How to Adapt to University Life in the UK

If you have lived outside of the UK for any length of time, or perhaps you have never been, the prospect of university life in the UK will be one which is no doubt filled with mixed emotions. On the one hand, you will be excited while at the same nervous about adapting to a different way of life, and in some instances, a completely different culture, even if you have been at an international school.

As the leading international school in Hong Kong, we do everything that we can to help our students prepare for university life wherever that might be in the world. For many students, it may be their first time away from home with some students perhaps returning to their country of birth, with others visiting for the first time. We always let students know that there first few days and weeks may feel lonely, but as they make new friends and become accustomed to their new surroundings, things will quickly get better.

How to Adapt to University Life in the UK

Basic about The UK

The UK has one of the longest established education systems in the world with world-class universities that are in major cities or more rural settings. It is a multicultural nation, rich in history with stunning scenery and plenty of things to do. For students, university campuses are perfect places to make new like-minded friends with lots of social activities, including sports and clubs arranged by both the universities themselves or the Students’ Union.

The British way of life may take some adjusting to, but most students find it a fulfilling experience on both an educational and a social level. Of course, things will be different such as the inclement weather, the food and the famous English sense of humour, but once you settle, you will find the whole experience very rewarding. Most qualifications that are gained in the UK will transferable to other countries and are generally highly respected so you will be giving yourself the perfect platform to build a career in whatever field you choose.

Take Time Out

Regardless of if you are studying in the UK or any other country in the world you will need to take some time out to relax. University courses, especially the later years, can be intense, so you must take some time out to unwind. Being organized is one of the critical factors for easing your stress and reducing the amount of pressure that you feel. It will mean that you can afford to take time off without worry about completing an assignment or being adequately prepared for an exam.

There are lots of things that you can do outside of university such as trying some traditional British foods like fish and chips, Yorkshire puddings or perhaps you could treat yourself to afternoon tea. Right across the UK, you are never too far from the countryside or coast. These are places that you could visit for the day or maybe even a night camping. Traveling by train and using a students’ railcard will significantly reduce the costs of travel, with other forms of public transport also being relatively inexpensive.

It’s not a Holiday!

While we are very keen for you to enjoy your overall university experience, you must recognize that you are there to study first and foremost. There will be times when you will need to get your head down and learn, and this is why we always advise students to select courses carefully. You should study something that you are genuinely interested in; if you are not, you will quickly become distracted. Studying in the UK is not cheap, and you owe to yourself and your family to be committed.

Enhance your English

Of course, your will be proficient in English, but if you are a non-native speaker, it will allow you to enhance your language skills with colloquialisms along with words and phrases that are used in everyday life. Lots of these you will be unfamiliar with, but don’t worry, British people are friendly and will be happy to explain! British accents are very different in different regions of the country with people from Scotland sounding very different from someone from London, for example. Again, this can be tricky at first, but it will give you a better understanding of life in Britain.

Make Friends with People from Different Countries

The UK is a very diverse country, and in both your social and academic life, you will come across people from different countries and different cultures. It is often noted that in Britain, people do “keep themselves to themselves” and they can be a little reserved. There is a common theory that people from the north tend to be friendlier, although this is mostly due to them being more willing to speak to strangers. Once you get used to the oddities of the UK, you will soon make new friends with many being genuinely interested in hearing about your background and culture.

Generally, you will find people in the UK, more than happy to help you where they can and indeed that are often quite flattered to be asked. Remember, you won’t be the only international student at your university, so there is no need to worry about feeling like an outsider!

Professional Help

If you do feel like things are getting on top of you, getting help is easier than you may think. There is no stigma in the UK about admitting that you are finding things tough and the university will have their own trained counselors who you will be able to speak to. They may refer you to someone else, but help is never far away. However, it will often be down to you to ask for it. Surrounding yourself with a good group of friends will also help to make things easier.


Remain open-minded when you come to the UK, be prepared to study but make sure you make time for yourself to appreciate everything that the country has to offer. It is a fantastic opportunity to live in the UK, so make sure you make the most of it.

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