We asked Logan, an international student from the United States, to let us know what she found helpful when she moved countries and started studying at Salford.
Hello and welcome to the University of Salford! My name is Logan, and I am from the United States. I have been an international student at the university for several years now. Firstly, I want to applaud you for being brave and having the courage to move out of your comfort zone to open your mind to somewhere new. It’s not easy moving to a new country and adjusting to new customs. It can be terrifying, yet exciting as you prepare for a new adventure. To help ease your nerves, I have written about some of my expectations before arriving to Salford and compared them to the realities of studying and living here. I hope my insight will help you and make you feel at ease and excited to join us.
Jump to what you’re most interested in:
- Living on campus
- Making friends
- Academic and marks
- Feeling homesick
- Getting around the city
- Must do’s
- Helpful university services
Living on campus
Like most students, I was really anxious about living in the student halls. I worried about not getting along with my roommates and if I would be safe. However, it turned out I had nothing to worry about, it was one of the best experiences I had.
First of all, living in halls is a great opportunity to meet new people and make friends. I met students from all over the world, and some of the most special memories I have were living in student halls. We would share and learn about each other’s culture, creating memories that will last a lifetime.Your flatmates are experiencing university life with you, which makes you feel part of a community during your time at Salford. You’ll be able to call them up years from now and say, “Remember when (fill in the blank)”.
Despite my initial worry, I felt very safe in my little room. Being so close to my university buildings also made it convenient, I could get to my lectures easily and meet up with my course-mates. If, for some reason you don’t enjoy living in your halls of residence, we recommend getting in contact with askUS, who will be able to give you some specialist advice.
Another worry I had before arriving was about making friends as I was the only international student from my home university. I won’t forget my first day / week: I ate lunch by myself and felt really alone. I quickly reminded myself that I was in control of the situation, and I was not going to spend my study abroad experience this way. I told myself, “The first person who walks in, I’m going to ask if I can sit with them…”
Turns out the first girl who walked in wasn’t on my course, which made me feel a little awkward, but I thought “Oh well try again”. The next girl came, I asked to sit with her and she quickly became my first friend in England. She then introduced me to her friends, and from there my uni adventure began. I will never forget that amazing semester with my new friends, it was full of laughter and joy.
The point of me sharing this story is to encourage you to put yourself out there. The first person might not be your best friend, but you’ll find your place and your people eventually. All you have to say to get started is, “Hi, can I sit with you?”. You already have so much in common with your course-mates. You’re at the same university and have chosen to study the same subject. If you are coming to university alone, see it as an opportunity to create a new uni family of lifelong friends, as you start this next chapter of your life.
Even though English is my first language, it was still an adjustment understanding my lecturers. (Especially when you’re tired and jet lagged!) It can take a while to get used to the British accent and certain phrases. The Manchester accent is very different from the posh southern accent many of us have heard from movies; don’t expect everyone to sound like Keira Knightley or Hugh Grant.
A few things that confused me:
- When someone asks you “Are you alright?” That doesn’t mean you look unwell. It’s just another way to say hi or how’s it going? This baffled me for a long time. (The most standard answer is, “Yeah, you?”, which can take some getting used to!).
- In the UK they use different English words for things than in America. Here in Salford pants are now called trousers. So, if you tell someone you like their pants, they might be slightly confused and may think you’re talking about their underwear. (I might have done this…) Also, dungarees are not some strange version of a kangaroo, they are overalls. They don’t wear sweaters in the colder months, they wear jumpers.
- A large debate depending on what part of the UK you are in is ‘tea vs dinner’. You’ll find that some lecturers will say dinner time around midday. This means lunch time. For dinner, they might ask you what you have for tea. Tea doesn’t mean afternoon tea with scones, clotted cream and jam. Tea is referred to as dinner, and dinner is known as lunch. Don’t be confused, you’ll quickly get the hang of it.
- Spelling of certain words can be different in British English. For example, in America we say ‘color’ and ‘emphasize’. In the UK, it’s ‘colour’ and ‘emphasise’. It’s always good to pay attention to spelling to make sure you use the British English version in your assignments.
If you don’t understand something, you can ask lecturers and other students to repeat or rephrase what they have said. You don’t need to be embarrassed, people at Salford are very understanding and people from the UK tend to know that they use a lot of phrases that don’t make sense to people who didn’t grow up here. Remember how brave you are for making the choice to go outside your comfort zone to experience a culture that’s not your own. Be curious and show interest and you’ll learn a lot.
Academics and marks
Don’t stress too much about your grades. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to keep up with British academics. However, it’s important to remember you earnt your place at Salford so you’re capable of achieving good grades. The marking system is a lot different to what I had in the US. I found at Salford I was given a lot more freedom to explore and do my own learning, such as being given final semester projects to work on over time. As long as you put in the effort and demonstrate your understanding, take the pressure off yourself.
If you think your English isn’t the best, studying at Salford is an opportunity to make it better. The University understands that English isn’t a first language for all students, so they run programmes throughout the year to help you improve your academic and English skills. Take a look at the Skills website to find some ways to improve your writing skills.
Relax, enjoy the learning process and be curious. It’s your time to experiment and make mistakes. Find what works for you when it comes to learning, find what you like and don’t like. Learn from the different viewpoints of your course-mates and question ideas. Don’t be afraid to speak up! Your ideas and comments are important as you bring a new perspective as an international student.
