In the run-up to the largest online fair "Study UK: Meet UK Universities", Anna Kosinskaya, an alumna of the MA programme in Journalism at City, University of London, talks about her college life experience in London.
Where do London students live?
For students in London, there are several options available to suit any budget: some rent a shared house, others get an apartment off-campus, or prefer living in a dorm. As for foreign students, the latter one is the most convenient option. Firstly, you won't need to provide a recommendation that some landlords require. Secondly, all arrangements can be made remotely while you are still in Russia. You need to look for a room by yourself and it is better to do this in advance - a few weeks prior to the start of the course because available rooms go off quickly. My room with a private bathroom was £700 a month which is a bit expensive for a dorm.
What do students do for fun and how they make new friends?
Every university campus has a student pub. It is much cheaper than regular establishments and is closed to non-university visitors. He was one at my campus too but mostly younger students spent their time there. We preferred an ordinary pub nearby - both undergraduates and professors went there.
We often had group assignments, so everyone got to know each other pretty quickly. For me personally socializing wasn't easy because at first I was embarrassed to speak English and had little contact with my classmates - fair enough I quickly earned the nickname Grumpy Russian.
All my acquaintances were from outside the university. If you wish you can diversify your social life by joining one of the societies supervised by the students' union of the university. At my university, there were about a hundred societies like that devoted to photography, mountain climbing, Bollywood dances, drama, Russian language and etc. They all gather separately. Professional and country societies are active. You also are welcome to start your own club.
Have you encountered any nationality-based bias?
London's multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism are not exaggerated. People from all over the world come to UK universities to study. Universities are competing for foreign students, and the government is supporting the UK's brand in education
There were many foreigners in my group but there was only one person from London. The teachers, too, were not all native British, so the question of their nationality simply could not arise. On the street, you can hear a multitude of languages and accents. Universities have separate prayer rooms for almost every religion.
In about two years in England, I have never faced any discrimination or hatred. As a rule, you are only judged by your education and professional success, but not by your passport or nationality. There are many young professionals, students, and scientists from Russia in London who naturally improve the country's image abroad.
Tell us about work opportunities for students?
Combining study and work in the UK is difficult. Master's course is structured so that most of the time you study independently, lectures normally help to review the theory and literature. You have to dive into the details on your own, so there is not much time left for work.
On a Tier 4 student visa, you can work for no more than 20 hours a week throughout the semester, and the employer is very careful about this. Some of my classmates worked as waiters or bartenders, some started immediately to look for internships or work as freelance media contributors. I got a job in an English-language magazine related to Russia: I wrote a little and did some administrative work. The job brought me £400-500 a month, the Chevening scholarship another £1280. This was enough to pay for housing, fully cover household expenses, and even travel a little.
By the way, beginning in 2021 a new type of visa will be available for students, a two-year post-study work visa. It will allow students who complete undergraduate or graduate programmes in the UK to stay in the country for two years after graduation to look for work.
For me, studying in the UK is not just education but also a rather interesting experiment on myself. In one or two years, you can get both a degree and a fascinating experience expanding your ideas about the world, your country, and even yourself.
Get to know the alumni in person, learn more about student life in the UK, get advice on preparing your college application or applying for the Chevening scholarship: join the Alumni Talks webinar on November 5 at 8:00 pm as part of the largest online fair of UK education “Study UK: Meet UK Universities”.
Participation is free. Registration is required.