Moving to the UK to study - a blog from HelloGrads

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Marisol decided to move to the UK to study for her Masters in Journalism at London Metropolitan University, after finishing her undergrad degree in her home country of Mexico. She tells us all about her experience of studying abroad.


Why did you decide to move to the UK to study?

I decided to move to the UK because it is a very multicultural country. It has lots of good universities and opportunities for students.


What have you enjoyed about living in the UK, and in London in particular?

I have enjoyed meeting people from many different countries. I like the culture of individualism that the country has. I love that a lot of young people are into their professional careers already.

Living in London is great fun. You have so many things to do, from cultural stuff to party stuff. You can go from attending museums to galleries or events, concerts, music. There is so much on offer in the city, so it is very good fun.


How did you find searching for housing? Was it difficult?

The uni recommended websites and also student accommodation within their campuses. In the end I went through the websites that friends had recommended. It was difficult at first because I went to loads of viewings and maybe my expectations of places were different to what I found. And prices in London were very high!

I decided to rent privately, because I thought it would be simpler and more flexible for me. If I wanted to move out at some point, or if I changed my mind and wanted to leave the course, I thought it would be easier than if I were in uni accommodation.


What are the main cultural differences between Mexico and the UK and how have you adapted to them?

Well there are many. At the same time, I would say that once you get to know people, it is actually very alike. One of the differences I encountered here was in Mexico we have a collective culture. We tend to always stay in a group like a big family; and a lot of people, even young adults, will stay at home with their parents until a certain age, whereas here people live by themselves, even when they’re very young. They are more independent and more individual.


Did you know anyone in the UK before you moved here? How did you meet people?

I knew people from my country that had studied here before, but I didn’t know anyone from the UK. First, I met people at uni – my classmates. Then through my flatmates. Then I met people through friends from Mexico that were studying here. Also, through internships.

I did find it difficult to meet people. I remember back home, people told me ‘you are moving to London, you are going to meet lots of people’. But it was exactly the opposite. Even when I was at uni and had lots of classmates, most of them were different ages and backgrounds some of them were married, some had kids and they had lives of their own. Even though they were friendly when we had classes, it wouldn’t be a friendship that would develop further than that. So, I struggled at the beginning.


Did you feel lonely and what did you do to overcome it?

Yes, I felt lonely. I still feel lonely. But I guess that’s part of becoming independent and living by yourself. I mean I have flatmates and they are really good; we are all about the same age and we tend to do stuff together. But I do feel lonely sometimes. When I do, I just try to remember what my objectives in life are. What I am doing here. I try to do a lot of sports to keep my mind busy and to release that sadness in some sort of way.


Has language been a barrier?

Yes and no. I knew English before coming here. And I certainly gained more vocabulary while living here. Also, because I have American English, I learnt a lot of new words that meant different things in British English, for example, I didn’t understand what ‘loo’ was, but now I use that word all the time!


How could the experience of moving to the UK have been improved?

I did a lot of research before moving to the UK – basic stuff as in dos and don’ts, as silly as it sounds. Sometimes what you find on the internet is not very accurate. For instance, finding accommodation, I thought it would be easier. So, when I arrived, I stayed in an Airbnb. I thought it would only be for two weeks, but I was still there a month later. I think little details like that would have been better to know beforehand.

I don’t know if it was because it was a postgrad rather than undergraduate course, if that has something to do with the amount of help that I got from uni? Maybe they thought I would know better because I was older. But I didn’t get much information. I did have a welcome session in the first week and we had info about bank accounts, about work and stuff like that, but I got that information when I was already here, not before, and there was a lot of stuff that I would have liked to know before I came.


What are your plans now?

I would love to stay in the UK. I fell in love with the country. The culture. The rhythm in the city. I have made friends that I think will last for a lifetime. I really feel like it’s the place that I have to be at the moment. So, I will be looking into jobs or internships that will secure a place.

In my case, I will have to apply for a job with my current student visa. My student visa allows me to work, otherwise they wouldn’t hire me. After that, depending on if I am doing well at the job, then they will have to offer me a sponsorship - with that I can then apply for a working visa, so I can stay here for a long time and work.


If you’re new to the UK (and even if you’ve lived here forever!), visit HelloGrads for tons of tips on job search, internships and work experience, choosing a bank account, navigating the UK tax system, moving house, dealing with loneliness, and a whole lot more!


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