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Finding home away from home: My experience moving to Loughborough as an international student 

18 December 2023

5 mins

Cheryl smiling in front of a tree

Hi! My name is Cheryl, and I am an international student from Malaysia in my final year studying psychology at Loughborough University. In this blog, I will be sharing my experience of moving to Loughborough as an international student – from how I felt moving to a new country, to my tips and tricks on how I made friends and got involved at university 🙂 

Note: I moved to university in October 2020 amid a pandemic so many things may have changed since then. 

Let’s start from the beginning: 

I chose Loughborough because I wanted my university experience to be on a campus and Loughborough has one of the largest and greenest university campus in the UK. 

Hazlerigg building

I joined the pre-departure meet up organised by the Loughborough Malaysian Singaporean Society (MSS) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia before coming to Loughborough which gave me the opportunity to meet other fellow Malaysians coming to Loughborough. I also joined lots of group chats on Facebook and WhatsApp with lots of other freshers which helped to know that everyone was feeling a similar feeling of excitement and nervousness. I recommend joining Facebook and Whatsapp groups just to stay in the loop with what is happening prior to moving to university.

I flew from Malaysia with a friend I met from the pre-departure meet up, and at Heathrow, we met up with another girl who flew in from Singapore, and together we shared a taxi to Loughborough. 

Getting from Heathrow to Loughborough 

The university offers free coach transfers from Heathrow Airport to Loughborough if you arrive on specific dates, so I recommend checking the university website for the Heathrow Airport pickup. The university website also has guides on how to get from different airports to Loughborough so I recommend checking that out to answer any of your queries or ease any of your worries before traveling. 

Arriving at Loughborough 

I arrived in Loughborough at 9pm was buzzed into the building by a member from the hall committee. The hall committee that year did a great job of organising events for freshers despite it being in the middle of the pandemic, and I still remember my interactions with members of committee (some who I am still great friends with today) being genuine and authentic. 

Getting settled

The next morning after I arrived, I went into town with a friend from the Malaysian society and met up with other members of the Malaysian Singaporean Society. We ate at subway in town and picked up a bunch of essentials from food bits to bedding and duvets. 

Making friends and finding your people 

I made friends through texting in my hall and course group chats asking if people wanted to meet up to walk to lectures together, or meet up for a walk, or grab a hot chocolate. Everyone is friendly and always looking to make friends so if you think someone is cool or interesting, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and make the first move. 

Cheryl and friends posing for a photo

Other ways you can make friends is through volunteering, joining a society, or signing up to play a sport. Loughborough Students’ Union, Loughborough Sport, and Loughborough University all have so many things to offer so I recommend checking out their websites to make sure you make the most of your time at university. 

Building your support networks 

Moving to a new country, I recommend build a network of people around you. Learn about the support available around you from the International Students’ Network, the wardens and sub-wardens in your hall, your academic tutor, the university Support Services, the university chaplaincy service, to Nightline – there will always be someone there to listen to you no matter how you are feeling, so don’t hesitate to reach out to someone if you are ever struggling. 

Overcoming homesickness

Feeling homesick is natural, and one way I navigated that was decorating my room and making it feel as homely and as cosy as possible. I brought little things that reminded me of home, and printed photos of my friends and family from home to put up in my room. 

University bedroom with a bed on the right and desk and chair on the left

Writing little affirmation on sticky notes to stick on your mirror as a reminder of how strong you are is also a good way to keep yourself going. I also made sure to keep in touch with friends from home as many of my friends were also moving to university for the first time and shared similar feelings and experiences as me. Although it’s good to keep in touch with friends from home, and video call them from time to time, it is also important to remember your new life and the opportunities you have around you. I recommend speaking to your flatmates around you if you are ever feeling homesick, and it may come as a surprise to you, but they are probably feeling the same way you do! 

Moving to Loughborough as an international student has been a transformative experience and I have gained a deeper sense of independence and resilience. I love being in the Loughborough bubble and involving myself in everything that Loughborough has to offer from being on hall committee and LSU Action committee, to being a peer mentor and student ambassador, I have truly felt a part of the Loughborough community and can’t wait for you to experience Loughborough yourself. 

Best of luck, 


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