Na Ao studied the International Foundation Year in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Sheffield International College, and is progressing to study BA (Hons) Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield. Read her blog to discover her top tips.
Moving far away from home and embarking on a new chapter of your life journey in a foreign country is both exciting and thrilling. Studying and living abroad forces you to grow up faster than you’d ever imagine. It is a little intimidating to live in a completely new environment when you’re out there all alone, surrounded by new people. You may think you’ll be overwhelmed by stress and anxiety but there are kind and friendly people here who will help you – so don’t worry too much.
One of the most valuable things that you can get out of going to university, other than education, is having people you care about in your life: friends. Make the first step to meet new people and get to know other international students. It takes time and courage to practice your socialising skills and it’s okay to be a little shy at the start.
Get involved in activities like sports and societies at the Students’ Union. Give them a go to challenge yourself and discover new things and new friends, you will be amazed by what you are capable of.
As awkward and frightening as it sounds, go and say ‘hi’ first. By putting yourself out there, you will get more and more confident and this will increase the chances of finding those good friends who share the same interests and values as you.
Ask for help
Do not be afraid to speak up in class. If you don’t understand something, raise your hand and ask; if you still don’t get it, request a further explanation. Your tutors are always happy to help.
Talk about your feelings when you’re overwhelmed and get support and help from the USIC Student Support Team. Being listened to can be a great way to relieve stress and improve your emotional wellbeing, so try to talk to friends or tutors who you trust and express your thoughts and concerns to get things off your chest.
If you get sick in the accommodation, you can get help from the Student Experience Team at USIC. There are friendly staff in your accommodation who will always make sure you are ok. It is not easy at the beginning, but the experience teaches you how to take good care of yourself and be independent.
Living in the UK
In Sheffield, you will have to get used to the cloudy and rainy weather. As gloomy as it sounds, as time goes on you will enjoy the uniqueness of the English weather – four seasons in one day! It can calm you down and improve your concentration, so why not take great advantage of this to make your days more productive and fulfilling?
Speak English all the time. Think of English as your first language and find every little opportunity to practice speaking. Talk to people around you in English and make conversation. Do little things in a great way, you will be amazed by the outcome it brings.
Sheffield is ranked number 1 in the UK for Journalism Studies. The School of Journalism is a place of groundbreaking innovation with industry-standard facilities and equipment, as well as tutors who are experienced journalists.
Make your academic performance your top priority and aim for perfect attendance. Most importantly, develop your Academic English Skills. It is not easy to get all 70s in each area of your English language tests : listening, speaking, reading, and writing – which is what the School of Journalism requires. It is a gradual process throughout the academic year which requires your constant focus, effort, and strong determination.
Good listening skills come by constantly practicing your speaking and vice versa. Pay extra attention to the English pronunciation and be sensitive and familiar with the letters and words with constant imitation and repetition from listening to English language radio, like the BBC, or using online dictionaries and pronunciation videos.
Watch English movies or television series which catch your interest. Repeat every sentence that the characters say, imitate their accent and tone, and add their expression and emphasis. You can also speak to yourself in English, talk about how your day has been or pretend that you have a YouTube channel and that you have to fill your audience in. As silly as it may seem, it does help you to sound more native and fluent in English.
Practice makes perfect – and the same rule applies to both reading and writing. The more articles in newspapers and magazines and books you read, the faster your reading speed will become. A wide range of vocabulary helps to you to swipe through the obstacles you might encounter while reading. So, think of increasing your vocabulary as a fun hobby and each time you see a new word, be excited. Get to know the word well and put it into your daily vocabulary pocket.
Write regularly. Distinguish the writing difference between academic writing and journalistic writing and ask pay close attention to the feedback you get from your tutor to take your writing to the next level. On top of that, always go back to your writing and read it out loud, this helps to check any spelling or grammatical mistakes and organise your thoughts before you submit your work so it’s the best you can achieve.
Read news from a good English newspaper daily and be aware of what’s happening around you –– so that you form a sense of news. Regard the new quizzes in each class of the Journalism Workshop as a great opportunity to challenge your news sense, improve your writing techniques, and expand your horizons.
Believe in yourself and stay at the top of your game.
To start your own academic adventure at the International College, visit our programmes page and find the right course for you.