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Embracing diversity: international students

By ReslifeTeam 01 Mar 2024

Our students come from over 110 different countries!

We offer amazing opportunities to broaden your horizons and see the world differently. We are a truly international university and city. 

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Culture shock

You may notice differences between the way things are done in the UK and what you’re used to at home.

This can be frustrating and disorienting at first. It’s perfectly normal to find it challenging. Your fellow international students will no doubt share this experience - but so will many of our UK students who have moved away from home to Leicester for the first time!


Many students find the British climate different to home. You may be used to a warmer temperature, or find the year-round cloudy skies and rain unusual. But you’ll become acclimatised to it with time.


British food may taste different or be cooked differently to what you are used to. Trying out new and local foods is part of the cultural experience, but you’ll be able to find supermarkets selling familiar foods too, we have some suggestions in this booklet!

Language barrier

Speaking in a language that isn’t your first language can be tiring. People may speak quickly and you may feel embarrassed to ask them to repeat what they have said.

When you come to Leicester, you’ll likely find people from your home country. This is a great way to feel more comfortable. But it can be tempting to only speak your home language. To get more confident in speaking English, try to balance who you socialise with so you get practice communicating with British people. Speaking and listening to the language is the fastest way to get fluent!

You can also try reading newspapers, magazines or other literature in English, listening to English radio or watching English television programmes. You can even set your phone or certain apps to display content in English. As time goes on, you’ll gain more and more confidence with the language.

The English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU) at the University offers free English courses and support. Find out more at

Social etiquette 

As well as the obvious things that hit you immediately when you arrive, such as sights, sounds, smells and tastes, every culture has unspoken rules which affect the way people treat each other.

Different social behaviours may confuse, surprise or even offend you, but try to keep an open mind:

  • People may sometimes appear cold and distant or always in a hurry. This is more likely in the centre of a large city like London.
  • Punctuality is important in the UK. You should always be on time for classes and meetings. If you are going to be late for a meeting, do try to let whoever you are meeting know.
  • Social life is more complicated. Arranging to see a film at 8pm means that you should arrive at 8pm. But if you are invited to visit someone’s house for dinner at 8pm, you should probably aim to arrive just after 8pm, but not later than 8:20pm, known as being “fashionably late”. When going to a student party, an invitation for 8pm probably means any time from 9pm onwards! These differences can be tricky to grasp but will get easier over time.
  • You may be surprised to see couples holding hands or kissing in public. You may find the relationships between men and women more formal or less formal than you are used to, as well as differences in same-sex social relationships.


Wherever there are large groups of people waiting for service, people will usually form a queue and wait their turn to be served. You should always wait your turn and go by a ‘first come, first serve’ basis.  You shouldn’t jump a queue or push in, ever! 

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Please... thank you... pardon... sorry... 

Being polite will always be well-received by British people. Make sure you use a ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ whenever you can. The word ‘sorry’ is probably the most over-used word in the British language! Brits have a huge tendency to apologise out of politeness. 

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Leicester has a number of options for getting affordable groceries. Several good supermarkets near your accommodation include:

  • Aldi
  • Lidl
  • Asda
  • Morrisons 

Food deliveries 

Deliveroo is a popular meal delivery service in the UK with a vast selection of restaurants and cuisines available. Watch out for special offers and discounts for students.

Uber Eats is another well-known food delivery service that offers a variety of options and deals.

Just Eat is an online service for placing meal orders that works with most local restaurants, with no account required. 


There are many simple ways to get around Leicester:

  • Bus - The University offers a bus service for free between The Village and the University campus. Leicester and its surroundings are also well covered by the local bus network!

  • Bicycle - There are designated bike lanes and bike-sharing programmes, making Leicester a bike-friendly city. Buying or renting a bicycle can be an economical and environmentally friendly form of transportation.

  • Walking - Leicester is a relatively small city and it’s quite easy to walk to most places, including the University campus. 

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Student discounts

Totum is a student membership card scheme with over 350 offers, exclusive deals, 12 months free ISIC and Pass Age ID card included. Find out more at

UNiDAYS is an app that provides a huge range of discounts and promotions just for students. It covers a wide range
of services, such as food, clothing, entertainment, and more. Find out more at

Student Beans is another app that offers student discounts on a variety of products and services, including food and dining establishments in Leicester. Find out more at