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Student Support Officer Writes: My Experience as an International Student

Our student support officer Maria graduated from the University of Leicester in 2020. Maria began working with the Leicester Global Study Centre in March 2023 as a student support officer, and has written about her time as an international student.

Hello all!

My life as an international student ….

Was a beautiful and chaotic mess, let me explain. Just like every 18-year-old living away from home for the first-time, was very exciting and terrifying at the same time. I experienced what it’s like to have flatmates and resolving problems like an adult. Living away from my home made me realise that home is not the building you are in or the furniture, it’s the people and now for me I have two homes. My home in Cyprus were most of my family reside and Leicester, where I made friendships for life and experienced what is like to be an adult and live away from your loved ones.

My journey started in 2018, it was my first time in the UK. I fell in love with the people and the diversity around me. One of the reasons I chose Leicester was because of how diverse the city is. During my time at the university, I made friends from all over the world and speaking to them about their background opened my eyes in a way I never thought was possible.

Of course, just like everything in life, my academic journey was not all sunshine and rainbows. Being away from my family and my friends for the first time was challenging and it still is. However it taught me how to rely on myself for support and be resilient. Being away from home and having to take care of myself and manage my deadlines made me realise that I am more powerful than I ever thought.

Just like many students around the world I had to go through the Covid-19 pandemic while studying. Studying during the pandemic was tough and, just like many students around the world, I had to remind myself why I was studying in the first place. Motivation was something I had to find within me to keep going. My flatmates helped me keep sane while I focused on my studies and navigated this new way of life.

Academically speaking, as an international student, I was not ready to face the challenges coming my way.

Writing in my second language on an academic level was very complicated at first but getting low grades motivated me even more to keep going, and ask for help from my tutors. Going though academic failures made me realise that I did not gain anything from just being in the corner, I had to step out of my comfort zone and get involved on the weekly tutorials which seemed terrifying at first, however I promise you it’s worth it.

Being a citizen of change to tackle anything life brings to us.

Overall, studying abroad was maybe the best decision I have ever made. It challenged me to be the best version of myself and chase my dreams. University life taught me how to rely on myself and be independent while focusing on my goals. It also taught me skills that I still use, even after graduating. The most important lesson of all was speaking up and realising it’s okay not to know the answer to a question and to have bad days, but it’s not okay not to work towards the best version of yourself and that is the Leicester spirit.

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