Stephanie's culture shock experience in the UK

Culture shock: Get to know Stephanie

Where are you from?

I’m from Hong Kong originally, and I chose to study in Newcastle in the UK. I wanted to further myself academically, and improve my English while experiencing life in a new country.

Why Newcastle?

I enjoy travelling and I’ve always loved the idea of living and learning in England. After researching some cities, universities and courses, I decided INTO Newcastle University was the best choice for me. The centre offered an International Foundation in Biology and Biomedical Sciences, which is what I always wanted to study, and I was also guaranteed a place on one of their degree programmes. I went on to study a BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology. My father is a pharmacist and I’ve always dreamt of following in his footsteps.

What was it like arriving in the UK from Hong Kong?

I arrived in September and it was still really warm, contrary to people saying England is always cold! Newcastle is very different to Hong Kong, so the culture change was a bit of a shock at first. The architecture was so beautiful. I was used to high-rise, concrete buildings, but in Newcastle there are amazing gothic cathedrals and castles. I really liked exploring my new home, even though I got a little lost every now and then while Newcastle’s public transport system. The Tyne River and friendly locals always helped me find my bearings.

Did you encounter any struggles?

My English wasn’t very good at first so I felt a little bit homesick. But the support staff and my classmates soon made me feel welcome - it was like a mini community. My English quickly improved during classes. I feel much more confident in my writing and speaking abilities now.

What did you miss?

I really missed Chinese food, but after living in Newcastle for a few weeks I found some really great restaurants that served dim sum and char siu almost as good as back home.

What was the best bit about studying in Newcastle?

I can’t choose just one bit. I made so many new friends - friends for life. I loved being part of the badminton society too. I’m so proud of myself to be walking away with such an incredible degree. The experiences were better than I could ever have imagined; I’ve grown in confidence and I’m on the path to my dream career.

What advice would you give to future students?

Even if you feel nervous or shy, don’t let that stop you. You’ll receive so much support and you’ll grow as a person. Don’t let the fear of failing stop you from trying. You’ll meet lots of people along the way who are feeling the same as you, so don’t worry. You’ll have the time of your life.