Skip navigation

Settling into a New Country

Louisa Ruster Student Life

The decision to go to University is a big thing but going to study in a different country is a whole different story. I have studied two years at a German University and decided to complete my final year in England in order to obtain a dual degree which I hope will enhance my employability.

Nonetheless, I was aware it would be a challenge to leave my friends and family behind, to have all my courses in English and to settle in a different country with a different culture. However, Northumbria University and the friendly spirit of the North did their part to help me settling in easily and quickly.

Moving in to student halls

In Germany I had lived either in a shared flat or my own apartment but I have never made the experience of living in halls. Apparently in England it is quite common to live in student halls for the first year so I thought why not give it a go and so I signed my 10 months tenancy contract with Camden Court which is literally a stone throw away from Newcastle Business School, the faculty where I have all of my lectures and seminars. Prior to moving in I registered with Camden Court’s Wi-Fi so I could get immediate internet access when moving in which was very handy. Unite Students, the society which owns the majority of Northumbria’s student halls, does a great job in informing you what you need to do before moving in. When you arrive why not have a stroll over to Students Union; they occasionally organise bus trips to IKEA as most of incoming students will need at least some cutlery, a bin or a desk lamp. As student halls flats are rather simplistically decorated you might as well want to purchase some nice curtains and pillow cases. If you can’t make it to IKEA there’s always the home department at PRIMARK where you’ll find all you need to make yourself at home in your student accommodation.

 What I would definitely recommend incoming students to do is sign up for Northumbria’s free Meet & Greet services. No matter whether you’ll be arriving by train or plane, the University will send some staff members over to pick you up from wherever you arrive and pay the taxi to get you to your accommodation. I was incredibly grateful for that as I was carrying loads of luggage and given my rather poor sense of orientation I had no clue where to go after arriving at Newcastle Central Station.

Fresher’s Week

Having friends is the most important factor which makes you feel at home wherever you are.  The best way to socialise, therefore, is probably attending Fresher’s week. I come from a rather small University in Germany which is why I didn’t know there was such a thing as Fresher’s week. I’d say it is definitely worth buying a wristband (to be purchased via, cost around £34)which allows you free entry to all the main events going on during the first week of the semester and also allows some discounts on food and drinks. For example, I remember joining a huge tea party in Domain at Northumbria’s students union. It was a very enjoyable event because firstly, there where free tea and muffins for everyone and secondly, members of the SU organised some socialising events so I got in touch with loads of other international students and freshers. If you’re in for more free food, during fresher’s week habitas frequently offers free BBQs and Pizza while broadcasting Champions League.

And then of course, if you like to get a bit competitive, there is the notorious Dodge ball tournament for international students! You don’t need to be super athletic to participate; it’s just a nice socialising event really. Apart from getting to know Sports Central, you can get a bit active and get in touch with other internationals.

During my first week the University had organised an Introduction session for international students only. In the Business School a lecture was held on what internationals need to know about Newcastle. For instance, an overview was provided on which supermarket chains are the most expensive, how to use the metro system and we even got a little lesson on how to speak and understand the Geordie slang.

And as if there was not enough going on during fresher’s week, there are also loads of fairs which are very well worth to attend. Especially if you seek to socialise, the society fair is the place to go as there is a society for nearly everything be it for ski and snow sports, pole dancing or chinese food. Other than socialising, engaging with a society always looks good on your CV so keep that in mind. If you’d rather earn some extra cash during your time in Newcastle, there is also a job fair as well as a food and housing fair.

Social Media

If you are an international student, look out for facebook groups where all the incoming international students of the present year are joined. Northumbria University sets up one corporate facebook group for international students only where you’ll get invited to once you’ve been successfully enrolled. It’s actually a nice thing as you introduce yourself to each other and learn about where everyone else is coming from, what they are studying and which halls they live in.

Just make use of the facebook’s search function and look for groups such as “Newcastle Freshers 2016” or “Exchange students Newcastle” etc. If you live in student halls your accommodation might probably have its own group too – always interesting to know who’s living next door.

In these groups you’ll be kept up-to-date about which party is best to go to at the weekend or whether there are some other socialising events taking place. Funnily enough I found out about this digital content creator role as someone had posted the offer in one of these groups – so keep your eyes peeled!

The weather

I wasn’t sure whether I should actually include a paragraph on the weather- most chosen topic for small talk- but I believe it might be a big deal especially for international students, in particular those students coming from countries with tropical temperatures.

To be fair, climate differences between the UK and Germany aren’t too big. The weather is actually quite similar; it really doesn’t rain every day of the week as many people may think. It does rain a lot, yes, but not particularly more than in Germany I’d say, although at this point I have to mention that I haven’t experienced summer in Newcastle. However, when it comes to the weather, there is one main difference between people from the UK and from Germany: I think Brits just don’t complain as much about the rain whereas Germans nearly love to grizzle no matter the weather, it’s always too hot or cold or too rainy or windy. Maybe this is why I don’t even feel that it is raining significantly more over here because no one moans about it…if it rains, buy yourself a fancy pair of wellingtons and live with it, you’re not gonna die. I really like that attitude!

I’ve been living in Newcastle for nearly 8 months now and I can genuinely say that I have properly settled in and I actually don’t want to leave anymore! I think the University as well as the students union do everything they can to not let anyone feel left alone, if you are willing to socialise. Besides, people from Newcastle are so utterly friendly and welcoming that you can’t help but immediately falling in love with the Geordie spirit which made settling in even easier. 

Back to top