Out of the 1,600 students who joined Imperial College Business School in September, 88% are international students. This only tells you that if you are from another country experiencing a whole new city and a whole new College life, you are not alone!
Whether or not you have visited London before as a tourist, the experience of studying in the city can be incredibly exciting and yet super daunting. There are always some things on your mind: will you make friends, will your experience be as expected or like in the movies, will your learning be fruitful and study experience enlightening, will you find a suitable job after you complete your programme, will you make the most of it, will people accept you for who you are?.... and honestly the list goes on.
Although everyone has a different way of getting it together, below I have listed some pointers that will help you embrace life in London, its people and your Imperial experience.
Switch your seating each day
Often, we tend to stick with people we feel most comfortable with. This could be others from your own country, people who you spoke to during induction week or mutual friends. The one year or the few years you have at Imperial should be about meeting new people and experiencing new crazy things, so jump around! Try to keep changing where you sit each day in class, so that during your in-class activities you can naturally make conversations with new classmates and new friends.
Invest in me-time
You may not realise it, but whether you are an extrovert, introvert or an ambivert, everyone needs time to themselves. It can be playing a sport, aimlessly dancing, strolling around Hyde Park, writing in your journal, listening to your music or even just a power nap. During induction week, I remember feeling so intimidated with all the long hours, networking, getting back to my accommodation and managing food and my routine, it was almost impossible to find the quiet time to self-reflect or recharge.
Force yourself outside your bubble
I consider myself an ambivert; someone who loves being around people, but parallelly someone who also loves being alone with my book, music, movies and food. However, I had promised myself something before leaving for London and starting my journey at Imperial - that I would burst the bubble and force myself outside my comfort zone! You need to get out of this too.
This does not mean accepting peer-pressure and forcing yourself to do things you are not comfortable with. It simply means trying new things that you would not or have not done before. For instance, go for parties when you crave to be at home, it may help you meet people with similar interests. Some of my friends try a new cuisine each week, a new sport at Imperial’s Ethos Sports Centre each month, and some have even joined evening language or dance classes at the Business School. Push yourself to learn, experience and make most of your time here!
Keep in touch with everyone back home
While you get on with your new life in London and specifically your routine at Imperial, you tend to miss out on the happenings with your family and friends. They might feel you are too busy and unable to speak to them due to the time-difference or maybe just your routine. Over time, this makes you feel guilty and left-out from things happening back home. Make time for your loved ones and keep updated about their lives.
Give it time
The top tip always comes at the end… it’s the show-stopper! And as much as this tip may disappoint you and may not even seem like a tip, it is true! Give it time - London may be daunting at the start, but you will warm up to life here (I can tell you this from experience). Try to think of things from a positive point of view and simply give it time. You will be fine, just hang in there.