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“You’re American…right?”

I remember setting a goal for myself last year while I was still in Canada: “Travel to a new place while continuing my education.” At that point all my options were still open, but there was one place I was leaning towards, and that was the University of Gloucestershire. At first, moving to England for my final year of university seemed as daunting as getting to Tim Hortons and forgetting my punch card (for those of you that don’t know the iconic Canadian coffee shop, take it from me, you wouldn’t want to forget your Tim’s card) yet I’m the kind of person always up for a challenge, so I decided to apply. Months later when I received my acceptance letter in the mail, I decided to go. September came quickly, and suddenly I was no longer your run of the mill student, I was the international student from Canada who calls a bin “The Garbage Can”.

Now, being in a place where you know absolutely no one could seem a bit scary at first, but it’s one of the most exciting things I could’ve set myself up for. When I arrived in the UK we had an international welcome week where I was able to meet some people like myself, get all my paperwork sorted, and get tours of both the town I was going to be living in, and of course the university. The welcome week gave me the confidence that there are other people out there just as adventurous, spontaneous, and maybe a little bit insane, that would pack up and move continents for a final year of education, as I was.

As an international student blogger of course I am supposed to say that the UK is amazing, things are going well, and school is so easy and fun, but the reality is there are going to be some moments where you wish you could hug your best friend and say “screw the degree we’re going backpacking in Thailand.” Lucky for us though, there are so many resources at the University like the student help-zone, your personal tutor, and your international buddy, that will bring you back down to reality, and maybe help you cite that final source for your paper that got you all worked up in the first place. My point is, not every moment as an international student is going to be easy, but then again when is being a student ever easy? The important thing to remember is, your time studying abroad will be something you remember for the rest of your life. The all-nighters, group projects, essays, work placements, and of course the people you meet along the way, will all be worth it.

Christmas is coming!

So, I v’e now been at Gloucestershire University for nine weeks and time has just flown by. I’m a Spanish undergraduate Psychology student.

So far, I v’e handed in two assignments and I’m currently working on my next two which are group projects. One of the things I was most worried about before starting was the fact that I’ve never written an essay in my life before but, my worries were put to rest with all the help I got from the Student Achievement team and my teachers.

The Student Achievement team are a great group at the university which helps you with any kind of academic problems such as writing assignments, understanding feedback…

Here is a link to their section of the website http://www.glos.ac.uk/life/support/pages/student-achievement.aspx

When I first arrived I was nervous, not going to lie, but not only because of the academic requirements but also because of moving to a new country with new people and different customs. However, everyone at the university made me feel very welcome. I attended International Week which I recommend if you are thinking of coming to this university it is a great way to get a head up on what the university is like and a great way to meet other international students from all over the world.

http://www.glos.ac.uk/study/international/pages/international-students.aspx This link provides all the information you need about international students. It s’very good as it has a broken down easy to follow structure of what paper work and documents you may need and where to get them from or how to provide them.

Any enquiries you may have the university is excellent in responding to emails and getting back to you as soon as possible also they r’e very helpful if your’e stuck and not sure what your’e doing as I was when applying for the first time.

Once you arrive, after induction week, you should feel more settled and comfortable but not all people do. I for instance found it very hard to adapt and have been very homesick but its’ OKAY your’e not alone. There is always someone to turn to and have a talk with. The Help Zone is amazing and they are “the mothers”of the university any problems you have remain confidential and they help you instantly. There is one help zone in each campus.

Another good thing about this university is the mental wellbeing and student support team. Which can also be found here http://www.glos.ac.uk/life/support/pages/mental-health-and-wellbeing.aspx

But after nine weeks you are just longing to go home. I v’e booked my Christmas flights and can’t wait to go and see my family.

Choosing a course in the UK

I chose University of Gloucestershire’s  International Business Management course because I have an international background, wanted to improve my English language skills and the course content seemed to be very interesting.

Similar courses in Germany are mainly based on lectures and theory, whereas the University of Gloucestershire focuses on a practical approach, leading to a higher employability. I also know my lecturers on a first-name basis and am not one anonymous student out of hundreds like in Germany. The entire Business School here has as many students as only the 1st year a popular course like Business Management in Frankfurt.

How I came to my decision? It was a long process and, admittedly, you could have done it with half the effort. I looked at which courses I would consider doing. I then kicked out all BSc courses, as they tend to have more Mathematics, Accounting and Economics involved – not my strength. I then checked these with the Guardian general and Business Management rankings: https://www.theguardian.com/education/ng-interactive/2016/may/23/university-league-tables-2017#S240. I still ended up with a long list, so I went into detail of the course maps and university related information. I drew up a list of 15-20 universities and travelled through England, getting an impression of each one of them and the city located in. I dropped the Admission teams an e-mail and actually managed to meet a representative at most universities – unthinkable in Germany.

I arrived back home with my 5 choices and applied to UCAS (the application system for bachelor degrees in the UK) . I got an offer from all of them and made up my mind between the University of Gloucestershire and another one. My main reasons were the course content, the teaching style, the unique connection to a Business-centre run through the University called The Growth Hub and of course my impression during my visit.

Knowing all of that, I want to add that university in Germany is pretty much free and yet I still chose to come here, starting my working life with a debt and not knowing for certain how to manage my finances over the coming years. If that was a good idea, I will have to see but at the moment and two months into the academic year it seems to be.

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Autumn Festivities

It’s coming towards the end of the year…and what everyone looks forward to is Halloween! Halloween here in Cheltenham and as a student of the UOG, I assure you is filled with excitement & entertainment!

