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2021 International Orientation

Welcome to the UK! 

We are so happy you chose Brunel to continue your academic journey. On this page, you'll find useful information and resources to help you settle in quickly and make a successful transition to university life in the UK.

Join our International Orientation Session online on Friday 24 September 2021 at 10am
This session is an excellent way for you to become part of our thriving student community and gain all of the information you need to start successfully at Brunel. We'll be talking about everything, from opening a bank account to dealing with culture shock. You'll even have a chance to win some fab prizes!

GetUReady Transition Week
In supporting you in the transition to university life, we'll be running a week-long programme on campus, covering subject-specific study skills sessions and talks on student life for all students. Transition Week will run from 20-24 September 2021 and is a great opportunity for you to meet and work with other new students, as well as get to know what life is like on campus. 


Culture Shock

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While usually temporary, culture shock is common among international students arriving in the UK. You will notice differences between the way things are done and what you are used to at home. These include the way people dress, speak and behave, teaching and learning styles, food - potentially all aspects of life.

This can be frustrating and disorienting at first, as even something simple like buying a bus ticket needs figuring out - can I buy it on the bus, or from a shop or kiosk? Do I have to validate it? Does it cover a single trip, or a set period of time?

You will soon learn the new "rules" to get by, but it may be reassuring to know that it's perfectly normal to find it hard at first. Your fellow international students will share the experience - but so will many UK students who are away from home for the first time.

What causes culture shock?

"Culture shock" describes the impact of moving from a familiar culture to one which is unfamiliar. It is an experience described by people who have travelled abroad to work, live or study; it can be felt to a certain extent even when abroad on holiday.

It can affect anyone, including international students. It includes the shock of a new environment, meeting lots of new people and learning the ways of a different country. It also includes the shock of being separated from the important people in your life, maybe family, friends, colleagues, teachers: people you would normally talk to at times of uncertainty, people who give you support and guidance.

When familiar sights, sounds, smells or tastes are no longer there you can miss them very much. If you are tired and jet-lagged when you arrive small things can be upsetting and out of all proportion to their real significance.

The following are some of the elements that contribute to culture shock:

Climate: Many students find that the British climate affects them a lot. You may be used to a warmer climate, or you may just find the greyness and dampness, especially during the winter months, difficult to get used to.

Food: You may find British food strange. It may taste different, be cooked differently, or it may seem bland or heavy compared to what you are used to. If you are in self-catering accommodation and unused to cooking for yourself, you may find yourself relying on “fast” ready-cooked or ready-prepared food instead of your usual diet. Try to find a supplier of familiar food, and eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Language: Constantly listening and speaking in a foreign language is tiring. If English is not your first language, you may find that you miss your familiar language which at home would have been part of your everyday environment. Even if you are a fluent English speaker it is possible that the regional accents you discover when you arrive in the UK will make the language harder to understand. People may also speak quickly and you may feel embarrassed to ask them to repeat what they have said.

Dress: If you come from a warm climate, you may find it uncomfortable to wear heavy winter clothing. Not all students will find the British style of dress different but, for some, it may seem immodest, unattractive, comical or simply drab.

Social Roles: Social behaviours may confuse, surprise or offend you. For example you may find people appear cold and distant or always in a hurry. This may be particularly likely in the centre of large cities. Or you may be surprised to see couples holding hands and kissing in public. You may find the relationships between men and women more formal or less formal than you are used to, as well as differences in same sex social contact and relationships.

'Rules' of Behaviour:  As well as the obvious things that hit you immediately when you arrive, such as sights, sounds, smells and tastes, every culture has unspoken rules which affect the way people treat each other. These may be less obvious but sooner or later you will probably encounter them and once again the effect may be disorientating. 

For example there will be differences in the ways people decide what is important, how tasks are allocated and how time is observed.

The British generally have a reputation for punctuality. In business and academic life keeping to time is important. You should always be on time for lectures, classes, and meetings with academic and administrative staff. If you are going to be late for a meeting do try to let whoever you are meeting know.

Values: Although you may first become aware of cultural differences in your physical environment, e.g. food, dress, behaviour, you may also come to notice that people from other cultures may have very different views of the world from yours. Cultures are built on deeply-embedded sets of values, norms, assumptions and beliefs.

It can be surprising and sometimes distressing to find that people do not share some of your most deeply held ideas, as most of us take our core values and beliefs for granted and assume they are universally held.

