Why my second language was a perk when working

Posted 3 years ago

When working in Halls, you find students from all over!

Hi, my name is Veva and I worked in Halls for 2 years. I was born and raised for 19 years in Lisbon, Portugal, so English is actually my second language!

When working in Halls, you find students from all corners of the world, which makes the whole experience really fun and interesting. Here's how being bilingual and an international student has helped me while running and participating in events this year.

1. You make sure everyone feels included 🫂

a group of people sitting at a table posing for the camera

Halls have students from all around the world, all with different levels of fluency in English.

Although I grew up reading and speaking both English and Portuguese at home, most of my friends didn’t, which has taught me how to make sure everyone can follow the conversation.

When running events, I have found this to be helpful knowledge, as I always try and make sure everyone can participate in the conversation and feels included.

2. There’s always a topic of conversation

a man and a woman standing in front of a monitor

No matter if you are at in-person event or online, there can always be moments of awkwardness or silence. Being able to speak another language has always proven to be a good ice breaker. 

You can always break the silence by learning the British slang words or by trying to teach others your own. So far, my favourite one was trying to explain to people why Portuguese people refer to themselves as ‘tugas’ or by discussing the weird sayings from back home - “It’s too many years turning chickens (São muitos anos a virar frangos)” remains the best and hardest to explain to non-Portuguese people.

3. It allowed me to connect with all kinds of different students

a group of people posing for the camera

There are certain experiences that are common across EU/International students. Being one myself, that has allowed me to connect with all different kinds of students on the back of sharing those experiences. 

Whether it’s blanking out on a word or sentence or even missing home, being able to relate to these experiences is something that it’s valued and that allows other students to not feel so alone and that lets them know there are others in the same position as them. 

Many of my friendships throughout my time in Halls started because of that.

As an EU/International student whose second language is English, working in Halls has definitely been such a valuable experience. Not only was I able to work on and practice my English every day, but I also made loads of friends and met so many interesting people from all around the world!

If you are an international student and are coming to the UK this year working as a Halls Committee Member might just be the job for you. Keep an eye out for your e-mails or our Instagram - @UAL_HallsLife - to know when applications open. 🙌🏼