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Life as an International Student


My name is Trinity and I’m an international student from South Africa, Johannesburg. I am currently studying for a BSc in Criminology and Forensic Psychology. Moving abroad has given me many different experiences, back home I enjoyed many different hobbies including horse riding, water polo, volleyball and spending time with my family and friends. However, since moving abroad my hobbies have lessened but are just as fulfilling, if not more. Since immigrating I enjoy spending time with my flatmates, enjoying the nightlife in Chichester as well as adapting to a new culture and exploring a completely new way of life.   


I chose Chichester University because they offered the exact degree that I was looking to complete. I always knew I wanted to study something in the realm of criminal activity and solving crimes. Trying to find a degree like this in South Africa wasn’t very easy, and thus I decided to study abroad – I only discovered Chichester University when looking at different universities through UCAS, as I searched via courses and applied to all universities that had a degree that piqued my interest.  The first question that everyone always asks me is “Isn’t moving away from home very difficult?”  


Moving away from home is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it has also been one of the most rewarding experiences.


Trying to sugarcoat the idea of moving away from home as easy, is pointless. The homesickness hit me like a train after the first few weeks, I missed many milestones back home as I have two brothers who graduated high school, got their driver’s licenses and got into different universities. I missed birthdays, holidays and even Christmas. About two months after moving here, all I wanted to do was go back home. However, I made a deal with myself, that I’d give it six months, if I was still unhappy and scared, I’d go back home.


It has now been 4 months and I can confidently say, that deciding to give myself the option to feel homesick but sticking it out was the best decision.


I now have friends that I would never have met, I have amazing flatmates, I have gained experience in so many sections of my life, I have gained independence but most importantly I’ve started to figure out who I want to be and where I want to go.   

Although I was homesick, and just sick in general the first few weeks of being here the university was very helpful.


Chichester’s resources are incredible in helping students adjust to life abroad, there is always someone to talk to no matter what the problem is that you’re facing.


The problem may be mental health, physical or even just maintenance issues. Everyone always gets back to you promptly and they are always willing to help. However, as much as the university resources are helpful, the thing that helped me adjust the most to university life, were the friends that I made along the way. I’m not the most social person and thus I normally struggle to make friends, living in halls gave me friends right off the bat. I have become completely inseparable from my one flatmate, and she has been my rock throughout my time studying abroad.   

Moving to the UK came with many different struggles, however, culture shock was one of the biggest things that I had to adapt to. The cultural differences will be something that all international students need to get used to. Specifically in terms of South Africa, a culture shock for me was only leaving for a night out at about 9-10 pm and coming home around 2-3 am. Back home we’re always home by midnight latest. Another culture shock that I had to adapt to is the different slang and type of English that is used. For example, in the UK it is known as a ‘traffic light’ however back home it is known as a ‘robot’. One of my favourite types of culture shock was the different slang that they use, the best one in my opinion is “academic weapon”, which basically just refers to getting stuck into studying or spending a large amount of time working on assignments.  


Amongst all the new experiences that I have had, the new memories are definitely the best part.


One of my favourite memories was from my first weekend here in Chichester, my flatmates and I went down to Bognor to the Sheiks club. We had an amazing night out, I had never really gone out with a big group of friends before, and it was probably one of the best nights I’ve had since moving here. Another core memory that I will carry with me forever is house hunting with the people I will be living within my second year. It felt so grown up to go view houses by ourselves and sign contracts, was one of the most independent things I have ever done, and I have University to thank for that.   

 As an international student I do feel as though we need a larger presence in the university, so here are some things to think about. All the advice that I received from different people before moving was helpful however it was all practical. So, from one international student to another, here’s the advice I think you’ll need.


Let yourself be sad, and don’t feel like you have to put on a brave face for everyone else, it will get better.


Eventually, the homesickness won’t be every night, eventually, you’ll get into a routine. Make as many friends as you can, speak to everyone, ask as many questions as you can. Most importantly, learn from the locals, learn the etiquette, and most definitely if you come from a warm country, make sure to pack an extra coat – it’s freezing!   

 Being an international student will open up a lot of opportunities as well as questions. My future plans are vague at the moment, I know I would like to work in law enforcement, maybe even work my way up to detective as my dream to is work with and catch high-profile criminals. However, I do plan on living somewhere in the UK, and building a life here for myself is something that I will strive for. I may even push and try to get my PhD in my degree, who knows? I don’t know exactly where I am headed, but I’m excited about the journey, and you should be too.   


-Trinity, BSc in Criminology and Forensic Psychology student 

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Date published

13 Feb 2024

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