November 7, 2014, by International students

Life as an international student in Nottingham

Lena with frame for Impact Magazine
When I first contemplated applying to study abroad, I will admit I was hesitant. It is expensive and six months seems like a long time to spend away from family and friends. Fortunately, I listened to the advice of a friend who had just completed from her own six-month exchange in Nottingham. She said: “If you’re considering exchange… do it. If you’re considering England… go to Notts.”

Lena - Robin Hood cropped

How right she was – studying abroad has been an exciting and enriching experience, and few places are better for students than Nottingham. The University of Nottingham is one of the top universities in the world and a truly global university. The campus is amazing and offers everything you could want from university life. Since Fresher’s Week I’ve made some incredible friends, participated in some hilarious dress up events, gone on Rag Raids, taken trips with the Travel Society, joined a Netball team, signed up for a Ski Trip, and now present on the radio for URN. And even though the assessment is starting to pile up, I love being involved and busy at uni all the time.

Lena in fancy dress


One of the other things I really love about Nottingham is living in the halls. Back home in Australia, I still live at home so it’s interesting to live independently. Albeit I’m living in catered accommodation so I don’t have to worry about meals, but I do have to do my own washing, clean my room, and budget my money a lot more carefully than I used to. Nightingale Hall is an amazingly sociably place though. It’s one of the smallest halls on campus, so we spend a lot of time together and really look out for each other. This definitely made the transition to a new university a lot easier than I expected and in particular has given me the chance to really immerse myself in English culture.

Coming from Australia, England wasn’t really a culture shock at all, but it’s different enough to be interesting. I love hearing about the rivalry between the North and the South and learning quirky local slang and English mannerisms. I’ve finally learnt what a “quid” is and how to respond to the question “you all right?” Perhaps one of the biggest differences between England and Australia though is the weather. People always seem surprised that I’ve traded a scorching hot Australian summer for what is supposed to be the coldest English winter in 100 years.

In spite of the weather, Nottingham is such a vibrant and unique city. It combines its proud heritage and history with cutting-edge culture, shopping, sport and nightlife. There’s a lot of Robin Hood memorabilia, and a trip out to Sherwood Forest is a must for anyone who comes to Notts but there are also a lot of cool cafes, vintage shops, and diverse bars and clubs that make this city so great to live in. It’s the sort of town where you are never stuck for something to do, but it’s also a great place to explore the rest of the UK from. On the weekends I try to travel as much as I can, visiting places such as York, Bath, Birmingham, London, the Lake District, and even Amsterdam when I had reading week! Travel really isn’t too expensive with a 16-25 rail card, and special bus and plane fares if you book early enough.

Lena with friends in Amsterdam

Making the decision to study abroad is honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Since moving overseas, I’ve met loads of interesting people, travelled to places I never thought I would, and really grown as a person. It’ll be difficult to leave when February comes around!

Lena Carlson, study abroad student from Australia.

Posted in Cultural integrationNottingham citySocietiesStudy abroad