International students speak up about life in the UK


Art Exchange

admission free

How would you describe your experience in the UK as a young person? Hard? Challenging? We agree, as do our international students. Join Rafaela, Andriani, Sofia and Eduarda for a discussion about life in modern Britain as an ‘outsider’.

‘For the Love of Avocados’ exhibition was created with the vision of bringing the everyday experiences of a young person to light and this is just another example of that. In 2019 the number of international students in the UK was just shy of half a million, and here we listen to some of their ‘expectation vs reality’ moments from the time they land, attend class and look to their futures in Britain.

As soon as we leave the shelter of school most of us can have that childhood fantasy that everything will be ok, shattered. Suddenly we have to ‘adult’. We battle with our fight or flight response as we feel the weight and expectations of understanding insurance, taxes, voting, credit, loans, the housing market, mental health and how to get a job. Our job market is a battlefield that we, as students, are just learning about. We are told we are both underqualified and overqualified for the position, we are asked in interviews to justify why we would like to settle for this role – and every time we comment on these challenges, some of the older generations reply; “you’re young, you should be able to/understand this”, or “it was harder when I was younger”, or even the more unhelpful “oh, I don’t wish to be in your shoes”.

So take a break from the pandemic and listen to students talk about their experiences of everyday life in Britain on For the Love of Avocados dedicated website:

We want to thank the following international students for contributing:

Rafaela Sousa, MA Curating University of Essex (Portugal)

Andriani Sfika, MA Curating, University of Essex (Greece)

Sofia Silva, BA History, University of Essex (Portugal)

Eduarda Ramos, BA International Relations and Global Studies, Nottingham Trent University (Portugal)