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Overcoming the challenges of living in the UK

Posted: 21st January 2019 10:19

While the UK is a good place to study for those born here, it is also a popular option for international students. There are a wide number of challenges like feeling lonely in a different country; setting up bank accounts that require proof of address; and the worry of being unemployed once you finish studying. However, language is probably the single biggest obstacle to overcome for non-native speakers. Anna Viralainen outlines her top tips on how to overcome the challenges during your time in the UK.

If you don’t understand something don’t be afraid to ask

It may seem straightforward, but if you don’t understand something don’t be afraid to ask them to explain in different words. They will understand that English is not your first language. It is better to have a clear understanding rather than just pretend you understand by nodding your head. Believe me, I have been in these types of situations and I have seen people doing it too.

If you make an active effort to engage in conversation and show a willingness and interest in improving, people will be more inclined to spend time with you. This will make socialising so much easier and more enjoyable in addition to helping improve your English quicker.

Don’t be ashamed of your accent

Here is the honest truth, I still am. When I first came to the UK, I was thinking how must I sound? What shall I say and what will people think? From time to time people will laugh when you pronounce something completely wrong. The main thing to remember though is not to take it personally. They’re not laughing at you and my advice would be to just laugh along with them. Sometimes I even utilise my pronunciation to make up my own little quirky words like saying shoesies instead of shoes. Believe it or not, people like it and actually start saying it too!

Nail your written English

I know it is easier said than done but this will make you seem more professional and open the door to a lot of new and exciting opportunities. Everything you write represents you as a person. In order to leave good impression – grammar is king. I am still guilty of typos and errors in my written English but I try to work on it every day.

Socialise in English

It is natural that people try to find a common ground of familiarity when moving to a new city so it is no surprise that many foreign students try to find people they can converse in their mother tongue with. However, IT DOES NOT DO YOU ANY GOOD! Staying in groups and speaking your native language does not expose you to the country you came to live or study in. It will not show you a different culture, traditions, or the mentality of the society you live in. It may be more comfortable but in the long term, it will stop you from progressing in your study or career.

Surround yourself with the right crowd

I have learned that it is not what challenges you are currently facing, it is how you deal with it and who you have in your life that really matters. Since I moved to the UK, I have met some pretty amazing people that have absolutely changed my life. I would not have been where I currently am without them. Everything that I have achieved, from finishing my Bachelor and Masters degrees to starting my life as an entrepreneur is because of these people around me that have believed and supported me in everything I have achieved. I would like to encourage everyone to go out there and meet the right people and live life to the fullest. Simply put, don’t let the barriers hold you back.

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