Advice from Roehampton American Students

This article was written pre all this funny business! To all international students, especially those who have left our campus prematurely, Roehampton will always be a home for you.

Study abroad is a fantastic- albeit stupidly expensive- cultural exchange and our Roehampton campus is all the more gorgeous for our population of international students. Thanks to the initiative, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the most brilliant people, who answer when you randomly message a series of inane questions to for the sake of writing an article! So, wouldn’t you know, I did just that. I asked several former American international students, and our RSU’s absolutely fantastic International Officer and South Carolina native Luke Coffey, about their experience at Roehampton University, with the hopes that their advice can help students. Perhaps you’re a curious international student inbound for the next term, maybe you’ve already landed, you could be a post-grad, a bright-eyed fresher, or even just an old timer at Roey. Whichever, it’s always nice to get someone else’s perspective.

In focusing on American Internationals for this article, I asked Luke if he thought it was easier or harder for American students to adjust compared to other countries, given there’s a commonality of culture, however its considerably far away. He first acknowledged that he could not speak on behalf of all Americans.

“Having spent my whole life in small towns of South Carolina, and even doing one year of University there before coming here, it certainly was harder to adjust than I had expected. Probably because of those expectations and presumptions I had made. Even though America and England share a common language, the subtle and not so subtle differences with everything else between the cultures (or at least South Carolina culture) were not something I was fully prepared for and had been a process of adjustments.”

Luke has fully engaged with campus life, more so than most, being a bartender at The Union, joining societies, and even performing at Summer Ball. So, for anyone nervous about adjusting to Roehampton life, I say look to Luke, a six foot everything beacon of gorgeousness.

What advice would you give yourself before coming to Roehampton?

“Try everything, no matter what. Join societies, go to campus events- you won’t regret it.” Megan Foster, San Jose California

“I’d say pack as light as you can, because there’s a lot of souvenirs you’ll want to take home.” Marie Miller, Minnesota

“Prepare to feel sad the first few weeks, but don’t worry about making friends because you will always find the right people whether in your program or at Roehampton! Also buy a mattress topper and a space heater.” Olivia Horton, Biola Los Angeles

Oh yeah, Roehampton is cold. A friend of mine once visited and didn’t pack a jacket, he said he didn’t think he would need one since we were closer to Europe. Head to your local charity store or ASDA to get a big fleecy blanket- it will be needed.

“I think the best advice I could give myself would be to just stay open and allow space for all the new experiences.” Caleb MacDuff, Seattle Pacific University

“Don’t worry about making friends! Settling into a new country can be really intimidating, especially if you’re travelling alone, but the students and societies on campus are amazing. There are countless ways to get connected and build community with people who share your interests. Just be yourself and be open to new experiences.” Sarah Farmer, Valdosta State University

“You will make many great memories and have many spectacular adventures, but be comfortable with many quiet nights in due to rain/gloomy weather. Have a reliable pair of boots! Also take advantage of the proximity to central, but also save some money to go on cool trips around the rest of the UK and Europe during the many term breaks.” Luke

What’s the best event on campus?

“Definitely BOP! Specifically, Halloween or Christmas, but I also really enjoyed the Froebel dinner.” Megan

All four campuses do frequent domestic events, such as welcome parties, winter formals, and sports events! Talk to your flat rep or keep posted on any of the campus Facebook pages.

“I loved Freshers week. It was a great time to get to know people and get to know what campus life was like. I also loved that BOP was a thing (and the union bar) because there was nothing like that back on campus at home.” Marie

“I loved going to fresher’s week events. It was a great way to meet the other people in my flat; I made friends that week that I still have today.” Sarah

“International student dinner!” Olivia

“My favourite event was when we went to the theme park (Thorpe park) during Freshers week, but on campus I always loved when the Hive put on a market.” Caleb

Favourite Society?

For a full list of societies at Roehampton, log into the RSU website.

“I loved SSOAP since they were so much fun and had a lot of great events that were easy for someone who’s only there for a semester to be involved in.” Marie

“SSOAP, I had a lot of fun going to shows and being able to hang out for a semester.” Caleb

I should specify, I met both Caleb and Marie through SSOAP. SSOAP are this group of escaped mental patients who haunt the Digby Diner, often partaking in drink and performing parodies of pop culture. I recommend.

“Growhampton! Or Creative Writing Society.” Sarah

Creative Writing Society is nationally recognised and Growhampton has a range of events, from Learn2Grow, Cooking Classes, tending the chickens, etc.

“Amnesty International, of course! Newly established Roey Yoga honourable mention.” Luke

As co-president of Amnesty International Society, I promise I put Luke under no duress to say us.

What’s something to avoid?

