Settling in a new country as an international student

14 January 2021
Cardiff docks

Studying abroad is an exciting prospect, but moving to another country can be daunting. Noor, a student ambassador for Cardiff University International Study Centre, moved to the UK in September 2020 and has some top tips for settling in to life in the UK.

Moving to the UK was really scary at first but I am glad to say it has been an amazing decision. Studying abroad, far away from home, seemed like a daunting decision to make but it provided me with a new and refreshing perspective. However, it is completely normal to find things hard at first and so I have written a guide on what helped me navigate my way through my International Foundation Year.

How to settle in Cardiff

Get out of your comfort zone

My first piece of advice is to get yourself out there. It might seem easier to stay at home watching your favourite show but, in the long term, you will just isolate yourself and make it harder to adjust to life in the UK. Cardiff University International Study Centre organised a meetup at Cardiff Castle and I would say take advantage of events like these to meet new people as, chances are, they will be on your course too and are all in the same boat. These meetups are meant to help you settle in as everyone is eager to meet new people. Having a good support system is crucial, especially in the first few months.

Explore your new city

When I first moved to Cardiff, I was already a little familiar as I had visited it before, during my summer holidays. However, once I actually moved here, I realised that knowing the city as a tourist compared to a local are two very different things. It is much harder to live somewhere new when you haven’t familiarised yourself with what the city has to offer. So, my second piece of advice is to explore the city and, with time, you will become more familiar with your surroundings.

Set a routine

Establishing a good routine is key, especially with the new nature of learning during these times. It can be very easy to become overwhelmed by the workload due to procrastination at home, but by making a conscious effort to allocate your time better, you will notice an improvement in your productivity and this will relieve some of the stress that comes with being a student.

Go to induction week

Attending induction week is crucial and I cannot stress how important it is that you go to it, whether it is in person or online. It really can teach you a lot. You gain valuable knowledge that will help you settle in and feel more at ease in a new country. For example, I learned how to open a bank account and register with a GP. These may be easy to do back home but may be harder to do in a foreign place so by having the correct guidance, you will find everything easier and less stressful.

Noor is currently studying the International Foundation Year in Health, Medical and Life Sciences at the Cardiff University International Study Centre. Find out more about our pathway programmes here.