A guest post by Connie who completed a masters in Events Management last year.
Before you arrive
Before you arrive, you might feel excited and have got your airplane tickets and luggage prepared. Or you might be a little bit uneasy thinking about the unfamiliar culture to you. However you feel, that is happened to me too. It was the last six days before I came to Guildford when I bought my tickets to the United Kingdom and started to pack up my luggage. Fortunately, I got some useful information from some students who studied here before. First, there are some airlines which have special offer to students who are going to studying aboard, like 45 kg of baggage allowance.
However, you do not need to bring everything, like rice cooker! What I did was getting lots of second-hand things in Wechat Group from Chinese students, an app like Whatsapp. Of course, it is up to you. There are plenty of places for shopping in the Guildford!
I assume that the first place that you visit is the airport. The University does provide a welcome team to pick International Students up at the airport for free for a few days before the start of the semester, which is applied online. You could also apply your accommodation offered by the University. Personally, I recommend the rooms within the main campus. I lived in the Manor Park. Believe me, every time I woke up at 8:30 am and had a lecture at 9 am and had to get on the bus with a bus annual pass, which might be 160 pounds per year, to the main campus, I wish I could have lived in the main campus which is just 5 minute walk to the lecture rooms. Furthermore, if you finish the report in the library at 3 am and wish to go back to Manor Park, there will be no buses until 6 am. However, there will be an advantage living in the Manor Park, which means the Surrey Sports Park is within 3 minute walk. If you are keen on doing sports, it would be quite convenient to live in the Manor Park. Wish you make a good choice.
During your stay
There will be a welcome team who are the volunteers from the University to help you to get your room key, find the right room and unload the luggage.
A box in your room is ready for you containing a sim card and WIFI setting machine which is quite to set up. Pop up and activate the sim card and say hello to your families who might be worried about you if this is your first time to travel for a long way to a new country. Make some friends at the your flat because you will live together for a year.
There will be a fresher week when all kinds of events take place, like welcome parties held by the Student Union, your school or other student societies. Also guidance lectures will be given to help students to get used to the University life, such as how to use “Surrey Learn” to find your timetable and summit your report, how to use facilities in the library, how to book proofread services for your reports by attending English lectures and how to make use of “Surrey Pathfinder” for advice for your CV. There is a “Surrey Move”, a website application to count your steps to get you rewarded, which I recommend that you should register if you are a fan of running or walking. I collected 2400 points by walking every day and redeemed my points at Hillside Restaurant for my free hot drinks.
One points that I would not to miss out is students could have 10 pounds allowance for students to print freely in the library. It might not be shown in your Student Account. All you have to do is to ask IT services in the library about it. Use the allowance wisely and print the lectures and seminar notes in advance so that you could preview and get yourself prepared before your first lecture in the library.
Speaking of cooking, it might be the first time for you to cook. Why not try something easy to make, like just boiling the noodles? Or you may want to make some friends who know how to cook and learn from them. The first day I arrived here, I did not know how to cook at all, all I did is asked for help, learned from my Chinese friends who are so kind and willing to be my “master of cooking”.
It is good for your keep tidy in the kitchen if you share the same kitchen with someone who are from the East Asia where their culture values order, polite manner, clean and tidy, especially Japan, Korea and China. It is polite to ask and respect when you encounter “cultural shocks”.
During the exam period or before the report deadline or the holiday when everyone is back to their home, you might feel a little bit lonely when you are alone. Why not go out and have some fun with Friends International? I felt isolated when I was alone in the manor park, fortunately, I took part in the activities held by Friends International and attended Bible Study at my friends’ house regularly. I felt alive by connecting the local community telling myself that I was not isolated.
Another way to deal with sad feeling is turn to the Centre for Wellbeing which provides a twelve-week exercise referral scheme for students and staff who feel depressed and anxious. I applied for that scheme and got a twelve-week free pass for gym in the Surrey Sports Park which definitely encourage me to put my iPad aside, leave my room and do some sports improve my wellbeing.
In terms of part-time job, there is a Unitemps in the University of Surrey where you could register with your passport, National Insurance Number and apply for a job online. Or you could find a job by yourself, please remember to sign a contract or agreement with your employer. I understand that sometimes Chinese students tend to find jobs in the local Chinese stores, restaurants and travel agent because you might think it better to trust someone from the same cultural background, however, please do remember sigh the contract or agreement to protect yourself and rights.
Sometime it is quite hard to say goodbye to a place that you have been staying for a year. Submitting your dissertation, packing everything and say goodbye to your friends. You might feel uneasy again just like when you were preparing to come to the U.K. Talk to someone you trust and get yourself prepared for another cultural shock because you might get used to the lifestyle in the U.K.
Added note: Friends International have resources to help you with both arriving and leaving, please do get in touch if you need help with anything. We hope this guest post helps as well!