Blog Student life Adjusting to studying abroad in London after leaving Afghanistan
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Adjusting to studying abroad in London after leaving Afghanistan

Leaving home to study abroad can be an overwhelming experience. For brothers Abdulwahab and Abdulwali, moving from Afghanistan to Kaplan International College London was a big change.  

The pair left Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, with their story featured by both the BBC and the Times.  

Keep reading to discover Abdulwahab and Abdulwali’s reflections on their transition from living in Afghanistan to London, and how Kaplan supported them during their time at the College. 

Dealing with culture shock

Some of the difficult things we faced in the beginning was the culture shock — the transition from the collectivist, family-based culture to a more individualistic type of culture here in the UK. Because back in Afghanistan, the families are quite big, all just living in one house together. Whereas here [in London], I don’t even see my brother that much! 

It’s quite a difference and it was a shock, because now we had to rely on ourselves. We had to learn how to cook, how to look after ourselves. Everything was on us; even though there was support from friends, from the College, it still felt like we were on our own. 

How London embraces diversity 

I think one of the positive things that I experienced, from being friends with different people from different countries and different cultures in London, was the fact that everyone respected each other’s culture. 

For example, when it was Ramadan, the College organised events for us to go to a restaurant to have iftar, to break the fast. I would see students who were non-Muslim, and they would also come to the event, sit with us, dine with us, break the fast with us. They respect our traditions, which felt so good for us because we feel like people do understand our culture. 

Aerial view of London
Exploring the city 

I remember one time in class, the teachers asked me: ‘How was your week? What did you do for the weekend?’ I knew it was their way of getting to know about us and helping us to transition to this system and be more productive.  

It also gave us this motivation to spend the weekend doing something nice, so that next week, they’ll ask us: ‘What did you do during the weekend?’ So we would go to a park, or watch a football match, so we could say, ‘Oh, I’ve been to Stamford Bridge and we watched this match!’ It gave us the motivation to not just stay in our rooms all day during the weekend and to get out do, do something nice.

Support at Kaplan International College London

There were many instances where I was homesick. I missed some of the foods, my family. It is kind of hard at the start, but the good thing, especially about the College, was that they had a team just for this type of instance. You can go and share your experiences. Some people might not feel too comfortable with sharing, but just give it a try. No one is judging!  

If you do not feel like you can share that, you can always call your family. Trust me, there’s nothing more calming than speaking with your family; with your mum, your dad. Seek their advice, and it will be very helpful. It was very helpful for me! 

Apply to study in London 

If you would like to follow in the footsteps of Abdulwahab and Abdulwali and study abroad in London, Kaplan can help. We offer degree preparation courses at Kaplan International College London, located in the heart of the city, that can help you gain entry to a degree at a UK university, including a selection of universities in the capital.  

Get in touch to find out more about our different study options. One of our friendly Education Advisors will be happy to guide you through the steps! 

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