Here are five things only international students at Lancaster will relate to
‘You’re so exotic’
Whether you’re stuck in Lancaster feeling homesick, or at home missing your cosy accommodation room and your flatmates, being an international student is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. These emotions usually involve countless mental breakdowns because of flights and ticket pricing, missing your family like crazy, and trying to overcome any potential language barriers between you and your English-speaking friends. However, being an international student at Lancaster isn’t all bad, and there are times when we have to laugh at all our differences from local students.
Here are five things only international students at Lancaster will relate to.
Everyone mispronouncing your name
Have you ever felt that your name was an easy one to pronounce until you moved to the UK to study? Having to correct people every single time they call for you can be a bit much, especially after a long day. Sometimes, particularly with lecturers or tutors, we tend to let them mispronounce our name just because it seems to be so hard for them to get it right even after we’ve already corrected them a hundred times. It wouldn’t be a surprise if some of the international students at Lancaster University kept a list of all the names people called you in an attempt to pronounce your name correctly. Let us not forget the iconic moment when the Starbucks barista got our name AND its spelling right for the first time, after serving us for almost three years.
To international students, British accents are a lot like playing Super Mario. Except, Mario can’t jump, duck down or collect boosters. All that, while fighting Bowser, the final boss, and the game difficulty is set on ‘extra hard’. As if the language barrier that already exists isn’t enough, understanding people’s accents makes it even harder. We usually can’t wrap our head around because Brits can tell where someone is from just from their accent. Is it like a secret talent that you’re born with if you’re from the UK? No doubt, accents are a two-way street, and, unfortunately, us not being English means international students have an accent when speaking it. This makes communication an extremely complicated issue, as our English sounds a lot like our mother tongue when it shouldn’t.
What does that word mean in your language?
It might be anything. “Chair”, “cheese”, “hello”, “let’s go out tonight”. As all international students have had at least one non-international friend ask them what any word translates to their mother language, it doesn’t really matter. At first, it’s quite cute and adorable how people seem keen to learn some words in your language. That’s until they start pronouncing the words using an accent and essentially butcher your native language’s dictionary.
This is probably the most obvious one. When first moving to the UK, I didn’t know which supermarket to buy groceries because I couldn’t tell which one was the cheapest. GBP to EUR, CNY, EGP, regardless of the currency, all international students have used currency converters to see if something they wanted to buy whilst in Lancs was within our price range or not. As time goes by, we learn what’s cheap and expensive without using the converters… or we get really bored of using them. It’s a mystery, really.
Almost every international student has two separate groups of friends. One, which is with people from our country, and one with other non-native to us students. This is mainly because we feel most comfortable being around people from the same country as us. There’s no language barrier as we all speak the same language, we have the same traditions and similar habits, not to mention the fact that we feel most comfortable talking to each other about things that students from other countries may find ridiculous, such as “I have stained my sheet, what do I put on it?” or “can your mum get me that spice we put in our food? I can’t find it anywhere here”. However, differences aside, some people click immediately, and that’s why we most probably hang out with people from other nations as well.
That’s a small look into the day-to-day life of an average international student living in Lancaster. Not as glamorous as one might think, that’s for sure, but we do enjoy our student life here despite all the mishaps. They say that “these are the best years of our lives”, and studying abroad certainly enhances the whole experience. That’s why we wouldn’t change a single thing about it.