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Settling in and making friends as an international student

Swiss student Rebecca Michels talks about moving into first-year accommodation and what it's like to be an international student at Bath.

Rebecca is a third-year student on the BSc (hons) Mathematical Sciences course at Bath.

Moving in and making friends

In my first year at Bath, I was in the Solsbury accommodation and I loved it. Solsbury is made up of different flats, each with seven students who share a kitchen but have their own rooms and bathrooms.

When arriving on campus on move-in day, student ambassadors met us to give us our keys, student IDs, and most helpfully, a map of the University campus. They also checked up on us and helped us with some ice breakers to get to know our flatmates. I quickly made friends with my flatmates and coursemates, some from the UK and some from countries across the world.

I chose Solsbury as my top choice for accommodation as I wanted to be on campus and have my own bathroom. Since everyone and everything was going to be new, I wanted to have a space that was going to be my personal space. I also liked the idea that there were only seven of us as I thought it would be easier to get to know each other better and make good friendships.

In the end, I was so glad I chose Solsbury. The rooms were really big with large windows and plenty of space to store my belongings. Though it might have been nice to have a common area besides the kitchen, this meant we were always together when we cooked or wanted to hang out instead of being split between the kitchen and another room.

One of the best things about being in University accommodation, I believe, is that it gives you some ease of mind, especially before coming to university. I knew that I would have a room and if there were any issues I could talk to the University to get them fixed, instead of having to solve problems by myself (luckily I didn’t encounter any but it was nice to know support was there).

The best thing, I would have to say, is knowing that you will be forced to meet people and also to know that you will always have someone around. Especially before coming, a university can seem very large with thousands of students, but knowing that you will at least have your flatmates to start off with is a very reassuring feeling. Plus you get to meet all their friends and your hall neighbors.

Overall I had a great time in University accommodation and would not change anything about my experience.

Finding my place in the community

During Freshers’ Week, we all got introduced to the different societies at the University. A lot of countries or regions have their own society, which helps to make you feel more at home. I decided to join the Swiss society so I’d have other Swiss students to talk to and had some raclette which felt very familiar.

Bath has an International Student Association (ISA) which we were automatically a part of. I received several messages from them offering help to organise socials to meet different internationals from the University. Sometimes it was the little things like talking to someone in French amidst all the English speakers which made me feel more at home or aware that I was not alone.

At first, the British culture seemed very different to the one I was used to. Yet Bath does have quite a lot of international students and it was nice to have that unspoken connection when we met. Looking back, I think most of these feelings might have been in my head, but it was always good to know that support was there if I needed it.