Settling in

Here you can find advice about settling into life at UCL and in the UK, including how to overcome feelings of culture shock.

When you first arrive in London it will likely take some time to feel settled and to get used to your surroundings. Below you can find the following advice to help you settle into life at university:

British culture

British culture may be very different to that of your home country and you'll need some time to adapt to various aspects of life in the UK. This is completely normal and can happen even if you've carried out extensive preparations before your arrival or if you have travelled a lot previously.

You can learn more about British life, such as customs, etiquette and shopping, on our dedicated webpage.

During your first few weeks, you will notice differences between the way things are done in the UK and what you are used to at home. There are, however, a number of resources you can access to help you adapt and feel at home. For example:

Settling in at UCL

In the video below, some of our UCL students and staff give their top tips for settling into life at UCL and adjusting to the London lifestyle.

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Culture shock

    The transition from a familiar environment to an unfamiliar one is often referred to as ‘culture shock’. While everyone’s experience is different, here are a few tips on how to adapt to your new life in the UK.

    Surround yourself with familiar things

    It is important to surround yourself with objects that have personal meaning for you, such as photographs or keepsakes from back home. While you may initially find British food unappetising, remember that you are studying and living in one of the world’s most multicultural cities; you should be able to find a supplier of familiar food. This will help you eat a healthy and balanced diet.

    Try something new every day

    While this may seem to contradict the point above, trying something new can gradually help you overcome the feeling of culture shock and learn more about another country and its customs. You could do this by simply exploring your local neighbourhood, or even by trying out a Students’ Union UCL club or society, where you can meet students with similar interests.

    For more information about the activities offered by the Students' Union, visit their webpages. 


    Keeping in touch with friends and family is equally important for your wellbeing, however, do try to maintain a balance by engaging with people around you to avoid feeling isolated. Reaching out to other students can help you create a support network and make new friends. Many other international students will be able to relate to your experience, just as many local students will be happy to share interesting aspects of their life and traditions with you.

    More information on keeping in touch can be found on our dedicate webpage.

    Make use of the support available to you

    There is plenty of support available for you at UCL, remember to take some time to find out what services the university offers. Even if at home you wouldn’t consider such steps, in the UK it is normal, and this may be of help when familiar support is missing. Here are a few suggestions:

    Above all, the most important thing to remember is that culture shock is very normal, most people experience it at some stage and it is not permanent. The process of adapting to a new setting can increase your autonomy and also raise your awareness about what aspects about your own culture you most value.