Living in the UK
Adapting to a new culture
The experience of living in a different culture is a real challenge. It can be exciting, fun and life-changing. It can give you new ideas, new perspectives and lots of things to tell your grandchildren! The great thing about an international university like Leeds is that as well as learning more about British culture, you can enjoy a multi-cultural experience. The University of Leeds is committed to the principle of equality and is determined to treat all students fairly, regardless of their sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion or belief. We work hard to provide a safe, supportive and welcoming environment for all. All staff and students must follow the University’s equality and diversity policy.
What can be difficult about living in a different culture?
Many international students feel homesick at some time when they are here. A good way to fight homesickness is to talk about the way you feel with other international students. If you share the ‘ups’ and the ‘downs’ with people who really understand, you will feel a lot better. You can meet other international students at the Global Café, the International Students’ Club, or by joining international student societies in the Students’ Union.
This is a reaction to the exciting, but often confusing, experience of moving to another culture. Things like the food, the weather, different social behaviour, and the rules and systems in the UK may make you feel uncomfortable, unhappy or unwell at times. These are all temporary symptoms of culture shock. Find out more about culture shock by reading the leaflet ‘International students and culture shock’
When you understand more about UK culture, you will experience less culture shock. Ask the International Student Office if you have questions about things that are different here from what you are used to back home. You can help yourself cope with the differences in the food and weather too. On a bad-weather day talk to people about how you feel - everyone in the UK likes complaining about the weather! When the weather is bad, arrange fun activities with friends to keep you feeling positive.
Where can I get help with homesickness or culture shock?
There are several places in the University where you can be sure of finding someone to talk to who understands how you are feeling.
International Student Office
Visit the office for help to get used to unfamiliar aspects of life in Leeds or to talk in confidence to an adviser about homesickness or culture shock. You can ask questions about systems in the UK and things you find strange here and get help to meet international and British students.
Chaplains are spiritual advisers who offer a warm welcome and support to students throughout the year. They are experienced at helping students through times of homesickness and culture shock. The Chaplaincy offers support to students of any faith and those with no religion.
Student Counselling Centre
This service helps individual students to cope with issues like homesickness and culture shock. They also run workshops where you can share your experience in a safe environment with other students who are in a similar situation.
Leeds Student Medical Practice
Local doctors see many international students who are feeling in a low mood or have physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach complaints which can be related to culture shock or homesickness. They provide sympathetic advice and any treatment needed to help you recover.
How can I find out more about British culture?
University of Leeds Global Community
Join our facebook page and visit the Global Community website to network, meet British students and find out what’s happening in our multicultural University and our diverse city. This page is for organising and publicising events and activities, having fun, and making the most of being at a multicultural international University.
The HOST programme sends international students into British homes across the UK for weekend visits. It’s an opportunity to make new friends, share your culture and understand British culture better. Apply on the HOST website then visit the International Student Office to arrange your visit.
Language Exchange Partners
If your first language is not English you can apply to be matched with a student who is a native speaker of English with an interest in your language and culture. This is a great way to learn about another culture, practise language skills and make friends. For more information visit the Language Centre Self-Access Area 2nd Floor Parkinson Building.