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Student Stories

Student Stories

Blogs and vlogs from students of the University of Edinburgh

Getting Involved as an International Student…

Trails from airplanes in a blue sky.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

…by Fangzhou / from China / studying Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue) MCouns / 2nd year

As an international student, it could be very difficult to adjust to the new life in Edinburgh. The culture is different, the food is different, the way people dress, the social events people engage in… almost nothing is the same.

I definitely had my fair share of inability to adjust and homesickness when I first arrived in Scotland. Fortunately, after some days of exploring, I have found several ways that can make our lives easier as international students and make the most of the studying abroad experience!

Find your “confidant”

Find people who are easy to talk to (perhaps from similar cultures) and build a sustainable support system that gets your back when life “gives you lemonade” sometimes. Building a trusting relationship is one of the best ways to help us cope with stress and anxiety.

You can typically meet these people in your accommodation, at the orientation for your program/the university, or even at a local cafe, keep an open mind, and who knows what is going to happen!

Find your community

One of the best ways to connect with people is through hobbies. Do you enjoy sports or art, or are you passionate about a subject/game? Make sure to browse school societies and join one or more of them based on your interests! There is also a group called Global Buddies that can help you connect with other students around the world who are studying in the Uni!

Be curious & respectful, but also don’t be afraid of making mistakes

Studying in a different culture can be an intimidating experience especially when you don’t know what the norms are. How do I write to a professor? How do I respond to “How are you?”… These are very real questions that bother international students. But don’t worry, we are meant to feel lost at the beginning. If anything, we should be allowed to not know. Learning takes time and it is okay to not always know what to do.

It is important to keep an open mind to the new culture without jumping to conclusions, when you want to know something, politely ask, and make sure to respect people for their own culture, just as they should respect yours.

Get to know available resources

There are people who are there to help! If you feel stressed and cannot work, you can reach out to the Student Counseling Center. You can attend free counseling sessions/ online workshops, and get signposted for resources you need.

You can also work things out with your academic advisor, who knows best how to help you with academic work itself and help you get familiar with the school system.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, in my experience, people are generally really nice and would try to help me once I ask them.

Be proud of yourself!

You traveled so far to be here and that itself is very courageous! Enjoy exploring, encountering, challenging, thinking, and reforming. Make your experience memorable!

Want to find out more?

Chat with Fangzhou

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