International Students in London

Studies and conversations about international students in the UK are few and far between. Understandably so: In London, most of us are here for a transitory period and in the larger picture of this quintessentially cosmopolitan city, we make up a very tiny percentage (1.3% according to London Higher). So far conversations tend to identify international students as a new migratory elite vulnerable to the financial interests of UK universities (Findlay 2010) or as key agents in transforming new global spaces of academic knowledge (Raghuram 2013).

Moving beyond class generalisations and the academic function of this group, I seek to document our everyday lived experience of finding community and a sense of belonging in this current period, especially recently with COVID19 isolation policies. With our blend of peculiarities (young adults, atomised, here only for a short period, fairly cosmopolitan, mostly without family), the international students I have spoken to for this project have had varied experiences.

I speak for myself when I say that I chose to study in London because London, in all its cosmopolitanism, promised to be home away from home. But I also wanted to know what relationship other international students have with their London. This series speaks to current discussions on how we can overcome social isolation trends which the pandemic has heightened by asking the question: "What are the joys and challenges we face in finding and creating a sense of belonging and connection to the city?"

Jan 2018 - ongoing
Recently featured on the Invisible Britain platform, 2021.
Exhibited at Battersea Arts Centre Off the Track festival, March 2018.

The extended version of the project contains text condensed from interviews with the participants and the ultimate goal is a book project.  Follow this link if you would like to participate.