I feel that since I've been studying in the UK my confidence is going down. People are so cold and difficult to interact with. My phd hasn't helped either. The never ending critique and appointments with people who can't get past my not being British when dealing with isses I raise doesn't help either.
Are you from the US?
Us brits aren't really cold, I guess its just a different style of interaction. What kind of PhD are you doing - who are your participants?
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JoJo the fact that you're doing a PhD abroad is something to be proud of and your confidence should be soaring! Is your work going well? Its not always easy being away from home particularly if you're getting used to a different culture, so I'm sorry to hear that your experience of studying in the UK hasn't been particularly positive. In what ways do people seem to have problem with you not being British? In my department all students are treated equally (or so I thought), but then I am from the UK so have never really thought about it. Is this kind of feeling common among international students? If so that's really sad. I always thought the Brits were quite accommodating! Hope it gets better. M,x
"In what ways do people seem to have problem with you not being British? M,x"
For instance, a while back I raised an issue about being patronised by a member of the department. What had happened was that we had been given different sections of a project to work on and the person I was working with pulled out the last minute saying they hadn't been allocated someone to work with. Ps: It was common knowledge that they were meant to be working with me. When I mentioned this to the person in charge, they went on to say that i shouldn't worry about it because British people are lazy and not willing to make an effort to interact with non-British people.
Again another issue came up and when I brought it up, the person in charge, instead of addressing the issue went on ask me if i was bringing it up because another minority had quit the course and therefore I was feeling bad about it. Goodness! I had never even spoken with them - as this was a new course and we had only been there for two weeks?! Why do people assume that because you are a minority you are a certain way? To me, this is racism. There is just no other way to see it. You can call it 'a different way', but call a spade a spade and not a big spoon!
Am disappointed by what my experience in this country has been. Despite being quite open minded when I came here, the people here are very closed minded towards people who are different to them. And the saddest thing is that despite being highly educated, they still can't overcome their prejudice.
I'm sorry to hear you're not enjoying your time in the UK, but I'd like to just say that I think you're experiences are not representative of all British people, and I think it's unfair to assume we're all cold and difficult to interact with. Interaction is a two way process after all, and I think it takes some give and take.
Also, if you feel some of your experiences have been due to racism within you're institution, you need to take this up with someone in a higher position. Racism is something that needs to be dealt with properly.
I'd like to point out that I'm not from the UK, while I have lived here for a fair while. I've never experienced any negativity because I wasn't born and bred in the UK. I also have a lot of friends who have come over as international students who are fully respected and recognised within my institution.
I think you should perhaps talk to your director of studies or a welfare officer about the issues you are having, and hopefully something can be worked out, but please don't assume that you are having a bad time because of the fact you're in the UK. This could happen anywhere in the world, and in any institution.
Hmmm, I think Jinkim makes a good point (several in fact). While I certainly don't want to belittle your views, I think that some struggles are just to do with being an outsider. When I lived away in Norway I often felt isolated, even though I made good friends there and would generally rate Norwegians as fantastic people. All cultures are different and that can be hard to adjust to, but please don't write us all off as intentionally cold and difficult!
I can appreciate how frustrating it must be to feel patronised in the course of your work, I think some people actually go overboard trying to be considerate - can be a tricky line to tread. Are your department not used to having international students? I know in mine they don't get a second glance (nor any additional support sadly).
Aside from taking it up with your institute where you feel it's a problem, is there anything else you could do? Maybe join an international society you could join to meet others in the same boat? I had a lot of international friends when I was abroad, not because they were inherently "nicer" than Norwegians, but just because they had the same space in their lives as I did, without already having a full quota of friends and family to hand. Although if we're going to stereotype, I always found Mexicans to be amazing party holders :)
I'd suggest it's a small minority who will make an issue of your non-Britishness; this generally relates to unfamiliarity rather than racism.
As for 'cold and difficult to interact with', it's all relevant really. British people are famously reserved. Some people interpret it as snobbiness, others as coldness, etc. I recently had a friend who spent a few months in the UK as a visiting scholar. She received two PhD offers to study at Oxford, and another at Imperial, and she rejected them and went to the USA where people are less reserved (more like the country she grew up in). The campus there in the USA has British students, and her peers think they're very stuck up and snobby. She had to explain to them that they're very reserved, that's why they come across like this.
The 'coldness' is something that disappears with familiarity, so if you attend socials and go the pub with your colleagues it won't be long before it improves.
@Jinkim - just because your experience has been different, does not mean my experience is invalid. If anything, my experience represents that of more than 90% of international students in this country.
In addition, a lot of the views on here just reinforce what am saying. It is unfortunate that prejudice and racism are very real in Britain and denied by the perpetrators and the rest of you everyday. Frankly speaking, I can't wait to leave this country and that is the general view shared by most international students. It surprises me that the British are constantly complaining about immigration and apparently 'toughening' policies when most of the 'immigrants' i know - because that is how you classify international students - are dying to leave this place. Who would want to stay here anyway? It is not a country where any minority wanting to achieve their potential can thrive. There's more to life than dealing with rubbish treatment and people who just aren't adult enough to acknowledge their weaknesses and the fact that we are all equal as human beings.
If you have nothing useful to say about what am going through, by for instance denying the reality of it, you do not have to feel compelled to respond to my post.
At no point was I trying to invalidate your experiences. I was offering an alternative perspective to try show you that your experiences are not representative of all people in your position. I was merely pointing out that stereotyping the whole of the british population based on your negative experiences was unjust, and if I remember correctly I did offer some relevant advice... i.e: talking to your supervisor/ welfare officer about your concerns.
I'm not sure what more you want? Why post if you're not willing to hear other peoples views?
Oh... and no-ones stopping you from leaving Britain if you hate it so much. Sorry to sound harsh, but there is such a thing as freewill.
I really feel for you and for my PhD I often find myself the minority - for the first time in my life, which can be very intimidating and I can understand your feelings.
I am very aware of prejudice and racism, as it is the subject of my PhD. However, in the same way that racism and prejudice unfairly makes generalisations about groups of people, you cannot suggest that ALL British people are the same. It seems like you have been reading the Daily Mail to form your views of the British public which is very saddening, we are certainly not all anti-immigration.
Its very sad that you feel this way about our country, and I urge you to consider that perhaps you belong to a rogue university department, rather than the whole country being racist. Although, to be honest, the behaviour from the lecturer you describe just sounds like concern rather than racism.
Understandably you come across very defensive, but maybe you need to reevaluate your style when communicating with your peers, as it may seem to others like you are putting up barriers.
I know a black guy on yahoo chat who swears that Americans hate black people, and blames this perceived nation-wide racism for all his problems. Even when Obama was elected he maintained these views. Personally I think blaming a country for one's woes is a sign of personal problems. Doing a PhD generally does bring problems, but the country is incidental.
Like I said, if all your post is aimed at is disgreeing with what am going through, it is not helpful at all. And by the way, it doesn't change anything about how I feel. I have been in a student in four universities in this country in different locations and the treatment has been the same. I feel sorry for those of you who have no option but to live in this kind of place. For me, I have come to the realisation that there are 190+ countries in this world to chose from. So I need not put up with your presumptions either about my situation.
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