I’m going to describe my first term at university abroad as a way of expectations vs. reality in certain areas students might find challenging. First of all, living away from home and settling in. Personally I didn’t find this challenging as I am quite independent and good at making new friends. But on the other hand, I don’t live on campus, so I can’t just go and knock on my neighbour’s door, introduce myself and later in the evening go to a party or out clubbing with them. I was expecting to make new friends at the beginning of the term, when in reality it happened spontaneously, like sitting together in the lectures or seminars. By now you are probably well settled in, but if any future students are reading this, here’s a tip: when you arrive at campus, meet new people either by knocking on their door or going to parties. Don’t be shy; remember that you’re all in the same situation.
I believe for me and most of the students the biggest challenge is money and managing the budget. Savings and student loans decrease rapidly so if you don’t have a scholarship or your parents can’t support you, you must get a part-time job. Moving to the UK from Slovenia, I had naturally expected prices to be a little higher. In reality, housing is ridiculously expensive and my heart breaks every time I see the prices in the Co-op on campus.
I have discussed selecting reading material and how expensive books can be (see the results of our survey), but there always comes a time when you desperately need to read a chapter from a book and it’s no longer available at the library. This problem could be solved by offering e-books. Everyone owns a computer, Kindle, tablet or a smart phone and instead of carrying heavy books to and from the library or seminars, we could all easily access them on our devices.
Our library offers a great experience. I never come across a library that is opened (almost) 24/7 before. However, when it gets crowded the Wi-Fi network starts lagging making it hard or impossible to access the internet. This could be solved by offering more cable ports for internet so that students could choose a wired connection, making wireless connection more available to devices which only offer wireless connection such as tablets and smartphones.