March

International student experience

My scary but brilliant decision to study at Bath Spa

German student Julia Dielmann shares her wisdom and advice for international students considering UK universities.

When I first mentioned to my family and friends back home in Germany that I wanted to go to university in the UK, most of them thought I was crazy.

They made valid points for sure: studying abroad would be expensive, I’d be far away from home, I might have language problems. And then, of course, there was Brexit looming on the horizon.

Despite all this, I stayed stubborn. I’d set my heart on going to England and there was no way anyone could change my mind, so when I actually got accepted at Bath Spa, it was a dream come true.

However, when the time came to leave home, I was terrified. I remember sitting in my room in halls on my first night, thinking “What on earth have I done?” But once I’d settled in a bit, I got over those initial nerves.

“I was amazed by the warmth of the welcome I received and how helpful and polite everyone was.”

Coming from restrained Germany, I was amazed by the warmth of the welcome I received and how helpful and polite everyone was.

And my courses, while certainly academically challenging, were thankfully mostly free from language barriers (apart from the odd bit of Psychology jargon).

Still, there are a few things I wish I’d known before coming here. So, here are my top tips for international students like myself.

My top ten tips for international students at Bath Spa

  1. Don’t expect everything to work out immediately. It’s only natural that the first few weeks will be rocky, so give yourself time to adjust.
  2. You will get homesick. I certainly was. When it gets too bad, I’ve found that it helps to talk to someone from home or cook yourself some comfort food that you just can’t get in England.
  3. Put yourself out there. Join societies and make use of the many opportunities Bath Spa offers outside of classes. It’s a great way to meet new people.
  4. Don’t just spend time with people from your own country. It can be great to speak your own language again and talk about things you all miss – for me and my fellow German expats, it’s bread. But if you always stay in your bubble, you’ll miss out on so much.
  5. Immerse yourself in the culture. Remember: when in Rome, do as the Romans do. This also applies to places where the Romans once were.
  6. Explore the city. We are lucky to live somewhere so beautiful, so we should appreciate that.
  7. If you’ve got language issues, there is help available through the English Language Unit. Or if you have an academic problem, you can go to the Writing and Learning Centre.
  8. I know Brexit is a big worry for many, including me. But the good news is that everyone who started in 2019 or earlier can finish their course under the same conditions as before, including student loan payments. There is also the EU settlement scheme, in case you want to stay on after Brexit. Check out GOV.UK for more info or email immigrationadvice@bathspa.ac.uk.
  9. English weather is famously unpredictable. Do yourself a favour and invest in a proper raincoat and wellies.
  10. And lastly: enjoy your time here! It goes by really quickly, so make the most of it.

Would I make the same choice again?

Now for the big question: If I had the choice again, would I make the same decision?

To this, I can say: Absolutely.

“I quickly fell in love with the University and its stunning campus, as well as with beautiful Bath itself.”

After a few initial bumps in the road, I quickly fell in love with the University and its stunning campus, as well as with beautiful Bath itself. England is starting to feel more like home to me than I ever thought possible, although I have yet to learn to appreciate tea.

Of course, I sometimes doubted my decision – especially during exam periods and when I was homesick – but on the whole, I think coming here has been a very enriching experience for me.

It has helped me become more independent and I have grown a lot as a person and developed a new sense of confidence in myself.

As a bonus, I got to meet many interesting people and learn new things, both academically – I now know more about Freud than I ever thought I needed – and in respect to life (and English) skills.

I really do think that living away from home and going to another country is one of the best things you can do for yourself, especially since in today’s increasingly globalised world, you have more chances to do so than ever before.

Take these chances. You won’t regret it.

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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