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THE UK: Subject Guides

Student Spotlight: International Politics

Slavka, from Slovakia, shares her experience of being an international student studying politics in the UK.

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Name: Slavka Bielikova       

Course:  International Political Studies

Study Level: BA

University:  Middlesex University

Country of origin: Slovakia


Q. Why did you enrol on your course and how did you choose your university?

During my high school times I wasn’t one of those who always knew what they want to study. I was good in everything and it wasn’t helping to make my decision. Luckily for me, I realized early enough that I prefer much more to prepare for the subject concerning politics, economics and sociology, than any other subjects at school. The choice of my university wasn’t very complicated. I attended one of many presentations from different universities and I took a brochure of the only UK university presenting.

Q. Why did you choose the UK as a study destination?

Since Slovakia is in the EU it was easy to come here to study. Furthermore, I can speak English better than I speak French, so my choice was clear.


Q. How would you describe the structure of your course?

It could be described as consisting of seminars and lectures from different modules. There is also lots of independent study involved, too. And READING! The good thing is that tutors are always available to give feedback.

Q. How does the English teaching style differ from that in your home country?

Studying in Slovakia means lots of memorizing and has more factographic character, whereas here, studies are built on ideas. I’ve been told several times by my tutors I don’t need to know the exact year, I just need to have an idea when something happened (of course, it doesn’t apply always).


Q. How did you fund your studies? 

I applied for the tuition fee loan and I always took a student loan from a bank.


Q. What were the biggest challenges that you faced in your first year? 

The biggest challenge for me was English. I could speak and write without any serious grammatical mistakes but from sometimes I wasn’t able to express myself in a way I wanted to. Also, I had to get used to the environment with many nationalities what I didn’t experience back home because Slovakia is a very homogenous country.


Q. What are the best things about your course?

One of the best things is that it opens your eyes and lets you develop and make your own opinion about the world without saying that it is not right.


Q. What advice would you give to new international students?

Even though your language skills are not excellent, it is still worth it to try. Of course, don’t study in another country if you can’t say a word in the particular language but still, it is possible to correct little mistakes you make. Don’t be shy and talk. And you shouldn’t suppose that expectations for the use of language will be lowered down because of you being a foreigner. Criteria remain the same for you and for native students too. Studying abroad is always harder than in your home country but you experience things you wouldn’t be able to experience there.


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