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What is it like for International students at MMU?

By ResLifeTeam 25 Jul 2016

Coming to Manchester as an International Student?

Read what Shreshta Ramkalaon has to say about transitioning to university life in a different country...

I am a French-speaking Islander off the coast of Africa who is now living in Manchester. I joined MMU in September 2014 as an International student and I am now in my second year of an undergraduate fashion course. When I joined the university it was my first time in Manchester, in the UK, and in Europe!

Settling in wasn’t hard at all. I was helped through every step of moving in, enrolment and joining my course. Manchester was and is a very vibrant city despite its grey sky. There is always a lot to do and a lot of nice people to hang around with. Everything from transport to shopping is easy and at hand. My course has also been very interesting- I have never been motivated to work so hard in my life.

For International students who first panic because they have trouble communicating in English: do not worry, it takes some time to get used to the different accents. My first conversation in Manchester was with a taxi driver; he was trying to tell me a bit about the city but I could hardly understand because of his accent and that kind of made me sad. If you still feel like you need a little boost up to improve your English and join classes specially designed for international students, you can still join the English Language Services for International Students (ELSIS) classes for some extra help. 

Feeling homesick is also normal among international students. You leave your country, family, friends, culture, food and language to settle far away from home (mine is 9993 km away) on your own. So, joining at least one society at university is a must. Societies’ activities form part of the university culture and are a great way to make friends with similar interests. Most of them also organise socials where you can meet up with other students and have a nice time.

If you still feel like you need to feel a bit closer to home, you can join societies that group people from your country. My country, Mauritius, does not have a big population at MMU, so I joined the one at the University of Manchester. It is nice to be around my friends from home once in a while, especially because I cannot go home during Christmas and Easter vacation. If you feel like you miss home food, you can cook for yourself by self-teaching from YouTube. Stores like Worldwide food in Rusholme are my favourite because they sell a lot of ethnic food from all around the world.

International students don’t really get student loans, so sometimes money might be short. This is why I got myself a student on-campus job, both for work experience and because a few extra pounds at the end of the months will not hurt! At first, I was anxious about the fact that I had to source and do a placement year and that my lack of work experience in the UK might put me at a disadvantage. However, after starting my Residential Advisor Job, I felt confident and strong enough to apply for placements and at ease enough for those long and difficult interviews. This job has been the bridge between the university and the industry for me. For on-campus jobs opportunities, visit the MMU Jobs4students website. Just make sure you get your National Insurance number sorted out first so you are eligible to work in the UK.

Finally, if you find breaks boring or lonely because flights home are too expensive, it is a good idea to travel inside the UK or Europe. Coaches and train tickets cost a fraction of what international flights cost and might be a good alternative way of spending your break. Edinburgh, Dublin, Barcelona, Amsterdam or any other city you fancy. I work the most I can during term time so that I can afford at least one trip during the break, and so far, each and every one of my trips have been amazing.

Most of the time, my friends, tutors or other people I know at university forget that I am an international student and this is a very good thing. When I am on the university campus, it doesn’t matter where I come from, I am given the same opportunities and help as anyone else. The university is a wonderful and unique place where differences are celebrated and not looked down upon. 

Written by Shreshta Ramkalaon, a Residential Advisor for All Saints Student Living. Shreshta is in her 2nd year of Fashion Design and Technology for Womenswear.

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