The best and worst things about being an international student
I had no idea what I was in for
The worst things
Moving halfway around the world, there are bound to be things you don’t like about the new culture you’ve landed in. The move from Greece to England was total culture shock, and here are the things I hate the most about being an international student.
So you’ve been spoon fed your native country’s amazing cuisine for 18 years. And then you move. Curious as you are, you crave a taste of the local cuisine. Then you realise British food has a bad reputation for a reason. You get used to it – but after a few weeks in you start wondering realistically how much it would cost to fly your grandma over and have her cook all your meals.
The drinking culture
Coming from a country where alcohol is largely under-regulated, you assume that, by the age of 18, everyone has some self-control when it comes to alcohol. Then, on the third night of freshers’, you watch your flatmate chug 5 beers in 10 minutes. Worse still he’s the most sober person in the flat besides you. You wonder what on Earth you have got yourself in for.
I don’t even know if I need to make any comments on the beautiful English weather so I will just compliment how pretty our campus looks when the sun is out. Well, for the few hours its out before the heavens open and you’re running home because you didn’t bring a waterproof jacket as “it was a nice day outside when I left”. After three years, I still haven’t learned
No one understands your accent
Have you ever been in the supermarket, repeatedly asking the cashier, if she can grab a packet of tissues for you with her having no idea what yo1u’re telling her. You then slowly mouth what you want one last time and you sigh in relief as she exclaims “oh tissues”. You awkwardly grab them and leave not daring to ask for anything else as the line has doubled behind you while the cashier was trying to interpret you.
This one is arguably the worst. No one gets why going for souvlakia at 6 a.m. after a night out is that amazing, or what all the fuss is about your favourite DJ. And as you want to crawl into a ball and book the first available tickets home, you get hit by the next group assignment, which you’re sure is there just to make your life even more difficult.
For most students, going home for the weekend means a 2 hour train. For me, it’s a few hours on the coach to the airport, waiting around for my plane (which is inevitably delayed) and a four hour flight home.
The best things:
I didn’t move halfway across the world just to moan about it – living in the UK has a whole host of benefits.
This is something that all students probably feel as they move out of their parents’ house and settle into University life. But being able to book a flight to another country and basically have a second life, can be relieving – especially after a long vacation back home staying with mom and dad.
Things actually work efficiently
This is a difficult concept to explain to someone who has never waited never waited 6 hours in a badly air conditioned building for a stamp, only to be told it is finally lunchtime and to come back tomorrow. It’s annoying and stupid, everyone accepts this is way things are. At least, you accepted it until you see the systems in the UK. You decide that the systems back home are put in place just to annoy you.
The idea that I might actually get a job in my field instead of being unemployed for a year before working at the local cafe is definitely an unappealing one. Combined with the fact you might actually get the job because of your skills and not because of who know, it’s easy to see why so many International students stay in the UK once they graduate.
After a long year of studies, the lucky few get ready to jet off on exotic holidays. As an international student, going home is my holiday. Instead of visiting cliché tourist attractions I get to experience the best hidden gems of where I live, and take friends from the UK with me. When I get tired of the beaches and the cocktails (a.k.a. never) I get to visit their hometowns/countries.
There’s nothing quite like knowing you’re getting the best of both worlds.