Friends International: Offering Friendship to International Students
The content below is from the site's 2003-2006 archived pages.
Friends International helped thousands of international students each year. They wanted to help foreign students feel welcome during their time in the UK.
This website is written and maintained by Friends International. Friends International is an organisation made up of Christians who wish to offer friendship to international students when they come to stay in the UK.
We understand that being an international student can be an exciting and useful time, but that it can also be frustrating and lonely. We have more than 60 staff working to build friendships with international students in over 30 cities throughout the UK. We work in partnership with universities, churches and other organisations. Although we are all Christians, our services are offered to international students of all faiths or none.
What we do
In each location where Friends International has staff or volunteers, there are events and activities designed especially for international students. This page gives you an idea of what you might be able to join in with.
Friends International staff and volunteers often organise "Welcome Programmes" at the start of the academic year. This can include various welcome and social events and outings to help you settle into your new life and make friends.
Outings and Social Events
Friends International staff usually plan a variety of social activities during the year for international students. Typically the social events include visits to historical places of interest, trips into the countryside, special meals, celebrations, sporting or other cultural events.
Introduction to British Families
Some Friends International staff organise hospitality schemes where they can put you in touch with British families in their city, who will invite you into their home for meals. This is a lovely way to get to know British people and their families. Hopefully this friendship will continue during your stay in Britain.
In many cities, Friends International staff and volunteers run international cafés. They are a great place to make new friends, relax, practise your English, and enjoy some refreshments in a friendly environment. Cafés open on a regular basis, usually weekly.
International Women's Groups
Some Friends International teams organise events especially for international women, which are open to students or wives of students. These groups are a good place to make friends with women from across the globe, learn about the British way of life and provide an environment where children are welcome and can play. The events range from Parents and Toddlers groups to weekly-organised activities, coffee mornings, English classes, Bible studies etc.
Parents and Toddlers Groups
Are you an international student who is bringing your wife/husband and family to Britain during your studies? If your partner is not a student, she/he may often feel lonely and isolated. Many Friends International teams organise "Parent and Toddlers Groups" that run for a couple of hours in a morning or afternoon each week, and provide an opportunity for parents to meet new people and for their children to play. Parents can arrive and leave at any time during the session, but they can not leave their children. There are often refreshments for the parents and toys for the children.
Help with British Culture
Friends International has produced a booklet Guide to life in the UKthat explains about the way of life in the UK, its customs and culture. It gives useful information about transport, healthcare, post, telephones, shopping, money, religious life, public holidays etc. It also describes the type of local facilities one can expect to find in a city. In addition, Friends International staff and volunteers are always happy to explain any aspects of British culture and customs. You can order a copy of the booklet for just £1 from Friends International.
Do you want to get to know more about Christianity? Are you a Christian who wants to grow in your understanding of the Bible? Friends International staff and volunteers meet with individuals and groups to study the basics of Christianity. Christianity has played an essential part in the development of the history of Britain and its culture. Although sadly today much of our "Western lifestyle" is opposed to Christian values. Friends International believes in a living God, the Bible and that Christianity is still very relevant today. These activities are entirely optional and open to people of any faith or none.
What we do not do
Whilst Friends International wants to help international students, there are a number of things Friends International is not able to do:
• organise accommodation
• provide or arrange financial support
• find paid employment for international students
• directly provide medical care, car repair etc.
Your local international student advisor may be able to help with the above enquiries.
What others say about us
"London is an exciting place but arriving at Heathrow Airport can be a very daunting experience for international students. Friends International can help students with their immediate needs on arrival, such as finding the bus or underground station, helping to sort out the best route to their destination, working the ticket machines and making a telephone call. Most importantly, representatives of Friends International provide an initial welcome to international students which helps them to feel more secure and able to cope with the new environment."
Jill Thorn, Assistant Registrar (International), Goldsmiths College, University of London
"I have seen Friends International at work on a university campus and I have always been very impressed by the sensitive and co-operative way in which they work. They are a real resource which is very much appreciated by international students."
Adrian Bowman, Professor of Statistics, University of Glasgow
"The international community in the city is amazing. We have had so much fun together. I have made friends from all over the world, many of whom I hope to stay in touch with for a very long time. One of the major reasons for this community is Friends International. They have arranged trips, pub nights and lunches among other things. For many international students, this has been the centre of their social lives."
Norwegian Erasmus student, Glasgow
"I recently was in the UK and by chance met a young woman who was an international student studying medicine at Cardiff University. She was very very interested in the use of cannabis for medical purposes. I only knew of Cardiff because of their research that found that individuals who used cannabis regularly had a substantially increased risk of schizophrenia compared to those who did not use this drug. The research has transformed international policy and framed the debate on cannabis use, rather detrimentally in my opinion. I happen to work for a wholesale vapor supplier whose business has taken off with the lessoning of laws on marijuana in a number of states and the resulting opening of many medical marijuana clinics. I have seen first hand the positive effects that marijuana has given numerous folks. Of course vaping also is booming as an alternative to cigarette smoking. Anyway, the young woman and I had an interesting afternoon discussing the pros and cons of medical marijuana. I invited her to dinner, but she already had plans- dinner with an English family whom she met through Friends International when she first arrived in England. She said they had become her family away from home and she always had dinner with them every Friday. So we parted ways.
Phil Johnson, USA