The Perks of Being International

By Aimone Sharif- Head of Print

The language is different, the fashion is different, the food is different, and nevertheless being an international in the UK and at University of Hertfordshire in particular is one of the best experiences ever.

September 2014 was the first time I stepped foot in Hatfield; it was boiling (ironically) and full of lost students grateful for their parent’s presence and a mountain worth of suitcases by their side. I, on the other hand was queuing by myself with my two small suitcases dumped on the floor completely re-evaluating my life and wondering why I had chosen to study here. Yet, I took the plunge and it has the best decision I have ever made.

Going to a French school all your life means that you have no real grasp of the English language, even if I want to kid myself that I did… I didn’t. I arrived in my flat, I did not understand much. In fact I was surrounded by Americans and that really made me trip as all the shared kitchen appliances we owned had different names for everyone.  For me the oven is not a grill, but then again what do I know?!

I had a special accent (I still have), I pronounced things weirdly, I literally translated everything, I only drank wine … I still have all these characteristics, I just added English mannerisms to my lifestyle.  Adapting is key, but keep your own twist! I cannot claim I have adapted 100%, in fact I flee any sort of fry up, I cannot drink tea unless I am ill and rich tea are honestly the blandest biscuits I have ever tasted.

Seemingly, I adapted pretty well, throughout my years here I have met so many internationals and Erasmus students that I don’t feel too different. In fact, I understand broken English when spoken by my Italian friend better than I do normal English!

Embrace the culture you are thrown into! Its different, it’s weird and it makes you grow as a person. It’s not because for a few days you feel homesick and want to go back home that you are not doing it right; in fact you are probably living life better than you think. Bad days happen but just remember they are temporary; and if in doubt, thanks to technology, your family and friends are one Skype call away. 

The University of Hertfordshire is one of the most welcoming universities in the country due to its high yearly Erasmus and international student’s arrivals. ESN is the main on campus organisation where internationals can meet each other and reminisce what the Barcelonan sun was like just a few days ago, or how much they miss that German beer.

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Credit: Campus Football 

Other ways to not feel completely overwhelmed in this brand new world, join an AU club, participate in sporting activities with Active Students, join a society, or may I dare say join Trident Media. Just don’t be alone, because you will regret it. After all, you probably have loads of weird cultural stereotypes you need to show off- flaunt your difference.

The best thing about being foreign?! You don’t understand something? You are slow at doing something?  If you have weird taste…. blame it on your foreignity! People forgive automatically :p

All in all I wouldn’t say Hatfield is the best city ever, but I would say that it is my home for now and I have created so many amazing memories in it that leaving this grubby town sooner rather than later might prove itself to be an emotional rollercoaster. But as I took the plunge before, I am ready for my next adventure…Brazil are you ready?!

Credit: UHSU
Credit: UHSU

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The Perks of Being International