What were the key differences you found between your home country and the UK?
Weather: Edinburgh is typically colder than the south of UK, even in summer. Winters were just horribly freezing. A stark contrast from the humid and very hot conditions in Nigeria. The air is also fresher and cleaner in the UK.
Food: I found it atypical how cold sandwiches were the usual for lunch. Not just because they were cold but because they were sandwiches. Also, lunch is consumed earlier, around 12 noon, were as in Nigeria, this is around 2 pm. I found that British food offered a relatively bland palate, contrary to the sizzling and tasty cuisines back home.
Teaching styles: I thought the teaching styles to be open and interactive, which was quite refreshing. Lecturers didn't assume they had all the answers, which is uncommon in Nigeria. Also, you have many resources directly available, for learning and teaching purposes.
Socialising: Socialising begins in your classroom, your peers are one of the first groups you will interact with, and in most cases it will be a diverse group of different nationalities, which is different to being in Nigeria. One odd experience I can draw upon is, when your peers invite you for birthday party drinks or otherwise at a pub/bar, you are expected to foot your own bill, different in Nigeria, where the person that invited you pays for the invitees.
Did you struggle to settle in to life in the UK?
I did struggle in the first year, got home sick but it gets easier and you acclimatise. It's a different environment with people you don't know; familiarity comes as time goes on.
You should have an open mind-set to embrace life in the UK whilst believing and practising the good values you were taught back home.
Make good friends and also keep in touch with your family back home.
Join university student groups and actively contribute. It's the best way to get some local advice on general living from students who have been in your position before.
What advice would you give to a new international student who is trying to settle in to the UK?
- Always be prepared for the weather.
- Learn to cook your own meals, very useful especially when you are homesick.
- Don't be afraid to interact, ask questions and show who you are. Always appreciate where you come from.
- Build your network both for social and professional reasons; UK is a multi-cultural society with diverse people.
- Find a mentor to help with your career development and planning.