Expatriatism

Lei He's story

Lei He relaxing after a bike ride around London

I moved to the UK from China in order to have new experiences but also because I was offered a place to study at university in London. I have lived in London now for roughly three years and living abroad has made me more independent as I need to actually do everything myself with having none of my family around me.

Lei He on assignment in London

Some of the biggest challenges with moving to a different country have been the language and cultural barriers. Trying to be a part of a native circle has not been easy and this does require a lot of courage and confidence. Also moving house can be a big challenge, the whole process of looking for a house, dealing with agencies or landlords and finally moving into the new house is very challenging, especially if you have to do it all by yourself. When I first moved to the UK I found the first three months particularly difficult, trying to survive and understand what others were saying and in turn trying to be understood was a struggle.

Some of the best things about being an expat for me have been having the opportunity to work with people from all around the world. Also living in London, it has been great having so many resources at hand, such as museums, galleries and art centres. One of my fondest memories so far is being the London Study Ambassador and exploring London with ambassadors from other universities every month.

Lei He photography shoot

I haven’t really decided on where I’m going to live in the future, I’m still undecided. It all depends on the working opportunities that I get. I did move back to China for a little while between studying and I ran into some difficulties readjusting. Take transportation as an example. In London, I have very little problems travelling around as there are different types of transportation and the information is always available via different sources, such as TFL, Twitter etc. However, in my city, the real-time public transportation information is sometimes difficult to get.

For someone planning to move to the UK I would say the first three months are always tough and you might feel isolated. But don’t panic as I promise you things will get better when you stay longer. Try to get used to the British pub culture, which I think personally has helped me adapt to life in England.