My name is Colombe, I am a molecular biologist. I come from Geneva, a city in Switzerland, about the size of Bath in the UK. Four years ago, I decided to leave my country and family to come and study in the UK. Here’s how it went for me.
Deciding on studying abroad
There were several reasons that shaped my decision of studying abroad and specifically in the UK. European universities are nothing like British ones. There are no societies, no campus, no student communities, and no “university experience”. Students don’t really move away from their home city, and mainly stay at their parents’ house. It’s almost like attending High School but without anyone behind you to tell you what to do.
When I went to an Open Day at a university in Switzerland, I attended the presentation on the Biology Degree program. After a very boring program presentation, the lecturer closed his speech by naming the different career paths possible. There was only one listed: banking. I didn’t see how that sector was even linked to Biology. Needless to say that I was very disappointed. I needed something exciting, something different. A new adventure. I wanted to leave my home country and my parents, gain independence and live on my own. I wanted to start anew, somewhere where nobody would know me.
Why study in the UK?
I have always enjoyed the English language. I like to speak English, I like to listen to English. Having Canadian citizenship, I thought about going there to study but I didn’t want to take the plane or be too far from my family. The UK became my obvious choice. I love the British architecture and the landscape. And the British sense of humour is just the best! Additionally, I wanted this “university experience” that is so unique to the UK, or the US, with student societies, sport teams and a nice campus. Fortunately, my parents were supportive of my idea and could financially afford it. My dad had spent a year studying in Cardiff and works with British coworkers in his company, so he guided me through my decisions.
Adapting to the UK
My first few days were not the best. I was in a new country, experiencing a new culture and knowing absolutely no one. Freshers week was not the highlight of my year. However, after a week, I started to make some friends, get to know my flatmates, attend lectures and join societies. Fast forward 4 years and the University of York feels like home. I have my best friends, my sports teammates, my part-time job, and my volunteering role (oh, and my degree). My advice would be to put efforts in adapting to the new environment. Make friends both international AND English and get interested in the culture, go visit around the country, even if you plan on going back home once you’re done with your studies. The UK is beautiful and has a lot to offer.
What I have gained from studying at York
I think that studying abroad is definitely a very rewarding experience. Studying in England more precisely gives you a totally different approach to University life. What I really liked about studying abroad was the independence and resourcefulness I gained from living on my own or with flatmates. Cooking for yourself, managing your budget, learning how to balance work/social life, all of these are precious life skills that are invaluable for the future. I also like the freedom I have, the opportunity to try new things. The university years seem like a little bubble in time where anything is possible.
My opinion – study in the UK if you can!
I know that unfortunately, because of Brexit, international fees have now become extremely expensive. But if you have the chance to go to a British University, then I couldn’t recommend it more. It is such a unique and rewarding experience. Never once have I regretted the decision I made to leave my country to come and study at the University of York.