News Article

Guide to Adapting as an International Student: My Experience at King's College London


Hi everyone, I’m Steven Suresh, President at KCLSU.

Studying abroad can be one of the most enriching experiences of your life. I found that to be especially true when I transitioned from living in Dubai to studying at King’s College London. While Dubai is a melting pot of cultures that offers an array of experiences and lifestyles, London and King’s have their own unique vibe. It was a journey filled with adaptation and learning. In this blog post, I will share how I adapted to the UK, what I wish I had known before making the move and tips for combating homesickness. If you're an international student, or planning to be one, read on for some useful advice.

What I Wish I Knew


I knew the UK was infamous for its rainy weather, but I hadn't quite anticipated how much it would affect my mood. If you’re coming from a sunnier climate, I highly recommend investing in a good raincoat and some Vitamin D supplements! Prepare for the winters here in the UK, the sun might set at 3:30 pm, which might throw off some of us international students.


Visa processes, NHS registrations, setting up a UK bank account—these tasks are cumbersome but necessary. Before you arrive, create a checklist of the administrative tasks you'll need to complete. Check out Janvi’s blogpost, our Vice-President Education (Health), for more pre-departure tips!

The Education System

The British education system can be different, even if you're coming from another English-speaking country. Understanding the grading system, how courses are structured and what is expected in terms of assignments and exams is crucial.


Social Life

Building a social life was initially daunting but essential for my well-being. Join clubs, engage in activities and don’t hesitate to put yourself out there. KCLSU has a wide range of student societies that can help you meet like-minded people. I had Co-Founded the Formula 1 Society at King’s last year, shout out F1 Society KCL!


Decide whether university halls or a private accommodation suits you better. Both come with their pros and cons. I chose university housing for the first year to make friends and get accustomed to life in London. If you’re going down the private route, ensure that you view you the apartment beforehand to view any inconsistencies with the advertisement and get your tenancy contract checked by the KCL Advice team here!


Navigating London’s public transport system was easier than I thought. A student Oyster card is a must-have to save on travel costs. Download Citymapper, its probably the most useful app that I’ve come across during my time in London, it shows you the best routes to get from Point A to Point B.


Feeling homesick is perfectly normal and it's something I experienced too. To deal with this:

  • Stay Connected: Video calls with family and friends back home can work wonders.
  • Local Communities: Seek out communities or events that remind you of home.
  • Keep Busy: The busier you are, the less time you’ll have to feel homesick.

Cultural Differences

Though I was brought up in Dubai, a melting pot of cultures, I understand that not everyone has that background. Here are some tips for dealing with cultural differences:

  • Be Open-Minded: Respect local customs and traditions.
  • Ask Questions: If you’re unsure about something culturally sensitive, it’s better to ask than assume.
  • Share Your Culture: This could be through cooking a traditional meal or celebrating a national holiday from your home country.

Studying abroad is a journey of self-discovery, growth and understanding. The lessons I've learned from my experience at King’s College London have been invaluable. Adapting to a new culture and education system can be challenging but it's also incredibly rewarding. Take it one step at a time, keep an open mind and make the most of this incredible journey.

Good luck and feel free to reach out to me through the Students' Union if you have any more questions or need additional support!

Steven Suresh

KCLSU President


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