By Mia Batrisyia
Moving away is difficult. Even more so, if it’s to another country and you are on your own. You leave the comfort of your friends and family, home cooked food and a familiar language. I share these concerns as I’m an international student myself.
I’ve always been spoilt and pampered by my parents so settling in wasn’t a simple task, but the experience living and learning in UH has taught me many life lessons that have helped me. So, here are five Trident Tips to help you settle in:
1. Do not overpack food items when coming to the UK.
Our favourite dishes should come with special ingredients, but do you really need to bring all those instant noodles, pre-packaged meals and soy sauces? Perishables are not a good idea to bring along as they affect the weight limit and waste luggage space, and I assure you that your Asian spices are available for purchase in the many Asian stores around the town centre.
Your adulthood is creeping up on you, so it is a good idea to try your hand at cooking, and lay off the instant food, too.
2. Study smart, shop smarter.
It is not as common to see the local supermarkets back home having a ‘reduced’ section, but it is a frequent practice in the UK. Asda often has a range of items from raw meat to cleaning products which have discounted prices. Foodstuffs in the reduced section are often near their ‘best by’ dates, but this does not mean the quality is reduced – they are often up to 20% off their original price, and this is could save you a few pounds. I recommend getting food and throwing them in the freezer to make them last longer.
On top of that, practice price comparisons. Don’t just pick up popular brands or shop for everything at Asda: there are certain foodstuffs that you will likely find cheaper in Aldi. More importantly, Asian, Middle Eastern and European grocery stores often have the same products in-store at different prices, so spend some time to check out every store before you pick a favourite.
If you’re willing to have meals planned throughout the week, make time to head to Hatfield town centre on Wednesdays, or Saturdays when the markets are open. The various vendors sell a wide range of items from fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, as well as clothing. I highly recommend you check out the vendor farthest from Asda where they sell fruits and vegetables for a pound per bowl.
3. Cheap thrills.
We all want nice things, but we can’t necessarily get them on a student budget. Whatever you are looking for, including white shirts, winter gear, bedding or even décor, try looking for them at thrift stores and charity shops first before handing your cash to expensive brands – thrift stores’ and charity shops’ items are not always in the best condition, and you will not always find what you want, but they are a cheaper alternative.
To be honest, we are not going to pack everything up to bring back to our home countries, so why spend £50 on new bed sheets and storage containers? Most of us do not live in countries with cold weather, either, so there is no need for expensive coats. I have several coats, scarves and from these thrift stores, and I highly recommend checking them out.
The closest thrift store to the university is the Isabel Hospice Charity Shop in the Galleria, and there are Scope and Debra in the town centre. My personal favourite cheap store is the Clearance Outlet located next to Poundworld – they sell anything and everything for a mere one pound.
4. Make memories that count.
Shopping at Asda and on Amazon is exciting: most of us do not have either of these back in our home countries, and whatever we have does not compare to the large selection of goods we can get at the aforementioned stores. But, don’t get too excited buying novelty gifts: instead, save that money for travelling.
While you are here, why not save up some pounds and travel through the UK or Europe? As a student, it is drastically cheaper, and the travelling time is cut down significantly. Being a student is one of those rare phases in your life where you can travel solo, or with a group of friends, and explore places tour guides will not take you; and, if you are lucky, have your European friends host you in their home countries.
Sure, you can occasionally have a few rounds of alcohol with some friends, party at the Forum, or splurge on a shopping spree but, speaking from experience, studying abroad is the best time to see the beauty and history of Europe.
5. Get the help you deserve.
Living on your own requires a lot of courage and discipline. If you have gotten as far as enrolling in the university, you are already halfway there. The university provides an abundance of support for all students, including medical help and services for mental health.
For students living on campus, the main reception on both campuses and housing services should be your go-to destination. You can request trash bags, an internet cable, and lodge complaints or concerns. If you have troublesome flatmates or bust the microwave, they have a 24-hour line to ring where Resident Assistants are always available to help figure out the solution to any problems that may arise in your flat.
Reach out to your lecturers and tutors should you have any struggles with studying, as they are more than willing to help you. The Student Union is also a reliable source of information if you have lost your way, want updates on on-campus activities and, most importantly, raise any concerns and opinions you may have. The university also provides acceptance and support for all religions through the chaplaincy team who often host a gathering of tea and biscuits. There will always be someone to help you, no matter how small the problem is so you have every right to take advantage of the services the university provides.
I sincerely hope that my advice could help you settle down comfortably. Before I finish off, I wish you the best of luck during your studies and I do hope you enjoy the time you have left in UH.