Studying abroad can be exciting yet challenging. The iStudyAbroad team speaks to ANDREW BROMLEY, a well-known figure among SHU international students, about his experiences and advice.
It has been a steep learning curve for Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) International Student Support Officer Andrew Bromley.
“With international students, I had to adapt to the various cultures and languages while maintaining a level of sensitivity,” he said.
In his four and a half years at SHU Student Support Services, Bromley has encountered thousands of international students from all walks of life.
He said: “My role is to support international students from the very moment they arrive in Sheffield.”
From practical issues such as opening bank accounts and registering with
the medical centre, Bromley and his team assists students in all possible ways.
Other than providing basic guidance, Bromley realizes that students may face many different challenges when they study in a foreign country.
“International students find it harder to adapt to a new culture and environment,” he said.
The unfamiliar food and erratic UK weather can be particularly unsettling for students.
Furthermore, some may experience isolation and loneliness when they are far away from familiar faces and surroundings.
To combat that, the Student Services team places much emphasis on organising social activities where students have the chance to meet new people in a safe and supportive environment.
“I always encourage students to get out of their rooms, meet new people, go to new places and be as active as possible,” said Bromley.
“We find that students who participate in social activities are much happier here, and as a result, they do better in their studies.”
Language can be a deterrent especially for international students who come from non-English oriented backgrounds.
It is common to see international students sticking with familiar cultures and social circles which may be comfortable, but not practical.
“Unless you start speaking to local people, going to shops, watching British TV and practicing your English, you might as well be living in your home country,” he said.
Bromley has met dozens of international students who faced obstacles at first, but eventually learned to overcome them.
“Be open minded, active and willing to try new things,” he said. “You will have a wonderful time in Sheffield, your English will improve, and your chances of getting a job will increase.”
-Story and Photo by Mabel Yan