The best and worst things about being an international student at UoB

You definitely can’t take your washing home to mum at the weekend

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We all know they exist, but does anyone stop to think about how different the university experience is for international students?

It’s easy to take for granted the fact that you can nip home at the weekends to see your family, friends, and your dog for as little as £10, but most international students do not have this luxury.

The Tab wanted to find out what life for international students is really like, so we asked a group of them about their experiences at the University of Birmingham.

Speaking to them about their positive experiences, we found out what the best parts are:

You get to practise your English 

Slobs unite

There is no better way to practise and test yourself than to move to the country where it is spoken natively. It sounds like a cliché, but there really is no better way to learn a language than to live amongst the people who speak it. It exposes you to a whole new world of phrases and objects that you never knew about before.

You get to experience a new culture

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As well as getting to grips with English culture first-hand, the international student societies at UoB mean that you get to meet loads of other foreign students and experience their cultures as well. Outside the university campus, Birmingham itself is a known multicultural melting pot, providing loads of opportunities to experience new cultures.

You meet loads of new people

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You get to meet people you never would have met otherwise, and to top that, you gain a really diverse set of friends that can show you new ideas, values and approaches to life. You get a much wider understanding of the world, and it can really change how your mind works.

It’s a worthwhile challenge

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If you can deal with this heat, you can do anything

You get to see how strong you really are – what’s scarier than leaving your family, friends, and everything you know behind to start a new life in a completely different country?

And the worst:

When people haven’t heard of where you’re from 

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As a student from a tiny remote village in the North of England, I can empathise with this. Imagine having to repeatedly try and map out where you are in relation to more widely known places in the UK, and times it by 10.

When people forget your nationality 

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It’s really not that hard to remember, and it’s absolutely cringe-worthy.

Having to get to grips with English accents

Contrary to popular belief, Birmingham is not northern

Contrary to popular belief, Birmingham is not northern

One student we spoke to said: “I come from Lithuania and we only have two main accents. In English, every county has at least one accent. It’s very confusing.”

Having Google Translate as the main app on your phone

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Not only do you have to interact with people in another language, you have to do your course in it as well. Having to translate every word in order to understand what’s going in means everything takes twice as long. If you thought exams were bad already, imagine having to take them in a foreign language.

The food 

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It’s nice to try new things, but you always miss the food from home. Mum’s cooking is always the best no matter where you’re from.

Things can get lonely 

Twas a lonely 3 minutes.

It’s tough being so far away from family and friends and everything you know. You can’t even tell them about what you’re doing at uni because lots of terminology is specific to the UK and can’t really be translated.

In hindsight, maybe we should start thinking twice before we complain about university life and being homesick – it could be a lot worse.

Special thanks to Modesta Stuinaitė.