Dear International [and UK] Fresher – You CAN do it!

By Simona Jogaudaite (2nd Year Biomed Sciences)

With a flight ticket in my hand, I can still remember being so nervous and so excited at the same time before starting a new chapter of my life – university.  

My big flight to the UK from Lithuania

“How did you handle that?” you may ask. Here’re my answers and top tips you.


You think the British accent is hard to understand? Well, you haven‘t heard the Geordie accent then. I remember it was my first day in Newcastle and my flatmate texted me: “alreet”.  Great I thought, it‘s my first day here, my first possible friend and I don‘t get what this message means. After a quick Google I realised it just means “hello”! So I could comfortably reply to that one 🙂

I was so nervous of getting it wrong, I started to avoid having conversations with people. I was scared to talk and not be able to speak perfectly well.

But once I started pushing myself to speak to others and just learn from my mistakes, I saw how friendly and supportive people are: they found it interesting that I‘m an international student, gave me compliments on my English, and didn‘t laugh at my mistakes. So, just go for it!


I felt lonely in the beginning and lacked confidence.

I thought “It‘s just stupid to go randomly up to a person and have small-talk. You have to wait for the right occasion or something” Do you think the same? I bet you do.

Guess what…… Everyone feels the same! They may look confident and comfortable but underneath, everyone is worried about making friends and feeling lonely. I decided to go to the lectures, sit down next to the first person I see and initiate a conversation by asking simple questions such as ‘‘what‘s your name?“, ‘‘where are you living?‘‘.

It may not always work but believe me or not, after a full year some of the people I sat next to are still my friends. Remember, all students, especially fresher’s, are just like you – we all need each other so badly.

Making friends. Photo by Belle Co on Pexels

Join a Society or Sports Team

It‘s not always easy to make friends. Going to group events can really help so find a society (there‘s 100s!) or a sports team that you‘re interested in and go try it out. You get to meet people with similar interests – what‘s not to love!

Need some help? Ask and it shall be given to you!

Newcastle University is a place where you not only receive your degree, but you can improve your skills and make new friends, realise your ideas and solve most of your problems.

There is loads of advice online so check out the uni site. You are also given lots of information during Fresher’s and your modules so read through that. 

If you need other help, all you need to do is just to be brave enough and ask. Office staff, lecturers, or your coursemates will always be ready to listen to you and do everything in their power to make your uni experience as joyfull as possible. You are never alone here in Newcastle!


Heart. Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

University is so different from school, the way of learning is also different. Students at Newcastle University are very motivated to learn, so I pushed myself very hard to perform and gain the best possible results.

“Eventually, I burned out. I cried in my room for hours and all I wanted was to go back home, do nothing and hide from the world.”

We all have ups and downs. Unlike the glossy university brochures (and most people‘s social media), not everything is happiness and sunshine! It‘s OK to take it easy when you‘re having a ‘low’ day.

I woke up one morning, feeling sad and low, and decided to read a book before my lectures. I made myself a nice dinner, went to the gym, meditated. In other words, I took care of myself after such a long time and this really helped me feel more calm and relaxed.

Do what you love, find a balance between your academic and personal life and you‘ll see how exciting the world is. 

Time for myself on Sunday morning

If you need someone to talk to then go to your tutor, Student Wellbeing, our Chaplaincy, Nightline, or the Samaritans. You are never alone.

Reflecting at the end of first year

First year at uni demanded so much from me but it gave me back even more: I became strong and independent, I met amazing people and the quality of lectures exceeded my expectations. Yes, there will be ups and downs but I‘m sure you‘ll be great too. Just love yourself and be kind to others, be brave  – talk to the person sitting next to you – and enjoy your time in Newcastle to the fullest.

Go have a great year!!!

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