An International Student's Experience

Hello everyone! My name is Shambhavi, and I’m a second year international student studying psychology here at the University! I was a volunteer with the Digital Welcome Team this year and I really enjoyed this role!

Between you and me, I never actually went to University in my first year *gasps*.

I did my first year of uni from home, remotely, courtesy the raging pandemic of the time. However, I did have the opportunity to fly to the UK with all my bags packed and ready for university, only for me to never actually end up there *soft sobs*. However, despite not ending up at Exeter at all does not mean I wasn’t prepared for it. And this is what I’ll be especially focusing on in this blog. The things I brought to University, and a tiny bit about the mental preparation that comes along with being an international student. So fair warning, this will be a more international student focused blog!

For me, I did not actually jot down a list of things I was bringing along with me, nor was it extremely expansive. I brought along with me two huge boxes, filled with an obvious first, clothes. I live in India, and in the city I live, winter is a non-existent season. Well, most of the time. As a consequence of which, I practically owned zero winterwear. Yep, a full zero, apart from the occasional jacket here or there. So, my first task was to source good winter clothes (which was no less challenging, refer to the bit about my city having a non-existent winter). But I did find cute (and warm) winterwear. Apart from which I also brought some stoles to wear around my accommodation. A tip I found helpful was to bring the basic winter clothes you might need upon arrival (such as a light jacket in case it’s chilly), and to buy the heavier sort of coats once you’re there. The reasoning behind this was that you wouldn’t be likely to encounter snowfall in September (especially in Exe), and this gives you a margin to buy clothes in. This is a super helpful tip for international students I’d reckon, especially those coming from places which do not have extreme winters.

Now I’ve realised that I spent a huge chunk of my blog discussing clothes, so let’s move onto to bigger and better things. The next thing I brought with me were pieces of home. Being an international student, it is extremely important that the things you bring with you remind you of home, should you get homesick (which I definitely was). My friend gifted me a huge collage of all our pictures together, which I heaved with me all the way to England. Things like photographs are excellent ways to make you feel more comfortable during your first days away from home, so add that to your checklist.

The next thing I brought with me were the all-important of this century, electronics. A laptop is a must, and since you’re bringing along electronics, you’ll also obviously bring along chargers. Now, as an international  student, one of the first things I ordered off Amazon as soon as it was confirmed I would be flying out were adapter plugs. All my electronics connect to the Indian plugs, and if you’re someone coming from the same background, it’s extremely important to keep international or UK adapter plugs first on the ‘stuff to bring’ list (even though they’re at the bottom in this blog). Being stranded with your laptop and/or phone dead is personally, terrifying *shudders*.

Some smaller items I brought with me were immediate essentials obviously, because we also had to quarantine. I was lucky enough to isolate at a relative’s place, but most of the people I knew isolated with the University. It’s essential to have immediate supplies with you, such as food, should you not be able to order groceries once you’re in isolation, or some other problem. Which there wouldn’t be by the way, because the Uni is amazing and would definitely help in case you find yourself in a fix, but preparation is always handy. So, something like instant noodles would be helpful! I think that about finishes my list of essentials I brought with me to University. I might make a more comprehensive list in one of my next blogs, so probably keep an eye out for that, yeah?

Being away from home can be extremely scary. However, it is also fulfilling, and with the University’s multitude of resources, there’ll be very few moments where you’ll actually feel alone or homesick. Freshers’, for example, is an excellent way to involve yourself with the Uni, find people who you’ll probably end up lifelong friends with, and join societies of activities you loved doing back home. A handy tip is to involve yourself with the social media groups of the University, where you’re quite likely to find other people who’re feeling the same as you. I found one of my closest friends through these groups- so you’ll have someone to speak to before you have a chance to actually go outside and make friends. Believe me, this is the most comforting thing- having someone to talk to or be with whilst you meet other new people, so that you aren’t completely alone.

That marks the end of this blog! I hope you guys liked reading my perspective as an international remote student, and had fun looking into my ‘stuff to bring to uni’ list! I aim to bring more helpful content to you guys over time so that you feel a little bit less daunted about university abroad, as well as uni in general. Thanks for reading!!