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'This is Hull' sign on the side of the Brynmor Jones Library during an Open Day

NEWS •

Left your country for Hull? You are not alone

University of Hull Masters graduate and intern Sobia Siddiqui blogs about her experiences of leaving home to study abroad in the UK at the University of Hull

‘Leaving my country for Hull was totally worth it’

Studying abroad is a wonderful and rewarding experience for a variety of reasons, from cross-cultural interactions to developing self-resilience. However, it can feel overwhelming at times, while at others it can feel totally exhilarating.

Leaving your homeland, your loved ones and starting your studies in a new country is not as easy as it sounds – and you need to plan everything accordingly? Did you explore all the opportunities before coming here? This is what I ask every newbie I meet on campus as I see most of them trying to settle in, without them really knowing what else university offers other than studies.

If you are an international student at the University of Hull – this blog is for you and all about you. Keep reading!

Sobia outside of the Derwent Building
That's me at Derwent building - my favorite spot at the University of Hull

To introduce myself, I am Sobia Siddiqui – an international student from Pakistan. I started my journey last year, faced a lot of challenges, learnt a lot of new things – most importantly how to survive abroad. In this blog, I will be sharing my Survival Kit to living abroad.

Challenges

Let’s start with all the challenges you will come across during your journey and then we will move towards the solution.

  • Finding a job for yourself
  • Dealing with loneliness
  • Struggling with language
  • Finding ‘home’ food (Halal food)
  • Dealing with mental health issues
  • Staying healthy

Ask yourself if you have considered all of these factors before moving to Hull. Because the University of Hull has much to offer and if you come all equipped then trust me you can go as far as you want and there will be no limits to what you can achieve.

Arrive early

My foremost advice to all international students is to arrive at least 10-15 days before your classes. This will help you a lot in terms of settlement both financially and mentally.

Build an impressive CV

Make an impressive CV by adding keywords for the role you are applying to. Apply through the Jobteaser.com platform as you can get a lot of part-time opportunities on this website. Moreover, there is a ‘Resources’ tab on this platform which will help you in writing your CV with a template.

Furthermore, you can always consult the Uni Career team, for that. You can book an appointment and meet the amazing team – who will not only help you produce a good-looking CV but also guide you in building the skills required. They will update you about any good opportunities to grow and expand your skills. If I say they made me what I am today – then you get the idea.

Seek their advice and book your appointment here.

Socialise

You didn't come this far to stay alone – or did you? You came here to learn, make new friends and grow. Start joining different cultural societies that interest you. The University of Hull offers a variety of amazing cultural societies – these societies arrange different meet-up events where you can socialise with like-minded people and it will help you making new friends. Join different societies here.

Dealing with the language barrier

I know it can be very frustrating to deal with the language barrier – and it can often be less about the language and more about the accent. We have all taken the mandatory test for English language before coming abroad as a part of the eligibility criteria. However, taking a test is a different thing to starting a whole new life in that language.

I can feel your pain but trust me – it may take time, but things get better – and maybe sooner than you expect.

Why not start with a Pre-Sessional English Course? This will help you in your listening and writing skills specifically. Also joining different societies and sports will help break this language barrier.

Food

Food is the most neglected challenge which we often don't even realise is a challenge. Living and studying abroad and not eating well – do you think you will be able to give your 100 % to any task?

Be kind to yourself. You deserve good food to accomplish your big goals. I know many of you might be new to cooking just like I was – a year ago.

Don’t be reluctant to learn new skills as it will only help you to grow and make your life easier here. You can find vegan-friendly products with a sign ‘V’, in green. If you are looking for Halal food then we have a Halal Food section in the students’ union – in the SPAR supermarket (Hull Union Building Ground Floor). You can get your hands on delicious halal pasties and sandwiches there.

Mental health

At the start of my journey here in Hull, I mistook my sadness for a sign that I had made the wrong decision. Maybe I'm not supposed to be here. Maybe I shouldn't have applied to such a distant university. After one year, I still feel sad sometimes and trust me – I have realised its normal to feel this when you are a long way from home and family. It is vital to recognise what you feel and acknowledge it – rather than taking it negatively and feeling bad about yourself.

 

Sobia wearing boxing gloves inside the Allam Sport Centre
No one will fight for you because it's your battle and you have to fight it yourself. That's me - at Allam Sport centre before a boxing session

We have all made this big decision to move to a different country for our studies and these feelings are part of it. However, I know sometimes it’s quite hard to deal with feelings like these – when you need your immediate family with you and they are far away. So frustrating. Isn’t it?

I’d like to share a few tips here which have helped me and might be useful:

* Remember it’s natural to feel sad. It’s okay and it’s normal. I know it’s not very practical to say this but acceptance is the key – that’s what I learnt from my one year at Hull. But don't think that you are the only one because that is wrong – there are a lot of people fighting the same battle and it’s about how are you doing it rather than thinking you are the only one. Mindset matters a lot. Just direct yourself towards positivity and creativity.

* Keep reminding yourself why you are here. Feelings are temporary but what you are building here is a whole new life – your career, your studies and your future. Find time to appreciate yourself for what you are doing because not everyone can do that. You moved to a different country to build a life you will love – and you deserve time off to treat and value yourself. What are you waiting for? Do it now – you have earned it.

* You don't need to face loneliness and depression alone. I would encourage you to share your feelings with others around you. Ask for support from your university or talk about your thoughts with your friends and classmates. Additionally, your personal supervisor is available to help you on a personal basis. You can also get in touch with the Mental Health and Wellbeing Team – the staff is there to listen to you and ready to assist. Never feel like you have to face this alone or that you are alone. Everybody occasionally needs a little more help, and that's absolutely fine!

* Lastly, I would suggest you join the Mental Health Society to attend the meditation sessions that will help you a lot in this regard. Also, meeting with other students in the same society will help you to understand your mental state and motivate you to improve it.

* Staying fit and healthy while abroad can feel difficult, as is adjusting to a new country and culture. Although studying abroad inherently implies change, it should not adversely impact your health. Finding ways to stay in shape while abroad is an excellent way to get out of your comfort zone, learn more about your new town, and provide an emotional outlet. The University of Hull’s Allam Sport Centre has a lot of facilities that will help you find a perfect sport for yourself and perhaps make new friends at the same time! 

 You can also read my other blog about how as an international student you can get the most out of your journey.

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