Feeling homesick is completely normal and it’s something most students experience, especially in the beginning (that goes for students who are from the UK as well). It’s important to remember that home will always be there, and the feeling of homesickness will pass. Being an international student is an amazing opportunity and experience you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.
If you do feel homesick, it’s okay to cry…I did a lot of that. You can also call home to speak with your loved ones. Something that helped me was to have a TV series or a movie running in the background that I used to watch back home. Making a playlist of songs that remind you of home is good, too. Of course, be sure to carry photos and make your room cosy and homely.
When you feel the emotions of homesickness, remind yourself why you chose to go abroad. You’ll be so proud of yourself for going. It’s not forever so make the most of it. It will go by so fast.
Getting around the city (public transport)
I was really nervous about getting around Manchester as I’ve never had to take public transport before living in the UK. I took my first public bus in Salford, and I soon got the hang of how it worked (though it took me a while to get the hang of what side of the road to be on).
I didn’t realise how much walking I’d be doing. I’d recommend bringing good walking shoes with you, especially with the temperamental British weather. It’s good to have Manchester-proof shoes (that means waterproof… it rains a lot here). If you’re planning on travelling on the train often during your time in the UK, you might be best purchasing a railcard. These cards can give you discount on ticket prices, which can save you quite a bit of money over time.
Also, sometimes buying bus tickets on apps can be cheaper than purchasing on the bus.
Quick tip: the 50 bus is free to catch in between our University campuses. It makes it really easy to get from Peel Park campus to MediaCityUK – just show the driver your student ID card. If you’re catching the bus into Manchester city centre, you’ll need to pay a normal fare.
Some of the apps I would recommend for Transport are:
- Trainline – good for checking train times and booking tickets, but charges a small booking fee;
- Stagecoach – great for checking bus times and routes specific to Stagecoach buses, especially the 50 bus;
- Diamond (Apple and Android)– another great bus app specific to Diamond buses for checking times and routes in and around Manchester, can also buy tickets on the app;
- Northern Railway – a helpful app to check train times and buy tickets in advance with no booking fee;
- Metrolink (Apple and Android) – if you’re new to the trams in Manchester/Salford, this includes a map and times of when the trams show up – a tip: you can get the tram for free in the city centre if you have a valid train ticket from a Greater Manchester station (i.e. travelling from Salford to Manchester on the train and using a tram from Victoria Station to Piccadilly Gardens);
- Get me there – allows you to purchase and store Metrolink (tram) tickets on your phone.
There are so many things to do in Manchester, especially as an international student, so make sure you have fun and explore! Here are a few of my favourite things to do whilst living in Greater Manchester to get you started:
- Experience the traditional British afternoon tea (Sugar Junction is my personal favourite);
- Visit the free museums to become an expert on the city and local culture(There’s the Manchester Museum, Science and Industry Museum, Imperial War Museum, Manchester Art Gallery);
- If you are looking for Harry Potter vibes, I highly recommend spending the afternoon at John Rylands Library in the centre of Manchester;
- Visit the beautiful RHS Garden Bridgewater;
- Watch a football match at a pub for the true British experience;
- Go on a shopping trip to Affleck’s Palace, there’s independent stalls, small shops and boutiques;
- Grab a coffee at Foundation Coffee House;
- See Manchester’s edgy Northern Quarter and Green Quarter (lots of movies are filmed in the Northern Quarter because of its amazing buildings);
- Visit the Town Hall;
- Have a study date at the Manchester Central Library;
- Have a pint at the Old Pint Pot;
- Head down to Old Trafford Football Stadium, the home of Manchester United (or Eithad Stadium if you’re more of a Manchester City fan);
- Explore Chinatown;
- Take a nice walk around Salford Quays on your study breaks or head to the Lowry Outlet Shopping Centre (which also has a cinema). You can get the 50 bus there for free from any bus stop in between Peel Park Campus and MediaCityUK campus.
Helpful University links
These are a few helpful services I always have on hand:
- Home Office Compliance Team: This team is good if you need to know anything about your visa or coming/returning to the UK. Find out more on the askUS website.
- askUs Team: askUS is your one-stop-shop for student support. askUS is the best place to start if you need support or advice during your time at university. You can contact them online, over the phone or in person. They’re located on Peel Park campus at University House. If you need any documents such as council tax or proof of study for bank accounts, this is where you’ll be directed.
- Your School Office: At Salford you will be part of a School that covers the subject of your course. Each School has an office that you can contact when you need information about anything related to your course, such as academic support and placements. You can call them on 0161 295 5388 or email them using their details below:
- School of Arts & Media: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Salford Business School: SBS-Hub@salford.ac.uk
- School of Health & Society: HealthSociety-School-Reception@salford.ac.uk
- School of Science, Engineering and Environment: SEESchoolEnquiries@salford.ac.uk
- Personal Tutor (or Academic Progress Review Tutor): my personal tutor has been my life saver. If you need help or guidance and don’t know where to turn to, start with your personal tutor. You will find out who your personal tutor is once you start your course.
Once again, I would like to say welcome to the University of Salford! If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask for help (askUS is the best place to go if you’re not sure where to start). Enjoy your time, you’re going to have a blast!