April 25, 2014, by International students

Finding inspiration and support through International Family Link

International Family Link is a scheme run by The University of Nottingham which helps international students link up with people from the local community, who help them integrate into life in Nottingham. Doris Richardson, an MSc Midwifery student from Ghana, shares her story about meeting a wonderful person from Nottingham who has provided her with an endless source of inspiration and support.

When I first read about International Family Link in an email I received from the International Office, I knew that I wanted to give it a try. It sounded like a great opportunity to link up with someone in the local community – somebody who knew the area well and could help me settle in.

I was invited along to an event held at University Park Campus, which was for all of the students who had applied to take part in the scheme to meet with their hosts for the first time. I went with my friend Winifred, a fellow midwifery student who is also from Ghana. We discovered that, along with Fatima, a Pharmacy student from North Sudan, we had been matched with a lady called Rosalina Morgan. Rosalina was originally from Sierra Leone, but had been living in the UK for 44 years. She used to be a midwife, and had worked as a midwife teacher at The University of Nottingham, but was now retired. Straight away we all got along very well. It was clear that we all had a great deal in common and that we could learn a lot from her. She told us not to hesitate to contact her with any questions that we had – regardless whether they were personal, social or academic.

Meeting for the first time

Meeting for the first time

Since then Rosalina has invited us round to her house many times for dinner with her and her husband Wilfred, and offered to cook us whatever meal we wanted. We asked for a selection of traditional African dishes to remind us of home, and she was only too happy to oblige. She has also given us some British cuisine to try, to help us experience British culture.

Delicious home-cooked food, courtesy of Rosalina

Delicious home-cooked food, courtesy of Rosalina

On a few occasions her children stopped by, and we even got to meet her son’s new baby.

Meeting the newest member of Rosalina's family

Meeting the newest member of Rosalina’s family

Rosalina has always been there for me when I have needed her, no matter what. She always calls us to ask how we are doing. When I was feeling unwell, she drove me to the doctor and waited for me in the car park while I went to my appointment. When I accidentally left my glasses in a building on campus, she picked me up and took me to go and get them. One weekend when I was feeling down, she let me stay at her house. She is always willing to go the extra mile for us.

Doris with Rosalina at Christmas

Celebrating Christmas together

As a woman who was originally a midwife from Africa, just like me, who had also had a successful academic career, Rosalina is a constant source of inspiration to me. We already have plans to stay in touch once I go back to Ghana after my course finishes.

I would encourage any international students who are thinking of taking part in International Family Link to go for it. With the pressure that comes with doing a university course, it’s easy to neglect other areas of your life, but taking part in the scheme has really given me a sense of belonging in my new community.

To Rosalina and her family, I would like to say a huge thank you for all of your support. I am so much happier being here now that I have met you.

Posted in Cultural integrationFriends