How to adapt to boarding school or university life in the UK

Educational guardianship students

Moving to a new country to study can be a very difficult experience. Having been through this myself, I know how hard it can be to adapt to a new life somewhere where you do not know anyone, don’t speak the language fluently and find some things about the new culture you’re trying to become a part of really odd. If you are struggling to settle into your new life in the UK, here are some useful tips I’ve learnt:

1. It’s okay not to be okay

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be happy all the time. Moving somewhere new might leave you feeling isolated and alone sometimes, but keep in mind that it’s perfectly normal to take some time to adapt to your new life.

2. Give your language improvement time

If English is not your first language, it can be hard to adapt because you might feel frustrated at times not being able to properly express yourself. You may also struggle at first to fully understand your tutors and feel confident enough to contribute to your classes. Give it time; your language skills will improve, it just may take a little longer than expected. Meanwhile, don’t stop speaking because you’re afraid of making mistakes, always keep in mind that this is your second language and a lot of people can’t even speak a second language!

3. Don’t hide from other students

You don’t need to hide the fact that you’ve just moved to the UK and don’t have many friends yet. People are friendlier than you think and if they have ever experienced moving somewhere new, they’ll know how you are feeling and will probably try to help you.
guardianship students playing basketball

4. Join school/university social clubs

There’s no easier way to make friends than to join an extracurricular activity. Most schools and universities offer a wide variety of clubs and societies that students can join. Maybe they offer something you’re already very passionate about, but if not, it is worth trying some new activities to see what you enjoy most. This is a great way to make new friends and discover new interests.

5. Start saying yes

If someone asks you to join them in an activity you have never tried before, just go for it and say yes. Obviously, this only applies within reason; however, if for example someone asks you to go to the cinema but you’re not sure whether you’ll like the film, just go for it. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You might make a new friend and have a fun evening!

6. Use social media in the right balance

If you’re feeling really homesick, call your family but don’t use every chance you get to only talk to people from back home to escape where you are right now. Find a good balance between keeping regular contact and fully embracing your current life.

7. Find people in the same situation as you

It is very likely that there are other students who have also just moved to the UK and have not yet settled well. To find someone in this situation, look around your classes or speak to your teachers. You can also look for other students sitting on their own at lunch and break times and build up the courage to say hello – they will probably be so happy that someone has made the effort to speak to them!

8. Reach out to staff members

There are designated staff members in all schools and universities who are there to help students with any problems they have including homesickness, not being able to make friends and generally feeling miserable. This is usually your school housemaster or university student services team but you can also speak to a teacher you feel comfortable with. They will usually listen to your concerns, give you good advice and may even be able to introduce you to other students in the same situation.
guardianship students using ipad

9. Take your time

Don’t expect to find best friends within the first few weeks, building up trusting relationships takes time. This might be frustrating, especially since we’re living in a society where you seem to be able to have anything whenever you want it. Sadly, that does not apply to friendships. So just remember that it may take time but will be worth it in the end.

10. Speak to UKG

If you are finding it really difficult to adapt to your new school or university, you can always reach out to us. You may have tried for many weeks to settle into your new life in the UK and you have realised that it’s not working out. In these unusual situations, we may be able to help you to find a different school or university to move to. Send us an email or call us on 020 8387 4095 and we will be happy to give you more information.