As you can see…. We all take our costumes pretty seriously😉 you’ll see all different kinds of people dressed up in their costumes, some guaranteed to give you a laugh!

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Another great thing Cheltenham has to offer for us students of the UOG would be
BONFIRE NIGHT / GUY FAWKES DAY!
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Words cannot begin to explain how beautiful and magical Bonfire Night is. I for one loved it last year, those pictures above are just a glimpse of my night. Everyone makes an appearance at the Cheltenham Race Course to be a part of and experience this magnificent event. Different cuisines of food stalls are set up, in case you get hungry there is also games & rides for your entertainment while you wait for the big fireworks show. So make sure you put this in your calendar and drag your friends, boyfriend/girlfriend as this is not an event to be missed!

Reflections at lunch time

At the beginning of the month, I was comparing the main differences between Brazil and England, with a friend of mine. Later that same day, I realised how intriguing it is to analyse the cultural differences between here and any other country. For example, I’ve been here in the UK for approximately two years and it was the first country abroad that I’d ever been to, so I always had a limited mind-set due to my lack of experience. Everything I knew about the UK was from people’s view or facts.

As soon as I arrived here I had the opportunity to develop my critical thinking. I became deeply interested in politics, history and philosophy, which allowed me to have a bigger picture of why the world is how it is. Consequently, I became more critical of every aspect of life, since one subject connects to the other. Although I do not know everything, I am more willing to learn and to discuss.

Recognition and critique were also the actions that created the well-developed country that the UK is today.  People in modern society often forget to be glad for the positive aspects of living where they do. For example, England is considered one of the safest places to live and it has great public transport availability, however the people still sometimes complain about the facilities.

I believe one of the most powerful weapons a person can possess is critical thinking. People, especially the youth, like me, need to be able to analyse and judge the information they are been exposed to, so better life decisions can be made.

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Cooking as a skill, a quality and a friendship symbol!

When you are studying in a foreign country, you will miss traditional or homemade meals as much as you miss your family and friends. Even though many readymade meals, restaurants and takeaway chains offer your food or similar, you will definitely miss your homemade food very much. However, the good thing is that you can prepare for this very easily.

Many of us know how to cook basically, but it can be very useful if you learn how to make a few traditional dishes or meals before coming to study in the UK. You can simply ask or watch what your family is cooking or learn from many online cooking channels. I can’t mention the benefits of this simple and easy preparation. Being able to cook some of my traditional meals helped me to get through my homesickness a lot and it can be very cheap compared to eating out all the time.

The most important and fun part of cooking is that you can exchange your cooked meals with other international friends who are always happy to taste your home food. I have experienced many dinner celebrations with my international friends and we always cooked our own food together and offered to taste them. I would say these dinners helped our friendship to become stronger and better. This was one of the best parts of my study experience in the UK since I got to learn many different and delicious kinds of food from different countries. You won’t regret it if you give some time to learn some basic cooking before you come since it will be so fun and beneficial for you. Just three or four kinds of meals will be of great help for you.

 

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Small city vs Big city

Hello everyone! This is my first blog post and I’m very excited about that. I would like to talk about the noticeable differences between living in a small city and in a big city.

I’ve been in Cheltenham (in the county of Gloucestershire) for 2 months now, so I could say that I’m already familiar with this lovely city. One of my favourite things about Cheltenham is that it is a small city but at the same time it has a lot of different supermarkets, shops, and events. The State that I come from in Brazil is the size of the entire UK, so it has been very different for me to live in a small city as I’m used to living surrounded by high buildings, a city that doesn’t sleep and the worst part: the traffic.

When I arrived in Cheltenham I was enchanted by the nature here. You can see trees and flowers surrounding the entire city, different from the big city that I used to live in, which is grey and there are more cars than trees. I’m pretty sure that my lungs are feeling very happy to finally have a break from the polluted air from the big city. So in this case it is definitely a point for the small city.

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When it comes to going out at night, going to restaurants and doing different activities, Cheltenham is not behind the big cities. Here you can find clubs, pubs, restaurants from all over the world, and there are a lot of festivals throughout the year. An example of the main difference between Cheltenham and a big city is that everyone here knows the exactly places to go at night, because there aren’t as much options as in a big city so you are most likely to meet all your friends in the club. In Cheltenham it is pretty easy to get where you want just by walking as almost everything here is close, but in the big city you’ll probably have to take a bus, metro or go by car. So in this case I think the small city and the big city are winning, and the reason for this is that in the big city you have more options for activities but in the small city it is easier to go to the places that you want to.

I had the opportunity to visit Gloucester, which is a city that is 30 minutes away from Cheltenham if you go by bus. It was different for me because I’m used to take 30 minutes to go to a different neighbourhood in the big city, and to go to the nearest city it would take about 2 hours. But this is definitely a positive thing about Cheltenham as it doesn’t take much time to go to different cities so you can always visit different places when you want to.

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(Gloucester Cathedral, where they filmed some of Harry Potter)

If you ask to any citizen of a big city at what time they usually go to the supermarket, they’re probably going to say that they go at night after they come back from work. But this is not the case here in Cheltenham where all the supermarkets and shops close early, around 6pm everything is closed already. I was aware of that before coming to Cheltenham because normally everything here in the UK closes early, so be careful about the time if you need to go for example, to the post office or shopping.

To sum up, I’ve enjoyed living in a small city and to be honest I don’t have a preference. Cheltenham has been a really cool place to study and live, and it has definitely exceeded my expectations!