Working and socialising with people
In the previous Step, you heard some students speak about communication with people from other cultures. They made some interesting points, including the key message about the benefits of making friends with people from other countries. This opens up the possibility of sharing cultures, ideas and experiences and seeing the world from different perspectives, all of which will help you get the most out of your time living abroad.
Another obvious benefit – one that’s of particular value to you in your studies – is that, when speaking with other nationalities, the common language is most likely to be English. This provides you with lots of valuable extra listening and speaking practice in relaxed and informal settings. Your friends and fellow students will be in similar situations and will probably be experiencing similar language concerns. So, this is a great way to build confidence and to practise expressing yourself in English. Of course, you might find that you’re the only person from your country on your course or in the same accommodation. But don’t worry, this is a great chance for you to share your experiences and knowledge with others.
In the video from Step 2.14, Junyi says that he is thankful to his British friends because they were patient with him and helped him improve his English. Talking with UK students will certainly help you develop your listening skills. However, you may find that when native speakers are together, especially socially, they speak very fast, use lots of colloquialisms and can be more difficult to understand. Don’t be embarrassed to ask your friends to repeat or explain – most people are happy to help. Likewise, don’t be embarrassed to speak – everyone makes mistakes, even in their own language, and UK students will most probably be impressed at how well you speak English.
At the start of your first term you’ll take part in Freshers’ Week, sometimes called Welcome Week. This is the perfect opportunity to find out about clubs, societies and social activities in general and is a great way to meet people with similar interests, views or values and, of course, to make friends.
You’ve looked at the benefits of making friends and interacting with people from other cultures, but what about students from your own country? It’s natural to want to mix with your co-nationals, especially when you first arrive. You can give one another support and encouragement and being together, for example when shopping and cooking, may help you feel more at home. If you’re doing the same course, then you can discuss your ideas in detail and support each other with course work.
You may want to or need to speak to friends in your own language, but try finding a balance between using English as much as possible and speaking your own language at certain times and for certain reasons. If you want to get the most out of your time studying abroad, then you should actively try to make friends from a variety of countries and cultures.
© British Council