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Student Spotlight: MA Librarianship

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Name:   Adoree Hatton

Course MA Librarianship

Study Level:  Postgraduate

University:  University of Sheffield

Country of origin: United States

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

            When I began applying I was only looking at Librarianship or equivalent programs.  I knew that I wanted to become a librarian, so I looked for Librarianship courses.  I applied to several programs, both in the UK and in the States.  The University of Sheffield was the first one I received an offer from, so I started looking into the course and the school in more depth.  I found that they had recently opened a state-of-the-art Information Commons, and as a Librarianship student, that was probably the decision-making factor.

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

            The UK had an equivalent society to the American Library Association, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).  I knew that if I wanted a job as a librarian back in the States, I needed a degree that was equivalent to one accredited by the ALA.  CILIP-accredited programs are considered equal to ALA-accredited programs, so I knew that if I finished my degree in the UK, I shouldn’t have a problem getting a job back home.

            I’ve also wanted to go to school in the UK since I was 14.  When I had this opportunity, I wanted to take advantage of it.  And because the MA program was only one year in length, the cost was less than an equivalent program in the States.  I also like that I will be done in much less time, and can start working as a librarian that much sooner.

Q. How did you feel in your first month?

            The first month I was here I felt excited but overwhelmed.  During the first couple weeks, you receive a LOT of new information, you have to get settled in new accommodation, and you meet many new people.  But I enjoyed my first month here.  And I enjoyed my classes right away, making me very thankful I chose to come to school here.

Q. How did your institution help you settle in to university life in the first few weeks?

            I attended international orientation the first week I was here.  They provided lectures on many different topics of interest to international students.  Topics included safety and security, succeeding in a different education system, working in the UK, and the health service.  They also provided opportunities to see some of the tourist sites nearby.  And in the evenings they provided several different entertainment opportunities.

            I really appreciated the information provided during orientation week.  It gave me a chance to start to learn my way around the university.  They also provided an opportunity to sign up for a UK bank account, register for health service, and register for classes.

Q. Where did you live and how did you find suitable accommodation? 

            I chose to live in one of the University accommodation student villages.  I chose university housing because I did not have the chance to travel to the UK before I started my program.  Because I didn’t know anything about the city or the housing possibilities, I didn’t feel comfortable choosing private accommodation.  I also was unable to move here even a few days before orientation, so I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to find housing once I arrived.  For the most part I chose university accommodation because it was simple.

            I’ve been very happy in university accommodation.  It makes life very simple; all of my utilities are included in the cost of rent, including internet.  I live in an apartment with 4 other international postgraduate students.  We share a kitchen and common room.  Our apartment is self-catering so we cook for ourselves, but we also have the option of eating in any of the campus food outlets.

Q. How did you integrate into the social scene at your university?

            I had a hard time integrating into the social scene to begin with.  I’m not naturally outgoing, so finding ways to make new friends was a challenge.  But I discovered that it was a lot easier to make friends when you got involved with activities around campus.  There are always events going on, and there are many different societies available.  I’ve joined a swing dance society and the Singers society – a choir.  These have provided many opportunities to make friends.

            I found that the best way to make friends was to connect with the other people in my classes.  There are many different opportunities to get to know your classmates – being in a librarianship program we have the opportunity to visit different libraries around the country; on several occasions the bus rides to and from these locations provided a lot of time to get to know your classmates.  Also, working on group projects is another great way to get to know others.

Q. Did you experience any culture shocks when you arrived in the UK?  

            I was not very aware of experiencing culture shock.  I knew that moving to a new country would be a challenge, but to me it didn’t seem much more of a challenge than moving across the United States had been.   Probably about halfway through my first semester I had about a month where I had trouble sleeping, and was struggling with my classes.  I think this was probably a result of culture shock, even if I did not realize it at the time.  But being in school provides a focus and a purpose to what you’re doing – it becomes easier to deal with the differences of the world around you.

Q. How did you fund your studies? 

            I funded my education through student loans.  I applied for student loans through the U.S. government education funding program, the same as I would have if I had attended school in the States.  Although the paperwork is a bit more extensive, I had no problems securing funding for attending school in the UK.

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

            The biggest challenge for me is making friends.  Because I am pretty shy, it takes a lot of gumption for me to get out and involved in ways to start making friends.  But once I did so, I am much happier.

            The other biggest challenge I think, is going to be my dissertation.  Because I am here working on a Masters program, I have a very short amount of time to complete my program.  And although I am looking forward to working on my dissertation, I’m also very nervous about doing my own research, and producing a high-quality paper.

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

            It’s hard to get used to the marking system.  What would be considered a very poor mark in the States is considered to be quite a high mark here.  It’s also taken me some time to get used to being at a research-oriented university.  I’ve never really had the opportunity to study from teacher’s who are also researchers in their field.  Although it’s awesome, it’s also taken a bit of time to get used to the focus on research.

Q. What are the best things about studying in the UK?

            I think one of the best things about studying in the UK is the opportunity to increase your knowledge of the world around you.  The University of Sheffield is a very diverse school – so even though I’m living in the UK, I also have the chance to be friends with people from all over the world.

            Another good thing about going to school in the UK is the opportunity to travel.  I’ve had the chance to go to Scotland, Ireland, and Spain.  Other international students and friends of mine have traveled all over Europe during break.  Since I’m already here, I am trying to take advantage of the cheap flights and other transportation throughout Europe, and explore.

Q. What are you planning to do after graduation?

            I am hoping to get a job as a librarian or research specialist in an academic or government library.  I don’t really care where I work – either the U.S., Canada, or the UK.  For me the more important thing would be the type of job I’m able to find.

Q. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started your studies?

            It’s probably the same lesson I learn every time I move someone new, but valuing friends and family are a huge lesson.  When you’re living in the same place, you can being to take advantage of seeing the people important to you very often.  But when you’ve moved to a new country, it becomes essential to find ways to stay in contact.

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

            Take advantage of the infrastructure already put into place – the university plans events and activities that can get you involved and making friends.  Take advantage of the extras – don’t just go to class!  Go to events in your department, attend seminars, go on trips.  Learn everything you can, whether it’s in a class or not!

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