“Avoid wasting time. Don’t think “oh I’m here for so long, I can just do stuff later.” Use all the time you have and do as much as possible. It gets way harder to do everything you wanted to when it’s all pushed to the end.” Marie

“Don’t plan a trip your entire revision week… reading week does NOT mean spring break! You have work to do!” Sarah

“Lebara SIM cards. And leaving food out in the kitchen (we got rats on my floor).” Olivia

“I’d say don’t take a bus to Paris, unless you’re really fine with not standing for like eleven hours.” Caleb

“Spending too much money on drinks at bop or the hive. Alternatively spending too much money at off campus pubs/cafes (which yes, offer variety in experience and atmosphere…. But….) when there’s great, cheap student places at each campus. Also avoid leaving all your work until just before finals- space it out in the months/weeks leading up to it and take advantage of a few days during independent study week to spend in the library. Avoid walking past the library café when all the geese have been squatting there (geese shit a lot). And avoid all the unpaved trails on campus after a heavy rain- slugs, frogs and mud galore.” Luke

What’s the biggest waste of money?

“Travelling was the biggest waste of money. Plan ahead of time to figure out public transport, because if you have to uber or taxi it’s expensive and it really adds up despite hostels and flights being super cheap.” Megan

“Can’t say I really felt like I wasted money while I was there. I love all the souvenirs and I have no regrets on the events I went to.” Marie

“I spent most of my money on experiences, like theatre, music, ballet. But I also bought way too much stuff and had to buy more luggage to bring it home. So maybe just shopping in general?” Sarah

“The biggest waste of money was for sure the wrong SIM card/plan- I ended up buying a phone plan from Vodafone and it worked really well, but it was only in the last month so I had already spent lots of money that was wasted.” Olivia

“The biggest waste of money was trying to save money on flights by booking out of Southend or the other airports that claim to be in London but are actually like forty miles away It cost us so much just trying to get there.” Caleb

What’s the best tourist site?

“For a day trip, I think Bath was the best, but in London you can’t go wrong with an afternoon on the Southbank, it’s free and there’s always a bunch of stuff going on.” Caleb

“Richmond Park, Parliament and Westminster, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery, any palace or castle.” Luke

“V&A- we ended up going multiple times just to do homework, eat lunch, and spend the afternoon looking around.” Olivia

“I’m a sucker for Big Ben, even if he’s a little hidden right now with construction. I’d say take a trip to Sky Garden at the top door of the Walkie-Talkie building. It’s free and gives an amazing view of the city.” Sarah

“There’s so many great tourist sites. But for me, I love castles, so every castle that I went to was fantastic.” Marie

“The best tourist site is literally anything in central London it’s beautiful but closer to campus I’d have to say Richmond Park for sure.” Megan

I also highly recommend Richmond Park, even just to see that many deer up close.

Best take-out?

I have omitted several answers because of that age-old issue: what’s the place called? We all have that debate with our friends, “Oh, that Chinese, what’s it called? Happy Wok? Good Wok?” “No Fortunate Wok!” “It’s Friendship something.” To cut to the chase, it was called Fortune Cat. There are many interesting takeaways in the Roehampton area, so be sure to try something new while still having an old reliable, because they do not come cheap.

“Toroi Sushi.” Megan

“There was an Indian shop I found on Ubereats that deliver to campus and had the best mint curry chicken wings.” Sarah

“Five guys.” Olivia

“Favourite Chicken, Wagamama, Nandos.” Luke

Best night-out?

“Infernos was a ton of fun, but heaven is definitely the place to be.” Caleb

“Freshers week throughout, Summer Ball, American Thanksgiving, Halloween BOP. Hollywood film red carpet premiers in Leicester Square during the BFI film festival.” Luke

“Best night out is fresher’s week Grand.” Megan

“Seeing & Juliet at the West End. Everyone really needs to see this musical.” Olivia

“West End shows. They were so convenient to get to and so much cheaper than back home, especially since I live nowhere near broadway.” Marie

“My favourite day was when some of my flatmates and I went out to Westfields and went shopping. We stopped at Spoons in Hammersmith on the way back and then wound of going dancing spontaneously (Belushi’s). It wasn’t planned and it was an absolute mess, but we had so many laughs that night.” Sarah

I was there and can confirm it was an absolute mess while being the best time ever. I’m not promoting flirting with bartenders for cheap drinks, but hey, £1.50 for a vodka coke, can you really knock it?

What do you miss the most?

“I miss the people.” Megan

“I miss the convenience of being right in the middle of London and that there was never a shortage of events to go to. And, of course, all my friends I made over there. Definitely hope to go back someday.” Marie

“Of course, I miss my friends the most. Then the theatre, food, and drinks (Strongbow dark fruits), and the culture of an international city. I miss being able to walk out of my flat every day, knowing there was an infinite number of new things to do and new places to explore. It’s a city without limits.” Sarah

“Nandos, Bus and TUBE, proximity to the West End, V&A, Café 66 in Barnes, Wagamama, Edinburgh.” Olivia

“I really miss the people. I met a lot of delightful people and made some really good friends.” Caleb

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