Building a community at university: Ryanne from the USA

International Students relaxing in a park.
One of our student ambassadors, Ryanne from the USA, has written a brilliant blog post on the value of making friends while studying with us. Ryanne is currently studying the International Foundation Year in Business, Economics, Law and Social Sciences.

As an international student, studying in a new country can be challenging, particularly at the start. Culture shock and homesickness can make the journey slightly uncomfortable. However, building a community is the best way to make you feel more at ease, and show that you really aren’t alone.

Build a community at university

I built a community by being a club leader and a student ambassador. Being a club leader introduced me to students with similar interests. We were able to interact and enjoy art tasks on a weekly basis – this helped form a community of friends.

Being a student ambassador pushed me out of my comfort zone. I received tasks weekly where some were independent (blogs) and others were collaborative (like this one). The collaborative ones pushed me out of my comfort zone. This experience introduced me to more students across several International Study Centres. We all had one main thing in common - we were international students.

International Student Ryanne
Our first student ambassador task of 2021 was to meet and get to know another student at the Centre. After being assigned a partner for this task, we got in contact and planned how we would communicate. We agreed on WhatsApp chatting as it aligned with our schedule for the week. So we did that for a few days and got to know a little more about each other!

This task especially emphasized to me the importance of having a community. Though my assigned peer and I were both studying at the International Study Centre, we were at different stages of our academic journey. She is a Pre-Masters student and I'm an International Foundation Year student. Despite this, we recounted similar highlights and challenges that we faced this past term.

The main highlight we had was that we really enjoyed our course. We were both on Business pathways which was a main point of discussion over the past few days. We also briefly shared our career aspirations. She kindly gave me some insight from her experience studying business which was very helpful.

A challenge we both faced that we shared was the time zone difference between the UK and our home countries, 4 hours for me, 7 or 8 for her! This was particularly challenging given that we were both learning virtually in our first semester.

Getting to know a student who wasn’t on my course was a great experience. It taught me that although meeting new people and making new friends can seem like a daunting task, especially in a new country, being international students put us in the same boat. Through this similarity, we were able to share our experiences with each other!

Find out more about studying with at the University of Surrey International Study Centre here.

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