BBC Radio 4 has been airing a series all about student experience. The final part of ‘Scenes from Student Life’ was focused on studying abroad; what are international students in the UK and overseas up against? What could they share with others?
Today’s programme featured Dan, a student in the UK who studied in the Netherlands; Aparajita from India who is currently studying in the UK and Andrea, from Romania who is also studying in the UK among others.
All students spoke candidly about challenges; tuition fees, culture shock and missing cultural references. But above all, they highlighted what they’d learned from their experience and the benefits of the cultural immersion abroad. We recommend listening to the full 15 minute show but we’ve included our top sound bytes below.
“It’s great for academia,” Dan from the UK who studied in the Netherlands said. “To be in the state of mind where everything you encounter is new and you’re looking at the world in a different way. It’s enthralling.”
A number of benefits were highlighted by the students specifically about studying in the UK. Aparajita talked about wider social benefits: “In India you have this perception that if you’re at university then you don’t cook, you get food from outside. When I came here I found that everyone, from America to Egypt, Egypt to China; everyone cooks! I couldn’t even make an omelette when I got here. But now if you ask me to prepare a meal I can prepare a feast!”
She also added: “Living at International Students House and studying International Relations has been so helpful. I can read information in a textbook about war, and then go and talk to someone from Afghanistan to find out about their experience.”
Of course, despite the many benefits of an international education there are a number of stressful factors that students face, like tuition fees.
UKCISA’s Director of Policy and Services, Julie Allen, said: “There are students whose parents made huge sacrifices to send them abroad to study. So failure isn’t an option for them. This means that the pressure can be really high. In some cases, students feel like they have to do it for themselves and are reluctant to seek help.”
Andrea explained the academic and social reasons that she came to the UK: “There are a lot more opportunities for psychology in the UK than there are in Romania. The curriculum is more up to date…aside from that, the experience I’ve had meeting new people; it’s been a big adventure!”
Listen to the programme online. The series will be available on the BBC Website for a month. We’ve also interviewed Aparajita about her experience in the UK and will be featuring her in our blog next week.