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Welcome to Guild of Students

Student Chirag on Adjusting to Life in the UK

Student Chirag on Adjusting to the UK

Image of Student Communicator, ChiragHello all! I'm Chirag, a first-year computer science student originally from Mumbai studying at the University of Birmingham. I'll be talking about my experiences as an international student and sharing suggestions for helping others in adjusting to university life in Birmingham.

Moving to a new city may be stressful. Whether you’re are moving to a different region of the UK or an entirely different continent, many students may find it difficult to adjust to life away from home, living apart from their family, or adapting to a new cultural setting. When you relocate, culture shock and uncertainty are common, but don't worry—things will start to seem more familiar as you become settled.

Here are a few things I noticed or discovered when I moved to Birmingham to help you prepare for university life:

Weather

Quirky is a simple term to describe the weather. It is unpredictable, like the rest of the UK, and it is possible to experience all four seasons in a single day. However, the weather in Birmingham is rarely extreme throughout the year. Due to its location in ‘the Midlands’, the geographic centre of England, Birmingham enjoys reasonably mild weather, albeit wet, with snowfall on occasion in the winter and the sporadic heatwave in summer. It may surprise you to learn that the days in the winter are shorter and the days in the summer are longer (because of the clocks changing), with daylight lasting well into the night. Birmingham typically experiences pleasant rather than hot summers, and mild rather than freezing winters.

If you're not used to cold weather, getting a good quality coat is one of the first things I’d recommend. Also, never leave home without your umbrella!

Image of a train stationTravel & transport

Birmingham, the United Kingdom's second-largest city, is well-connected by bus and train.

Buses: University Tickets are relatively affordable and available on certain routes connecting the University to the city centre; all you need is your student ID, or a University Ticket purchased using the NXBus Ticket app.

Trains: The University has its own station, allowing us to connect with the rest of Birmingham and the UK from major stations like New Street or Moor Street. A young person's railcard, which is available to anybody aged 16 to 25 and mature students studying full-time, may save you up to a third on travel throughout the United Kingdom. 

Trams and taxi services such as Uber and Bolt are also available.

Food

Food is undeniably important, and it's probably one of the first things you'll miss while you're away from home. Fortunately, Birmingham boasts a diverse food culture that can be enjoyed on any budget. Birmingham has it all, whether you're looking for student favourites like Curly Fries at Joe's Bar (in the Guild) or a Burrito at University Centre while on campus, or a posh restaurant for a special occasion.

Near the campus, University Superstore, Seoul Plaza, and a few more businesses provide international foods. There are also various pubs, cafés, and restaurants around campus that serve a range of cuisines and provide student discounts!

There are lots of food shops and supermarkets surrounding campus, with the nearest being Aldi and Sainsburys.

Image of a burger and curly friesShopping

Birmingham's retail scene is diverse, with everything from high-end boutiques to vintage shops and small local shops. The world's largest Primark sits in Birmingham's city centre - you can't miss it! A good time to shop is during sales, which usually occur around Christmas and between June and August.

If you want to get some of the top brands (especially luxury) at a bargain, you can even take a one-hour train from Birmingham to Bicester Village.

Apps like TOTUM provide various discounts, particularly on online shopping sites, and can be a good way to save even more money.

Nightlife

With so many universities in Birmingham, there is always something new to explore. Cinemas, music venues, bowling alleys, crazy golf, pubs, cocktail bars, and trendy clubs may all keep you entertained. Always check their websites to see whether they provide student evenings or discounts for students.

In fact, the Guild at the University offers Wednesday Sports Nights in addition to the Fab 'N' Fresh club night on Saturdays.

As you can see, Birmingham is filled with things to do and see!