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Belonging at Bath as an international student during lockdown

Mark recalls his experiences moving to Bath as a first-year international student during lockdown and how the University’s services helped him through.

Student Mark Tsui standing in front of a harbour
'I think going home wouldn’t have allowed me to grow this much'

Mark is a student on the Bsc (hons) Criminology degree course at Bath.

Student accommodation

When I applied for student accommodation, I made sure I picked the ones that were on campus as I thought a first-year international student should live there. You were closer to University facilities and services, and that’s where the life is! I actually applied really late and so I didn’t get a campus spot. Although I was disappointed, in retrospect, I was quite lucky, and I am glad I didn’t get it.

Living in John Wood Court in the city, my flat consisted of four people, but because we couldn’t go out as much during the pandemic, we were able to spend a lot more time together. Gradually our group expanded, and now the seven of us live together. Even though I’m sure the same could’ve happened up on campus as well, I wouldn’t have met my amazing friends today, and I wouldn’t change anything for that!

Meeting other International Students

As much as I was extremely close with my group, I also really wanted to meet other international students and participate in events like I had seen on social media before coming. But because of COVID restrictions, in person society events were not allowed. Thankfully, the International Students Association organised a ‘family system’ where international students were put into ‘families’ (groups) to get to know each other. We met up online once a week, and I was able to make many friends of similar and different backgrounds. Fast forward to my second year, we still keep in touch and occasionally meet up for coffee. I am extremely glad to have met these people, and so I guess, COVID has its ways of doing things. It can’t be always bad.

The holidays

Because of travel restrictions, like many other international students, I stayed in the UK over the Christmas holidays. As my local friends started to head home one by one, the thought of staying in Bath all alone became more depressing. Luckily, and also a big thank you to the SU, they organised many festive activities over the course of a week to bring us all together and keep us merry. The Student Accommodation Team also offered students who lived in the city to move up to campus to be closer, and the holidays became so much better.

Fast forward to summer, I wasn’t willing to do a 21-day quarantine to go home and so I also stayed in the UK again. My student accommodation contract was ending, and I needed a budget-friendly place to live in. Turns out, the University leases student accommodation on campus until the start of the next academic year. Staying in Eastwood, not going home was definitely a great idea as it allowed me to make the most out of my time here without any academic commitment. I also got to experience tiny bits of the ‘campus life’ like I had wanted before. I spent my summer working in a restaurant and gave university campus tours on the side. I earned some money, made many new friends, and gained plentiful experiences. It was such a productive and rewarding break, and I think going home wouldn’t have allowed me to grow this much.

Support

The University offers a wide range of services to support students’ health and learning, from workshops, to classes, to 1-2-1 meetings. It is easy to get stuck and overwhelmed during university, especially when dealing with new changes, and that can be academical and/or personal. Perhaps for international students, going so far away for the first time might be hard to adapt to, and so be sure to take advantage of the services and make sure you never battle your own problems alone!

Find out more about studying at Bath as an international student

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