How does Brum compare to Malaysia?

Amirah moved to Birmingham in September

abroad dislike home international student travel

Moving away from home is never easy – even if it’s 30 minutes away, you’re no longer in the comfort of your bed. But home students have it easy, and most of you probably don’t even realise.

For some of us, starting university means leaving the comfort of our countries.

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A long, long way from home

Moving 15,000 km away from Malaysia has been hands down the hardest challenge I’ve ever faced. If you are one of the 5,000 students entering Birmingham this year and you find yourself baffled by British culture, you are definitely not alone.

So, what’s Birmingham got to offer compared to home? Let’s put that to test, shall we?

1. Fresher’s Week:

I’d love to say that I had an amazing time during freshers’ week but to be honest with you, I absolutely hated it.

If you’re from anywhere in Asia, it’s likely that you had an image in your mind of a very classy fresher’s week with loads of formal balls and tea parties.



Lifting people on chairs when you’re actually sober

You would think you’d be over the ‘childish’ induction week in college but personally, dressing up freshers to resemble little blue minions is a whole lot more fun.



Less Downton Abbey, more 'down it, fresher', fall down drunk...

Less Downton Abbey, more ‘down it, fresher’, fall down drunk…

In reality, Fresher’s is just about getting drunk until you vomit. Who knew? Downton Abbey and Will and Kate’s wedding seriously misrepresented British partying to me – Britain, I am disappointed.

Home (1)- Birmingham (0)

Whatever the Weather:

Another thing both weird and annoying is the freaking weather.

Who knew the sky could have so many emotions in one day? It could be sunny in the mornings, cold in the afternoon and then rainy in the evening or the other bloody way around.

How do you Brits cope?

Even when the weather forecast says it’s going to be warm and sunny, I’ve learnt to carry an umbrella with me at all times, but even then, it won’t stand a fighting chance against the wind. Mary Poppins here I come!



How I miss the beautiful weather back home <3

Sunny blue skies and beautiful sunsets to mark the end of each day [Picture credits: Jacob Yoon                                                                                                                                         VS

I have to say though, Birmingham can be really beautiful too. Despite the grey skies and bipolar weather, the shopping and 100 year old buildings don’t seem too bad.



Is a fascinating, beautiful, busy city. It’s like nowhere I’ve ever been before. I understand why the locals and students are so proud of it – it’s awesome.


Surprisingly, I give this one to Birmingham.
Home (1) – Birmingham (1)

You may feel stupid from time to time:

Birmingham being named the top university for graduate employment says a lot about the quality of the students, but there will be times when you might feel not so up to scratch.

Back home you may consider yourself as the crème de la crème, but as an international student, your proficiency in English is automatically questioned.


I did Shakespeare too okay?!

I did Shakespeare too okay!


It can be quite insulting when people are genuinely surprised when you speak fluent English. Home wins hands down in this category.

Home (2) – Birmingham (1)

Britain isn’t always as friendly as I thought:

Making friends can also be difficult. Maybe it’s because a lot of the things British people find “fun” aren’t even in the range of things I find amusing (see Fresher’s Week).

I thought moving across the world would change me a lot, but the trick in making genuine friends is actually to stay true to yourself.

I’ve held on to my values harder than I ever have, when I actually expected to develop a whole set of new ones. If you’re unsure – don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Believe me, people will respect you for holding on to your principles more than you might think.

No thanks

No thanks

Being an international student can be hard. There’s lots of things I just don’t get about Britain, whether it’s the liquid you drink or the liquid that’s always falling from the sky.

But there are some good things.

The best thing about being an international student is being you. Britain isn’t always as much as it’s cracked up to be, and it will probably give you a whole new perspective not only on the UK, but on your own life back home.

So go and share your culture and stories about your country. People are usually excited when they hear that you’re from some other part of the world. Especially if you’re from somewhere were the weather is much, much better than here.

Embrace that you’re different – don’t be afraid to wear your national costume to class or brag about the awesome food back home. And definitely don’t turn up to Fresher’s in black tie and wielding a teacup and saucer.