Where has the daylight gone? What’s with all the fireworks? Do I need all my clothes to be waterproof now?

Navigating life as an international student in the United Kingdom is an exciting and enriching experience, but it also comes with unique challenges. From embracing British traditions like Bonfire Night to coping with the Winter Blues and adapting to the ever-present rain, there’s a world of culture and climate to explore as you learn how to survive during Winter in Salford. Don’t forget to enjoy it as well! Winter can be really beautiful in the UK, so enjoy the experience as much as possible.

Bonfire Night and fireworks 

Colorful fireworks in the night
Photo by Elisha Terada on Unsplash

One of the most celebrated events during the autumn season is Bonfire Night. This enchanting tradition, also known as Guy Fawkes Night, occurs every November 5th. It’s a time when communities come together to enjoy dazzling firework displays and bonfires, but its history is a little more sinister with Guy Fawkes and his conspirators hoping to spark an uprising (quite literally). But back to the fireworks… As international students, participating in this cultural festivity can be an exciting way to immerse yourself in British customs and create lasting memories.

However, it can also come with a few safety concerns. Fireworks are more available to the public in October and November, which means that you might hear loud explosions in urban areas or witness youths setting off fireworks in parks despite what the law says. This can feel quite scary if you don’t know what is going on – especially because our campuses are in urban areas. Don’t forget about our dedicated Security team who are making sure you remain safe on campus. Please chat to them if you have any concerns and make sure you download SafeZone so you know they’re at your fingertips. Security can even organise a tour of the campus control room for you.

 Seasonal depression and your mental wellbeing

The transition to the UK’s darker and colder months can sometimes affect mental health. Seasonal depression, often referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or the Winter Blues, is a concern for all of us, but international students who may not be accustomed to such climate changes can find it a bit harder to deal with. It’s essential to be aware of what SAD is so you know what might be affecting you during Winter and seek support from our University Wellbeing team if you need support. 

Your mental health is a priority, and our university provide a range of services to support your emotional wellbeing. We know that can feel like a bit of a challenge for those of you from cultures that don’t speak about mental health openly, but we would really encourage you to take a look at the resources we have on our Wellbeing page to help beat the Winter Blues.

Daylight (or lack thereof)

The photo of Manchester sunset
Photo by Matthew Waring on Unsplash

As the days grow shorter during Winter, you may find that the daylight disappears before you realise. Daylight appears for a short period during Winter as we are so far north. This adjustment can be challenging, so it’s beneficial to make the most of the available daylight by planning outdoor activities, maintaining a well-lit living environment, and consider taking vitamin D supplements to counterbalance the reduced exposure to sunlight (but please check supplements are suitable for you with your GP). Darkness doesn’t mean that the day is over! Keep browsing the Student Hub to check all the events that are available for you around the University and make sure to get to some of the Winter markets in Greater Manchester to enjoy Winter in a different way.

Rain and dressing for Winter

The UK is notorious for its rainfall, especially during the winter season. Guess what? Greater Manchester is one of the rainiest places in the UK! A quality waterproof jacket and sturdy umbrella are your allies during this time. Don’t forget to layer up with warm clothing to stay comfortable while braving the cold and wet weather. Native Brits will often tell you, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Staying dry and comfortable is key to enjoying your time in the UK. Don’t forget to take advantage of your student discount when buying essential items so you get the best price! 

Covering coughs and general hygiene

a photo of washing hands
Photo by naipo.de on Unsplash

Winter is cold and cold weather means windows are often shut. There’s a lack of fresh air in a lot of spaces you’ll be sharing with others, which means it’s a lot easier to pass on any colds or sicknesses. When going to lectures, the library, study spaces or even using public transportation, maintaining good personal hygiene is crucial for both your wellbeing and that of those around you. Regular handwashing, showering, the use of hand sanitisers, and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing are fundamental practices to help you stay healthy. 

Help with cost of living

Managing your finances as an international student in the UK can be a concern when Winter hits and the heating is turned on, but we’re here for you with advice about how to budget and keep costs down. Look at our Help with Cost of Living page, which offers support in the form of financial advice, seasonal discounts, special offers and much more. Exploring these options can help alleviate the financial burden and make your experience in the UK more enjoyable without having to worry about money.

Part-time job opportunities  

Why not keeping busy while gaining some money? Check out all the services of our Careers and Enterprise team. You can book an appointment, drop in to the Careers Hub in the Lady Hale building (Peel Park campus) or take a part in a workshop. The Careers and Enterprise team can help you find work suitable for your visa, teach you about UK working practices, assist you with creating a UK-friendly CV/resume, advise you on how to gain valuable work experience and help you build your professional network. 

Do you have any Winter tips for international students? Comment below with your tips – we’d love to hear what’s worked for you!