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Study abroad : Destination Guides

Studying in London: An international student perspective

We spoke to two students about their experience as international students in London.

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Don't have long? You can find extracts from the interview at the bottom of this article to hear what the students said themselves...



What made you choose to study abroad?

Justyna: I’ve always wanted to live in London because I came here for the first time when I was 16 for my work experience and I absolutely fell in love with London. After I finished high school in Poland I decided to try to apply for university in London and I came to the university of Westminster and I just knew it was the place I wanted to be. They had the course I really wanted to do and so that’s why I chose it.



Juan: For me it was an opportunity, I used to live in Australia before I moved here. Me and my partner were looking for a new place to move to because we wanted to be closer to my family who live in the Americas so after much consideration we just said yes let’s go to England. Let’s move to London.



How did you choose the University of Westminster?

Justyna: I was just looking at universities around London and it was one that caught my eye and when I saw that there was an opportunity to go for a year abroad and that they do French language from scratch I decided that it would be my university.


Juan: The reason I chose Westminster was because it has a lot of opportunities for students and it’s just a matter of taking them and also work-wise, once you graduate you have a huge portfolio to go for.


Did you do much research before applying?

Justyna: Yes, I did because I was struggling a bit with which university was going to be the best choice for me. Even though I travel a lot, because I live in the 5th zone in London, and I didn’t mind coming every day to central London just to study because the location of the university is amazing.


Juan:  A little bit, yes. I want to be in advertising and there were just a few universities that were doing this in London and Westminster was one of the best ones for work after graduation so that’s pretty much why I chose it.



How have you found the adjustment to studying in the UK?

Justyna: I think it’s easier, because in Poland there is a lot of pressure and I think the structure of the education system and lectures in general are completely different to here. I think studying in England is better and more beneficial than Poland. So, it’s just better in every way to be honest because in Poland a year abroad is more complicated as well so that’s why I’m really happy with what I chose.


Juan: It was pretty easy since it was so similar to where I used to live in Melbourne, Australia. The only thing that I found really hard was the air pollution here, it’s pretty high and coming from Melbourne, that was the only thing I had issues with but other than that it was brilliant, I love London.


How does the teaching style differ to your home country?

Juan: It’s a lot easier, a lot more welcoming. Teachers are usually asking questions as well, they make sure that you understand, where I’m from, it’s very harsh. It’s just ‘this is what we’re doing, do it’ and pretty much fend for yourself. That’s one of the things I really like about my tutors, I get along with most of them, they know who I am, they also recommend me for things, if I need a reference, they’re like ‘yes, I’ll do it!’ so I really enjoy that.


Do you receive any scholarships or financial support?

Justyna: I do receive financial support. I get a student loan to cover the cost of my studies and maintenance loan for living costs as a migrant worker because I have to work at the same time to get a maintenance loan.


Juan: No, I do not sadly. Everything comes out of my own pocket. I have two jobs outside my studies, one of them is teaching, I teach two days a week and also modelling and acting.


How have you found your experience at the University of Westminster as an international student?

Justyna: I have found it amazing. Obviously at the beginning I was a bit stressed about everything, how am I going to cope with people, cope with studying in English and French from scratch in a non-Polish speaking country. It was absolutely wonderful, the staff was always very helpful, the teachers and lecturers explain everything, and I feel like not only has my English improved but my French and Italian improved because I started studying Italian in Poland and I continued at Westminster, so I think it’s just wonderful.


Juan: I really like it. I love how everybody here is international and there’s also lots of locals, so there’s a really nice mix of cultures and backgrounds, I really enjoy that. It opens a lot of doors and minds.


Have you joined any societies or clubs?

Juan: Yes, I’m part of the marketing society and also the rowing club. In the marketing society we just have events with people in the field that come to uni and give us a talk, or they help us out with our CV’s to know what exactly to put in and hints for when you apply for a job. Also helping us to understand what the job actually is. It’s pretty helpful.


What has been the most challenging part of your study abroad experience?

Justyna: I think balancing work and studies, social life and everything, but obviously I managed to do it all somehow, but it was hard at some points. It’s manageable and it’s fun so I’m not bored at all.


Juan: I love a challenge. Every time a challenge comes my way that’s when I do my best work. The harder it is the more I thrive. For me I guess the challenge is when something is too easy which moving to London was not. Things have been really different, having my family near, it’s a lot better as well. I feel like I have support from so many people from so many places, it does not feel like a challenge. I’m just thriving and growing every day.


Have you been able to do any work experience?

Juan: Yes, I had a mini internship with one of my tutors. He was really impressed with my job in the first semester and he recommended me to one of his businesses and I was there for three weeks. It was amazing.


What have you enjoyed most about studying in London?

Justyna: I love the atmosphere of London so that’s probably one of the biggest pluses of being here. I absolutely love my university and when I was in France, I missed it a little bit because I was a bit stressed down there. The people I’ve met are absolutely wonderful, I’ve got friends that I met on literally the first day of university and we are still friends, we keep in touch all the time.


Juan: The thing I love most about London is there’s always something to do. I live in zone four and it’s always a bit of a travel, but I do enjoy it and the public transport here is just amazing. There are so many parks, so many events. There are so many opportunities.


Did you join any societies or clubs?

Justyna: I recently joined blogging, international students’ blogs, because in the past I was struggling a bit as I told you with balancing work, uni and social life. I wanted to join the dancing society, but I didn’t have time. I’m trying to be a student rep this year as well.


What does blogging for the university involve?

Justyna: I write about my experience in London and just in general about events, adjusting to the UK as an international student.


Do you have any plans for when you graduate?

Justyna: I’m thinking of doing my master’s degree but I’m not exactly sure what on yet and I definitely want to start working straight after, I will try to get in touch with student advisors about graduate jobs.


Juan: I’m already applying for internships for the end of semester two this year for my second year and from there I’m just hoping that I shine so I can stay in and just move from small companies to big companies not just advertising but creative and public relations (PR) as well.


Do you want to stay in London?

Justyna: I definitely want to stay in London, yes.


Juan: I might not stay in London forever, but I will stay in the UK, definitely.


Have you managed to travel to other parts of the UK?

Justyna: A little bit. I went to some cities but when I want to go somewhere, I usually go abroad or go to see my parents in Poland.


Juan: Yes, a little bit. I’ve been south, I’ve been to Brighton and Essex, I’ve been to Manchester, Ireland and a lot of places in the countryside as well.


What advice would you give to prospective international students coming to the UK?

Justyna: To be happy in London or the UK you have to be ready for challenges, but they are incredibly enjoyable so just try to enjoy everything as much as you can.







Feeling inspired to study in the UK? Find a university today!

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