Case Studies: Welcome to the UK!

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The Independent Online

Jihong Feng, 28, from China. Studying English for international business at the University of Central Lancashire

Jihong Feng, 28, from China. Studying English for international business at the University of Central Lancashire

On our first day the university had organised an international welcome team - we were picked up at Manchester airport and taken to the university. We were given lots of very helpful advice and information.

I have a study partner at the university - a local student teaches me English and I teach him Chinese. We have conversations and we cook Chinese and English food for each other.

I get involved in lots of social activities. I'm a member of the international society and at weekends we visit other places in the UK. We've been to the Lake District, Oxford, Cambridge, London and Manchester. I also play tennis, which I'm not very good at, but it's a good way of making friends.

Antonio Baldascini, 21, from Italy. Studying economics at Royal Holloway, University of London

After visiting England, I decided to come here to study and learn English because I just loved the country and the people.

The course and the tutors are more organised than at home. The relations between students and lecturers are better than at home too. We have exams and tests throughout the year, so we always know how we're doing, and we're supported step-by-step throughout the course.

The people seem more real here. Italians are nice, but my English friends are more honest and genuine. The social life is brilliant. I love pubbing and clubbing and I also go to the theatre quite a lot. I don't have much money so I can't go every week, but I try to go once a month because I really enjoy it.

Charles Tai Kie, 23, from Mauritius. Studying pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Northumbria

I found out about Clearing through the British Council in Mauritius. Back home, most applications to universities in England are made through the British Council or UCAS. The British Council gave me a form, the guide to completing it and the procedures. They made it clear that if I needed help, I could ring them or go to see them.

The form was quite straightforward. I selected four courses and I heard back from UCAS two or three months after I sent the form. I had no direct contact with UCAS, but I was given a special code so that I could access my profile online to see if my application had been accepted or if it was being considered by a university. I found being able to follow the progress of my application very helpful.

My first four choices were rejected, so I had to go into Clearing. This time I picked the University of Northumbria and ended up doing it at the last minute. I phoned them first to tell them I would like to apply. It was good to have direct contact with a university because you feel clearer about what's going to happen and it feels more real.

Megha Khanna, 18, from India. Studying economics at the University of Leicester

I applied to UCAS in December, just before the January deadline. I could have applied up to the end of June, but I wanted to give myself a good chance of getting the course I wanted. I chose the universities that did well in economics by going through the Quality Assurance Agency ratings. I got conditional offers from all of them in late February. I had two conditions: to get above 85 per cent in maths and to get above 260 in the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam.

My mum and I wrote my personal statement together. I also had to get a reference from my teachers. With a conditional offer, the teacher has to say how well they think the student will do in their exams, so what they say matters a lot.

Then all I had to do was study very hard to get what I needed. I got 89.8 per cent in maths and I got 273 in TOEFL, so I decided on Leicester because I had some friends coming here and my dad was keen for me to be with people I knew as I was going so far away.

Desh Subba, 48, from Nepal. Studying agroforestry at the University of Wales, Bangor

I was in Bangor for two and a half years before my wife and children joined me last year. I failed to get accommodation through the university because the waiting list was so long and things were getting desperate with my family arriving. Luckily, I managed to find private accommodation, close to the university and shopping centre, which is cheaper and better than the university accommodation.

My son, Akshaya, is 12 and my daughter, Akansha, is 11. Their school is called Ysgol Caetop and they really enjoy it. They go on lots of trips and come back talking about everything they've seen. At home more than 90 per cent of the time is spent in the classroom, so they're getting a chance to do things they wouldn't normally have done. We all get involved in activities organised by the school. Recently, my wife and daughter took part in a fashion show that helped to raise funds for the school.

We're returning home in a couple of months and we're looking forward to seeing our relatives again, but we'll be sad to leave Bangor. It is a very small, friendly, self-contained place - the postman knows me and everyone down at the market knows my name.

Krishna Prasad Paladugu, 25, from India. Studying manufacturing systems engineering at Queen's University, Belfast

I've been here for nearly two years. My suitcase for coming over was full of thermal underwear, fleeces and blankets. I also packed lots of homemade pickles. Pickles are the one thing I would recommend other Indian students coming here to bring. They remain fresh for one or two years and it's nice to feel homely. The one thing I wish I hadn't brought is tamarind paste. I thought I wouldn't be able to find it here, so I brought lots of it with me, but it was a waste of space because it's easy to get hold of. There are a couple of Asian markets near the university, so I can get everything I want.

I had kept in contact with people who had moved over here before me so they advised me about what to bring and what not to bring, which really helped. The university gave me information about what clothing to bring, but it didn't advise me about food.

The normal daily temperature where I'm from in India is 25-30C, so I needed to buy some clothes before I left. I also brought lots of my favourite music, as well as photos of my mum and family friends.

Obviously, you must pack your passport and it's a good idea to bring all your schooling certificates, just in case you need to show them to anybody.

Sylvie Karasira, 28, from Rwanda. Studying aquaculture at the University of Stirling

I came here in September so it's not long since I packed my suitcase. It consisted mainly of clothes for cold weather, like socks, coats and jackets, along with some dictionaries, my passport, and my employment and training certificates. I bought a pair of gloves in Rwanda before I left - they're not very common there and they were difficult to find. I had to buy pullovers and jackets especially.

I brought some Rwandan music for when I felt homesick and some tourist leaflets to give my classmates an idea of what my country is like. In Africa we always take presents with us if we go somewhere, so I brought some wooden, hand-carved gorillas, some small baskets made of banana leaves and some Rwandan tea and coffee. I wish I'd bought more presents though - people are so nice and I don't have anything to give them.

I was amazed to find that I can get all the food I'm used to at home here, like sweet potatoes, green beans, peas and even passion fruit. I brought some light clothing with me, but so far I haven't needed to use any of it. The amount of luggage you can bring over is limited, so it's best to just pack the essentials. My advice to people coming to a cold country for the first time is to ask about what kind of clothes are the warmest and to learn how to pile them on to keep warm.

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