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How I settled in at Bath

Third-year psychology student, Amber Chan, shares her experience of settling in at Bath and making it her home from home.

My journey to the UK

I’m Amber, an international student from Hong Kong, and I first came to the UK in 2021 for my first year of university. However, I was already interested in British culture and would watch videos and Google about the UK purely out of curiosity.

Nothing could quite prepare me for my experience at the University of Bath, though. It's been more fulfilling than I imagined getting to be such an active part of the University.

Taking the plunge during Freshers' Week

Freshers’ Week was full of activities. There were socials, give-it-a-go sessions held by various clubs and societies, course departmental introductions, and more. It was a great way to meet new people, get to know flatmates, and sample new and familiar interests. I tried jiu-jitsu, dodgeball, archery, and the Bath University Students Musicals Society (BUSMS). I kept up with two of these clubs throughout the year.

These hobbies helped me settle into life at Bath; they gave me a routine outside lecture hours and new social circles. Most students are happy to make new friends in their first few weeks, so I highly recommend just speaking to whoever sits next to you in your lecture, at an event, and even on the University bus! I got to know several people on the bus, and I’m still good friends with one of them.

International events

One of the most memorable things about Freshers’ Week was attending the International Café on the first day I moved in. International Cafés are organised by the Students' Union for all international students, and I met people there who have become firm friends. They helped me feel like I belonged at Bath.

The Christian Union also holds Globe Cafés every Wednesday at the Chaplaincy Centre on campus. These are gatherings where volunteers cook food from a different culture each week. You don't have to practise the faith – everyone is welcome to join and share their views on religion or just chat. I went to some of these during my first year, and I went on to spend my first Christmas in Bath with a mix of these international students and staff. It's a time I look back on, fondly.

Making friends

As an international student, it is easy to feel a little isolated, at first. After all, for many of us, this is our first experience away from our hometowns. Spending time with other international students can help you feel more at home. You can share feelings of homesickness, recipes and customs from your country, and laughter when you tell each other about the culture shocks you've experienced!

Don't forget, though, British students can sometimes find it difficult to adjust, too. In my first year, I lived in a flat with 11 other students who were all from the UK. We created a home away from home at Bath. One flatmate got a Wii for us to play Mario Kart on whenever we were free, we made pancakes together on Pancake Day, had cake together on our birthdays, went to pubs and clubs, occasionally studied together, and would have film nights. Spending time with them helped me feel more settled. I also learned much more about British culture than I would have if I'd only spent time with international students.

The fact is, the majority of UK students are curious to learn about your culture – I know from experience! Differences mean there's more room for discussion; it isn’t a signal to shy away! If you are in the same club or course as a local student, chances are that you share more in common than you’d think.

Lasting connections

For me, spending time in a variety of settings and with different people, in classes or societies, and with international or local students, all contributed to my feeling more settled at Bath. There is something for everyone here, and you have the span of your whole degree to find it!

The Living In a New Culture (LINC) programme

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