Life is almost comically different than anything that I could have thought up prior to moving to the United Kingdom. Here are a few realities that every International Student studying in the U.K. has probably experienced:
United Kingdom Visa and Immigration is a bigger bitch than the teacher that won’t bump up your on-the-line grade. Shout out to the homeless man I almost wedded to get out of Visa paperwork. I am still not unconvinced that UKVI has an arrow and sign outside of their office stating, “Have you got a low IQ? We’ve got a job for you!”
Everybody from home thinks that you live in London. It does not matter how many times you explain where you study, all your friends and family assume that it’s in London. Eventually you give into sanity and let them think the entirety of England resides in London.
Your professors think you are an all knowing expert on your home country. Sorry, Maureen, I do not actually know where the POTUS ate lunch yesterday.
Nationality becomes your identifying characteristic. You are the country that you come from, and that is how people will identify you. The American, the Singaporean, the Egyptian, ect.
Stereotypes. We hear a new stereotype held about the countries that we come from every time we meet somebody new. Most of the time they are laughably wrong, and generally insulting. However, one time I had a lad ask to see my teeth because he heard Americans have “really nice ones.” Also, you quickly find out those stereotypes you had about England weren’t accurate either: nobody cares about The Royal Family, and the British guys are not swoony and romantic like in the movies. The weather is actually shite though.
Food is what we miss most from our home countries. Of course we miss our family and friends a lot but let us be real, it’s the food we are daydreaming about the week before returning home. I wouldn’t say the food in the U.K. is bad but I wouldn’t say it is great, and it is definitely not the food from home!
If you sleep in late on Sunday, you run the very real risk of not having food until Monday because everything closes at 4pm. It only takes one time (maybe two) to learn this lesson.
You’ll never take central air conditioning for granted again after that July heatwave turns your flat into an inferno, and cooks you from the inside out.
Tesco and £3 meal deals. It is single-handedly the best part about England. Drink, snack, and sandwich/pasta for £3????? You da real MVP Tesco.
The majority of our friends are other International Students. Of course we have local friends, however the International Students can usually be found together. Though we are from different parts of the world, we relate to each other more because we are often experiencing similar things. The majority of us do not have family in the country, so we become each other’s family away from home.