International students: what’s it like studying in the UK?

This blog is written by Lavinia, a BSc (Hons) Business Information Technology undergraduate from Romania who is studying in the UK at Salford University. Lavinia shares her experiences on choosing a University, studying abroad, differences in culture and more… 

Studying in the UK for international students

International students studying in the UK

As a second year student at Salford Business School, I have three main options after finishing my first degree: to either pursue a career in the field, start my own small business or continue my education through a master degree. So, would a Master in Digital Marketing and Social Media be of interest to me? Definitely.

Studying BSc (Hons) Business Information Technology offers me the opportunity to formally study the basics of both business related areas (such as marketing, accounting, statistics, business law) and Information Technology (IT) related disciplines. But, only recently I have discovered a passion for how the digital industry can truly improve the performance of both Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and multinational companies.

If you are as interested in this opportunity as I am, and wish to study abroad, I would love to share my experience to date with you.

Identifying and selecting a university

One I decided to study in the UK, it was time to choose a university. This wasn’t an easy decision, and selecting a course wasn’t the easiest of tasks either. But although my list of courses was extremely diverse at first, including subjects from journalism to criminology, in the end it all came down to what some of my true passions were.

I have been interested in entrepreneurship and technology from a young age, so a BSc in Business Information Technology, which I decided to pursue, was on my list from the start.

But how did I choose University of Salford? Living in a vibrant city like Manchester means being exposed to an infinite amount of opportunities, indifferent of what your main interests are. Recently, the Northern Quarter (one of the most famous areas of Manchester) has been chosen as the future Tech North start-up hub, which will create even more opportunities.  This also means the demand for graduates of a Joint Masters In Digital & Social Media Marketing will grow, creating hundreds of employment opportunities.

Studying in a foreign university

You will also have to prepare for a different learning experience. Studying at Salford was very different from what I was used to, mainly because Eastern European education tends to be very different from British education. At home, I was used to 30 hours per week, classes which started at 7AM and having to study 18 different subjects simultaneously.

At Salford I never had more than 15 hours of lectures and seminars, which suited my learning style so much better. I have to take charge of organising and developing my own learning routine and this freedom is great for me. Contrary to popular opinion, 9AM lectures were not bad at all and the chance to focus on only 3 subjects a semester was also great. This means that besides studying, I have the time to pursue my other two passions: writing and volunteering.

Differences in culture

Differences in culture are something that you also have to consider, they can be overwhelming, depending on where you are coming from.

But in the UK, I felt this was a positive type of overwhelm. Everyone is nice, from the shop assistant to the company directors – making you feel welcome wherever you go.

Milky tea can be a very strange idea at first, but it is something that you begin to love. Take it from someone who drinks at least two a day (after two years though).

Pubs are also a significant part of the culture and everyone enjoys them. This means that you are likely to enjoy a pint with both your student friends and your work colleagues.

Extra-curricular experience

What is amazing about studying in the UK is that your course is probably less than 50% of what you should focus your attention on. The job market is competitive and if you don’t fight to differentiate yourself from the tens of thousands of students which graduate in the same year as you with a similar degree, things can become very complicated after graduation.

‘I just graduated so I don’t have experience’ is not an excuse anymore. There are infinite opportunities for students to improve their soft skills and get used to the working life even when they are students.

We can get involved in student societies, which can improve our communication, teamwork and leadership skills massively, which are very valuable when it comes to professional development. There are hundreds of summer internship opportunities, some courses even offering students the opportunity to work in the industry for a whole year between their second and third year of their degree. But a great opportunity for me was to work with The Candidate (which is also a JEMSS project partner) for one day a week.

Being able to work here as a Marketing Assistant intern offered me an insight into how great it can be to work in a small but hardworking team and prepared me for my placement year in a multinational consulting and technology company.

So what about you? Are you ready to hear more about a master which tackles the famous digital skills gap and perhaps study in one of the leading business schools in Europe? Or maybe you would love to study at Salford Business School, like me! Whatever it is, please feel free to leave us a comment with your thoughts, questions or suggestions.

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