What it’s REALLY like to be an international student in London

Dana is a 3rd year Digital Culture BA student from Saudi Arabia.
Dana is a 3rd year Digital Culture BA student from Saudi Arabia.

At first when I thought about studying overseas the thought of moving to a big, main city like London seemed intimidating—as much as I loved to visit London, I never knew if I could live the ‘city life’. Coming from Saudi Arabia where I grew up and lived all my life, I didn’t know where to go next when it was time to apply to university. But the minute I received my conditional offer to King’s, I started doing my research with what opportunities there are for international kids like me who might be scared, worried, intimidated and most importantly, homesick.

 

dana8But as my final year in high school flew by, I travelled to my new home, London, with no expectations. At first I stayed in a private student accommodation which was the first step of comfort—other international students coming from different parts of the world. I wasn’t alone. In fact, everybody was on the same boat. And what made things better is that when I started to attend my induction and all the welcome events, it made me realise how extremely diverse London and its universities are. Thousands of students flee their homes to come to study here. It amazed me how the countless student services and assistance there was at King’s.

 

Dana reporting live from KCL Radio.
Dana reporting live from KCL Radio.

As each year at King’s starts with a welcome fair—the main freshers’ event that allows you to sign up and join the endless societies—it’s a great way to meet people, join groups and clubs that might interest you. The amount and complexity of these societies are insane. One minute you’re passing by the netball and sailing society, the next you’re greeted by the hot chocolate and knitting society. I’m happy to say that trying them out over the years really enhanced my experience. Moreover, most of the cultural societies were present. And I was happy to feel like there was a place for everyone. Joining the Saudi society gave me a sense of home. When they would host cultural events and bring in Saudi dishes, I loved meeting and connecting with fellow Saudis who had much in common with me. I’m pretty sure other students from different cultures are able to say the same.

 

Dana at London Fashion Week with the Fashion Society.
Dana at London Fashion Week with the Fashion Society.
Admiring London’s street art
Admiring London’s street art

And my favourite part of all was that it’s not just the university that’s diverse, but the city itself. The accommodation allowed me to meet students from different universities, the multi-cultural festivals, markets and events found in different parts of the city as well as countless societies.

 

Another lovely thing about London is it’s location—you can always take day trips to nearby cities, or, even more importantly, to nearby countries. I was able to take weekends to Brighton, Cambridge, Portsmouth and even Scotland. On a wider scale, I seized the opportunity to take weekends and go to places like Paris via the Eurostar, Portugal and even Switzerland!

 

Enjoying Sunny Brighton!
Enjoying Sunny Brighton!

Overall, London is a diversity-friendly place. And as much as it can be intimidating at first from the hustle and bustle and its complex tube maps, it really does offer countless opportunities. The most important thing is to take them, no matter how minor or major you think they are. But as a young student who has travelled overseas to acquire a world class education from King’s, I am happy to say that my experience was not only about studying but from learning about life, people, cultures, entertainment, self-reliance and to explore a new world like never before.

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