4 Things I’ve Learned As an International Student In the UK
My journey of studying abroad started in Oxford.
Until that time, I’ve never visited any part of the UK and had no idea where exactly I’d like to stay. Luckily, it turned out to be Oxford, a relatively quiet and peaceful city, that became my home for nearly two years of my student life abroad.
Having finished a private college there, I started to apply to various universities, a majority of which were based in London. I got lucky again, and now am finishing my second year of a Business and IT course at University College London.
Now, let’s take a look at 4 lessons I’ve learned while living and studying in a completely different environment for me.
Studying abroad gives you access to a selected sort of people.
One of the most crucial factors for me was to establish and expand my network. These people were filtered out because they had to make some extra effort to study there.
If you manage to be studying in one of the most prestigious universities in the world, you’ll be surrounded by a significant number of ambitious, talented and enthusiastic individuals.
Yes, not all of them would know exactly what they’d want to do in their lives, and I’m a strong believer in the difference between business minded and academia minded people. However, if you’re quite an open-minded and outgoing person, you’d definitely be able to connect to a wide range of active and ambitious individuals, who will eventually shape your network.
This point will be probably relevant in many other uni experiences, not necessarily related to studying abroad. However, this is definitely something I’ve learned myself over the years. In fact, I’m sure that being in another country, gives you an additional amount of responsibility to stay disciplined.
What I mean by this is how you plan and approach each day. For some of us, the uni time is the first moment when we have to take the time management seriously. Especially, if you’re keen to get involved in various extra activities outside your degree, you’d need to learn how to prioritise your effort and time.
Coming from a different background and speaking English as a second language, could add a bit more to the responsibility and discipline feeling.
At least it’s been like this for me, as I always keep comparing myself to others, especially the local students, in terms of performance and achievements.
Sometimes, you can turn it into your advantage by doing some extra work and going for that extra mile, because internally you feel a bit behind compared to others, and you feel the need to accomplish or achieve more, in order to stay competitive or distinguish yourself.
3. Value of time
Another aspect of my uni experience has been a feeling of appreciating the value of time. Especially, when you face the fact you’re on visa and have a limited number of months or years to stay in a foreign country.
Again, I believe, and my belief is based on a number of observations and conversations, that overseas students tend to sense the limitation of time to a higher extent compared to the locals.
I constantly experience the feeling that the day will come soon when I’d need to have a reason to stay in the UK for working or studying further.
It really does add the feeling of being more responsible and conscious about how you approach your day-to-day routine and what sort of people you’re investing (or wasting) your time with.
4. Perspective on appreciating and tolerating different views
Last but not least thing I’ve learned, has been an appreciation and willingness to understand a wide range of cultures, traditions, and mentalities I’ve been surrounded by throughout my stay in the UK.
Both Oxford and London are particularly diverse environments and you get to know and find out about all sorts of people, coming from all backgrounds. And by that, I mean all.
I’ve met people from both parts of the Americas, most countries in Europe and Asia, the Middle East and Oceania. And these weren’t just quick meetings. With some of them I worked in groups as part of my uni degree and sometimes I was curious to find out more about their cultures and beliefs.
But sometimes, it was rather challenging to work and find the middle ground with them. Being raised in a particular culture and coming from a certain background, builds up a framework in which you live and judge what’s right and what’s wrong.
Definitely, living in a foreign environment and especially in the western country has broadened my perspective on tolerating and appreciating certain things, that are usually treated differently in various cultures.
That’s it, hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article!
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