Meeting new friends, feeling homesick and learning new things – that’s how I’d describe my 3 years at the University of Derby as an international student. When I left the Czech Republic, my home country, and came to Derby to study Media and Communication for the first time, I didn’t know many people here. However, the day after I moved into halls I got to know my flatmates – who appeared to be the sweetest British people I had ever met and the best possible friends I could spend my first year in Derby with.
The first thing you are most probably worried about as an international student in the UK is that you’ll feel homesick at some point – and I’m not going to lie, you will. However, at the University of Derby you’ll have many opportunities to socialise. We have an amazing community of international students who find themselves in the same situation as you are, so you will definitely be made to feel welcome and make friends along the way. And who knows, maybe you’ll find some people from the same country and you’ll feel even closer to home.
From my personal experience, I can definitely say that university changes you a lot. Not only because you suddenly appear in a completely strange place, but you also begin to gain independence and become an adult quite quickly, such as being able to manage your expenses and finances. But apart from that, you need to find your place within the student community. I’m an introvert by nature and I find it quite difficult to socialise with people I’ve never met before. However, I was incredibly lucky to find many friends in my class, within the international student community, and throughout the wider community of British students as well.
Then vs Now
In comparison to the person I had been before I came to university, I certainly think I’m a bit bolder than before. I’m not afraid to articulate my thoughts and ideas aloud and present them in front of other people. At university it’s very important to express your opinions and viewpoints across a range of topics. It’s also crucial to be able to learn from your experiences and to listen to feedback with an open mind. And even though I’m still that shy introverted person, I have learned to be proud of my work and to discuss my results in front of lecturers and stakeholders.
I also believe that thanks to my university experience, I have become more open and talkative even in my personal life. So now it feels easier to make new friends.
As a current third year student I remember that during my first weeks in Derby the International Student Centre really did everything they could to make me and other international students feel welcome. They helped us set up our bank accounts, showed us the city and organised many events for us where we could meet new friends and socialise. If you ever struggle with homesickness or other issues and don’t have anyone to talk to about it, I definitely recommend you visit the University’s Student Wellbeing Centre. If you have any questions about your stay in the UK, head for the International Student Centre where they will be able to offer help and advice.
To summarise, I’d say that choosing to study a BA (Hons) Media and Communication degree in the UK has been a very good choice for me. I’ve met many people from the industry I want to work in and have been inspired by my classmates and lecturers every single day. I have grown into an even more amazing person and feel well prepared to face the world that awaits me beyond university.