Adapting to Life in the UK
Life in the UK is probably very different to life in your home
country and international students can find it hard to adapt. You
may feel some ‘cultural surprise’ when you live and study at York
St John University (even if you have lived in the UK before). It
will take some time but you will soon adjust and feel
comfortable in York and the UK. Below are examples of British
culture which you may find helpful.
the British use expressions such as ‘please’, ‘sorry’ and ‘thank
you’ a lot more than other nationalities. It is easy to
occasionally misunderstand and interpret something as impolite; it
might be a gesture, a different way of addressing someone, looking
someone in the eye when you speak, expectations around offers of
In the UK it is polite to queue and wait your turn in a café,
bank, shop or anywhere that you receive a service.
It is perfectly natural and understandable to look for other
students of your own nationality to mix with socially. To help you
make the most of your university experience it is good to meet
British students too. British students might meet up for a cup of
coffee/tea and a chat, or they might go to a pub for a drink,
which does not have to be alcoholic. Joining societies and clubs,
such as Global Friends is an excellent way of meeting other
students of all nationalities. Global
Friends run Global Teas which happen on the first and third
Wednesday of every month, you can go along to socialise, have
fun and enjoy free drinks and snacks.
A great way to experience British culture is to take part in the
HOST UK programme which
offers opportunities to spend a weekend, a week or Christmas with a
Relationships and gender issues
You may experience cultural differences from
what you are used to, for example displays of affection in public,
how people (especially women) dress, degrees of openness around
sexual orientation, how men and women relate to each other.
Smoking is not allowed in public buildings; including
restaurants, bars, pubs and on public transport. You are also not
permitted to smoke anywhere on the University campus, apart from
outside the Students’ Union at certain times. If you smoke in
university accommodation you could receive a fine.
It is important to be punctual in the UK. Lectures and lessons
will start at the scheduled time and you will interrupt the session
if you are late. Punctuality is also important for appointments,
for example with a doctor. If you know you will be late or if you
will not be attending (a lecture or class for example), it is
important that you phone or email beforehand to let the person
It is important to be courteous to whoever you are talking to,
no matter who they are or what their job is.
More information about living in the UK can be found on the
UK Student Life website.
Overall we hope you enjoy your time in York and the UK and leave
having had a positive, enriching and valuable experience. If you
have any worries or questions about anything while you are here,
please visit the International Office (up the stairs in the Holgate
building) or email Chloe Thomas the International Student Support
Officer E: firstname.lastname@example.org