The article explores female Pakistani students’ narratives of transition on moving to the UK and into post-graduate higher education. It draws on a qualitative longitudinal study with six female Pakistani students at one university to reveal the complex ongoing transformation of their thinking, feeling and believing. An analysis of troubles of identity during the year are suggestive of their seizing a ‘modicum of control’: a kind of agency that doesn’t resist power structures, but does make an individual feel that they are choosing. As a result our participants went on to make profound changes to some of the ways they thought about and lived their lives. The results have implications for Universities, policy makers and tutors to transcend an institutional focus into a broader enculturated view that highlights an irreversible change to their past identities, which needs support both for students’ transitioning to the UK University and on their return.