Life at a British university

It’s always good to hear people’s experiences of life at a British university, especially when those people come from a variety of places around the world. The University of Plymouth have a page of video snapshots about student experiences, with transcripts available too. Here’s Laishalla from Trinidad and Tobagao talking about her experiences of studying in Plymouth.

    Laishalla – my life abroad

Hello, my name is Laishalla and I’m 23. I’m doing my Masters in Water and Coastal Management here are the University of Plymouth and I’m an international student from Trinidad and Tobago.

This is my first experience in a developed country. I was really scared and nervous at first but the staff at the International Advisory Service and the Accommodation Service were so helpful and friendly that I was able to organise a lot of things in advance.

The International Students Advisory Service are here to help you with anything you need really. They give advice from visas to accommodation issues, even help organising your own finances and they even organise trips to other parts of the UK, which is really good and really help put your mind at ease.

The Accommodation Office are really friendly and helpful. They give you advice whether you decide to live on Halls or in private houses. Even if you haven’t decided where you want to go before you arrive, they actually let you make phone calls and help you get to see the house before you go into it.

I live on International Halls, which I really recommend if you’re here for at least a year. It’s a great way to make friends. If you’re here on a short course or on an Erasmus Mundus programme and you’re here for just one or two terms, then you can easily find a shared house with lots of nationalities and live together.

The International Office put on an orientation week during the first week of September. They give you advice on how to set a bank account up with finance and accommodation, and they teach you about the British culture like “cheers” and how the weather can be an interesting topic on the bus. It’s a great way to settle in and an interesting way to make friends.

One of the best things about the international orientation week was that they put this big map of the world so that everyone can show where they came from. It’s like seeing all the world come into one at Plymouth University.

For lots of international students the British way of life can be totally different from what you’re used to. If the Students’ Union and the social clubs aren’t for you, then the Chaplaincy in the Sherwell Centre’s a great place to hang out.

It’s a place of worship for all faiths. A team of chaplains are here if you have any problems, and they organise social events such as social evenings, walks and lectures on faith issues.

One of the good things about the library that I like is that it’s not just a place for work, it’s also a place that you can relax. Even the public library is just across the road from campus and it’s worth joining as they stock the latest CDs, DVDs and novels, which I’ve found to be a great source of comfort.

There are loads of different clubs and societies that you can join but I’m on the committee of the Global Student Society, which is a great way to meet lots of international students. We help organise trips, host world music night and festivals.

One of the things I love doing was discovering Plymouth by myself. It’s been fun finding all the places on the postcards, and you don’t need to worry about transport because everywhere’s really accessible as the campus itself is within the city centre.

To me, the Hoe and the Barbican are what Plymouth is really all about. These are the things that will stand out in my mind.

If you’re thinking of coming to Plymouth, I’d say, go for it. You don’t need to worry about things, no one cares what you wear or what language you speak. If English isn’t your first language it can be tricky, but don’t worry, just come out and talk, it will be fine and it will improve. Also, know what you want to do and do your research so that you’re well prepared before you come. Plymouth, it’s worth discovering.
– my life abroad.