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Alexia from Greece, BA in Journalism

Alexia Ganotaki, 21, from Greece
Journalism at Kingston University in southwest London

International students don’t have to feel like a fish out of water

'Leaving home for the first time to go to University can be daunting. It will be the first time – an important chapter in your life – when you have to prove to yourself and to your parents that you can stand your own two feet and become the adult you were destined to be.

'Of course, those who come to study in the UK face an even harder obstacle than moving town and cooking for themselves. These international students had go through the hard decision of leaving their home country, where everything was familiar, to enter the unknown of an entirely different place, culture and mentality.

'Knowing from experience, coming from a small island in Greece and flying over to the capital of Britain, it can be a hard adjustment. When arriving at the student town where I would be spending the next three years of my life, my thoughts were running wild with worries of: What if I don’t fit in? What if I don’t make friends? What if I struggle with my studies?

'At the end of the day, whatever your nationality, everyone is in the same boat and has the same thoughts running through their head. Some students stick to their flatmates, coursemates, the odd friend from their old school and others – like myself – would move out of their comfort zone to become a social butterfly by going to different events that were organised in Fresher’s Week, being open to chatting to anyone and everyone and going out with different groups of people.

'If anything, having a different nationality is to your advantage as the ‘home turf’ students will find you automatically interesting as you talk, look and dress differently. You’ll have something to say that’s unknown and unusual to them when talking about your home country. Most of the time they will find that your life growing up seemed far more exotic than their own (especially if you come from a hot country, growing up by the beach).'

Freshers’ Week and lifelong friends

'Freshers’ Week is an ice-breaker for all the thousands of students arriving at different stages in their lives, where they will start their career ladder. Of course, the week is full of fun nights out and bad decisions. You will never again meet so many people in such a short space of time, have that many contacts in your phone book and embarrassingly, bump into people you met the night before without remembering their names. Most students during this week will be over-friendly, saying hello from one person to the next, so no one has to worry about meeting people!

'Freshers’ Week and even the first term may seem like they will determine the rest of your university life, but don’t overestimate their importance. You will all eventually adjust to your new life and make your real friends in your own time, and this without a doubt will happen to everyone. Just think – out of the 25,000 students at your university, you are likely to make at least one lifelong friend during your three years there!'

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