It’s a sure sign someone has valued their time at the University of Brighton when they remain actively engaged with their alma mater. Since returning to India after graduating, Abhishek Mishra (Electrical and Electronic Engineering MEng 2015) is continuing the Brighton effect as an international volunteer. While in Brighton, Abhishek was a student ambassador – something he continues to do informally by answering queries from other international students, providing authentic advice about his experience as a student in Brighton.
Travelling to a new country is very different than going to study in a new country. From my personal experience, I can assure you that it doesn’t matter how prepared you feel before leaving your home, there will always one or two things which will make you feel horrible. So don’t feel that way and just remember you are no different from many others.
I remember the first day when I moved to my flat: I delayed my shopping trip. By the time I got to ASDA all the duvets were gone; so I went to Primark which was shut. With no options left, I came back without a duvet. With no heating as it was still early October, I slept with my laptop on under the only sheet I had. I survived. Being an international student also puts you ahead of many – you have experienced a few things which others haven’t, making you unique. So don’t just think that you are different: you are unique!
Here are my top 10 tips for anyone joining university as an international student.
1 Never worry about asking
University of Brighton staff and students are very approachable which provides you with the opportunity to ask anything you wish to know. From finding out a lecture room to locating a convenient store, they will go the extra mile to help.
2 Make friends outside of your course
Some advice I always gave to anyone I can: make friends outside of your comfort zone. It not only allows you to explore new things, but offers you a chance to socialise and discuss different opportunities. It may not be obvious but be assured that it will help you with your career without you realising it.
3 Discover stores for the food you like
When you are in a different country one of the many things you miss is home food. Well, not in Brighton. Brighton has food available from around the world, be it Turkish, African or Indian. Get ingredients for your chosen flavour and switch on your oven.
4 Balance your life
Most important of all the tips: Brighton is a haven for nightlife and trust me there will be times when peer pressure will have you rolling into the social life. While it is very important to have a good social life, do not allow it to take over the main reason for why you are at university – education and getting a degree which helps you to secure a better future. So make sure you achieve a balance between your educational and social life.
5 Get a part-time job
Get a part-time job if you can. It will not only give you some pocket money but will also add experience to your CV.
6 Utilise services provided by the university
The University of Brighton has a wide range of resources available for you if you experience hard times. The experts there are very helpful. Please take time to find out about the services available and use them. Even if you just want to talk about your problems in utter privacy, there is always someone there for you to talk to.
7 Stay safe
While Brighton is a very safe place, like everywhere, there are some exceptions. Stay safe. If you have a bicycle, keep it locked properly.
8 Save money and do not sign up for loans from dubious agencies and people
The major problem faced by many university students is they go on a spending spree during the first few weeks. Avoid doing this. If unfortunately you spend beyond your budget, don’t take out a loan from random people. Talk to the university’s finance support advisors in Student Services and they can guide you in the right direction.
9 Scam calls
Being an international student makes you very vulnerable to calls which are aimed for scamming. You can get scam calls from people pretending to be an employee from the home office, a border agency or other government official stating there is a problem with your passport, immigration paper or your student status and will further demand money to resolve the problem. This is a big no-no! Do not fall into that trap. Talk to administration or international student support about that but don’t pay anything or provide any of your details such as your address and account number.
10 Enjoy and learn
Enjoy your time at university, make lifelong friends and shape your future.
University life in an experience which not only educates you but makes you a better person, prepares you to adjust to different situations, deal with different kind of people and give you unforgettable lifetime memories. Ensure that you get them all.
Recording your volunteering experience on a CV can make it stand out against the competition when you are job hunting. Employers rate volunteering highly as an additional activity – and not all volunteering requires a lot of time.
There are no greater ambassadors for a University of Brighton education than our alumni and we are delighted when they choose to volunteer. Alumni volunteering can literally take a few minutes by sharing our campaigns and information on social media to answering a few questions about your student experience. Check out our range of volunteering opportunities here.