Published: March 15, 2019
If you are thinking about becoming a student at the University of Sunderland or are a current student, here are my tips on how you can make the most of your study life.
Explore the region
When you first come to Sunderland exploring the city might be the least of your worries, but I noticed that international students especially come with big eyes open ready to explore. My advice: just walk around the city during a sunny day – Sunderland has many of them compared to other cities in the U.K. – and discover new places like the Fish Quay or Penshaw Monument. Freshers week is also a great opportunity to get to know new people and usually a local takes you for a walk through Sunderland and it’s hidden places!
Don’t stay at home and stare at the ceiling – stare at the seagulls in the sky outside instead! The University of Sunderland is a great place to meet people from all over the world: from Nigeria, Canada, Malaysia to Ireland and traveling to all these places would be way too expensive and time-consuming. So why not use this diverse pool of students to make friends instead?
Joining a society is also a good way to socialise, I actually met my best friends through joining the Basketball society!
When you come from overseas, home-sickness tends to hit you sooner or later. You don’t understand the Mackem accent yet (“Why aye”), you're not used to the culture (like, why don't British people use mixing taps and instead have one tap each for both hot and cold?) and your new surroundings can get to you after a while. So speak to your flatmates, neighbours, friends or your lecturers (they always have an open ear), ask questions and explore where you are.
Learn more about yourself
Yes, I know what you think: what more can I learn about myself that I don't already know? Well, if you take time to reflect every now and then, you'll notice changes about yourself and your life that you never thought would happen.
For example, I was writing a blog on local events back home in Germany, and didn’t expect that I would continue blogging here – especially not in a foreign language and now I have taken on two blogging opportunities: one for my masters course and one for the University, which is exciting!
I also followed my passion for photography and set up my first Instagram account to post pictures about Sunderland that I think other people will enjoy.
Get out of your comfort zone
Most international students already do this by coming to the U.K but that is only the beginning. Living with flatmates, experiencing a different kind of weather and exploring new food will certainly help with this. I have friends who didn't even know how to cook before they came to Sunderland and now it is something they are excellent at. When you are out of your comfort zone and away from your friends and family who will often help you out, you have no choice but to learn new things.
Value where you come from
Getting out of your comfort zone is important, but it's also important to remember and value where you came from. Give yourself a reminder of home every now and then, ask your parents for recipes, or have a quick search online on how to make your favourite treats from home. For me, German sausages, Quark, and dark bread are things I miss the most from home and now I bake bread regularly. The smell of a freshly baked bread in my flat’s kitchen cannot be beaten, even by the smell of a bakery back home!
Make use of the University’s services
Honestly, I don’t know where to start as there are so many.
- Need to speak to a chaplain? The full-time University Chaplain is the Reverend Chris Howson who can be found on the 1st floor of the Edinburgh building.
- If you want advice on how to write a CV or on your future career, look no further than the Careers Service. After updating my CV to the British standard with them, I got invited to two job interviews!
- The library team are great for advice on exams and assignments and host regular study sessions. They also show you how to use online and offline resources.
- The Wellbeing team offer an accessible and supportive service for all students experiencing emotional and mental health difficulties which are impacting upon their studies and/or daily lives.
- The Disability team provide a confidential service to students whose disability or condition has an impact on how they study and learn.
Attend University events
Make the most of the Freshers Fayre. Here you can register for societies, meet your fellow students and get to know services the University has. Freshers' week holds a host of social events that offer a good mix of day and night activity depending on your preference. It is also a great opportunity to get to know the city with a local guide and to make new friends. To increase your chances to get employed after graduating, you should attend the various networking events the University hosts, like the Students Opportunities Fair, the Graduate Fair or Movers and Shakers.
Topic: Advice and tips