Home » Living and studying in the UK » Student experiences » My first impressions of the UK

My first impressions of the UK

Ngoc Nguyen

By Ngoc Nguyen 6 May 2016

Ngoc Nguyen from Vietnam is studying MSc Marketing Management at the University of Southampton who has been selected as British Council student journalist. Here she describes her first impressions of the UK.

It was such a long journey to get to this wonderful country. I remember first arriving to the UK. It was late September 2015, after a seven hour flying to Dubai, a three hour transit there, seven hours more flying to London Heathrow Airport, one and a half hours sitting on the university bus, I finally made it safe and sound to my room at the newest City Gateway Halls of Southampton University.

City Gateway Halls

I cannot believe that it has been almost five months since that day. Time flies so amazingly fast that sometimes I want to be yesterday once more just to get the time back!

Nice green view from my room

My first impression on the UK is quite funny and embarrassing. Please have a quick glance at the picture below, as when you come to the UK you will probably see loads of signs like this on the street. Now close your eyes a little bit and tell me what you think when reading the first row?

Do you feel like there is a missing letter? If not then congratulations, you would not suffer the embarrassment I did. If yes, well, we are like-mined people and please look again. While I was sitting on the bus from Heathrow Airport to Southampton, I saw lots of signs on the street saying ‘TO LET’. They seemed to be all over the place. Due to my limited English, I did not understand ‘To let’ means ‘To rent’ (very British). Instead, I thought there was a letter missing, which is ‘i’. (I bet several of you would think the same when reading the photo). Consequently, my first impression of the UK was that ‘this country is toilet-friendly’ as there were so many signposted on the street. Funny, isn't it? How silly I am!


Brilliant food at Business School Welcome Reception

Southampton Business School – Where I am studying

So what it is like to live in the UK as an international student? One word: AMAZING. Frankly speaking, along with my main course, as a Baby Christian international student, I have enjoyed making new friends from around the world as well as immersing myself in studying the Bible and doing social activities at iConnect, iExplore) and iCafe orgainised by Friends International Organisation and Christ Church Southampton. These places are where I have been learning about interesting cultures and meeting diverse people - not only the British but also many other nationalities.

My first home-made food: beef & chicken noodles. It was not bad, indeed

My first dinner in the UK with my beloved high-school classmate and her friends – 17 September 2015

Vietnamese Chevening Scholars - London, October 2015

Southampton – January 2016

Alongside goofing around in Southampton, I have been traveling to many landscape cities around the UK such as Bath with Chi – my closet friend, and her Indian and Nigerian classmates, Brighton with Vietnamese friends, to Oxford with Friends International Organisation, and to London with Chevening scholars.  The more I travel in the UK, the more I fall in love with this beautiful island.  Most of my weekends are occupied with exciting and fascinating adventures. What a life!

Hanging out with friends at night


Brighton - October 2015

Overall, I have enjoyed a variety of things at Southampton University, where I am reading the MSc Marketing Management course.  I could not ask for more when I am being offered a convenient accommodation, brilliant food, fabulous learning facilities, lovely international friends, numerous social activities, and a well-equipped sport centre. Everything has been really enjoyable and blessing to me. Studying in the UK is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life - everything here is just as fantastic! I am looking forward to enjoying the rest of my time here as I know for sure; the best is yet to come.

Spontaneous baking session - making my favourite UK dessert Apple Crumble – I learnt it from one of my host families, City Gateway Halls, December 2015

Bath – September 2015

Afternoon Tea with Scones in the Oldest House in Bath – You must try it, really fantastic! – at Sally Lunn’s – Sep 2015


Fabulous learning facilities, University of Southampton, Highfield Campus