As far as possible, try to suspend judgment until you understand how parts of a culture fit together into a coherent whole. Try to see what people say or do in the context of their own culture’s norms.

This will help you to understand how other people see your behaviour, as well as how to understand theirs. When you understand both cultures, you will probably find some aspects of each that you like and others that you don’t.

Keeping in touch with home

Keeping in touch with home is an important part of living in a different country. 

The internet makes it very easy to maintain regular contact, for example by using web-based chat or voice calls, or by sharing news, information and photos of your life in the UK through online social networks. However, maintaining very regular (perhaps daily) contact with home, especially when you first arrive, or if you are finding aspects of life in the UK challenging, can actually make the process of settling in more difficult. Try to balance maintaining contact with home with taking time to get to know your new environment. Similarly, if you live close enough to travel home at weekends, it is a good idea not to go home too often. Once or twice a term is probably best. Newspapers and satellite TV will also be an option for some people, again, see what is available for international students in your college or university.

Top Tips

  • Have familiar things around you that have personal meaning, such as photographs or ornaments.
  • Find a supplier of familiar food if you can. Your student adviser or a student society may be able to help.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Take regular exercise. As well as being good for your health it can be a way of meeting people.
  • Make friends with international students, whether from your own culture or from others, as they will understand what you’re feeling and, if possible, make friends with the local students so you can learn more about each other’s culture.
  • Be prepared to take the first step and find activities which will give you a common interest with UK students eg sports, music or volunteering.
  • Take advantage of all the help that is offered by your institution. Use the university services, where there will be professional and experienced staff. For example the Student Support and Welfare team, the Counselling and Mental Wellbeing service, the Immigration Advisers and Residences Ambassadors will provide a friendly, listening ear.

Even if at home you wouldn’t consider such steps, in the UK it is quite normal and they may help when your familiar helpers are missing. If you are finding settling down difficult, your personal tutor probably also needs to know. She or he may be able to help, particularly with adjusting to a different academic system.

  • For some students linking with a faith community will put you in touch with a familiar setting, whether it is a church, mosque, synagogue or temple. Many universities have a chaplaincy in which several faiths may be represented. There may also be religious student societies. Many chaplaincies welcome students of all faiths for pastoral or social activities.
  • Investigate the Students’ Union and its societies. There may be an opportunity to learn a new sport or activity or continue an interest from home. A further advantage is that these societies bring together students from different courses and countries with a shared interest. There are often national societies that will celebrate significant occasions such as Chinese New Year or Thanksgiving. For UK students, student societies can be one of the many ways of making new friends.
  • Above all find someone to talk to who will listen uncritically and with understanding, rather than isolating yourself! 

Loneliness and isolation

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All students who have made the decision to come to University face major changes to their lives.

For overseas students, the adjustment can be even greater as there is a new country, language and culture to adapt to.

You may feel both excited and daunted by these new challenges. You will probably find that you need to develop ways of belonging, of fitting into your new environment, especially when everything around you is new and pressurised.

Sorting out the details of enrolment, timetabling and finding your way around are in themselves stressful. Combined with demands for academic work and trying to establish social life, the stresses can build up and appear enormous.

It is normal to feel some stress during the early weeks of your new life at university.


This is often experienced by students at the beginning of their university career.

Leaving home, particularly if changing country, means taking on the challenge of separating from family, and starting a process of finding an independent identity in a less protected, less familiar and sometimes larger world.


This may be a feature as you face the changes involved in starting a new course. Your new life may leave you with more free time on your hands. You may be spending less time caring for children or elderly relatives and having less social time with partner, friends and family.

Although it may be important to create new friendships, you may have less money and time available.

These and other issues can create stress and may even cause tension in your relationships with people at home, particularly if they do not appear to appreciate the scale of the changes you face.


As an international student you may have less opportunity to meet people with whom you can communicate freely

You may feel disorientated in a new cultural environment, having to find your way around a new country.

You may also be facing a change in social status and a fall in income.

Whilst leaving home may be full of excitement, separation from loved ones back home can also cause feelings of sadness and loneliness.


Any student new to London may find London life stressful.

London is fast, busy and exciting, but can also feel scary and alienating even for those from other cities in the UK.

You may also be feeling additional stress from studying and it is important to recognise when you need some additional help.

Remember: It is usual to feel anxious and lonely when you first arrive at University. Keep an eye out for others who are alone and you will soon make new friends.

