A special visit and Christmas’ break.

Missing my family has been my biggest challenge since I arrived here. But I was lucky that while I go to university in England, my boyfriend goes to university in Portugal, which has been very positive for us since we are both going through the same experiences as international students and we get to see each other more often than if he was in Brazil for his studies.

Two weeks ago, he surprised me by coming to Cheltenham without telling me anything about it, it was a shock for me and I couldn’t be happier. He stayed here for 5 days and he was amused at Cheltenham’s beauty.

This is us enjoying the coldest day here in Cheltenham:

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On the other hand, it is almost Christmas, and not everyone is going home to stay with their family, just like me. If that’s the case for you too, then I suggest you to keep yourself entertained with your friends or classmates so you don’t feel alone. There are a lot of international students going through the same situation as you, that’s why you can always find someone to be friends with.

A good option to have fun with your friends in the Christmas’ break is to cook together. I’ve always loved baking and I decided to bake some cookies with my friend Camila, from Colombia.

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I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and a happy new year!

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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.

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.

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!