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Navigating Newcastle: An International Student Perspective

By Allison, Student Content Creator

Ever thought about the adventure of leaving behind the familiar to pursue your studies on the other side of the world?

I’m Allison, an international student hailing from the Caribbean, more specifically, the Cayman Islands, and I’ll be sharing some insight into what I experienced when moving to the UK!

My decision to study at Newcastle

Tyne Bridge in NewcastleThe decision of where to study involved weighing numerous factors. Among the contenders, Newcastle University consistently rose to the top of my list, compelling me to choose this vibrant city as my academic destination.

The university offered a wealth of information through its websites and social media channels, providing me with a vivid picture of what the next three years of my life would entail.

As I navigated considerations such as accommodation, financing, and transportation, the unwavering support and love of my family back home eased my transition.

Prior to my move, I was captivated by tales of Newcastle's lively nightlife, glowing reviews from fellow students, and heart-warming accounts of the warmth and friendliness of its Geordies. Above all, the allure of my chosen course—a curriculum blending marketing fundamentals with practical management skills—solidified my decision, offering a gateway to a myriad of opportunities in the world of business.

Connecting with home

Arriving in the UK, I was greeted by a whirlwind of differences from life in the Caribbean. From the unique cadence of speech to the self-checkout process at supermarkets, and even the mystery of operating a radiator, every aspect seemed like a page from a new culture's playbook. Swapping out swimsuits for coats and sandals for boots was just the beginning.

Trolley full of groceriesNavigating the Geordie accents and mastering public transport—quite a leap from the simplicity of three public buses on my island—was a challenge. But it wasn't just about getting around; every turn I was met with culture shock.

However, amidst the swaying emotions and bouts of homesickness during my first year, I found solace in reconnecting with elements of home. Joining the Hispanic Society provided a community where shared language and culture blossomed, culminating in vibrant celebrations at Latino Fest each month. Tracking down restaurants that resembled my mother's cooking, like Deli Churros located off of Northumberland Street that serve amazing empanadas, Cubanos in Grainger Market that never fail to make an amazing mojo-marinated pork pressed sandwich, and Little Lobo Cocina, arguably the best taqueria in the Northeast. 

People with luggage walking to British Airways flightDiscovering these familiar tastes and creating connections with those who shared my background enriched my experience, fostering a deeper appreciation for my roots while embracing the novelty of my new environment. Whether it was stumbling upon a new joint serving dishes reminiscent of home or making friendships across diverse backgrounds, each moment became a thread weaving together my journey. And amidst it all, there was solace to be found in endless cups of Yorkshire tea and countless coffee dates, anchoring me in this newfound chapter of my life.

Challenges and joys of being an international student

Sunset in the Cayman IslandsIt wasn’t an easy task leaving behind everything I once knew and loved and swapping it for cold winters and rainy springs. I was faced with new emotions and challenges that truly tested my strength and independence, and often, in quite draining moments of homesickness and overbearing schoolwork, I daydreamed of returning home and halting my studies.

As many international students encounter, living abroad may very well be one of the loneliest times. Although surrounded by constant unfamiliar bustling and new opportunities, one may begin to question their purpose here in the UK and whether or not they will fully understand the new environment that surrounds them - I know I did.

People sat on grass chatting

But just like before, I found the strength to persevere through the challenges by leaning on the strong connections I forged here and the unwavering support of my family back home. Building meaningful relationships with fellow students and members of the community provided me with a sense of belonging and companionship, helping to alleviate feelings of loneliness and homesickness. Additionally, staying connected with loved ones through regular communication and sharing my experiences with them allowed me to feel grounded and supported, even from afar.

Making the most of it. From one international student to another. 

Support comes in myriad forms, ranging from heartfelt conversations with friends to tapping into the extensive resources of student support and wellbeing services offered by Newcastle University for counselling and mental health assistance. 

Learn more about where to find support.

The university boasts a diverse array of societies, providing opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals who share your values, thereby easing the transition into this new chapter of your life.

Find out more about the societies here at Newcastle University.

A BeReal image of Allison and her friend in the library

And perhaps most importantly, maintaining regular communication and check-ins with loved ones back home serves as a vital lifeline, offering comfort and reassurance amidst the challenges of navigating life in a new environment.




By Allison, second-year Marketing & Management student and Student Content Creator