Multiculturalism in Lancaster University

Lancaster is a melting pot of a wide variety of cultures. Lancaster is home to almost 3000 international students and the university has a very welcoming environment which encourages students from different nationalities to interact with each other and share stories about their respective heritage as well as their experience of living abroad. There hasn’t been a student I’ve met here who doesn’t have a fascinating life story to tell. Ever since I came to university, I have met people from all corners of the world such as Eritrea, Thailand, Portugal, Ghana, Canada, France, India, Cyprus and Mexico. Meeting people from different countries may sound intimidating at first, especially if you’ve never heard of their country or are unfamiliar with their culture; however, with time, you realize the many striking similarities we all share, and maybe you’ll even be able to pinpoint more and more countries on a map (which I am fortunately getting better at).

But to simply say that there are no misunderstandings or disagreements that arise between students would be a lie. Sometimes, opinions may not completely align with my views but by being exposed to this international environment I’m still able to approach each topic with an open-minded and global mind. What’s important to remember is that respect is the key to life.

One of the main thoughts my international friends and I share is that we all decided to leave our home countries and study in the UK. Despite our cultural differences, it was rather easy to reach a consensus on what surprised us the most while living here: the weather. The weather is ‘absolutely mad’. (Now that’s an expression I’ve learnt here but never used before. Definitely sounds better when the locals say it.) It is simply unpredictable and plays a big part in setting the mood for the day. One day it’s raining, the day after it’s snowing and there are even days where it can all happen at once! I don’t understand the logic nor the science behind it (which is why I don’t take science as a subject) but we can all agree it can throw us into a frenzy at times.  But life does come with its surprises. Now, as I am writing this, the sun is shining warm upon all our faces, and there’s a cool and gentle breeze passing by.

Besides the weather, I was naturally and quickly introduced to the culture of sports and food here in the UK. Although the last time I watched a football match was around a year ago, I still admire my classmates’ fascination with the sport. Sports have the unique ability to transcend cultural borders and our sport teams and societies on campus are a true testament to that. Student also like to watch live sports on the TVs in bars throughout campus which is exciting, especially during important matches.

The other aspect I found interesting while first living here is the food. It’s quite different to the food I have at home but even then, there are still slight differences in the cuisine among different areas in the UK; and even terms such as breakfast, dinner and tea (I could expand on why I still find it rather perplexing as to why dinner is lunch and tea is dinner, but that’s for another time). To put it shortly, try the pie, the scone and their traditional “fish and chips”.  And by the way- it’s not fries but chips. And it’s not chips but crisps. Try those dishes and know those phrases and you’ll be fine. And of course, don’t forget an umbrella!

Take care!


The Great Indian Breakfast

“What should I have for breakfast?” I don’t know about the last thoughts people have before going to bed, but this is fairly commonly the one that I tend to sleep on. You might think as a PhD student I would have far more serious thoughts whirling in my mind as I finally lay it to rest after a long day, but… no, this one overrides them all.

Breakfasts in India, where I come from, tend to be elaborate. I love the simplicity and lack of fuss demanded by bread, butter, jam, eggs—I can quite see why it’s so popular everywhere and I won’t deny that I fall back on this option time and again when I wake up not having made any clear decisions. But being away from home, there is nothing that offers the soothing comfort and smell and feel of home as a warm breakfast made as it would be made at home.

For many of you wondering what these breakfast options might look like, here is a sample:

  1. Idli Chutney/Sambar: This counts as a number 1 on my list and it also probably takes the most time and effort. Steamed rice cakes with a flavourful and spicy coconut chutney and something like a tangy lentil gravy to go along. (recipe:
  2. Poha: Beaten or flattened rice mixed with potatoes, peanuts, and some spices (recipe:
  3. Upma: Much simpler and quicker to make. Semolina cooked almost like porridge with or without vegetables such as peas, carrots, and so on. (recipe:
  4. Aloo Paratha: May be enjoyed for lunch as well as dinner but it makes for a rather scrumptious breakfast option in my opinion. Spicy mashed potatoes stuffed inside a whole wheat flat bread best had with curd or pickle (recipe:

These are just the tip of the Indian breakfast menu iceberg, if I may use the expression. The one thing that is needed to make the effort of making these delicacies worth it would be some good company. I can’t say I have that on most days unless I count my articles and books in that category, but there is always the second best thing that never fails me: a hot cup of tea!

Cultural Food Night, What’s There Other Than Food?

“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.”

– Wendell Berry

Hi! My name is Nila Sukmawati, and I am a postgraduate student at LUMS, studying MSc Information Technology, Management and Organisational change (ITMOC). As an International student who is going abroad for the first time to study, everything about Lancaster, UK and any places that I have visited are all exciting for me. I had so many firsts during my 4 months experience of living abroad. First long-haul flight (yeah, I took 18 hours flight from Indonesia to Manchester, and another 1.5 train ride to Lancaster), first time being away from home for such a long time, first time visiting Europe and my most fascinating “first” would be my first time of having 21 classmates from 15 different Nationalities!

