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By Daphne Oliveras
The best advice I can give you when coming to Bournemouth for the first time is: enjoy all the support opportunities BU offers to make this seaside town feel much, much better than home. Specially those extra nice ones set up for new students on the magical weeks known as Arrivals Week.

Although navigating the terminals at Heathrow is fairly simple, and getting to the Central Coach Station is too, if I had scheduled a more sensible time for my flight (rather than a truly inconvenient 10pm arrival) without a doubt I would’ve registered for the airport meet & greet. As part of this event of the arrivals week, wonderful people from BU will be meeting students at Heathrow and helping them get onto the right National Express (Bus service) , answer any questions and making sure they understand how to get from the coach station in Bournemouth to their accommodation.

Now that we’ve covered how to get to Bournemouth, the usual next step is getting a local sim with a huge data plan to talk to our friends, send pictures and check Facebook. And maybe call mum to say you’re ok. When you get to the airport, the temptation to spend £10-15 on a sim card will be high. RESIST! You can survive on free Wifi for a couple hours until you get to your new home. Then, you will have the pleasure to discover the wonderful places called 99p shops that sell them for just that, leaving you the rest of the money to spend on credit. There is one in Winton and one in Boscombe which are a short bus ride away from campus, so you get a chance to save some money from day 1! There is also Poundland shop in Poole to be explored if your allocated accommodation was Corfe House. (You can thank me later for this tip when you also buy your favourite shampoo, Doritos, cookies, cereal and other foodstuff for a little less than a pound in those shops).

Now, surviving those first few days (ok, who are we kidding weeks) of cultural shock and adaptation would be impossible without friends. So, logically, the first thing to do on your to-do list when you get to BU should not be buy pens, or buy notebooks but get friends ASAP (you can all then go buy supplies together, right?). So…. How to go about this? If you are shy or outgoing, British or not, everything from parties to lectures at BU will give you so many chances to make friends (yes!) that by the time the first week is halfway through you’ll be surrounded by an army of them.

During these two weeks, we get inductions to our courses and everything the uni offers. You will hear the word “plagiarism” ’till your ears bleed (proof of how serious BU is about academic offenses and all the tools and advice and support they have available to help you to never ever ever commit one, not even by accident). These lectures are a great chance to practice the one thing you need to master while in Britain: punctuality. Without it, you’re dead, especially when cool lecturers shoot you with laser guns (fingers) for interrupting class.
A big bonus you shouldn’t miss is the Information Fair. It will give you the chance to sort your uni life in one place. The bus companies, banks, the cycling group, the Student Union and student clubs are just some of the people who will kindly offer you their services and explain all you need to know, so you can land on your feet from day one. A tip for this one: come ready with a copy of your passport and you may well leave it with an (almost) open bank account.

For international students, a very special occasion is the International Welcome Reception dinner. If free food and drinks doesn’t lure you, the chance to show your amazing fashion sense (some people where their national dress) does nothing for you or meeting new people not only from your School but across uni is something you are not sure about, then this event is still for you because, my friend (like my Indian pal says) this event is for EVERYONE! Two months down the road the people I met during that night have become my lifejackets, teddy bears, and every safety device you can think of. Even alarm clocks when they realise I’ve overslept (again).

So make the most of your time at BU, and explore the trips, food, lectures and workshops. I’m sure you’ll find something useful or lovely in each of them and, if not, I’m sure you’ll at least find a likeminded friend.

4 Responses to “An International Welcome”

  1. Martin

    Hi Daphne

    How have you found your time in Bournemouth as an international student? Have the locals been welcoming? How about classmates? Is there a good chance to mix with British people or do international students & British students just sort of stick to themselves?

    Reply
    • Samantha Gale

      Hi

      I’m currently finishing my first term at BU and so far I have greatly enjoyed my time in Bournemouth. The people I have met have been extremely welcoming and nice to me. But maybe that is because I always try to wear a smile on my face when talking to strangers.

      My class is made up of roughly 140 students, out of which 80% are Asian (mainly Chinese and Thai) and the rest of the world makes up the 20% left. There is only one British guy, though to me he’s not a “real” Brit (NEVER tell him that, he’s quite picky about it) because he has lived all his life abroad.

      However, the British students I have met outside the classroom have also been nice outgoing people willing to laugh and have a good time. In truth, there will be a lot of fun, quirky people that are in the same place you are: far from home wanting to make new friends, so finding common grounds for friendship is fairly easy.

      On a more “official” side, there is a Multi-faith Chaplaincy at BU that offers to connect international students with a “British Host Family”. The idea is that these nice Brits open their homes to you for tea or dinner to give international students an idea of what is a “real British home”. The Chaplaincy also hosts other events that attract both British and international students to promote mingling and cultural exchange.

      I hope this helps.
      Daphne

      Reply

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