Things to avoid while studying abroad in the UK
Studying abroad in the UK? Blogger Gabor Rab taps into his experiences to help you know what not to do during your stay.
Are you looking for the full study-abroad experience? Want to make sure you don’t miss out on anything? Here’s my collection of things I think lot of student tend to miss out on during their stay in UK. This advice is based on my and my friends’ experiences. Be smart and learn from our mistakes!
Sticking with your friends or flatmates all the time
If you are lucky to have friends from your native country around you, you might be tempted to spend most of your free time with them. It is okay in the beginning, but try not to make it a habit. You have a great opportunity to get to know people from other countries and cultures, so why not do it? Think about it: you will return to your country soon and start working. You may never have a chance like this again.
Unfortunately, it happens too often with Chinese, Thai or Indian students living together and maybe even studying in the same class. I do not ask you to abandon your friends, but be open to others. If you live with people of the same nationality as you, watch your television shows from home on the Internet and only go out with your flatmates, there’s not much chance to practice English and get know others, right?
Not getting all the information about regulations
You will probably be in the UK for at least 1–2 years, so be sure you are aware of all the regulations. The following are just some examples:
- If you rent a house, you have to register with the local council, even if you do not have to pay council tax as a full-time student. Your institution provides you the letter you need for the council. Note that you must do this even if you share a house with others who are not students.
- If you are in the UK on a student visa, you can only work a limited number of hours per week.
- If you work part-time during your studies and summer holidays, before you leave the country you can claim back your taxes.
Being too shy to talk in English
Please dare to talk! In my experience, sometimes students from Asia are very shy to talk in English at the beginning. Do not be! The best way to improve is to practice. Obviously if you made it to UK, you scored well enough on your IELTS or TOEFL exam, but still many students lack good speaking skills. I am quite sure classmates or teachers won’t laugh at your accent or pronunciation. The people in the UK really appreciate it if you try, and most of them are quite polite and patient. So do not worry. If you are still too shy, then talk to your classmates from other countries—you will probably feel more confident. Don’t be like some of those Chinese students I met who, after 1–2 years of study in UK, could still hardly speak English. I wonder how they did their studies.
Missing the induction week
This is the first week of your programme. The university will show you around and give you all the necessary information about your studies and living in UK (including how to open a bank account, how to register with a doctor and so on). You can also get to know your classmates and teachers. You will feel more relaxed when the classes start. Sometimes a short trip is included, which you are paying for anyway with your tuition fees. So why not enjoy it?
Skipping university-organised student events and parties
Okay, so at most of these parties you cannot drink alcohol…still, they provide another good chance to meet international students and make new friends. It might not sound as fun as going to a pub or club, but it’s useful for networking. Many institutions organise events specifically for international students.
Not going out with your classmates to restaurants or clubs
All the pubs, restaurants and clubs are smoke-free in the UK, so it is quite pleasant even if you are a non-smoker. In addition, house parties are great fun. People are even more relaxed, so there’s more chance to get closer to your classmates. Of course, you have to find a balance between partying and study. There is a time to study hard and there is a time for fun.
Not taking advantage of your student travel discounts
There are great opportunities to travel around while you are in the UK. There will be quite a lot of breaks during your studies and many long weekends. Get your student travel card for the train and use your student discount on buses. If you plan your trip ahead of time, it could be quite cheap. Do not sit in your room and waste your time watching YouTube clips or chatting on Facebook!
Leaving right after you finish your studies
Once they’ve completed their studies, non-EU postgraduate students can apply for a work permit that is valid for up to two years. It is indeed a great opportunity to work in the UK and get experience and references for your future career.Gabor Rab is co-founder of Milestone Education Advisor. He shares his experiences living and studying in the UK at Your Study Blog (www.your-study-abroad.com/).
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