Cultural Issues 

In the UK punctuality is very important especially in academic life and business. You should always be on time for lectures, classes and meetings with academic staff and support staff. If you are going to be late it is advisable for you to telephone if you can. If you are late for an appointment do not be surprised if you are told to make another appointment and be seen on another day. Similarly if you cannot make it to an appointment at all, it is always advisable to telephone and let the person know.

Getting things done - As a student in the UK you will find that there are a lot of things that you will have to do yourself that you may not have had to do before. This can be from cooking your own food in halls of residence, to managing your own bank account.

When you are in the UK as a student you are an adult who has to take responsibility for making all of your own personal arrangements. If you do not do them for yourself, there will be no-one to do it for you.

Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ is considered to be an important part of British culture. If you need to ask for someone’s help, no matter who it is, it is polite to use the word ‘please’ and once someone has given you some help say ‘thank you’. This may seem something very small but it can make all the difference in the way that people respond to you.
When you are at a reception desk, waiting to see your tutor, buying food in the refectory, in the supermarket, bank or wherever there are a number of people wanting to speak, or to receive service from an individual, it is polite to queue and wait your turn. In some countries this is not the case however, in the UK you will find that this is common practice and part of your daily routine.
Men and women play an equal role in society in the UK. There are no rules or regulations which prevent men or women doing specific jobs - both men and women alike carry out all roles at all levels. This is not only in Cardiff Met but in every organisation in the UK.

When you are talking to someone or are requesting their help or for a service from them, no matter who they are and no matter what role they have, you must be courteous. This can be from buying a train ticket, asking for information at a reception desk, asking for your tutors help and advice or speaking to an Immigration Officer.

It is considered to be very rude if you are not courteous.

Since 2007 all smoking has been banned from enclosed public places in Wales and England. This means that people can only smoke in designated areas where there will be a smoking sign. This ban affects most public premises eg. Restaurants, pubs, bars, shops, cinemas, shopping centres, leisure centres, other enclosed workplaces and public transport. Cardiff Met has been a non-smoking university for many 8years. If you are a smoker, please ensure that you only smoke in the designated areas.

Anyone who does not abide by these rules could face criminal charges and a fine.

Coming to the UK is very likely to be a new cultural experience for you and you are sure to find that there are a lot of things which are very different to what you are used to.
It may be that you will experience ‘culture shock’ which is a very common feeling.

Culture shock can be the shock of living in a new environment, meeting lots of new people, getting used to a different climate and food, being away from your family etc.

It is very normal to feel culture shock not long after you have arrived in the UK. Here are some ideas which might help you reduce your feelings of culture shock.

  • Find a local supplier where you can buy food that you are familiar with - have a look at the section on food in this booklet which will show you which local supermarkets sell for example, Chinese foods, Halal meats, Indian food products etc.
  • You can contact an International Student Welfare Officer to find out more or Cardiff Met’s
    Spiritual Advisor in Student Services – Paul Fitzpatrick Tel: 029 2041 7252
  • Ask the International Student Welfare Officers to put you in touch with students from your home country or someone with similar interests to you.
  • Have familiar things around you from home like photographs
  • Make friends with international students whether they are from your own culture or from others and they will understand how you feel.
  • Make friends with British students so you can learn more about each others cultures
  • Take regular exercise, it will make you feel healthy and can be a good way of meeting people. Cyncoed and Llandaff sites both have sports facilities and classes in certain sports which is also a good way to meet people.
  • Look out for newsletters from the International Office which will be advertised on the Cardiff Met student intranet. Each term there are a number of trips and social evenings organised especially for international students which are a great way to make friends and see places of interest.
  • Cardiff Met has an active Students Union where they have a large number of societies and evening events. There is a Students Union office on each campus of study. Why not go and find out what events they have on offer?
  • Do make use of Cardiff Met’s services e.g. International Office Welfare service, health service and counselling service if you feel you need to. Even if you would not do this at home, the services provided by Cardiff Met are designed to help you whilst you are a student here.
  • If you find things are slightly different in the way people study here and you are a bit confused about study styles it is important that you speak to your tutor. Or, alternatively the International Student Language and Study Skills Support Tutors who will be able to offer you advice about study styles in the UK.
  • If you live in halls of residence there are Student Wardens who live on site who you can talk to or who can put you in touch with other students, British or International. Some Student Wardens are international students themselves and will understand how you feel.

Please remember that it is very normal to feel culture shock. Try to look at it in a positive way and remind yourself that you are learning new skills along the way which will help you in your future. The other thing to remember is culture shock is temporary, you will get used to the British culture, but it may take a little bit of time.