What I wish I had known before coming to study in the UK

By Rubie-Targema Takema

Photo by Ilya Ilyukhin on Unsplash


It’s all very exciting studying in a new country, you’ll make new friends, have new experiences and learn about a different culture. That said, there are a couple of things I wish I had known before I arrived and I want to share them with you so that you feel better prepared when you get here.

  1. The weather in the UK can be unpredictable
    In general, the weather in Portsmouth is good but what surprised me is how quickly it can change! The afternoon can be so different to the morning, I tackled this by always packing a small sweater and portable umbrella in my bag so I was prepared for anything. It is also a good idea to layer clothes so you can take something off if it gets too hot.
  2. You can walk around because everything is so close
    When I arrived I spent quite a lot of money on taxis to get me from one place to another but the University campus is in fact really easy to navigate once you get past the initial confusion. You just need to pick up a campus map and away you go. I also found the Portsmouth locals really friendly if I needed to stop them to ask for directions. I wish I had known how easy it is to get around when I arrived because I would have saved money and gotten to know the city quicker. When you first get to a new city, it’s always good to try and get around as much as possible on foot because each city has its own distinct personality, it’s great to get out and really find out just what that is.
  3. Orientation week is genuinely really helpful!
    When I first got here I thought I could figure loads out by myself and skipped quite a lot of Orientation Week. Looking back, I wish I had paid more attention and attended more of the sessions that the University runs. I missed out on social events and I wasn’t aware of numerous services available to me which was my loss. Take advantage of everything available and all the information on offer during orientation week – there will be other opportunities for you to figure things out for yourself.
  4. You’re not on your own
    The University really cares about you. There are loads of different departments to support you with every aspect of university life from finding accommodation to your welfare and wellbeing. I wish I had known earlier that I had this support as I would have struggled less at the beginning and settled in quicker. I came to the UK with the mind-set that I was on my own and I had to do it all by myself – don’t have that mind-set, get support where it is offered if you feel you need it
  5. British food wasn’t what I expected but I’m glad I tried it
    I didn’t know how different the food would be when I arrived in Portsmouth and it was a bit of a surprise. I found African food stores in the city so I could cook like I did at home but I wish I had tried British food sooner. It’s great to have something that tastes like home but part of studying in the UK is learning about a different culture and the food is part of that. From jacket potatoes to an English breakfast, you need to sample it all and see what there is on offer.

I hope my experience helps you with yours and you have some great stories to tell from your time in Portsmouth.