Getting involved really cured my moving nerves

Summer camp and sports clubs helped teen Naylie Bramhall overcome anxieties and settle into UK life

A summer camp, a karate club and learning a brand new sport helped 17-year-old Naylie Bramhall to settle in following her move from Singapore to the U.K.. She told us how getting involved in activities helped her to overcome her anxieties about starting a new life in Manchester.

Naylie’s biggest worry was not fitting in at the college she was due to join two months after her relocation. “I was worried about not understanding their dialect and their accent and about them not understanding mine.” On top of this, the practicalities of daily life in the U.K. concerned Naylie: “I didn’t know how I was going to make it to and from college on public transport; where would I get on, where would I get off? Also, the currency concerned me. It was just the thought of holding up the queue behind me in a shop as I tried to figure out which coins were which.”

On her first trip to the U.K., when she attended a series of college open days, Naylie came across adverts for the National Citizenship Service (NCS). This U.K. government initiative aims to build young people’s confidence and encourage them to get involved in their communities. “Being the adventurous person I am, I immediately signed up.”

It was a great decision as the month-long summer camp with 60 other teens was the perfect way to overcome her language barrier fears and meet new people in the U.K. “NCS was one of the best times I’ve had in my life,” says Naylie. “It was fun, but at the same time it helped me in so many ways in terms of making new friends and integrating into society here. Not only that, but my self-confidence improved so much. And by making new friends, I picked up the Mancunian dialect and the norms and values of British Society quite easily.” She laughs, adding, “they helped me with understanding how the transport works as well!”

NCS was a great first step, but Naylie wasn’t content to stop there in her efforts to settle in. “After a bit of research, I started attending a martial arts club, which helped me widen my social network and make more friends.” She also picked up a brand new sport with her step-dad. “We started snowboarding at Chill FactorE, an indoor ski slope around 40 minutes away. We started going so often that regulars would recognize us. We call them the Chill family because our passion for snowboarding helped us to come together.”

Naylie understands all too well the anxieties that come with relocating, especially during school years, but her best tip is to “get involved!”  She advises, “join clubs, go out, make friends and enjoy what you’re doing. Put aside that fear of starting a conversation and it will do you wonders.”

Two years on from the big move, Naylie feels she’s adapted to life in the U.K. but she’s not going to stay in Manchester forever. She says, “I’m now in my last year of college and I’m determined to graduate from a redbrick university and then relocate again somewhere in Europe.”