Hi everyone! I’m Beliz, a Masters student in Psychology in Education from Turkey. As an international student, the days building up to moving day can be quite unnerving. I’m here to tell you that you won’t be alone when you get there! There is a great international student support system in place at York to help you get settled in. Here’s how York helped me make new friends and adjust to university life.
Let’s go back to August, a month before I moved here…
Sitting on my comfy sofa in Turkey, I remember being most worried about making new friends. As a first-year undergraduate or a new postgraduate student, we are experiencing a big change, and even if you are a social butterfly, stepping out of your comfort zone might be scary. So, the question whether I can find people like me becomes one of the most relatable and stressful ones. Thankfully, the University began helping us by forming a Facebook group for postgraduate students, and the most amazing thing happened: the Graduate Students Association (GSA) shared their Welcome Week schedule.
What kind of events were awaiting us?
For the whole introduction week, the GSA had different events planned: Welcome Party on Monday, Jazz Night on Tuesday, Campus tour and Yoga session on Wednesday, Speed Friending on Thursday, York Photography Walk and Postgraduate Welcome Dinner on Friday, and Balloon Festival on Saturday. Wow. I must say having such a range of activities organised for you really helps you get to know the city and meet plenty of people.
It is important to note that this only covers ⅓ of the total activities GSA arranged! If you want to take a look at them, this GSA website will give you a better understanding of the types and number of activities we had. Additionally, other events like the Postgraduate Information Fair helped us learn more about the campus, what to expect from our studies and the student clubs we can become a part of.
I’m proud to tell you, socialising did not stop at the end of Welcome week! We have Quiz Night and Pizza Socials on Fridays (yes, more than once), Postgraduate Sport Sessions every week and weekend, or daily trips to beautiful towns in the Yorkshire area.
Wentworth College, which all postgraduates are a member of, now runs Free Breakfast Tuesdays, and Coffee and Chat Thursdays. You can always go to the common room, meet the lovely members of the GSA, get to know your peers from different departments and countries and have free coffee or tea!
What about undergraduates? Is there any event arranged for them?
The answer is… YES. The university has several colleges (in other words, student housing) that throw their own welcome parties. We also had Freshers’ week organised by the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU), including an Information Fair, Welcome Party, Viking Raid, and Comedy Night. As there are more than 200 student clubs on campus, there are also events in line with your interests throughout the year!
Does it really make a difference that the university organises these events?
Once the university has set up the environment for all of us to get together with our peers, it is our instinct, as a fresher, to talk to new people and introduce ourselves. For me, what mattered the most was being given the opportunity to share my story and make new friends. As long as you have that environment, you will most likely see everybody is ready and passionate about getting to know each other.
So, it is important for the university to involve and think about how they can give us that chance. I am really glad the University of York puts so much effort into making our lives easier. I can truly say that I know half of my friends thanks to the jazz night at Kennedy’s!
So, if you ever feel anxious and in doubt about making new friends while studying here, remember that the university helps you a lot in achieving that.
Read more about being an international student at the University of York.