Finding home an ocean away from family

It’s been four years since I left home to come to uni! Four years! And no, I’m not an international student on paper, but I might as well be. My entire family lives overseas. Like, a nine-to-fourteen hour flight overseas.

The first year was the hardest, as it always is. I cried on the plane over, like a baby, staring out the ellipsoid window at everything I was leaving behind. I still remember the guy next to me, awkwardly trying to avoid eye contact until he realised the tears weren’t stopping and, flustered, flailed around looking for handkerchiefs.

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How to fight your inner Grinch: spending the Christmas season away from home

It’s that time of the year again. Chocolate Santas and gingerbread men have taken over the supermarkets and a never-ending playlist of Christmas songs encourages you to buy some more mince pies than you really need. Christmas has always been my favourite holiday, I’m one of those annoying people who starts singing Christmas songs in mid-summer, but being a university student can affect your Christmas spirit quite a bit. Between essay deadlines and exam revision, Christmas can actually come as a real surprise. Suddenly, the holidays are there, you find yourself sitting beneath a marvellously decorated tree, thinking about your upcoming exams, and being more of a Grinch than one of Santa’s joyful elfs. I’m in my fifth year of university and have spent Christmas time in three different countries during that period. Over the years, I’ve developed my own strategy to make Christmas season away from home a cheerful experience and I thought I’d share some of it with you guys.

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Adulting: the balancing act

University is a whole new ballgame which requires any new player to learn the rules. However, there are no written rules and it’s all trial and error. I mean, what’s the fun in rules anyway? Well, let me tell you what isn’t very fun for most people – adulting. Obviously, not everyone will have the same experience and will have different living situations, but people living whether a two-hour train ride or a 12-hour plane ride away from home will know what I mean. From my experience so far, living alone is the never-ending balancing act between adulting and university work.

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A breath of fresh air in the Steel City

Having lived here for nearly two months now, the Sheffield lifestyle is definitely a fresh breathe of air from the loud, hectic and boisterous lifestyle of Nairobi. With incredible architecture all over the city, it’s definitely a place I love getting lost in during my lazy Sundays. Walking down cobblestone foot paths with a Costa cup, bundled up in my parka and possibly looking like an Eskimo, I enjoy the quirky streets splashed with graffiti and lots of weird and historic structures strewn all over the place.

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Top 5 tips for international postgraduate students: make the most out of your time at university

I came to Sheffield from Malaysia in 2012 as an international student, studying LLB Law. I completed my undergraduate degree in 2015. I then decided after three years of employment (also here in Sheffield), that Sheffield is the city I would like to do my Masters too (that proves to you how much I love Sheffield!) In comparison to most international postgraduate students who only just started their first year in Sheffield, I’m in a better position as I have already known the city inside-out as well as university life.

A lot of international postgraduate students found it difficult to make the most out of their time at university as postgraduate course could be really intense, and usually by the time they start to get a grip on everything, it’s time for them to say goodbye. So as someone who has been here long enough, here are my top 5 tips to make the most out of your time at university:

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My history of settling into new places all around the world

Settling in a new place can be a daunting experience indeed, especially when you’re facing this prospect for the first time. Trust me – I know what I’m talking about. Raised in an average German city as the only child of loving parents, the event of my graduation from secondary school and my thus forthcoming departure from the life I knew so far gave me more than just one restless night. Not only did I have no idea what to expect from the coming months, but I also enrolled at a university that happened to be situated at the opposite side of the country. I was leaving my family, friends and even my beloved guitar behind, which had accompanied me for the best part of my life. I was frightened of pretty much everything from bureaucratic duties to how I would perform in class.

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