The power of community: My journey as an international student in the UK
How a supportive community can transform any university experience
Starting college or university is a thrilling yet daunting adventure. It's a time of new experiences, challenges, and adjustments. But imagine doing all of this in a foreign country, far from the familiar comforts of home. This is the reality that many international students, including myself, face when embarking on their academic journey abroad.
Being an international student means facing additional challenges and complexities in transitioning to university life in a new country, including language barriers, cultural differences, and social isolation.
In this blog post, I want to take you on a personal journey – my journey – and share with you the profound impact that a supportive community can have on the life of an international student. It's a story of challenges, uncertainties, and ultimately, triumph, all made possible by the incredible support I found during my university years.
The gambit of choosing a university
Picture this: I had received offer letters from different universities via UCAS Clearing, all eager to have me as a law student.
- Birmingham City University
- University of Birmingham
- University of Leeds
- Queen Mary University of London
- University of Sussex
- Coventry University
It felt like I was standing at a crossroads, not entirely sure which university was the right path for me. The decision weighed heavily on my shoulders, and it felt like a gamble – a bet on my own future.
Finding familiarity at the University of Birmingham
With support from Akinola Ifeoluwa, a counselor assistant at UKEAS, I ultimately, chose the University of Birmingham (UOB). What made me lean towards UOB was the knowledge that at least five students from my home country, Nigeria, were already there. Then I heard of the Birmingham Law School LLB for Graduates Scholarship Application for 2016 entry, a lifeline that someone I trusted had recommended to me.
It gave me a sense of belonging and comfort in a foreign land. It was these connections and recommendations that led me to UOB, and I have never looked back. Moreover, I received the scholarship.
Offer from the University of Birmingham
The challenge of belonging
Yet, the journey was not without its moments of doubt. I vividly remember arriving on campus and seeing people from all corners of the globe. It was a beautiful tapestry of diversity, but I couldn't help but feel like a puzzle piece that didn't quite fit.
Starting college in a new country, I struggled with cultural differences and social isolation. Finding a group where I truly belonged was a challenge, one that I believe many international students can relate to.
The turning point: Discovering support functions
One of the turning points in my journey was witnessing a friend who considered dropping out of university. They felt like it just wasn't the place for "someone like them." It wasn't until much later that they discovered the extensive support functions available within the university. The problem was that they didn't know these resources existed from day one.
Navigating university life with the help of a community
During my time at UOB, I discovered that the real magic happened beyond the classroom. It was the connections I made, the friends I found, and the resources that helped me navigate the complexities of university life.
I needed experience to build my CV, and it was through the guidance of someone I knew, who had started a year before me, that I found resources like Guild of Students and Worklink. These invaluable resources not only helped me build my professional profile but also expanded my social network within the university community.
The impact of community support
My journey, marked by uncertainties and the quest for belonging, has profoundly shaped my perspective. It has fueled my commitment to helping others who find themselves in similar situations. I firmly believe that with the right support and a strong community, every international student can thrive in their academic and personal journey.
International students face a broad and often overwhelming range of challenges, especially when they arrive at university.
My journey as an international student taught me that while challenges are inevitable, a supportive community can make all the difference. It can turn a gamble into a well-informed decision, a feeling of isolation into a sense of belonging, and uncertainty into a clear path forward.
In the next chapter of my life, I am excited to be a part of Maze, an innovative platform dedicated to creating the kind of supportive community that I wish I had from day one. We understand the challenges faced by international students and are committed to making their academic journey a memorable and successful one.
If you're an international student, know that you're not alone. Your journey might be filled with challenges, but there's a supportive community waiting to help you succeed. And if you're a university looking to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for your international students, Maze is here to partner with you in making it happen.
Together, we can ensure that every international student's journey is marked not only by challenges but also by triumphs, growth, and a strong sense of belonging.
Stay tuned for more stories, insights, and resources from Maze as we embark on this exciting journey together!
Maze provides an end-to-end platform that disrupts the traditional relocation model.
We connect people relocating with service providers, reduce cost and enable the personalization of customer journeys to the UK.