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Student insight: Why Brighton is 'easy to fall in love with'

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Is it your dream to study in the UK? Have you pictured yourself sipping tea and walking the grounds of stately homes but still can’t decide which university, city or town would suit you best? Not to worry. We spoke to Brighton University student Olivia Holtman, 24, who is studying psychology and sociology to shed light on what it means to be an international student in the UK and why she chose the city of Brighton for her studies.

 

 

What made you choose Brighton for your studies?

I knew about the city and sort of looked around, but I actually wrote in my diary when I was 16 that I wanted to study in Brighton, so it was a long time coming. Brighton is really creative and artistic. Everyone who comes here just loves it, it’s a very easy city to fall in love with, so it’s the best of both worlds really.

 

I’ve met top researchers who come to give talks and you would just never have that in South Africa.  This type of research is not even going on, it’s 10 years behind, so you have access to top notch stuff and that for me is unbelievable.

 

What has been the most challenging part of studying abroad?

The hardest thing is working with student finance because you don’t get a maintenance loan. There are pathways and things you can do, but they make you jump through hoops. So, I was sort of misled a little bit in first year thinking I could get more funding, but you have to do a certain number of hours per week.

 

It’s also hard to get used to the weather as I’m from a warm country moving to a much cooler climate, apart from that, the adjustment hasn’t been too hard. It’s a very diverse country and accepting of all cultures anyway, so you don’t feel totally alone. The culture is easy to adjust to and relaxed.

How has your university accommodated for international students specifically?

There are loads of societies and the students organise a lot of that which is very cool, and you can meet other international students. I also think the university is very receptive to any kind of changes that students think they should make. I live on Falmer campus where they have a student centre and even if you are feeling stressed, I’ve gone there and they have been so helpful, it’s nice to know that you are supported.

 

What have you enjoyed most about studying in Brighton?

I have really enjoyed working closely with my lecturers, I really like them and they’re really cool. I’m excited to use the new facilities next year for psychology because we’ll be able to do lie detector tests.

 

Have you found it difficult to be away from home?

I get homesick, especially in the winter, I think the lack of vitamin D affects everyone a little bit and just generally being away from family can be quite hard, but it’s amazing to have messenger and skype as this really brings people into your room. I think it’s a lot easier to study abroad now than it has ever been. It’s not like those tormented goodbyes where you’re not going to see family and friends for a long time, so it’s not been that hard.

 

I fly back home once a year, which is not much, because it’s so far, but that’s ok because you really do make your own family here which is special.

 

How have you found meeting new people?

I’ve had to cultivate a network of friends, which you have to do otherwise you end up feeling a bit lonely and isolated. Once you’ve got that you start to enter your own life a bit more. English people can be more reserved, and I think people from different countries definitely notice that. However, Brighton definitely has its own kind of ethos, feeling of community and you’ll definitely find more eccentric people here.

Have you gained any work experience during your degree?

I work as a student ambassador which I would highly recommend. It’s not mundane work, it changes all the time and it’s really good pay. It’s really interesting too, I’ve given tours of the uni for school children.

 

Do you have plans post-graduation?

I think I might do my master’s degree in cognitive neuroscience or I’m going to go into project building and development or try and work for an NGO. I still have to work it out.

 

Have you travelled to other areas of the UK?

Every now and then it’s really fun to go into London because it’s not that expensive with a rail card. I’ve also been to Sheffield and Leeds which are cool and cheap, but I definitely think Brighton is the best place to be.

 

What advice would you give to other students or people thinking of studying abroad?

My advice for international students would be do your best to meet as many people as possible and say yes to opportunities to going out because you don’t know who you are going to meet. You might go with a crowd that you don’t feel that familiar with, but they might have friends who you really connect with so you don’t want to miss that opportunity. Just be open and join societies in first year when you have the time because it’s a great way to meet people.

Now that you’ve heard what it's like to study in the UK from a student, start browsing courses  and start your own study abroad journey today!

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The Content Executive for Hotcourses Abroad, Lizzie will be writing helpful articles to support you all along your study abroad journey.

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