Make the first move: talking to locals

Universities often struggle with the lack of integration between international students and locals. Therefore, student unions, societies and members of community play an important role to assist students in this area.

Helen Francis, the president of Sheffield Hallam Union organises many activities  with her team for international students. The activities include day trips to Manchester and Liverpool and parties such as the Welcome Party, Disney Party and Cowboy Party.

The president of Sheffield Hallam Union, Helen Francis (left) really hopes to see the improvement of integration between the international with local students.

“Most international students are enthusiastic to participate in our events, and they also bring their unique cultures to the university which makes it livelier,” said Francis.

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An international student’s guide to British accents

International students may have a deterrent when communicating with British locals due to the various accents and slang. In addition, some local dialects may be tricky to understand.

“If I don’t understand their accents, I feel nervous and embarrassed to ask them to repeat again, so I will try to end the conversation or change to other topics,” said Owen Wong, a Malaysian student studying in Sheffield, United Kingdom (UK).

In the UK alone, there are many variations of accents depending on the region.

Joan Beal, 59, a Professor of English Language in The University of Sheffield, said: “Generally, those geographically furthest from London such as Geordie (Newcastle) and accents from outside England such as broad Scottish accents may be difficult to understand.”

Professor Beal: different accents would develop because people in some places were affected by contact with other groups. (Photo credit: Joan Beal)

Learning Through Accents

For the academic side, the accents of lecturers may affect the learning process of students.

An Irish lecturer from Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), Steven McDermott, said: “I have a very strong Irish accent, but I try to speak normally and sound English when I’m teaching.”

“International students should listen attentively and carefully when talking to people who have strong accent.”

“If I don’t understand what the lecturer is talking about, I’ll guess the meaning or ask for a translation from my friends,” said Megan Xiao, a Chinese student from SHU.

Steven McDermott (left), Irish lecturer from SHU believes that accent challenge is not a problem for international students as long as they pay attention to the speaker.

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Top career tips for international students

Proper career planning can determine the future employability for students who are graduating from college or university.

Tom Jackson, Career Adviser at Sheffield Hallam University(SHU) said student need to have self assessment to identify their career vision.

Tom Jackson, Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) career advisor, shares his top tips for a career action plan.

Developing a career path requires students to understand the environment in which they live and work, articulate their personal skills and then develop a future plan that is realistic for them.

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International students and locals blend at Sheffield cook along

Cook Along on London Road, Sheffield

Studying abroad is not all about academics and learning. In Sheffield, students get a chance to participate in a variety of events organised by the University and other independent bodies.

A cook along held on London Road recently attracted international students as well as locals to learn themed cuisine in the spirit of eating and fun.

This event was organised by Blend, a community food organisation based in Sheffield. The organiser, Chris Hanson, said: “This event aims to share the knowledge of food preparation and simple cooking that can be easily achieved at home.”

He also said that over a thousand people have attended the monthly cook along sessions which have been ongoing for the last two years.

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International students welcome the 2012 London Olympics

With the 2012 London Olympics in full swing, international students in the UK are celebrating the significant occasion in their own unique ways.

Malaysian student Jethro Wong was in London during the Olympic opening weekend to catch a glimpse of the historic event.

“It was a privilege to be in London to see the different cultures of the world coming together for this momentous event,” said Jethro, a summer programme student from Sheffield Hallam University (SHU).

International student Jethro Wong posing for a photograph with the 2012 London Olympics mascot, Mandeville. Photo credit: Jethro Wong

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How to cope with homesickness

Homesickness can creep up especially on international students who arrive in a new place, meet new people and experience new things.

Students may find its exciting when they first arrive in a foreign country. But when the pressure of university starts to kick in, students start to think of friends and family back home.

Ian Maher: “Homesickness should not be dismissed, because it can be very hard on a student.”

Ian Maher, Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) chaplain and a member of the Student Wellbeing team, shares his top tips on how to cope with homesickness.

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Tips for improving your English

For international students who come from non-English speaking backgrounds, language may be a major obstacle for communication and learning.

According to Fran Potgieter, 41, an English lecturer from Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), the most difficult thing faced by most students is expressing complexity of meaning with accuracy and clarity.

“’Hedging’ and cautious language can be difficult to produce and perfect tenses are an issue for many students,” she added. (*Explanation of ‘hedge’ at the end of this story)

Fran Potgieter (right), has taught English for about 20 years.

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