What it’s like coming to uni as an ‘international brit’

Where do you fit in when you’re too international to be considered British, but too British to be considered international?


We all know how difficult it can be settling into to uni as a fresher, and truthfully, you don't have to be from abroad to share that feeling. Aside from quickly chugging whatever drink you've got, there is no perfect way to rectify the awkwardness that comes with going up to a stranger and randomly introducing yourself.

After that quick and quiet "Hi, my name is…", it gets a little easier.
Simple small talk is usually expected, and doesn't feel so bad as it goes on. However, if you're like me, they'll start to ask you where you're from. And as an international student from the U.K., what seems like the easiest question quickly becomes the hardest.

Despite holding a British passport, or if you're lucky, being considered a home status student, nothing changes the fact you aren't really from here – at least, not in the way everyone expects you to be. And there are a couple things, even a Brit like me, have not gotten used to.

Everyone thinks you're American

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Maybe it's the accent? Or the high school dress? Or how we look?!

I think out of all the questions I have gotten, the "hey, so are you like American?" is probably the most common. Seriously, try convince anyone you're British when you sound closer to Sandy from SpongeBob than anybody else. And if you aren't asked whether you're from the U.S., it will be Canada, or if you're lucky, maybe Irish – if that makes a difference at all.

Oh, and a side note – no matter how British your parents may sound, nothing will prepare you for the Brum or Geordie accent. I still have no idea what they're saying.

Do not underestimate the VK

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Who said a sugary caffeinated drink couldn't get you krunked

Every country has their twelvie 'lets get rowdy' drink. In Hong Kong where I live, it was Smirnoff Ice. In the U.K., it's the VK. When I had my first VK, I did not want anyone thinking I could get drunk from them alone. I mean, how could I?

The taste is the closest thing I've had to fruit since I became a fresher. It's true one or two won't get you drunk, but if you're a lightweight, four or five will do the trick. So remember, fellow internationals, do NOT underestimate the VK – you are not British enough to strawp 4 of those.

I do not understand your 'Love Island', 'Friday Night Dinner' or 'I am a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here' references! Please HELP!

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I just don't get it!

Even though I pretty much try convince everyone that I am British, I am still far behind when it’s comes to most of the pop culture you have here. Truthfully, the closest understanding I have of British TV is what my mum watches back home – and that pretty much limits me to 'The Great British Baking Show' (true, it’s actually incredible) and ‘Come Dine with Me’. Anyway, when someone asks me ‘how many eggs I have in my basket’, I will not know what you mean.

P.S. am I the only one who has never heard of a single contestant on ‘I am a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’?

Honestly, fuck potatoes

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Who gives a damn

Everyone loves a good roast, and yes, having a roast without potatoes is sinful. Regardless, couldn’t we have just left it at that? I swear every meal I’ve attempted at my catered accommodation involves some kind of potato dish.

Seriously, is that a British thing? I mean, lets count – bangers and mash, jacket potato, cottage pie, dauphinoise potatoes, pie and mash, potato quiche! The list goes on. Potatoes are the chosen sides for everything, and as an international Brit – I don’t know how many more I can stomach.

Going out at home and going out here are very different. Learn from your rookie mistakes.

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Drinking is an expensive hobby back home

If you're originally from a place where all drinks are 3x the price, please don't make the same mistake I did. You can convince yourself as much as you'd like that buying five 2 pound drinks is actually a bargain when compared to the 7 pound shot you took over Christmas break, but trust me it's not. Drink prices won't change, you don't need to take advantage of the low cost.

It's also time to get used to having zero opportunity to swap clubs when you feel like it. Nottingham is home to a very intricate 'queue up or get lost' system. If you don't make your 9pm entry to Crisis, you won't be allowed in. Also expect to find yourself alone in INK, clubs are bigger here. You will slip down stairs and lose everybody, you will go pee and lose everybody, you will walk in and out of the same room four times before realising your friends were there all along… and lose everybody.

And despite it all, I will continue to do everything in my power to convince you of my true Brit-ness

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I’m not an idiot, I know I am not as British as you are. I didn’t go to school here, most of my friends are from abroad and my parents are a 12 hour flight away. Still, there is no way in Hell I am letting any of you think I don’t know I am not a Brit through and through. So even with my American accent, my slim appreciation of the Yorkshire pudding and my lacking desire to drink tea in the summer – please, do not doubt me when I say ‘yeah, I am British’. Trust, I’ve remembered all the addresses of my English relatives and I will be prepared to pull them out as proof.