International student experience

Student Communications Ambassador Sophie Gonzalez shares her experience of joining Bath Spa as an international student, and writes about some of the important things to consider before you arrive and when you get here.

I think most of us imagine that being a student abroad is going to be an amazing and exciting experience. It can also feel a bit daunting as the departure date arrives and the doubts arise.

"We're leaving everything we know for a place where we may know no one, where the language and the culture are different. But that’s the beauty of it!"

In order to have the incredible study abroad experience that you’ve been dreaming of, there are a few things that you need to understand before you arrive – to ensure your experience abroad is the best it can be!

First of all, get all your paperwork complete before coming

Whether it's registering with the University, getting your visa, registering with your embassy, or setting up your accommodation, try to do as much as possible before you arrive. There will be enough for you to do once you're here, and it’s always nice to know that you don’t need to worry about certain things any more. You just need to make sure you're covered legally and will be safe! Don’t hesitate to contact the University if you have any issues:

Once you’ve arrived safely, you need to get settled!

Go shopping for food and essentials. You can also set up a bank account and a phone number if you need them, and register with a GP online.

Get to know Bath and the campus where you’ll be studying, explore the city and find your new favorite spots!

"Engage with clubs and societies and make new friends. As a student and especially an international student, it's very important to make this place your new home, and that means knowing the place and having nice people around you!"

It's crucial in moments when you might feel a bit lonely or homesick. Don’t forget that you create your experience abroad and the more you engage with your new environment, the better it will be.

Coronavirus changes

This next academic year is definitely going to be different for all of us. I think one thing that's important as an international student regarding the coronavirus pandemic is to adapt to the country’s current guidelines.

Things may be different back home; some places might have already opened or you may feel like you’ve been living more or less normally again, but once you're in the UK, it's important to respect the current measures and stay informed.

Depending on your country, you may have to self-isolate for 14 days when arriving in the UK, so this is essential to look into before arriving. Make sure you've registered with a GP in the UK in case you need it.

As for your classes, the Uni is going to adapt their teaching methods to ensure social distancing rules are respected whilst providing a fulfilling learning environment.

Another thing to look into is Brexit, which will also start to apply this year. You should do a bit of research and have a look at the UK transition website to see how things will change according to your country. Another useful resource for information specifically for international students is the UK Council for International Student Affairs.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Keep in touch with your family and friends back home! Whether you're having the time of your life and the days just float by, or you're feeling a bit lonely and the British weather is getting at you, don’t forget to update them or ask for a bit of help. You should also know that Bath Spa has a Student Wellbeing team that can help you.

In the same way, if you're struggling with English, Bath Spa offers help for international students with the English Language Unit. The Library’s Writing and Learning Centre also offers support with your assignments – whether you're a native English speaker or not.

"One last tip: if you want to visit home during the holidays, make sure you book your tickets well in advance, especially for the Christmas and Easter break. This will save you loads of money!"

I hope that you enjoy your time at Bath Spa as much as I do – and that you create memories that will last a lifetime!

Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.



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