International Student Advice

AFS Team·21 August 2018·9 min read
International Student Advice
By Elizabeth Whittingham

Here at Accommodation for Students, we are committed to providing you with all the relevant information, and when it comes to international students who are coming from far and wide this September to enjoy a year abroad in Blighty, we definitely think it’s important to provide you with a guide to survival.

Here are lots of completely pointless facts, handy tips for university life, information on the most loved British TV shows, a small background on the tea obsession and a side note about the food…enjoy!

Some Modern Facts

1. Tea has always been the nation’s favourite drink, so much that 165 million cups of tea are drunk every day

2. British people eat twice as many baked beans than any other European citizen - I wonder if most of those asked were students!

3. Five million sausages are eaten every day in the UK

4. 11% of people don’t wash their hands after using the loo, so maybe take some hand sanitising gel when shaking hands with a large group of people!

5. 430,000 gallons of shampoo go missing from hotels every year thanks to British people wanting freebies

6. 8% of men do not clean their teeth in the morning, whilst the most fillings and missing teeth belong to the people of Sheffield

7. The most popular domestic holiday destination for British people is Blackpool

8. 64% of women find clothes shopping to be depressing and 10% of women have cried in changing rooms

9. Around the country, woodlice have a variety of different local names. These include: cheesy bug, gramersows, chisel bobs, timberpigs, peaballs, chuggie pigs, granny greys and parson pigs

10. Adders are the only venomous snakes in the UK and because they are protected, it is illegal to attack them if they attack you.

Some tips on the drinking culture

In the UK, you can legally drink when you’re 18, and although plenty of underage activity has gone on before this, heading off to university being legally allowed in any club is a positive from the whole uni experience. Which leads us onto my next point, British drinking culture. Everything you have read in the news is true, the majority of British students live and breathe for boozy night outs followed by some cheesy chips to top everything off. You name it, we can think of an inventive way to bring alcohol into the equation.

From Rugby clubs who use the sport as an excuse to get ‘slaughtered’ on Athletics’ Union nights through to medics who famously ‘go hard’ due to their excessive work load-alcohol is just a way of life for British universities. Therefore, it may be a shock if your home country allows drinking only after 21, or if it just isn’t as engrained at the university you have come from. Although alcohol is very apparent in the UK, don’t feel pressured to dive into that and do what you feel comfortable with.

Some random historical facts

11. Britain’s oldest house is at the Neolithic site of Star Carr in Yorkshire, dating back to around 10,000 years ago

12. Due to the uncleanliness of the water at the time, babies in 14th century Herefordshire were baptised in cider

13. The oldest living tree in Britain, is in Manthorpe, Lincolnshire, and is 1000 years old and so big that 39 people can sit inside it!

14. Whilst most people believe Pocahontas is just a Disney film, she was a real chieftain’s daughter who came to England and died in Gravesend in Kent where a statue is now placed for her

15. Bideford in Devon is the location of the last ever witch hanging in Britain, which took place in 1684.

The tea obsession

Kettles in every student accommodation, endless options in Tesco’s, people offering you this hot beverage as soon as you walk into their room- the looks of horror on their faces as you comment that you ‘don’t really like it’. Yep, it’s going to happen.

Silly Laws Still in Place

16. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp upside down

17. It is legal to murder a Scotsman in York, but only if he is carrying a bow inside the city walls

18. It is illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day throughout the country

19. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament

20. In London, it is illegal to hail a taxi if you have the plague

The accents

The main thing to notice about university in the UK is the staggering diversity of people at them. Here, you will be introduced to the highly adaptive and diverse British accent, whether it’s Mancunian, Liverpudlian, Welsh, Scottish, Geordie or Brummie, you will soon be learning how to mimic your friend’s dialogue.

The food

The UK is a highly multicultural society, meaning that there are all sorts of foods available, whether you are off out for a meal with your new university friends or showing your family around your new city, there are endless culinary options. The UK also hosts budget supermarkets for penny saving students; such as Lidl and Aldi, these are probably the best to go to in comparison to stores such as Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsburys and ASDA.

University Life

Orientation Week

This week is usually dedicated to international students and aim to help you with any questions you may have, from settling you into your accommodation, familiarising you with the city and your academic studies and helping you to meet people within your first week. Orientation week is also a great way to get settled, as it occurs before everyone else arrives, the purpose of it is to be help you feel comfortable and ready for the year!

Fresher’s Week

This is the best week of university! Basically, after orientation week, the rest of the students will move into the university, and during the first week before lectures and university start, there will be countless events held across your chosen city. From nights out through to group day time activities, pub quizzes, movie nights, raves, discos, paint parties, foam parties, zoo themed parties, festivals, fairs, freebies, treasure hunts- the list goes on!

The degrees

In the UK, you have to specialise in one subject for university. There are options for split degrees, yet the majority of people tend to steer towards just the one. Of course, this is different from other countries, who do not expect a major to be chosen until second year. Some people prefer the British system, preferring to study over here because of this, but for some students, the whole concept can be baffling so make sure that you read up on it.

No sorority or fraternity

If you have come from the US, you will soon realise that the UK just doesn’t do the whole sorority and fraternity thing. Houses aren’t determined by your society and mainly our orientation week is simply called fresher’s, where people dress up as zoo animals and go to all night raves with 90p vodka mixers. You will be in mixed accommodation, most likely, unless you specifically specify or search for single gender dorms.

The public transport

As opposed to the USA, for instance, where everyone can drive by 16, the UK instead has a complex and rather expensive public transport system. Although confusing at times, it’s great for day trips. You can be hopping all over the country each weekend, as well as hopping onto inner city buses to get around or to university. It may be handy to get yourself a student railcard for your time in the UK, as using the 16-25 railcard will mean that you can get rail journeys at a discounted price, meaning that travel is much more affordable.

Remember to try to travel as much as possible! The UK is very diverse and beautiful, from Northern Ireland to the Scottish Highlands. You can also take the opportunity of being in the UK to travel to other European destinations, which are all fairly accessible from the UK, places such as Italy, Spain and France are only a couple of hours away by plane! The UK also offer countless affordable flights.

Some added extras!

  • TV shows; key shows to look out for are The Great British Bake Off, I'm A Celebrity get me out of here, Big Brother and X Factor- they are typical cult television shows over here.
  • Traditions! There are of course some similarities with your home and the UK, they may be Christmas or Easter, but there are some celebrations specific to the UK and that may sound a little strange! Bonfire Night is a night in November when everyone gathers together for fireworks and the burning of an effigy of Guy Fawkes, who tried to blow up parliament back in the 1600s... Don't ask.

Here are some handy websites to also have a look at, concerning moving to the UK for study

Student Pad! They offer some in depth guides! The topics range from your time applying for university all the way through to university life! http://www.studentpad.co.uk/student-guide/international-guide

A must! The Complete University Guide https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/international/international-students-the-facts/