keep you sane when you run out of things to do.
Tip 2: Pack only necessary stuff
The second thing you should consider when preparing for the journey is packing.
Do it early, and do it calmly. Everyone’s life-style is different so pack the stuff that is important to you but do not go overboard.
Most people prefer to bring loads of stuff and they are not wrong, but remember to check airline policy on hand luggage and weight limits before trying to bring multiple bags onto the plane. I recommend taking a small bag as hand luggage which you can place in the overhead lockers, for things like food, a notebook and entertainment items.
Tip 3: Socialise with peers
Studying at an international college brings with it the opportunity to meet students from all over the world. Being open to alternative experiences and opinions can widen your understanding of the wider world and you will find meeting new people gets easier the more you do it. In my experience, it is easy to make friends when everyone is in the same situation and starting a new college is one such situation. Look out for others who may not find talking to people so easy, you can provide that opportunity for them and enhance your study abroad experience by enjoying it with others.
Tip 4: Study hard!
This is what you came here for. I am not a teacher but based on my own experience critical thinking and being able to apply knowledge to your studies, research or work is more important than memorising stuff for exams. Being able to understand the material will also greatly reduce the amount you have to memorise (yes, there will be some).
Personally, I would spend around two hours a day on my studies. You may also be able to socialise whilst working with others to complete a group project or testing each other, which will help you realise what you have learnt.