May 20, 2019, by International students

International Student Ambassadors: Lars from Norway

Hey, my name is Lars. I’m a 22-year-old and originally from Norway. As I grew up in a military family, I moved between Norway and America regularly. My hobbies include watching Ice Hockey (go Panthers), computers, longboarding, and snowboarding. I’m currently a first year Computer Science student here at the University of Nottingham.

Why the UK/Nottingham?

I chose to come to England for my University studies after coming to the realisation that I love to travel and explore new places. Being somewhere I hadn’t lived before naturally drew me towards it, with all the new experiences and places to explore. I ended up visiting University of Nottingham and was given a tour of campus and instantly it just felt ‘right’. Being highly ranked in Computer Science obviously helped my choice, as the quality of my education is important to me.

Why study Computer Science?

It felt like a very natural choice to me. I had excelled in Computer Science (CS) courses I had previously taken and had an interest in programming in my free time. It’s a course where there are very few students who aren’t genuinely interested in the subject, as it’s challenging and requires a lot of effort. The department staff and lecturers are all amazing, they all have a passion for what they teach and are always willing to help you out if you’re having a hard time, whether its coursework related or otherwise.

Accommodation in the UK

I’m a very untraditional student in regards to living situation. I chose not to live in halls of residence on campus during my first year. I chose to live in a private flat with my girlfriend instead. For anyone thinking of going the private accommodation route, I have a few warnings from personal experience. The market in Nottingham is fast, flats were having deposits put down on them and being taken off the market before I was able to view them. The best idea was to come to Nottingham for a few days and book lots of viewings while there. It was also a bit tricky with me not having an English bank account, references and things of that nature. The best aspects of private accommodation are the peacefulness and privacy. It’s nice to get away from the student life at times, to come home and decompress without excess noise. It’s also smart to have the separation between University and home life, something I’ve found myself to value a lot during the stressful periods before deadlines.

Working part time

I was working throughout the summer months as I moved to Nottingham in May and my course did not begin until October. Finding a job here takes some time, most of that being waiting to hear back after applying and waiting for rounds of interviews to finish. It’s important to get in touch with your local Job Centre in order to start the process of getting a National Insurance Number, which is needed to work in the UK. This process was fairly easy for me as I’m and EEA national with the right to work in the UK. I found a job in a bowling alley which I really enjoyed.

Making friends in the UK

I found the part time job was incredibly helpful with making my first friends in Nottingham. I worked a bar-job where the majority of my co-workers were also students. As I didn’t arrive right before term was beginning, it was super helpful for meeting those first people that I could then hang out with throughout the summer. Once my course began one of the biggest things was just being approachable. Everyone else on your course will be looking to make friends as most are in a completely new place with new people. Be willing to put the effort in and you’ll make friends naturally through your course and any clubs/sports that you choose to join. I joined the Snooker and Pool Club which has also been a great place to make friends and have fun.

Academic Environment

Adapting to the academic environment here in the UK can be tricky. It’s very much your own responsibility to know when coursework is due in, and the lecturers expect quite a lot of independence from students. If you put in the work needed for your course and structure your time wisely then adapting shouldn’t be any issue at all.

Food in Nottingham

I’ve found Nottingham city centre to be an amazing place for food. There’s so much variation in what type of food you have access to, as well as types of places to eat whether you want a quick bite to grab on the go or a fancy sit down restaurant. There’s everything from smoothie bars to greasy burgers, and all within walking distance of city centre. I’d recommend Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Son of Steak and Pizza Storm.

Top ten tips for First Years

  1. Look after yourself. Getting enough sleep and taking time to de-stress is important.
  2. Be sure to explore! Make sure you enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. Check out nearby events, my favourite is seeing the local ice hockey team The Nottingham Panthers.
  3. Manage your time wisely – studying is important but so is making friends and having fun.
  4. Sports and societies are a great place to make friends
  5. Make a budget and keep it! When your first student loan comes in, it’s tempting to go crazy but remember it needs to last you a while.
  6. Contrary to popular belief, English food can be amazing! Make sure to try a local curry house, fish and chips and a Sunday Dinner.
  7. Try to cook at home, not only will it be cheaper but you’ll learn a valuable life skill.
  8. There’s more to University life than drinking and partying, if that isn’t your scene don’t worry. There’s loads of other great ways to make friends and socialise. Just try to find people with similar interests to you.
  9. Nottingham has great travel links to explore the rest of England, Wales and Scotland, so you can see all the UK has to offer. It’s also easy to access 3 different airports – East Midlands, Birmingham and Manchester.
  10. Finally, and most importantly, have fun. University is a special time most people only experience once. Get out of your comfort zone and enjoy yourself. Go skydiving or hike a mountain, there’s never a better time to try new things.
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