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International Students

Moving city and relocating to a campus in a different part of the country is a big step for any undergraduate. It is an even greater step if you are moving away from your home country. Getting accustomed to a new environment, alongside new learning styles, cultures, and even language is a lot to take in. It is normal to feel overwhelmed when you first arrive, but feel assured that you are part of Team Sunderland and we will do all we can to assist you in becoming accustomed to your new home!

Culture Shock

The experience of culture shock may cause you to struggle once you begin studying at the University of Sunderland. This phenomenon describes the effect of living in a country that is very different to what you are used to in your own country. Whether you are an English student moving to America to study, or a Chinese student moving to England, experiencing culture shock is normal.

With time, you will experience feelings of acceptance and find ways to balance your own culture with the new. Here are some tips for managing and dealing with culture shock:


  • Language - Even if English is your first language, the dialect spoken in Sunderland may come as a shock in itself! The 'Mackem' dialect, as it is called, can sound very different from standard English. Difficulty in understanding local people might come from their pronunciation and the speed at which they talk. Do not be afraid to ask people to repeat themselves. Sometimes it is recognising our differences that make for the most meaningful and honest interactions.

Watch this handy video to see an example of what to expect:


  • Teaching - The structure of university courses and teaching styles can vary substantially across cultures. If you are unprepared for this change it can be the cause of considerable stress and confusion. Prepare For Success is a brilliant website that features many different learning activities to help prepare you for studying in the UK.


  • Familiar food - Food is important to every culture, and Sunderland offers a range of different shops, markets, and restaurants that can cater to almost any culture! Here is a list of some nearby shops that might stock the things from home you crave: 


    • Top African Food Store - 155 Hylton Rd, SR4 7FYClose to campus!
    • Al-Huddah Groceries and Halal Butchers - 31 Borough Rd, SR1 1JX
    • Joes Continental - 16 Stockton Rd, SR1 3NWClose to campus!
    • Cook It Yourself Oriental Food Store - St. Thomas' St, SR1 1NW
    • Jomuna Halal Food Store - 28 Tatham St, SR1 2RU
    • Kopernik Polish Shop - 55 North Bridge St, SR5 1AH
    • DF Asian Supermarket - 12 Fawcett St, SR1 1SJ
    • Polskie Smakolyki - 199 High Street West, SR1 1UB
    • Sultan Halal Superstore - 140 Chester Rd, SR4 7EYClose to campus!


  • Practice your faith - For some students, linking with a faith community will put you in touch with a familiar setting. There are a variety of places in and around the University that offer different places of worship. For more information on where to practice your faith, visit the chaplaincy section of the Wellbeing website.


  • Part time work - If you are eligible to work, doing so can be the perfect opportunity to engage with local people who live and work in Sunderland. Interacting with colleagues can help you improve your language skills, help you get used to the dialect, understand cultural mannerisms, and help you integrate in general. Please visit Sunderland Futures to help begin you search for part time work.


  • Explore the city - Sunderland is a beautiful city with some of the best beaches in the UK. Seaburn and Roker beaches are within walking distance of St. Peter's Campus. You can also rent a bike from St. Peter's Cycle and Sports Hub for just £5 a week! This is a great way to see the coast of Sunderland and explore the city in general. Click here to find out more information.


Moving into student accommodation can be a stressful and complicated situation even for UK students, so the situation might be even more difficult if there is a language barrier. For international students, support and advice can be found in a number of different ways. First, you can contact your RA (Residential Assistants) in accommodation who will help you find the information you need. Secondly, you can contact The Gateway at City Campus that will answer any questions you may have.

Mental Health Issues

A new environment, complete with a new culture, new people, new ways of learning, new living spaces, etc. can all add up and impact our mental health. If you feel like your new environment is all a bit too much, don't hesitate to contact out Wellbeing Team, who will help put you at ease and make you feel welcome.

Keep an open mind

Be open to new experiences once you arrive in Sunderland. By doing so you will make new relationships, find new hobbies, and participate in activities that will help you foster a sense of belonging and togetherness in your new home.

Fully immersing yourself into the student culture here at the University of Sunderland will help you feel like you belong and will combat any feelings of culture shock, homesickness, or loneliness you might have. The University can facilitate this in a number of ways:

There is also a great Facebook page that you can post any questions you may have - you will find that many people are in the same position as you, and potentially make some new friends! Click here to visit the Official Freshers page.

Come and join us every Tuesday night from 7.00pm at CitySpace, City Campus for free pizza, free games, and a chance to meet people from all over the world. All are welcome!



If you have any suggestions on how we can improve your time at the University of Sunderland, please do not hesitate to contact wellbeing@sunderland.ac.uk


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