Student life in UK

Many young people from Europe dream about studying in the UK. Cultural diversity, freedom of expression, creativity and world class modules are some of the many reasons to pick a university in the UK.. But is the real life of an international student really this fun in the UK? Let’s find it out!

We asked Markéta Zezulkova, originally from the Czech Republic who studies in the UK to answer a few questions related to the topic.

To begin with, let us introduce Marketa; she is 24 years old and already holds two MAs (with distinctions) in Advertising and Marketing Communications from Bournemouth University (England) and Tomas Bata University in Zlin (Czech Republic). As a part of her Czech master degree she has also spent a whole semester studying Advertising Creativity at the prestigious Sup De Pub in Paris. She is currently a PhD student at the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (The Media School, Bournemouth University). She has been awarded with a three years full scholarship to conduct a research on the Philosophy of Media Education that focuses on media education of primary school children growing up in different cultures.

Why have you decided to study in UK? Why not in any other country?

Originally I wanted to do a master degree in the USA, however, the process of applying, selecting, and scholarships required are complicated and long and I wanted to be able to start my masters immediately after finishing my bachelor’s degree. After thorough research I found the perfect course at Bournemouth University and to add cherry to the cake, the place is located in a seaside coast. The fact that the master’s degree in the UK are only for one year also helped my decision to pick the UK over other choices.

Do you think people in UK are friendly to foreigners?

I cannot judge how English people behave towards all foreigners in general but I can say that on the South of UK people have always been extremely nice to me and my other foreign friends be it the local shops, transports, leisure centres, walk on the street and mainly at the university. Our tutors were always empathetic of the fact that it is hard for an international student to leave behind their family and friends to live and study in a new country and they offer a very personalised academic support tailored to each student. However, I have to say that it is a bit harder with young English people who tend to avoid contact with us and rather stick together, but of course, not all of them. Some of them are amazingly kind and helpful.

What took you the most time to get used to?

In my academic life, the biggest challenge was to re-orientate myself to critical and reflective thinking instead of descriptive one to which I was led in the Czech Republic. It was hard work to begin with but it didn’t take me too long because Czech educational system taught me to study hard and strategically organize my work To prepare myself I borrowed many books, read several articles, looked at previous students’ works and that helped me learn a lot quicker. Now I love critical and reflective thinking!

In every day life, what is still hard for me to understand is a simple and very common everyday greeting “how are you?”. Normally in my home country these questions are very reflective and we tend to go into detail discussions. In the UK, however, the question is not meant to be personal and people generally expect a short answer back rather than a long. I find it strange and I use to feel stupid to have such a conversation (laughs).

What character property of English people annoys you the most?

There is nothing that annoys me in particular but the thing that concerns me the most is how young British teenagers dress and drink without any concern for responsibility! They say that young eastern Europeans drink a lot but I feel we are much more responsible than young British people.

Why should students study masters or PhD in the UK?

What is one of the biggest contribution to both personal and professional life is the international environment offered by the majority of the UK universities. You meet people from so many different cultures which forces you to rethink all your learnt behaviours and current views on many major issues such as life values or life style.

Tutors and supervisors are another important element. From my own experience, they are very kind, supportive and friendly but at the same time very strict and one can gain a lot of knowledge and skills. Curriculums are well-established, teaching is learner-centered, and there are always many opportunities to develop additional skills.

At the PhD level, what I enjoy the most is a possibility to work on my own project but with a big support from my supervisors and colleagues.. In addition to this, there is a constant encouragement to publish new work, present at conferences, and an opportunity to teach which is however not obligatory. I simple love it!

Last but not the least, very generous scholarships that are available also to international students. I would say that the doors of British higher education are open to everyone who is passionate about their subject, who is hard working and ready to devote every free time to reading, researching and writing. But also to be honest, it has been a lot of fun too and I would never change my opinion to come and study here.

What would you recommend to those interested in applying to British universities?

There are few main rules which help a lot!! Having good marks, interest in extra curricula activities, self motivation, preciously written application, and of course financial sources to pay the fees and living expenses. Nevertheless, there are many many other things about which I could talk for hours (laughs).

Markéta said she is always happy to answer all questions and give recommendations. So do not hesitate to post a comment if you are interested in studying in the UK, or even in the Czech Republic or France. Each educational system has their pros and cons and it is reasonable enough to find out as much as you can in advance before applying anywhere. So do not hesitate to post a comment if you are interested in studying in the UK, or even in the Czech Republic or France.

I hope some of you find this article helpful and I wish you the best of luck in your future studies, work, and life 🙂

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