What is it like to be an International (Malaysian) Student in Portsmouth?

My name is Carmen, I am currently doing my second year degree in Business and Human Resources at the University of Portsmouth. Making the decision to further my studies in the UK was definitely one of the greatest challenges in my life.

First’s things first, the idea of living independently in a completely different country and environment was the scariest thought of all. However, the greatest tip I could give to any international student is to be strong and bold. When you have gone through the early stages of living in Portsmouth or simply abroad, you will definitely find your university life worthwhile and you’ll never want it to end!


Top 5 Challenges an international student will face while living in Portsmouth

  • Settling down into accommodation: The first thing to think of when I arrived in Portsmouth was where is my accommodation and how do I get there? This is definitely one of the most important thing to worry about, but you will be surprised at how easy the process of moving in will be with the help of University staffs.
  • Going through the university registration process: It is definitely scary thinking of registering yourself into university all by yourself. As mentioned however, you will be surprised at how friendly and helpful the staff in the university will be, as well as how capable you are to go through it all by yourself.
  • Getting used to the weather: No more living in the ‘microwave’! For those who enjoy cold weather, you will definitely be enjoying yourself in the UK’s winter. As for those who are not a fan of cold, you will find yourself searching for a radiator everywhere you go!
  • Getting used to the greetings of locals: This is rather odd but you will definitely find yourself getting confused at how the people in the UK greet others, with ‘you alright?’ instead of ‘hi how are you?’
  • Travelling around the city: As you are still new to Portsmouth, you will think that it is a fairly big city. You will find yourself finding out how to use the public transport, which makes everything in walking distance!


Advice for you

  • Accommodation: Before arriving in Portsmouth, make sure you have done your research about the accommodation you will be living in, in terms of location, tenancies and moving in. In case of student halls, the university website is always available for you to obtain any information you need to know before arrival.
  • Registration: This is actually not a difficult process. Make sure to check your emails to get information about registration and orientation dates as the university will definitely keep you up to date. And what’s left to do is follow the schedule, get yourself registered and enjoy your orientation week! Don’t be afraid to take part in the many activities organised during orientation week as they are precious opportunities for you to make friends and get to know the university more!
  • Weather: The first few days will be the toughest, and jetlag sure doesn’t help either! Before coming to Portsmouth, don’t forget to bring sufficient winter clothing as the weather can be a little ‘too much’ during winter, especially to those who hate the cold. Almost all accommodation is equipped with radiators, so it should be warm while staying indoors.
  • Local Greetings: You might find yourself overwhelmed with confusion with the local greetings, but trust me you will get used to it real quick and will find yourself greeting like the locals soon! When you hear people saying ‘you alright?’ to you, simply reply ‘I’m good, and you?’ with a smile on your face. Try not to look confused, they are really just saying hi, not that you’re looking like you’re not alright. So smile and embrace it!
  • Travelling around the city: Almost everything you need, such as the university, supermarkets and restaurants, are all mostly in walking distance. This is great news as you get to save a lot, plus you can treat the walking as work outs too! Maps of the city are available in the university, you should be provided with one in your welcome packs during registration or orientation week. Of course, sometimes you might just want to cab it or try the buses when don’t want to walk walk but don’t worry, public transport services are never more convenient.


Portsmouth is a beautiful waterfront city, it has a lot to offer for us students and it is vibrant, yet peaceful at the same time. Being a Malaysian student here is awesome, you get to know students and make friends from all over the world and to the many people who have yet to learn about Malaysia, you get to share our diverse culture with them. Although it will be tough during the early stages, you definitely will not regret your decision! The ‘precious treasures’ of life in Portsmouth are waiting to be discovered by you and the journey of it will be absolutely worthwhile!


By Carmen Wen Eng