What is it like being a Bulgarian student at the University of Portsmouth?

Hi, I’m Monika, a Masters’ student in Economics, Finance and Banking. When I first arrived in Portsmouth, I had a mixture of feelings: I was a ball of excitement, enthusiasm and nervousness and I had no idea what to expect. Knowing how daunting it is for a new student to arrive in a country and city they’ve never been to before, I’m going to share with you some secrets from my personal experience about what to expect in your first month.

It’s easy to make friends anywhere

Being in pretty much the same position during the first few weeks, all students are very sociable, so don’t be afraid to talk to people no matter where you are – in the shop, at the bus stop or at uni between lectures. I found this to be an easy way to find friends and to learn faster about things around campus through other people’s knowledge.

The English language will catch you unprepared

No matter how good your English is, there is no way you won’t struggle with the accent and the everyday language in the first month. Phrases like “You alright, mate?”, “Wicked”, “Cheers” and “Gutted” are some of the things you’ll be hearing a lot.

But don’t worry too much about not being able to understand everything. You’ll quickly become fluent in English as long as you make sure you don’t stick only with a company of friends talking your own language/ in Bulgarian.

No tips in taxis

Tipping taxi drives might be a common thing in Bulgaria, however, this is not the case in England. Drivers will usually give you back your change to the last penny and will not expect you to leave anything more than what the meter shows.

Saying “thank you” and “sorry” a lot

English people are known for being incredibly polite. So don’t be surprised if someone steps on your foot in the bus and says sorry to you. You might find this weird in the beginning, but you’ll quickly get used to it and will adopt this behaviour so much that you’ll consider it rude when the shop assistant back home doesn’t say “thank you”.

Don’t bring an umbrella, it’s pointless.

You probably think that for a country like England, where it rains 80% of the time, the one essential thing in your luggage should be an umbrella. Wrong! What got me surprised here when I arrived is that you will hardly ever see anyone using an umbrella. Even if you do, that person would probably be a foreigner. The reason for that is simply the wind which makes the use of an umbrella a nightmare.

So, these are a couple of things which I hope will make you less nervous when you think about what you’ll face at the beginning of your journey in Portsmouth. If you want to find out more tips on that matter, you are more than welcome to get in touch with me.