Judith: My experience as an international student

Hello reader! I'm Judith Ogboru, and I currently work as the Undergraduate Marketing Executive at Herts. I've come a very long way to get to this point. Just a little over six years ago, I arrived in the UK for the first time from Nigeria to study Mass Communications here at Herts. I was only 17 at the time and had come here all on my own, so I felt a mix of things - excitement, nervousness, but mostly hope that everything would work out (which it did in the end!).

So, if you're coming to Herts and are not quite sure what to expect, here are a few helpful tips that I picked up along the way.

1. Get a sim card and a mobile plan!

Trust me, in your first days, this is going to come in very handy! I remember NOT doing this and trying to take a trip to the local supermarket without an internet connection so that I could whip out Google Maps if I needed it. Let’s just say I was very grateful to even find myself back on campus eventually, after what felt like hours of walking. Also, it’s generally just useful to have this so you can reach people when you’re not on campus.

2. If you can, stay on campus

When I came to Herts, I was essentially in a new town, in a new country and surrounded by an entirely different culture! It can be very overwhelming to take that all in, especially in the first few weeks. I had chosen to live on the College Lane campus in my first year, and I found that the support from staff as well as being with other people who were also discovering Herts for the first time helped me find friends and made me feel like I was not alone.

3. Get involved in campus activity

There’s an abundance of ways for you to get involved with fun activities on campus and there’s something from everyone. I was a member of the Catholic Society and growing up catholic, that was a really wonderful way for me to connect with like-minded people. We made so many great memories together having summer barbecues, going on trips together and generally just having that weekly touchpoint for us to connect. Herts is such a diverse place, and you get to meet people from all walks of life, so joining one or more societies can really put you in touch with a diverse group. The shared interest that brings you all together is definitely a great starting point to kick off your friendships.

But if this isn’t quite your cup of tea, you just join a sport team or get involved in volunteer activity or even take part in our non-competitive sport initiative, Active Students.

4. Connect with your course mates

Don’t be shy to “shoot your shot” with your course mates. Meeting a bunch of new people can seem very scary, but trust me, pretty much everyone can relate. You’re all in the same position of not knowing anyone and everything being new. For me, forming those friendships early on really helped to form a friendship group that can support you through your years of uni. The best part is, we were usually free around the same times which allowed us more opportunities to develop our friendships outside of class.

5. Explore the campus and the local area

Campus tours, facilities tours and trips to the explore the local area and beyond are always available especially during the first few weeks of the semester and they can definitely help you settle in better. I unfortunately was unable to participate in this as I arrived at the campus a little late due to visa processing delays, but on getting to campus, it was the friends I made that were able to partake in these activities that really helped me figure out where everything was.

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous however, you can always hop on a bus or train and see what the local area has to offer. Fun fact: the University has a bus service with networks across Hertfordshire and London and they offer discounted student tickets. So, you can head to the historic city of St. Alban’s to visit the beautiful cathedral or maybe even visit the stunning lavender fields in Hitchin, all while saving on travel. Also, London is only 25 minutes away by train!

Remember, we're here for you!

It feels nice to say, ‘we’, now that I work at the University. And truly, ALL of us here for you!

There’s support available for you in every aspect of your student life from our wellbeing services to Herts SU and even personal tutors to support you in the realm of your academics. It’s so wonderful to be a part of a community that truly cares and if you’re ever feeling low or need someone to speak to, you’re more than welcome to reach out.


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