Moving from Pakistan to RGU

MSc Advanced Architectural Design student Anil, tells his story about coming from Pakistan to RGU in the midst of the pandemic, and the journey he has been on since arriving on Scottish shores.

Settling in Aberdeen

For me, stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying new things has always been the most effective way to grow. Moving abroad especially for studies takes so much courage, particularly for a student like me who is going to stay away from home for the very first time on his own, and that too in the midst of a pandemic.

The most common questions on my mind were of settling into a new area, finding accommodation, meeting new people, adjusting to the new lifestyle, people’s attitude towards me, the language barrier, cultural integration, part time jobs and last but not least, will I get Pakistani food/spices in Aberdeen, Scotland? But as they say:

“Everything is unprecedented until it happens for the first time.

Anil Daniel, an MSc Advanced Architectural Design student at RGU

So, I decided to travel from Lahore to Aberdeen in November 2020. Since arriving, my perception of Aberdeen has altered, and all of my concerns have changed into the experience of a lifetime. Before travelling, I contacted the RGU Accommodation Services Team and booked a room for my isolation period at RGU’s Woolmanhill flats. Coming out of the airport, the taxi driver was so friendly and welcoming throughout the journey. He left a very good first impression of Aberdeen and its people in my mind.

When travelling the two things that I looked into were the cultural and language barriers, so I could prepare myself and adjust accordingly. At first I looked a wee bit into the Scottish history and the local dialect (Doric). The most interesting thing was the Scottish accent. It’s hard to understand at first, but exciting at the same time. I have managed to learn a few words and the accent, and I am loving it. The Scottish villages, bagpipes and the natural landscapes has made it very interesting for a person like me who loves to explore and connect with people of a different culture.

Altogether it’s an amazing experience to be at the centre point of two different cultures. Sharing yours, and learning from others at the same time.

Anil Daniel, an MSc Advanced Architectural Design student at RGU

Finding accommodation

The RGU Accommodation Services Team and the ResLife Team provided me with free food and the necessary items to quarantine, and answered all of my basic queries regarding settling in Aberdeen. I had to decide if I was going to stay in RGU’s accommodation or stay to in private accommodation. I decided to go for the latter one as I wanted to explore more about the culture living with local people.

Finding my new family in Aberdeen

After coming out of isolation and moving to my new place the first thing I did was I went to a church on Union Street. The people I met there were excited and welcomed me. They were excited to learn about Pakistan and I was excited to learn about Aberdeen. They treated me as a family member and made things easier for me. I am proud enough to say that I have a family in Aberdeen!

Pakistani spices and food in Aberdeen

Whilst packing my luggage my mother gave me Pakistani spices and some food, thinking that I would not be able to get it here in Aberdeen. To my surprise I found everything, from Pakistani spices to Pakistani food in Aberdeen. I found every spice in the world food section of Asda. You can easily locate these sections in other grocery stores as well. I am a foodie and was very happy when I found a restaurant named “ Lahore Karahi” on King Street. I visited them as soon as the Covid-19 restrictions eased. It was a great experience as I was dying to eat Pakistani food. I even invited one of my English friends with me to try Pakistani food. He was quite happy and liked “biryani and samosa” the most.

Part time jobs as a student

Students are allowed to do 20 hours per week, part time work in UK. As a student you can do odd jobs or if you are lucky enough, you could get a job in your own field of study. Coming to Aberdeen in the midst of a pandemic and lockdown was a difficult time for students getting part time jobs. I started applying for a part time job in December 2020. I reached out to RGU Employability Team to assist me in finding a part time role. Their guidance and help put me track. It was a hard time for everyone here as well and getting refusals was not easy to digest. Some of my friends were lucky enough to find a part time job during lockdown. But I did not get one until May 2021 when I was hired as a Student Ambassador- Country Champion by my own university. I am really proud of working in such a great position.   

And now the situation and opportunities of part time jobs for students is better since the easing of lockdown. In my opinion it is the best time to find your new part time job.

Exploring Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire

Aberdeen is amongst the safest cities in UK and is also called the Silver City or Granite City. It is the 3rd largest city of Scotland and has plenty to offer if you love historical buildings and natural landscapes. The rugged landscape with awe-inspiring architectural buildings makes Aberdeen a gem of a place. In Aberdeen you get to explore a blend of classy granite buildings with modern architectural trends. There is a lot of places you can visit in Aberdeen and the adjacent towns. So far I have visited Aberdeen Beach, Footdee (a historic fisherman village), Duthie Park, Bon Accord Terrace Gardens and Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven. You would love these spots for sure!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my time at RGU so far. Hopefully, you found this useful. If you have any further questions about this topic, or you would like to talk to a student about their experiences at RGU, please visit the Contact a Student platform.