As I have classmates who is coming from different culture and background, it is really interesting to see how we speak in different English accent, how we talk and share to each other about how we missed home or about how much we are craving for foods from our hometown. Fun fact about my class is that we regularly held social events so that we get to know each other better and of course to get away for a while from tons of reading lists and assignments 😀 . One of the most exciting and unforgettable event for me (and maybe for the rest of the class) would be…. CULTURAL FOOD NIGHT!

Can you imagine when 22 people from 15 Nationalities had to bring foods from their country to be shared together? Food overload! 😀 I tried various kind of foods that I have never tasted or seen before. Blinis from Russia, Special pancake from The Netherlands, beef meatball and potato salad from Germany, egg frittata from Italy… and these were all yummy. Our friend from Taiwan also made delicious sushi and I made corn fritter, Indonesia special noodle and… fire noodles from Korea (it is not from Indonesia, but it is still from Asia though hehe). I was thinking about cooking fire noodles because I know that my classmates from Western countries might not be able to handle its spiciness. It is super spicy that your whole mouth would feel like it is burning. So, I want to challenge them!

Without any bias, I might say that this fire noodle was the “most wanted” food during our food night. Some of us can handle it, some can’t handle it and some did not have any courage to try it. But at least, I was really happy to get to introduce this food to my lovely classmates.

After filling in our tummy with various kind of foods, we started to play games and shared the story about our life. My friend from Russia brought a special drink from his country and introducing the way to drink with “Russian Style”. We also played “Guess the Movie” game together where someone had to describe a movie title with body gestures or drawing some pictures and the rest of us will guess the movie title. We can’t stop laughing and we felt happy together even though we are all far far away from our home.

Throughout this event, I really feel like I can get closer to my classmates. Sometimes, we are too busy working on our assignments or doing something else outside class that we forgot to socialise with people whom we met every day in class. For me, homesick attack is coming to me quite often and I can’t help myself to not complain about life. But on event like this where you can play, share and listen to the stories from your classmates, you will somehow feel like “Hey, chill! You are not alone here. You are here to discover yourselves and get to know others better. Be strong and you will be a better YOU!”.

I highly recommend this cultural food night event to be held in another class in Lancaster University. Not only we get the experience of tasting the whole new savory from another part of the world, but we would also be able to get to know about interesting culture and stories about another country. Additionally, this kind of event makes us realise that we are struggling here in Lancaster together and you don’t have to feel alone, because you are not! 🙂


Exploring Lancaster: food shopping

Students' Union

Once you arrive in Lancaster University, you will find yourself in a completely new environment, and probably the most important question for you will be where to buy everyday essentials and food. There are plenty of supermarkets in Lancaster, which is positive on the one hand. On the other hand, it makes your choice more difficult. In this post I will try to compare different means of shopping.

1. On campus Convenient Stores (LUSU Central and Spar)
These are two small stores located on campus. LUSU Central belongs to the Lancaster University Students’ Union (LUSU) and Spar is a well-known brand. I consider them together since they are quite similar, they have almost the same assortment and pricing policy.

Plus Minus
Convenient location – if you want to buy something on spot (spontaneous purchase) or if you immediately need an ingredient for your meal, these stores are always in the vicinity.

Spar offers good deals on vegetables.

LUSU Central offers good meal deals, plus Purple card holders can benefit from discounts and special offers.

Prices are significantly higher than in the big supermarkets.

Product range is rather narrow.

2. Sainsbury’s
Sainsbury’s is the biggest supermarket (I would even say a department store) in Lancaster.

Plus Minus
Product range is extremely wide.

On-line delivery (your basket must be worth of £40+) with convenient time-slots.

First-purchase discount. Excellent client service.

There is a free bus that goes on Wednesdays every hour from Lancaster University to Sainsbury’s and back. If you want to use it when returning on campus from the town centre, you must show to the driver a receipt from Sainsbury’s worth £5 or more.

Prices are lower than in Spar or LUSU Central, but I would argue this is one of the most expensive supermarkets.

If you order online delivery, they quite often replace 2-3 out-of-stock items with what they call ‘a suitable match’. The delivery man always asks you if you are happy with the replacement or not, if not, money for this item will be returned.

3. Marks and Spencer
M&S is a famous department store which sells fine clothes and food. In Lancaster, it is located on the main street – Penny Street.

Plus Minus
Undeniable quality. Products from M&S will be good souvenirs from England for your friends and family. There are many special offers before Christmas, New Year and Easter.

Quality. Quality. Quality.

Price is rather high compared to other supermarkets/food retailers.

ASDA is located in Morecambe, not in Lancaster. Like Sainsbury’s, it is a department store, but of a slightly lower scale.

Plus Minus
Prices are quite cheap (definitely cheaper than in Sainsbury’s or M&S).

On-line delivery (your basket must be worth of £40+) with convenient time-slots.

The same issue with product replacement as in Sainsbury’s.

Quality of food is slightly lower than in Sainsbury’s (on average, not always).

ALDI is the cheapest supermarket in Lancaster (imho), although it’s located in Morecambe.

Plus Minus
ALDI provides the lowest prices on the market.

Product range is wide (but narrower than in Sainsbury’s or ASDA).

No food delivery available. That is a very big minus.

TESCO is a world-known brand. There are no TESCO stores in Lancaster, however you can order food from them online.

Plus Minus
Online delivery.

Good quality of food.

Slightly expensive (Sainsbury’s level, sometimes even higher).