How to have the best international student experience

09 March 2021
Three students socialising outside near Durham Castle

The international student experience should be enriching and exciting. By choosing to study abroad, you will discover brand new opportunities, experience a different culture, learn from some of the best teachers and make friends from around the world. To help make sure you have the best student experience we have put together our top study abroad tips.

Get involved

A great way to make the most of your study abroad experience is to join a society or try a variety of the interesting clubs that are available on-campus. Getting involved with activities is perfect for finding a new hobby and making a new network of friends. There will be a wide range of things to do at your university so you can find something you enjoy. You could look on the University’s website to see what is available. If you don’t see the perfect activity for you, maybe you could start your own when you arrive.

To create the best possible student experience at Durham University International Study Centre, we host our own clubs and societies, such as:

International Study Centre activities and societies

  • Wellbeing week
  • Student Ambassador programme
  • Student Leadership programme
  • Book club
  • Poetry club

You can view the available clubs and societies you can join when you progress from the International Study Centre to Durham University here. When you join a group at the University, you will be among native students – so alongside having fun, you’ll improve your English skills and engage with authentic UK culture.

Explore your study destination

Living abroad is a great way to see lots of famous sights in your new country, and you’ll also be able to discover things to do close to your new home. Universities are usually well connected by trains and buses that allow you to travel easily within your local area or to transport hubs where you can go further afield.

Durham University International Study Centre is based at Queen’s Campus, in Stockton-on-Tees. You’ll find plenty to do locally with an arts centre, an 18th century theatre, and escape rooms all ready to be discovered in Stockton.

From Queen’s Campus, students can travel on the X12 bus for just £1 per day or £5 per month, making it easy to explore the local area. The bus route connects nearby cities including Middlesbrough, Teesside Park, Sedgefield, Newcastle and Durham.

When you progress to Durham University, you’ll be based in Durham City. In this historical city, you can find a UNESCO-listed Castle and Cathedral, museums and beautiful green parks and gardens.

From both Stockton and Durham, you can travel to the cultural hubs of Edinburgh and London in around 3 hours, making these exciting cities perfect for a weekend visit.

Make friends

Making friends with your fellow students will make your student experience better. Having friends at university means you can share your exciting adventure with others. Your new friends might also have found things to do that you don’t know about. By making friends while studying abroad, you can form lifelong connections and create your own international network.

Stay in student accommodation

One way you can make friends at university is by socialising with the people you live with in your accommodation. In most university accommodation there will be social spaces, such as communal areas in your flat or house that are excellent places to meet new people.

By living in Rialto Court, the International Study Centre’s student accommodation, you’ll be close to where you study on Queen’s Campus. This will help you make friends more easily and settle-in to UK life.

Durham’s collegiate system

Durham University’s collegiate system creates a family-style atmosphere for students. Whilst at the International Study Centre, you will take part in the college allocation process to prepare you for joining your college upon progression. You will likely live in college accommodation for the first year and be able to take part in college sports teams, activities, and traditions. Getting involved with your college is a great way to make friends, as you will have a common interest from the start.

You can learn more about what it’s like to be a Durham student from a former International Study Centre student on our blog here.

Expand your mind

Beyond the cultural experience of living abroad, studying at university gives you access to their fantastic libraries and other academic resources. Succeeding in your studies will improve your international student experience. In university libraries, you’ll find useful reading materials related to your chosen subject, such as academic journals or textbooks. If you’re interested in learning more about topics outside of your degree area, you will also be able to find material that will enrich your understanding of the world around you.

Study hard

To achieve the best grades at Durham University, and make the most of your international student experience, you will need to work hard. It will be worth it though, earning a degree from Durham will be a great asset for future career success. 97.9% of the University’s graduates are in work or further study within three and a half years of graduation, which is the highest graduate employment rate of any UK university (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2016/17).

By graduating from a Russell Group university like Durham, creating a global network of friends and having an in-depth experience of a different culture, you will have the best international student experience.

Study a pathway course

If you don’t quite have the grades for direct entry to Durham University, the Durham University International Study Centre could be a great option for you.

At the International Study Centre, we provide university pathway programmes for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. With our high-level of support, you can adjust to life in the UK, improve your English levels and develop your academic knowledge in order to get the most out of your degree – and have the best student experience.

Find out more about the Durham University International Study Centre here.