Safety Online

UKVI telephone scam

Visa students being targeted via telephone and told to make unnecessary payments by fraudulent individuals posing as Home Office employees.

UKVI does not call students they will only write if they need information. If you do receive a call, make sure you:

  • Do NOT disclose any personal details
  • Do NOT handover any banking details
  • Do NOT pay any money

If you have already disclosed information you will need to do the following:

  • You will need to contact your bank to change the details.
  • Report the fraud to the police and to the government.
  • Make a record of the telephone call; time, date and name of caller.
  • Come and see the Immigration Team in the Student Centre.

If you want more advice, please contact the immigration team on 01895 268092 or email immigration@brunel.ac.uk.

More information can be found at the following links:

  • Government website
  • The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) 
  • Victim Support

Cyber Security

Web browsing can pose a serious threat to information security if you do not follow appropriate best practice. Fraudulent sites and attacks from malware and viruses are all very real risks. It is important to be aware of such risks to yourself and to the university.

By following best practice principles, you can reduce the exposure to such risks and keep University Confidential information you handle secure.

Best practice guidelines

  • When entering a URL into an address bar, make sure you check your spelling before pressing – Enter. Many fraudulent websites adopt domain names that are similar to legitimate websites.
  • Consider the URL that is being entered, there should never be anything else between the domain (eg amazon) and the top level domain (eg .com or .co.uk).
  • Ensure your web browser; antivirus software and other softw​are ar​e up to date with the latest patches. Vulnerabilities are often found and fixed by software vendors.
  • Avoid unnecessary plugins or extensions​ for your browsers. The more gadgets you use, the more vulnerable you are to exploits.
  • Vary your passwords from site to site and periodically change the passwords to sites that hold University Confidential information. This will ensure that a breach on one site will not affect another.
  • Never click on pop-up antivirus alerts. If a pop-up message appears, make a note of the message and the URL and send then to CIST, who may blacklist the domain to prevent future access.  You should also close your browser immediately and clear the recent history. Names of well-known companies are often used to mimic genuine warning alerts to gain your trust.​

Top Security Tips

​​​​​​Here are some tips to ensure you remain safe when working with IT:​

  • Never share your Brunel network password. We will never ask you to reveal it, and you should only enter it in a website with '.brunel.ac.uk' in the address​​
  • Avoid leaving devices containing data unattended (e.g. USB sticks, CDs, DVDs)
  • If you think someone may have tampered with your PC, check to make sure you don't have a keylogging device attached (See photo of an in-line key logging device)
  • If using a shared PC , remember to lock your PC (press Ctrl, Alt & Del and select 'Lock this Computer')
  • If using a mobile device (phone or tablet), use a security pin lock; if using a laptop, set a password​​
  • If unsure about any of these, you should get in touch with Computing Support

 Safe social networking

​​​Many of us have a social networking presence. It's important to think carefully about what information we divulge to such websites or write on blogs etc. Here are some tips:

Think twice before posting:​

  • Personal information (things like your phone number, email address, home address, name and age).
  • Photos or descriptions of illegal activities (advertising a party where underage drinking will be present, photos of yourself or others using illegal drugs)
  • Material that might be considered pornographic (especially photos of children-even if you consider the photos perfectly harmless, nude photos of children under 18 could be considered child pornography)
  • Any postings you might consider to be a joke can be taken seriously by a potential employer. Remember, the web can make a strong first impression.
  • If others post inappropriate material of you on their site, such as Facebook, and tag you, remember to untag any unwanted material.

Secure your personal information​

  • Always use the strongest privacy account settings.
  • Make your profile viewable to friends only, and not to everyone in your network.
  • Use Google to search your name. The results are what potential employers will see, as well as anyone else on the internet if they Google you. Make sure there is nothing online that you don’t want others to see.
  • Remember that your mobile device(s) will often remain logged in to social network apps. See our page on secu​rity tips​ for more information on securing these devices.

Managing Mobile Devices​

​Mobile devices give us flexibility to work away from campus, and for many of us they are essential to the way we work. However, it's important to know how and when mobile devices should be used, what precautions need to be taken and when other solutions may be more appropriate 

IF YOU FIND A USB STICK LYING AROUND CAMPUS…….  Don't plug it in. Report it to IT.

London Public Transport

We realise that being a foreign student in a big city like London can be a bit overwhelming, especially when trying to take public transportation. Do not worry! We have broken everything down for you so that you can get to where you want to go without any troubles and for the cheapest price.

