#WeAreInternational: What Makes the UK Such a Great Study Abroad Destination?
The #WeAreInternational campaign was first launched in 2013 by the University of Sheffield and is now championed by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA). This week, the campaign is back for its tenth year, showcasing what makes the UK such a great study abroad destination and celebrating the diverse community of international students here!
Our Content Writer, Taru Medha, relocated from India to the UK in 2020 to complete her Masters in Global Journalism at the University of Sheffield, before joining FindAUniversity last year. To mark the launch of this year’s #WeAreInternational campaign, we caught up with Taru about her experience of studying and working in the UK.
When Taru first stepped off the plane and into the UK, her first thought was that she should have worn more layers. “I was freezing. I did not cabin pack well!” But this was quickly followed by the awareness that she’d finally achieved a lifelong dream. “It’s just the realisation that what you’ve dreamt of your whole life has come true and you’re here. It’s just a wave of emotion”.
From the moment she decided to study abroad, the UK had always been the obvious choice for Taru. In fact, she’d dreamt of coming here since the age of 10. Since her area of study was Global Journalism, Taru felt it made sense to study in an English-speaking country, and she’d always been appreciative of British journalism – and admired the UK’s history and culture. “Be it literature, be it science, be it arts, there is a lot of world history that has originated in the UK”.
Long-term ambition or not, moving to another country alone is daunting. But the warm welcome Taru received once she arrived in the UK helped calm her nerves.
“Nobody ever said no”, she recalls. “I remember going to my accommodation office about basically anything and getting a reply within an hour”. Strangers were just as willing to lend a helping hand. “Even if you’re lost and Google Maps is confusing you… you can ask anybody on the street. People in Sheffield are genuinely really nice, and they’ll say good morning to you no matter what! Small things like that really made a difference.”
Adjusting to the academic system in the UK wasn’t without its challenges. “My Bachelors [back in India] was a lot more practical”, Taru explains. “I’d never done academic writing before my Masters”. But UK universities are very aware of the differences between academic models around the world, and Taru found that there was no shortage of resources to ease the transition. “It did come as a surprise, but there was tonnes of help.”
A home away from home
What does Taru love most about being in the UK? “Everything” is her short answer! Her long answer is that the UK’s diverse international community made it easy to settle in. “I’ve never not felt at home here… going to university I met so many international students.” It was “meeting new people and seeing new faces”, especially from a wide range of countries, that made her feel immediately comfortable in the UK.
Asked if she’d recommend the UK as a study destination, Taru’s answer is an enthusiastic yes. She speaks highly of its wealth of opportunities, both inside and outside of your studies. “I haven’t met anyone that doesn’t really love what they’re doing”, she says of the lecturers and academics whose passion for their subject has inspired her. “And even beyond academia, there’s so much to do, whether it’s engaging with your Students' Union, or just taking in the culture of the country”.
Working in the UK
After graduating, seeking work in the UK felt like the obvious next step. Taru applied for the UK Graduate Route, which allows international graduates to stay in the UK for at least two years after finishing their degree, before joining the FindAUniversity content team.
Just like her experience of studying here, Taru has overwhelmingly positive things to say about working in the UK. “Everyone has been extremely supportive. I haven’t felt misunderstood or left out in any way, shape or form”.
She has also really appreciated the opportunities for professional (and personal!) development, whether through mastering new forms of content creation or just learning to better navigate a professional environment. “I’ve grown into a more confident individual since joining FindAUniversity”.
Advice for aspiring international students
Taru recommends that students planning to study in the UK familiarise themselves with more than just course content before packing their bags! Knowing about British pop culture can be a way to spark conversations with fellow students. “It just makes finding common ground easier”.
As for international graduates looking for work, Taru’s key piece of advice is to seek out opportunities with a positive culture and work-life balance. “Even though you move countries, your responsibilities at home never go away… if your workplace can give you that freedom and help you manage both, I think it’s the right place.”
Want to celebrate international study in the UK? Follow UKCISA’s #WeAreInternational Twitter account for updates, student stories and more!
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