The UK is a very different place compared to some of the places international students are coming from, unique in its diet, schedule and way of socialising. But don't panic - take this opportunity to indulge and learn about another culture, you may find yourself actually enjoying certain parts of it!
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of eating unhealthy food in the UK. For me, being brought up with a Mediterranean diet and then coming to the UK and having the liberty to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted was really hard. SELF CONTROL! This is crucial to keeping healthy at uni - all of a sudden you’re expected to look after yourself, which many people have never had to even think about before coming to uni. Make sure you keep a balanced diet, join a new sports club or enrol at the gym – but treat yourself to a kebab and chips after a night out every so often!
Another thing about British culture that many find difficult to adapt to is their eating schedule. People eat their meals a lot earlier in the UK, but that’s ok! Give it a try because it is honestly healthier, and you may end up surprising yourself and enjoying it. This will also help greatly with your socialising - you’ll find yourself in the kitchen when everybody else is cooking, which is great for getting to know your flat mates, and where some of my favourite memories of first year were made.
What’s great about the UK having an earlier schedule is that you go out earlier, meaning you get home earlier and actually get some sleep. Trust me, this will work very much in your favour. For me, coming to the UK where the night out ends at about 3am, from Spain where the night out has only really begun at that time, was a shock. But the more I adjusted to it, the more I appreciated it. Unlike in Spain, there’s a chance that the next day isn’t completely ruined by the night before, and you have a chance (although usually only slight due to the unavoidable, unbearable hangover you get no matter what country you’re in!) of being productive the next day.
The biggest and most difficult culture difference I found in my first year though, was the drinking culture. Compared to Spain, where going out at night is very much a way of socialising and drinking just happens to be a part of that, the UK drinking culture was a big shock. I remember some moments in my first year at pre-drinks where my mouth physically dropped open in complete horror at the way some people were drinking. In the UK drinking is often done for the sake of getting drunk, and one simply can’t socialise in that environment without being a certain level of drunk. It took a while to adjust to, but the thing that got me through it was knowing my own drinking limits and not trying to keep up with the rest. Remember, most British people are used to drinking a lot more and everyone’s drinking limits are different, so don’t feel pressured to drink as much as others. It’s true that this is a trial and error method of coping, but I assure you that in the end it will be all worth it and your nights out will be a lot more fun (and the following days!).
So hang in there, embrace it and submerge yourself into this new opportunity you are so lucky to have.
Lucia, Second Year English Literature and Theatre Studies, University of Warwick