One of the biggest, busiest and sometimes most unforgiving cities in the world, moving to London can feel as scary as it does exciting. With the additional anxiety of understanding a new culture, imagining the move abroad may seem overwhelming. But, with thousands of international students flocking to London every year, there’s obviously something key to its allure. What is it that specifically draws students to London?
We spoke to Manuele Bertuglia, an Italian student studying a Bachelor of Science (Economics) at London Metropolitan University about why he chose to come to the UK, and his experiences as an international student in London.
Hi Manuele! Why did you decide to study Economics abroad, and why in the UK specifically?
‘I was really unsure about what I wanted to do after high school, and studying abroad seemed something very interesting, as well as being an experience that would make me happy and motivated. I’ve chosen Economics because I was interested in the fact that you’re basically learning about the system you live in: it’s something real, and can also lead to many job opportunities.
I chose London because it’s considered to be one of the most important cities in the world. It’s fun, and suits the university course I’ve taken perfectly as it is one of the world’s biggest financial centres.’
What are some of the differences between Italy and the UK, having now lived in the UK as a student? Are there any differences in the academic culture?
‘Life in the two countries is completely different, both for positive and negative things. For an Italian, my first impression of London was that the city is very frenetic and tiring, but at the same time, there are so many things to do and see.
University life is also very different. I think that university in Italy is a lot harder because of the different style of teaching and approach to studies. In London, it’s more like lecturers want you to learn, and they try to help you in many ways, whereas in Italy there’s a much more distant teacher-student relationship.’
Tell us about the area of London where you live. What is it like in terms of people, culture and things to do?
‘I live in Manor House in North London. I just moved in, so I can’t tell that much, but my first impressions have been very good. It’s a very green area, and is just near Finsbury Park. It’s full of small shops and cafés but you can also find big supermarkets, Argos and all kinds of ‘good-for-everything’ shops. There’s also a big shopping centre nearby, and many nice pubs around the park that stay open until late at night and have live music sessions. It’s the Turkish part of the city so it’s full of really good restaurants and local corner shops. Manor House is on the Piccadilly tube line, and is one stop to Finsbury Park station (Victoria line) that takes you to Central London in less than 20 minutes.’
How did you find accommodation in London?
‘My language school found me my first accommodation for my first three months here. After that, I used SpareRoom like most of the other ‘Londoners.’’
What are your future plans? Any further plans to study abroad, or career paths you want to pursue?
‘This is still my first year of a three year course, and luckily for me I still have time to think about my future as I don’t have a very clear picture of it at the moment. I hope to find something in my field, hopefully in a NGO. However I can say that I don’t think I’ll be back in Italy for some years, but you never know!’
What is your university like? What do you like most about studying there?
‘My university is the London Metropolitan University. I really enjoy the atmosphere as there are students from all parts of the world, and cultural exchange is one of the things that make London a great city.
The teaching staff are very prepared and helpful. We have a very big library where you can go and study. The library is also furnished with computers that are available for students.’
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