Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Time to get down to business

It’s time to switch from holiday mode and back to study mode. Can’t say I’m particularly happy about it when looking at the pile of books and lecture notes I have to go through in less than a month, but when writing this it's exactly 22 days until my four month long holiday. This Easter has been what I’d like to call a cultural Easter. I’ve been to Blenheim Palace where Churchill was born (30 mins by bus from Oxford), to Stratford upon Avon where Shakespeare grew up (just over 1 hour by train from Oxford), and to London (1 hour 40 mins by coach from Oxford) visiting all sorts of museums and watched Billy Elliot with my mum and sister (and of course did my fair share of shopping). That's a great thing about Oxford, it's close to so many different things. 

If I’m not entirely mistaken it was exactly a year ago that I had received all my offers from the universities I applied to, and I had to make up my mind about which to accept. UCAS is a completely different system than what is being used in Norway, where you have to rank the universities you apply to due to the fact that you only get one offer. If you're from USA, Canada, Norway or Latin America I strongly recommend contacting Across the Pond, these guys know what they're talking about, it's free and they do all the tricky UCAS things for you. And they also have "letters" from international student in the UK on their website where you can read about both advantages and disadvantages, so have a look! 

Anyway, if you get offers from all the universities on your list, you have a job to do, if you haven’t already made up your mind of course. So I thought I should help you a little bit, in case you’re new in this game and perhaps also an international student. I don't know about you, but I was craving information when I was in that situation, so without further ado, here is some advice:

#1 Open tabs for all the universities websites in your internet browser
All the universities offer you different kinds of things, and if you're not sure which university can offer you the best education for you, then you should go through them all. Look at different modules of the course you have applied to, the content of them if they're available, and information about the overall course such as graduated students' current jobs and experiences, work placement options etc. It's also smart to look at the tuition fee and if they will increase during your studies, and if there are any "hidden" course fees such as field trips. You can find information about fees at Brookes here

#2 Use Facebook 
 After spending hours trying to wrap my head around different terms and academic information I realized that I had completely forgotten about Facebook! So after having a look on the websites, search for the different universities on Facebook (Brookes here). At least on Brookes’ Facebook page you’re able to find out about different events going on at campus, information about services being provided and the most important thing – pictures. Of course the page is not going to tell you the advantages and disadvantages, but you'll be able to see pictures, videos and maybe some reviews from former students. You should also try to search for any Facebook groups/pages for your specific course, as you may be able to find information relating specific to you. 

#3 Attend Open Days
If I had the opportunity I would definitely have attended the open days, but unfortunately they were all on the same days as my exams in Norway. It’s just something about walking around on campus, seeing with your own eyes what it’s like, and maybe explore the neighbourhood and the city. You won't get to explore and feel the actual vibe through Facebook or the university’s website. And in case you’re wondering, Brookes has two different vibes on the same campus. Inside the John Henry Brookes Building it’s vibrant, colourful and somewhat crowded, especially now before the exams. In the other buildings it’s more quiet and calm, and you’re able to actually hear your own thoughts. It’s something for everyone. Information about Brookes open days here.

#4 Look at different types of accommodation 
The last thing I’m going to mention this time is accommodation, which was what I was most worried about. I bet I’m not the only one worrying about it, but having been through it all I can say – don’t worry too much about it. I mean, you should offer it some thought and explore your options, but you don’t have to lay awake at night. They will always have room for you somewhere. You have a variety of options at Brookes, such as halls varying both in size and location and shared housing. I wasn't aware of shared housing and it took me quite some time to find the shared housing list, so I recommend spending some time at the accommodation pages as well. The great thing about being an international student at Brookes is that they guarantee you a place to live in your first year. You might end up in halls far away from your campus or with flatmates you can't stand, but at least you have roof over your head. And if you can’t stand your flatmates or whatever, it’s possible to switch, the staff at the accommodation office always try to help you, but you have to give it a go. Brookes' accommodation website here. If you're considering renting private, Brookes Union has some useful tips, and you can also contact them if you have any questions. Brookes Union website here. If you want to read about different halls and campuses, David has written about all about it here

I hope you found this at least somewhat helpful, and should you have any questions or something you want to read more about, then please comment below! :) 

Now I'm going to do some more studying and try to fight off the cold I've managed to get during this lovely, rainy, cold spring weather!

No comments:

Post a Comment