This article is written by Anaïs, a University of York student.
Is choosing a UK university worth it? Two years ago, I asked myself this question repeatedly. Do I regret my decision? I can confidently say I don’t. Here’s what you need to consider and why I think UK universities are worth it.
Making the choice
As an international student, you need to consider a multitude of things: Do you like the course as presented and taught by the university? If not, why not? Consider making a list of what modules and/or teaching techniques are best suited for you. That is the easiest thing to deliberate about. Your environment, being away from home, is considerably more difficult. It is easy to think about a country in the short-term, but things like weather, expenses, mentalities, and culture need to be at the forefront of your decision.
Now, I mention the weather because that is what I first thought of for England — cold and rainy whilst simultaneously feeling cozy and warm (inside of course). But, it isn’t truly all about the weather. It’s about your environment and how it affects your attitude and mood. Consider architecture, nature, cities, towns, nightlife, etc. Though truly, you need to think about whether the university and location are the right fit for you. Think about your hobbies and whether the city or town offers an art gallery you are desperate to visit, or offers all the right societies for you. Make sure to visit your options and see where you feel the most comfortable. If visiting does not fully give you the feel of the place, get in contact with current students at that university.
How does your option compare to other cities in the country and/or your country? Is it too expensive? If so, what can you do to make your transition smooth and workable? Does the location welcome student workers? Likewise, consider your own expenditure. Do you need to create a budget? If so, are you best buying a notebook or creating an online document to record any data? Think of university as a way of practicing. Work out what you want to use your money for and what you need to cut down on. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. This is, after all, the first time you will be left on your own with your own money.
Mentalities and culture
In every sense of the way, expenses, budgeting, weather, and your course are crucial to your happiness in whatever university and location you choose. Long-term, however, you need to ensure that the mentality surrounding you compliments or agrees with your own. Now, I don’t mean personality, because you will find a range of personalities no matter what country you move to. But it may be more of a case of culture shock. You may not be accustomed to a certain way of looking at things and may struggle to settle in. This may relate to drinking culture, language barriers, distance from family, food, humour, customs, etc. Don’t discount any of these points.
To answer the question, “are UK universities worth it?”, from an international point of view, maybe. It certainly was for me. The University of York felt like a community as it was very close and small — something which may not be for everyone. It provided everything I wanted — a town feeling and a somewhat relaxed environment with the occasional fear of geese.
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