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Studying a bachelor's degree in the UK - a student's story

DANIEL~2

We have talked to the Swedish student Daniel about his experiences in Nottingham Trent University in the UK. He started his bachelor's degree in 2020, and is now on his second year. He's been abroad during the pandemic, but has still got the best out of it. Here's his story from Nottingham.

 

Why did you choose to go abroad at all?

Well, I’ve been traveling before, and I didn’t get tired of it. Actually I get tired of staying at home, and during my previous trips, I’ve also taken shorter jobs, so it was natural for me to take an education abroad as well. I am doing a full bachelor degree, and I’m now on my second year at Nottingham Trent University here where I am studying Global Studies and International Relations.

Why did you choose Nottingham?

I wanted to go to an English speaking country -  and I chose England as the tuition fees are lower compared to the US and Canada. Especially because I started in 2020 before they left the European Union, so I paid the same fees as the British students. When I looked into universities in the UK, I saw that Nottingham Trent University had good rankings and reviews and basically looked like a great and inclusive university.

How is the level of education in the UK?

It’s the principle of train hard, fight easy. If I had worked hard from day 1, it might have felt easier when I look back. In the first term I did not work hard enough and failed a mock exam, but after that I have been putting more energy into the courses and tried to absorb and understand what the professors teach us.

Especially the way you write your essays have a big impact on your grades. It has been all about essays, so I tried to research on how I could improve that part. My failed mock exam was kind of an eyeopener. But it was also a reason for some extra anxiety for a while because I realized that this is more serious than I thought and I had to keep my eyes in the books and be disciplined. In some way I am glad I had the professor who failed me in the beginning so I got on the right track from then on. Luckily it was only a mock exam and not a real one. I was probably naive and thought that what I handed in was alright, but she gave me some harsh criticism and that made me change my mindset. And in the end it was a good learning for me.

How was it to arrive all by your self in a new place?

Well, I am actually used to it. The hard thing was to prepare for everything that the pandemic has affected and it has been quite unpredictable I must say. Luckily the university helped me out with transportation and food when I arrived and had to quarantine for the first 2 weeks. I quarantined in my room on campus and after 2 weeks my other flat mates arrived just before we started the semester. But yeah, it has been a bit strange. Especially around Christmas where some of them went home and were not allowed to travel back to campus because of the lockdown.

How did you get your social life going from the begining?

The university did a good job and invited the students for some social meetings online, and they still do. Basically you log into Teams and meet other people online, play games and just socialize with other students. But it has been a bit different being abroad in this period. In my first year some classes were online and some classes were with physical presence at school, but then after Christmas it was all online again.

How has it been to be abroad during Covid-19?

It has affected my experience in university but not that much elsewhere in the city. Aside from my 2 weeks of quarantine, I was still allowed to go outside and walk around in the city. So it’s only my uni-experience that has been different, so given the circumstances it has been alright.

There’s no doubt, however, that it has been more difficult to meet a lot of new friends, when you can’t really meet up with them. For most cases it’s been more in group chats like What’s App, Messenger and Snapchat than meeting and putting a face on them. I’ve become much closer with my flat mates and neighbors who I see in real life.

How is Nottingham both as a city and as a student city?

It’s quite calm. When it comes to tourism, it’s a lot about Robin Hood and castles and that part of the history. We also have England’s oldest pub, where the crusaders used to stop by back in the days. It’s half cave and half pub, located under a big castle. It's quite cool really.

What are you doing when you’re not studying?

I am running quite a bit and then I hit the gym which is located on the campus and by the way is really cheap. I’ve also been both walking and biking a bit, and in general I am a very active person and there are some great surroundings, and I especially love being around the canals. It’s really beautiful.

But it’s not only in the city that I am exploring, I’ve also taken the bike or been running south of the city. I’ve done my own marathon actually while exploring the nature outside of the city. I might run a real marathon sometime in the future. The countryside outside of Nottingham is really a nice scenery for outdoor activities.

Is there anything you would like to have known before you arrived?

Yes, so for everyone reading this now I have to say that you have to find accommodation well in advance. I was very late myself when I started the process in July and school started in September, so start searching much earlier is a good advice!

In general it’s good to be a bit of a time pessimist, maybe not for your mental health, but you can never be too early and almost always be too late with things.

What’s next for you?

Well I’ve been primarily accepted to an exchange program, so hopefully I will be going to the US on my exchange semester. I like traveling, so it’s just natural for me to go on exchange, and if everything works out I will be going to Flagstaff in Arizona after Christmas.

My dream is to work with diplomacy when I have my degree. Not necessarily as a diplomat, since it’s difficult to get a job but in the same area. Time will tell when I, hopefully, have a degree in 2 years time. 

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