Planning Your Journey

  1. Before taking the Tube, always check to see when the first and last trains are.
  2. The first thing you need to know is what tube station you are leaving from and at which station you will need to arrive at.
  3. Once you know where you are leaving from, check to see where your station is on the underground line. Locate your destination and the underground line that it is on.
  4. Remember to check the train's destination, which can usually be found on the front of the train or on the display boards, to make sure that you are getting a train going in the right direction – and that if you need to change lines, you keep going the right way!
  5. Note: Sometimes trains do not travel all the way to the terminal station and will terminate a few stations before. There will usually be a train that goes to the end of the line shortly afterwards, but it means that you may have to get out and wait at the platform for a while.

Oyster Cards

You can buy an Oyster or travel card here.


An Oyster Card is a pay as you go travel pass that you can use for the underground, bus, tram, DLR, London over-ground trains and some National Rail train services.

There are two advantages to having an Oyster Card. Firstly, they are so convenient. When you've just arrived back in London from your summer holiday, the last thing you want is to be messing around buying a Travelcard every day. The other major benefit is that Oyster Cards make travelling much cheaper. It will always calculate the cheapest price for your journey, and paying for a journey with an Oyster Card costs a lot less than buying a paper ticket.

There are two types of Oyster Card: 

 Standard Oyster Card - You can pick one of these up from selected high street shops or at most train stations in London, or get it delivered within the UK. They are free but have a refundable £5 deposit. They can have season tickets placed on them, be pay as you go, or auto top-up.

 Visitor Oyster Card - If you want to get your Oyster delivered abroad before you arrive in London then this is for you. They have a £3 non-refundable deposit and you can get them already topped up when they arrive. Order one here.

 Make sure you touch your Oyster Card to the yellow sensor at the start and the end of your journey. If you forget to touch in or touch out, you will be charged the maximum daily fee.

If you travel during peak times, Monday to Friday (4:30–9:30 in the morning) you will be charged more for your journey.

Student Oyster Cards

Student Photo Oyster Cards are available to students over the age of 18 and enrolled at a participating university or institution. Although you can still use the Student Oyster Card for pay-as-you go travel, no additional discounts are available for single journeys, daily travel or 3 day travel. The Student Oyster Card allows you to spend less money on travel in and around London when you purchase Travelcards valid for 7 days, one month or longer periods of time (up to one year). You will end up saving 30% off the adult fare for that Travelcard. Eligible students must apply for a student oyster card online or by post through their university or institution. Contact your Student Union or the National Union of Students for more information.

If you are under the age of 19 and in full time Education in the UK, you may qualify for the 16+ Student Oyster Card, which will entitle you to free transport on London buses and trams and allow you to purchase Travelcards at a child's rate.


A Travelcard is a pre-paid travel ticket valid for a day, 3 days, a week, one month or longer periods of up to a year. This is a good option for people who travel daily on the tube, bus, over-ground trains or DLR. When purchasing a Travelcard, you must specify which zones you will be travelling through; if you will be travelling during peak times and what modes of transportation you will take. You Travelcard must be valid for the dates you will be travelling, for the zones of your departures and destinations, for the time you are travelling (off-peak travel cards are cheaper) and for the type of transportation you are taking.

You can purchase a Travelcard valid for transport on the underground, London over-ground trains, DLR, tram, schedules riverboat services and some National Rail services for anytime travel or off-peak travel (travel starting after 9:30 in the morning). You can also purchase a travel pass only valid for the bus and tram network in London. This pass will not allow you to travel on the tube or on any trains.

National Rail Cards allow you to have unlimited travel on National Rail services between the zones specified on your card for the duration of your card. Students holding the National Rail 16-25 cards can purchase travel cards at the off-peak rate, which is a great deal and can save you 50% off your travel costs.

Before taking the bus, always check to see what the times for the first and last buses are. It is also a good idea to check if there are any delays or closed routes by using the Journey Planner.

For bus route map and timetable information, check TFL. You can also use the Journey Planner to find out which bus you will need to take in order to reach your destination.

London Buses

Bus 3_6139


When you arrive at the bus stop, make sure the bus you need to take, stops at that station (bus numbers are listed on white plaques at the stop). If it does not, look to see if there is any other bus stop nearby or ask a local shop owner for help.

