February 13, 2019, by International students

International Student Ambassadors: Vivina from Italy

Hello everybody! I am Vivina, a second-year student of French, German and Spanish, and I come from Italy.

I decided to move to England, specifically to Nottingham, because when I came here in the summer of 2014 for my cousin’s graduation, I thought the campuses were amazing (I am a big fan of green spaces) and the city was perfect for students: not too big, not too small, and most importantly many food places to visit and treat myself.

I spent my five years of high school studying hard in order to achieve a good level of English and get a qualification to apply to university, but what I did not think much about was how moving to a foreign country, alone, at the age of 18, would have affected me.

I can now tell I did not know enough about England before I moved here. I had visited a few cities all over the country for holidays, language courses, and open days, but I had no idea what living here actually meant and how different it would have been compared to Italy.

In the months before starting my first year, I had the clever idea to join various groups I had found on Facebook for internationals and freshers in Nottingham, and this helped me a lot overcoming the shyness I had to approach some of the people I would have shared a flat, a class, or a night out with.

I soon realised there was a whole culture I knew nothing about. I could read people writing about whether to wear a coat when going to a club, whether a piece of bread should be called “cob”, “bap” or “roll”, or whether the Midlands exist or not, and I just did not understand what they were talking about or why such topics were so important.

The week before flying to Nottingham with my parents, I had so many contrasting feelings that I was not even sure that I wanted to leave my country anymore. Was it the right decision to make? What if I felt too homesick and was not able to focus on studies? What if living on my own for the first time was too hard for me? Somewhere in my heart I knew I did not have to worry that much, but I could not help it, and now I am glad I followed my instinct.

One of the greatest challenges I had to face as soon as I moved into my flat in Broadgate Park was understanding how to greet other students without feeling or creating awkward situations. I probably should have researched that before, but I had no idea people in England greet each other with a quick hug instead of kissing on both cheeks or shaking hands!

There is nothing like the feeling of meeting someone you have been chatting with for months in real life. The day all non-international students moved to their accommodations arrived, and we planned to meet up in a girl’s flat. I had so many thoughts on my mind: what will their voices sound like? Will they be taller or shorter than me? Will we have enough things to talk about?

Little did I know that what I had to worry about first was understanding their accents. I thought I could speak and understand English quite well, then I realized that what I had not learned at school nor at home in my free time was the fact that a “Londoner” will not speak like a “Scouser” or a “Brummie” Crazy, innit?

After a month, or more realistically two, I started to fit in. I knew what my flatmates meant when they offered me a “cuppa”, I discovered how delicious crumpets and scones are, and, most importantly, I did not get lost as much as during the first months when walking from a lecture to another in University Park (but I do still get lost sometimes).

Adapting to university life, or at least to what university life consists of in this country and in this city, has been a great change to what I was used to before. I could not imagine myself walking to classes instead of going by car or by bus, learning how to use a washing machine without totally altering the colours of my clothes, or just having the freedom to go back home after a night out whenever I want.

Looking back at how things were one year and a half ago, I must say moving to England has not only taught – and continues teaching me – how to be an independent adult, but it has also changed the perception I have of things around me. Constantly meeting new people of different ages, nationalities, beliefs, has made me a more open-minded person and has allowed me to broaden my interests and to learn something new every day.

This journey is far from being over, I still have two and-a-half years left, one of which will be spent “abroad” as part of my degree (as if I was not abroad yet), and I am looking forward to discovering more about the English culture and about myself.

If you have any questions about studying at the University of Nottingham as an international student, you can get in touch with our International Ambassadors via email.

Posted in International Student Ambassadors