By Mila Hristova, Bulgaria, BA (Hons) International Relations and Politics
1. Don’t pack too much
I have seen this many a time when it comes to new students who are leaving to study abroad. They are used to the comforts of their home and find it hard to let go of their belongings. But trust me, you DON’T need the huge stuffed bear that stays on your bed or those beautiful stones you found on the beach. There is no need for packing 4 suitcases or have your parents join you to help carry your stuff just so you have 15 pairs of shoes. Be as minimalistic as possible and remember that you will most certainly live in a very small room and it is important you don’t feel swamped with unnecessary items. Plus you can buy anything you forget or need here in Northampton!
2. Choose University accommodation for your First year
It is hard enough to start living on your own but to move to a new country and to change basically everything in your daily life is even more of a personal challenge. You do not need the added stress of searching for a private house with complete strangers. Of course, in the University accommodation you will be living with strangers, however, you know for sure they are also students studying at the University and you will feel safe because of the security and residential life team available 24/7 making sure that your residence is as peaceful and safe as possible. Hopefully you will meet amazing flatmates or maybe you will become friends with some students from your course that you will trust enough and by the end of the first year you will be searching for a private accommodation with those you now know well.
3. There is always someone who knows what you are going through
You will meet with many new exciting people from different cultures but don’t forget that there is always someone from your country or someone who can relate to your situation as an international student. Whether it’s a first year student fresh out of school or a mature student, either way if you search or join some of the applicant social media groups you will always find someone in your position who you can speak to and who can make you feel better and reassured.
4. Explore your possibilities
This is a bit similar to the previous advice but the biggest mistake you can make is to be shy or too afraid to approach people. Small talk could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, you never know until you try. Many of the students are international here on campus and so not only is it interesting to hear their personal story, but also you could find their experience helpful to you.
5. Money is not the problem (how you manage it is!)
I remember people advising me to not take any jobs during my first year – “it will be hard enough”, they said. I am glad I didn’t listen to them because I not only learnt how to manage my time, but I’ve also gained a unique experience from the very beginning of my studies. If you are afraid that you won’t be able to afford studying abroad, don’t worry about finding work alongside your degree. In the UK, and specifically speaking about Northampton, there are many part-time job opportunities that are suitable for students. I personally started working just 2 months after coming to Northampton and the most impressive thing is that I was working for the University, which was perfect because after the shifts I was able to go to my lectures or seminars. I became a Student Ambassador, which for me was an amazing experience as it gives you many opportunities to meet new people and to learn more about your surroundings. When you get here I advise going to the Unitemps office to ask for more information. They advertise jobs and can help you with everything from applying to finding roles suitable for you.
6. Learn how to cook
I cannot stress this enough: LEARN HOW TO COOK! I am not saying you need to become a master chef but do spend some time on experimenting with different recipes, maybe even ask your mom or family members for advice before you come. As well saving you a lot of money it will improve your physical well-being. I’ve been there – eating cheap rubbish for weeks but it not only made me feel guilty, it affected how I felt about myself. I would definitely recommended that you start looking at recipes even before you’ve left your home, who knows – this could be a way to have some great moments with your family and be at the envy of all your new flatmates when you arrive!
If you have some advice and tips you would like to share with current applicants and international students then please get in touch. Simply email your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org