Welcome to Birmingham! For most international students, coming to study in the UK can be a little daunting but exciting too. What is life like for an International student in Birmingham? MBA International student, Thuy Duong Lai (Vanessa) gives you an insight into her first year here at Birmingham City University…

January 2014 marked a change in my life. With a one-way flight ticket in hand, I first studied abroad. Experiencing a 12-hour flight and travelling over 10,000km were the first obstacles I, a Vietnamese student, had to overcome when coming to the UK for a Master’s course.

“How could I settle down in UK?” was the matter obsessing me all the time from my very first day in Birmingham.

One year after, I look back through the journey and I can only say that this city has treated me so well. My grade being above 70% after two terms, undertaking 15 trips to wonderful cities in the UK and a great number of international friends are my personal achievements so far. Now I wish to share some of my experiences in Birmingham to help you as a future international student.

The Brummie accent

At first, I believed the Brummie accent was a matter of concern to most international students studying in Birmingham, especially to students coming from the non-speaking English countries. Trust me, at BCU there is no need to worry! Regarding my academic life, all the lectures are delivered in UK academic standards. Most BCU lecturers have a clear voice and they speak at a moderate speed. In all modules, the abstract concepts are explained by visual examples. In addition to this, BCU lecturers are so nice and friendly whom you can easily seek help from.

Turning to the daily life, the fastest way to get familiar with the Brum accent is by making friends and engaging in regular communication with the locals. Such things are available when you join the Globe club. Globe club is the international branch of BCU’s Christian Union. Every Monday, in BCU campuses, they have afternoon tea and meet for Christian people and overseas students to get to know each other, understand other cultures and discuss topics of a typical British lifestyle. Most weekends, the Globe members are welcomed to visit British families, thereby enjoying traditional food, playing games and having fun. Now I am confident to tell you the origin of English afternoon tea and steps to cook some traditional British dishes!

Birmingham is home to more than one million people from a range of different cultures and ethnic groups, including the UK’s largest student population outside London. From food to shopping- check out our guide on Life in Birmingham.

Job opportunities

Despite the fact that studying is the main reason I am in the UK, I have never confined myself in studying only. Instead I always try to enhance my skills and life experiences by seeking a job or an internship. www.careerinteractive.org is an exclusive career coaching website for international students. Here, you can easily get an update on big career fairs, or internship recruitment programmes. My advice for international students is to subscribe for weekly newsletters sent by the site. This will keep the student updated and aware of job opportunities.

BCU also has job boards called ‘BCU online job board’ and ‘Job Prospect’ where students can find both part-time and full-time jobs, even on-campus opportunities. ​To my best knowledge, BCU is one of the universities offering lots of part-time jobs to international students such as academic mentors, library assistants, and student ambassadors. Lastly, good news for finance-concerned people is that the allowance for such on-campus positions is very generous.

Our OpportUNIty scheme ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. Find out more about the scheme here.

Travel tips

Study hard and travel hard is the quotation of my life. It is difficult for newcomers to set an ideal and budget travel plan, so my choice is following the professional first. In holidays, there are numerous tourist advertisements for BCU students from field trips. Field trips are organised by alumni students who have experiences in travelling the UK. The offered trips are affordable. However field trips only provide journeys to nearby cities such as Bath, Cambridge, London (the furthest trip) and so on. After a number of trips, you can find some friends, who have same passion of discovering UK, get familiar with UK transport and equip yourself with experiences of setting up a schedule. Then pack your bag and go. I strongly believe you will find a lot of fun and interesting things with your own trips. In my opinion, Oxford, Liverpool and Edinburgh are all worth visiting.

Save money on your adventures with a 16-25 Railcard. Explore Great Britain while saving 1/3 off rail fares- bonus!

So guys, keep calm and enjoy all the offers from Brum!


If you’re an international student looking to study with us (yay) then check out our International section on our website. Click here to find out how to get help in your country. 

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