When you arrive at the correct bus stop, check the route map to make sure your bus is heading in the correct direction. If you are unsure, check the front of the bus to see if its last stop is in the direction you wish to travel.

If you find that the bus is heading in the opposite direction to the one in which you want to travel, you will probably need to cross the street to take the bus heading in the right direction.

If you have an Oyster Card, make sure to touch in, but you will not have to touch out. Sometimes, you will be allowed to buy a bus ticket on the bus, although not usually in Central London. Check around the bus stop to see if there is a machine to purchase tickets before your bus arrives.

Night Buses

Night Buses are run on a limited service, late at night. The Night Bus service usually starts after midnight. The routes are much longer and the stops are less frequent. Students usually take the Night Bus to get home after a late night out because it is the only mode of public transport to run through to the early hours. To find out which Night Bus services your area, check at bus stops near you or use the Journey Planner. Night Buses have an "N" before the route number e.g. N11.

 Taxis and Cabs

In London, you have two cab options: Registered Black Cabs and Mini-Cabs.

Black Cabs are the traditional London Cab service. You can hail one on the street at any time of day or night. There are cab stops located all over central London and some surrounding areas. Black Cabs cannot be booked in advance.

All airports have a Black Cab service. Riding in a Black Cab can be a great experience for a foreigner, as the cab driver will most likely tell you about picking up members of the Royal Family, celebrities and other interesting people. They are also quite knowledgeable about London and if you ask, they will probably tell you what you want to know.

However, if you are not careful, you can run up a hefty bill in a Black Cab. All the cars run on a meter that charges per portion of a mile and per minute stopped. If you hit some traffic, you will be broke in no time! Though they are convenient, they are not the best way to save money.

Mini-Cabs are the way to go if you want discounted taxi transportation. Unlike Black Cabs, you cannot hail Mini-Cabs on the street.

You have to call a Mini-Cab station and they will send you a taxi if you have not pre-booked. Mini-cabs charge for the entire journey, regardless of traffic. When you want to book a Mini-Cab, make sure you call the nearest company to you, as they will most likely be the cheapest.

There are also Mini-Cab companies run by women only for women, so if you are a female and you are wary of cab drivers, know that there is another option for you.

You can find more information on travelling to campus and around London here.


Union of Brunel Students

Your Students' Union

As your Students’ Union, we are here to support, represent and entertain every student in our Brunel family. We are everything from your Team Brunel sports clubs and societies, to your nightlife, advice centre, and your democratic voice. 

Engaging, Representing, Supporting

From the moment you step onto campus, we have got you covered! We are proud to have over 150 sports clubs and societies for you to get involved in, as well as our active@brunel programme that offers a weekly timetable of activity throughout the year, including yoga, pilates, dancehall and pole dancing! The best thing about our sports clubs and active@brunel classes is that you can join as many of them as you like for just £35 for the year! 

We also run the on campus social venues; Loco’s, our Union bar where you can grab a drink and some food with your friends, watch the football, and play pool between lectures.  The Venue is our on campus nightclub, hosting a range of events from Bollywood parties, to Drum and Bass nights and Global, our classic Friday night student party. 

Throughout the year we run elections to ensure that we keep the best interests of our students at the forefront of our union. From our course reps to our Sabbatical Officers and Union President, you have the chance to get involved and actively initiate change. We support you through your time at Brunel. We have our friendly advice and representation centre (ARC) for any students who need support and guidance on any financial, academic, health or housing issues – and anything in between.  

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Greetings from our Brunel Student Union

Brunel Pathway College (BPC)

Student Services

BPC is dedicated to providing you with a rewarding and fulfilling student experience. As a BPC student, you will gain the effective tools needed to be successful academically and socially in your new university environment. BPC encourages you to use all the support services available and to contact our friendly staff for advice and assistance whenever you need it.

The BPC team is always happy to help students with any query or difficulty- no matter how big or small. The Student Support team looks after all of our student’s needs, including:

  • Social activities

  • Registration with BPC

  • Academic performance monitoring

  • Attendance monitoring

  • Disability support

  • Enrolment onto your pathway

  • Orientation programmes

  • Transfer assistance to Brunel University London

  • Student welfare

  • Students in Jeopardy programme

  • 24/7 emergency assistance

To contact BPC Student Services team, please email Studentservices@lbic.brunel.ac.uk 

If you are studying a course with BPC, you can visit your Student Portal for more informtation including your timetable.