Life as a student in UK – enlightening, educational & full of surprises

My name is Annika and I am about to start my third year in University of Worcester as a Marketing student.  So I wanted to take a look back and reflect on my experience so far. I think majority of students would agree that first year was an adjustment. I had just had two cap years between graduating high school in Estonia and starting university in England. For those two cap years in my home country I got used to going to work every day. So in England when I learned that lectures were only for 12 hours per week I decided that it was a wonderful idea to start working full time as an assistant manager/barista in a local café. Eventually I realized that there is a reason why they only recommend for students to work maximum 20 to 25 hours per week. At first, I handled the studies and work perfectly but more and more I worked more and more I fell behind on my lecture material. It resulted with me failing one of my modules which means I had to extend my studies for one semester.  You can read more about my first year and how I found my way to UK HERE.

The second year in University of Worcester was more intense compared to the first one, so I decided to take a weekend position as a game operator in the local escape room which allowed me to spend more time concentrating on my studies. I only worked maximum 22 hours a week instead of 35-40 hours and it reflected in my course work. My grades were up and hoping everything goes well I am on my way for 2:1 degree (which means having at least B grade for 3 modules and C grade for 1 module). If you want to take something away from this – try not to get too carried away with the fact that lectures are only for approximately 12 hours per week and you seem to have a lot of free time. You can live comfortably working 20-25 hours a week. Students are expected to do independent work 7 hours per module, so working part time gives you plenty of time to do that.  

Since moving to UK I have developed as a person and have made many amazing friends for life. I have picked up a lot of useful skills to help closer to my dream.  A dream, I didn’t realize I had until I was half way through my second year – to  concentrate on marketing and eventually open my own marketing company. In order to do that I changed my course from Business, Marketing and Human Resource Management to single honours Marketing. I am still surprised with my decision to be honest because I tried to learn marketing in Estonia and it was not for me. Maybe it was the teaching style that did not suit me or the workload and approach to the material, but for now branding and social media marketing are my focus. 

As a marketing student in UK my coursework involves theoretical as well as practical parts: research, case studies, journals and group projects. I usually have 4 big assignments per semester. It might not seem like a lot but trust me when I say this – deadlines are there sooner than you can imagine which means if you are not prepared you will have plenty of sleepless nights trying to get your assignments submitted on time. However, each course and assignment is different and therefore requires individual approach which is explained during the lectures and assignment briefings. 

 

 

 

 

Some of the coursework is really practical and prepares you for future employment. I will give you some examples. In my first year we had to run a charity event so our group organized a family fun day and for my entrepreneurship lecture on my second year we had to come up with a business idea and write a relevant business plan. It was a group task and we came up with a concept of opening a smoothie shop/healthy food place to have something something different from all the fast food places in Worcester. Our lecturers and people from universities business incubator were really supportive and enthusiastic about the idea and we even briefly considered entering VOOM entrepreneurship competition held by Richard Branson.  

In 2016 when I moved here it was a rollercoaster – finding a place to live, finding a job, get settled in university, sorting out bank account and national insurance number and more.  Few weeks before moving to UK me and 3 other Estonian girls decided to rent a flat together. We looked from Zoopla and found an apartment for £346.10 a month each. We decided to stay there for the two years. As for third year me and my friend moved into a two-bedroom apartment in the city centre for £287.50 each a month. Obviously, the prices vary based on the area and the city and in some cities the prices for the university housing might be cheaper than a private accommodation. But this is to give you an example of really good deals we managed to find for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main question I get as a student studying abroad is ‘How did I find a job and what do I need for it?’ To get a job in UK you need several things: national insurance number, which you need to apply for through the job centre, UK bank account and your CV. Best way to approach job search is to take a walk around town and see which of the local businesses around you are hiring (usually they will have signs on the window or on the counter) however they might ask you to either email them your CV or apply online. Even if that is the case you still have made an initial contact and it might raise your odds of being hired. It is also a perfect opportunity to explore the city you will be living in for the next few years. I have also tried to search online.

Another question that has been asked quite frequently is ‘How often I get to go home?’  For me personally going home comes quite spontaneously as I usually just check plane tickets out of curiosity and end up finding a great deal. In my first year I only went twice a year (Christmas and end of May). During my second year I have been home 3 times. It is not quite as much as I originally was hoping for, but it is more than enough now that I’ve set up a life in here. 

 

 

 

 

Overall, I feel like I made a right decision to take that step and leave everything in Estonia and come to England. I have gained a valuable network as well as skills for future. If you have any doubt about if you should/could do it at least give it a go. What is the worse that could happen?  

 

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