As the leaves turn golden and the air becomes crisp, it's not only the ghosts and ghouls that come out to play. Halloween may happen only once a year, but learning about spooky idioms and phrases can add an exciting twist to your language journey throughout the year. So, grab your torch and let's delve in.
How to prepare for student life in the UK
Deciding to study in the UK is a big step. Moving to a country with different food, language, culture and weather can make you nervous. It is completely normal to experience this.
You may feel overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity of these things compared to what you are used to. Studying abroad can be a very rewarding experience once you get used to your new situation.
So how can you conquer your fears? Here are some tips to prepare for life as an international student studying in the UK.
Research student life in the UK
Even though you're in the United Kingdom to study, you need to balance studying with a social life. Otherwise you risk boredom or worse, burnout. Luckily, students all over the world love to socialize, and British students are no exception.
The most well-known time to join student life in the UK is at Freshers Week. This is when new students are welcomed to the university with various social events. There's a fair where university clubs and societies try to get new members. There are clubs for many interests, hobbies and sports, so it's an excellent way to meet people who share your interests. There are some pretty unusual clubs too. At Cambridge, for example, there's a secretive group that climbs university buildings in the middle of the night.
Freshers Week is also a great opportunity to talk to everyone you can. Whether it's in the queue to get your student card or to your neighbor in your first lecture, everybody is in the same situation as you - they know nobody and are trying to figure out who to be friends with. During Freshers Week, you can make good friends and converse with other students. It's all about meeting new people.
Get to know the faculty and staff
On your course website you'll be able to have a look at the academic staff and Ph.D. candidate profiles. Learn about their research interests and read a few abstracts of their past publications to get an idea of their work. This will help you understand their main focus during teaching and give you ideas for independent study projects.
You can get to know the academic staff by signing up for online events before term starts. You'll hear them talking about the course and what you'll learn on it. Think about the questions you might ask. Before the event you should read your course syllabus. While you read, consider the reasons for choosing or arranging certain topics in a specific order. If you have any questions, make a note of them.
You might even be able to watch past lectures or sign up for events that they are participating in. That way you'll have some familiar faces around the department when you arrive at your university.
Find out about the student union
Student unions are a big part of UK universities. Every university has a union that you can join. Sometimes there are a few different student unions, so you can choose the one you think would suit you best. Student unions are on-campus buildings where students can attend events, eat, study and socialize with others.
But as well as organizing clubs, societies and social events, they can also help with any problems you might have. Every union has a welfare officer, typically a recent graduate elected to assist current students with personal issues they may encounter.
An international students' officer will be available to assist with any issues overseas students may encounter. This officer will have personal experience as an international student, making them well equipped to provide support. Knowing there are people to listen and help with your problems can be comforting, even if you don't need their assistance.
Learn about the local social scene
University life is more than just what's happening on campus. You can investigate a whole world outside your institution. In addition to nightlife, dining and cultural events, there are also sports clubs, outdoor activities and community volunteering.
Reach Volunteering has many volunteer opportunities. It's a good way to use your skills to help others. Meeting locals and making friends is important while studying in the UK. It helps build a strong network. The more you see of life in the UK, the more you'll get used to it and feel at ease.
If you're worried about your level of English - don't be. People in the UK are very tolerant of how their language is used. It's a truly global language, so there's no right or wrong accent.
If you join the local community, expect to pick up a slight accent from the place you study. It shows that you have become a part of the community.
Follow your university on social media
Social media is a key part of all our lives, and this also goes for university life. Schools use social media accounts to share positive information about their staff and students. They also post pictures from the campus.
Occasionally, a student takes over their account, giving them a chance to show what it's like to study there.
Student-run sites and social accounts also give an insider perspective on student life. Sites like The Tab cover news relevant to students, and have sections that cover news at specific universities. The Student Room is also a place where current and former students discuss all aspects of student life in the UK, from exams to the TV shows students like to watch.
Pay attention to the English language test
You'll have to pass an English test for your visa to study in the UK. Treat it as a chance to learn. Focus on the test content, as it reflects the daily tasks of the UK and student life.
For example, the speaking component of the PTE Academic test, which can be used for UK visas and to access 99% of British universities, tests your ability to summarise an academic lecture. You may have to summarize a lecture for a friend who couldn't attend, not just for your classes.
Every task on the test has a real-world application, so if you can pass the test, you can be confident that you stand a good chance of making the most of life in the UK.
Remember, although you can do as much research as you like, there's only so much you can learn online. To truly understand a place, you must be there and learn from the firsthand experience it offers. Be ready to be surprised and take advantage of things you never thought would happen. You only get to be an undergraduate once, so make the most of every opportunity.
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