A healthy community is one in which the elderly protect, care for, love and assist the younger ones to provide continuity and hope.” – Maggie Kuhn
The decision to go to college or university is a pretty big thing in itself, let alone taking the leap to do it overseas. Learning to live happily amongst a group of complete strangers is always going to present certain challenges and can be a little intimidating. Throw adapting to an alien culture into the mix and you’ve got yourself a wide load of student anxiety…
At university, school or college – as in life – you are going to encounter some challenges, but that doesn’t have to detract from this once-in-a-lifetime experience! The best way to tackle any potential problem is to face it. And you can rest assured that you won’t have to face your problems alone.
Here are eight common problems you could face as a student studying abroad, and how your new college or university is more than equipped to help you deal with them:
1. You need somewhere to live but you don’t know the area at all, and have no idea where to start…
The first thing is… don’t panic! Just remember that there are always other students in the same place and situation as you, and there will always be enough accommodation to go around – it’s just a case of sourcing the right information so you can pick the best one for you.
Most institutions work with a number of accommodation providers, so it’s probably best for you to consult the international Student Accommodation Services within your college to receive expert advice on all the available options. These dedicated, highly-trained professionals can link you to private halls and landlords that go the extra mile to accommodate students from overseas, and they can even arrange a homestay with a friendly local family throughout your time of study. The latter option is the ideal way to immerse yourself in a culture, often with the benefit of catered accommodation and the opportunity to really get involved in your new community.
Pop down to Student Services and ask for some advice regarding accommodation – they have access to information that you don’t, hooking you up with the most convenient and affordable option in less than half the time!
2. You’re struggling to understand the complex language used in class…
Most institutions offer additional language support for international students to fit alongside their studies. You may even be able to take specialised language classes that teach you exactly how you should write within an academic setting. The majority of colleges and universities will offer this to international students free of charge, but its best to be clear on all the information before you sign up.
Head down to Student Services and ask to speak with a Language Support Advisor – they’ll tell you everything you need to know and set you on the right path.
3. You’re in need of somewhere quiet and close-by to practice your faith…
Most colleges and universities include a multi-faith chaplaincy as part of their Student Support team. This means they are able to support you no matter what your beliefs. And your query does not have to be religious – the chaplaincy team are there to support you with life.
No matter what the issue, there is someone who’ll listen.
Chaplaincy rooms are available to anyone and are easily accessible on-site. These rooms can be used for prayer, meditation or even just for quiet time.
Other chaplaincy benefits include:
- Information regarding upcoming religious festivals and world issues
- Events where you can meet other like-minded students
- Someone to talk to in confidence about your concerns
- Advice on where to get help, both in and outside of the college
- Contact with religious groups in surrounding areas
- Resources, such as religious artefacts, that may be used for research purposes
4. You’re worried you won’t be aware of all things going on…
As a student, you want be made aware of all available opportunities and college events to make the best of your experience. Well, head on down to Student Services because the people there can help with that, too!
As a student, you deserve to have a say in how the college is run, and the Student Services team are there to listen and make sure that your voice is heard.
5. You’re concerned about time management and the rate of your academic progress…
The student support staff can arrange a meeting with a personal tutor or qualified teaching staff who also support and provide information for students.
Generally, each faculty boasts its own team of expert personal tutors who meet students individually or in group sessions as and when required throughout the academic year.
Your tutor’s role is to:
- Help you keep track of your progress
- Be your first point of contact should you need help or advice
- Point you in the right direction if you have academic or personal concerns
- Support you in your learning and career development
Your tutor will usually be assigned at the beginning of the year, allowing the chance for a mutual understanding to bloom even before your college life has truly begun.
6. You’re worried about your disability affecting your experience…
Every educational institution promotes an inclusive learning environment for all students. They are built with the facilities to support any disability, be it mental, social or physical, and are run by committed professionals in possession of the skills and expertise to make your study experience as comfortable as possible.
If you’re already aware that you’ll require some support throughout your time abroad, it’s recommended that you notify your institution in the application process; this way, you can inform staff of exactly what’s required before your arrival and they’ll be equipped to handle it quickly and efficiently.
7. You need general guidance in life, both in and outside of class…
If you’re an international student in need of more general support, head down the international Guidance and Welfare office where qualified staff are on hand to help, no matter how broad or specific the quandary.
These professionals can advise you on:
- Choosing the right course
- Your immigration status
- What to do upon finishing your course
- Further study options
- And anything else you might need help with!
All information you will be given is strictly confidential, and staff are inherently objective, so they can offer you facts, no matter what the situation.
8. You know you have great ideas and would love to help improve the school, but you have no idea where to start!
Get involved with the Support Team yourself, and become a representative on the Student Council.
Generally, the Student Council is a group of elected students representing each different area of study. Reps are encouraged to put forward new and exciting ideas for:
- Student life
- College events
- College developments
Student Council elections are held every year, so if you’re brimming with great ideas and are desperate to get them out, don’t be shy to get involved. Not only is this a great asset to boost your CV, it’s a guaranteed way to have your say in how the college is run, and make great friends, too!
This article was sponsored by The Manchester College, a college passionate about providing the support that international students need to make the most of their time in the UK. The Manchester College offers a wide range of pre-university and university level courses. Students receive high quality teaching from tutors who are experts in their field in a small class environment. Students at the college benefit from an extensive support network including personal tutors, the International Society and guidance and welfare professionals.