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From UCAS to graduation – what did I learn?

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Pursuing higher education in a prestigious university is a dream come true for so many international students and an opportunity filled with excitement. Shifting to a new country, exploring different continents, meeting people from all over the world and learning from the best is what drives  students to go through rigorous application procedures in order to get a place at  their choice of university.

But without a doubt, this shift comes with its own challenges as well as the opportunities that make up our great university experience.

I Harveen Kaur, am an international student from Dubai and have just completed my bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from The University of Manchester.  Having just attended my graduation ceremony, I’d like to share my reflections  of this eventful journey.

As much relief as we get on successfully completing our university application forms and getting a place, this is  immediately followed by the realisation that there are now various responsibilities we must take care of like applying for a visa (in case of an international student), sorting out our accommodation, learning how to cook, packing and so much more. I found these things quite stressful as neither of my friends nor sisters had to do any of these – but I realised that even before going abroad for studies, I was already learning to be independent and this doubled my excitement!.

Flying to Manchester and living alone was not at all that easy in the beginning. It was really hard for me to deal with loneliness. Opening myself to the university atmosphere by joining societies, volunteering and attending events took a while as this culture didn’t exist back at home. But I soon realised that  meeting  culturally diverse people from all over the world, listening to their stories and sharing mine was so much fun. I must have met like hundreds of other students, shared such amazing conversations and understood different life perspectives. From being a shy person who would hesitate to talk to people to now being able to confidently put my opinions forward – university has shaped me a lot as a person.

With  regards to my education, I have diversified my knowledge about different biotech fields that I was unaware of and opened myself to very interesting opportunities. Having been through academic struggle in my second year to getting back on my feet in the final-year, I am super-excited and super-grateful to have graduated  on  15th July 2019 – and I do not take this for granted!

Me on my graduation day!

I’d advise every student to make the most of the opportunities they get and no matter how hard it is to get out of your bed..  But don’t panic if it take a while to get in the swing of things, opening myself up to opportunities one step at a time was the way I went about it – and it worked out great!

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