My experience studying in the UK has been amazing so far! I am originally from Canada and leaving home to study abroad for two years was hard and scary at the beginning but now halfway through my UK experience it has given me opportunities that I never thought possible.
My school and program are wonderful, I have made friends from all over the world, and I have been exposed to so many different cultures, traditions, and lifestyles that have broadened my perspective. Living in the UK has also exposed me to travelling, being able to take a one-hour flight, be in a completely different country, and get to try delicious foods!
Apart from living in the UK, my experience using Across the Pond service was positive. My senior student advisor was wonderful. She provided quick responses and was super helpful in guiding me to select the most appropriate schools, preparing me for school interviews, and helping me write my statements. This made my application process easy and moving to a new country stress-free. My advisor was reliable and trustworthy to guide my new start in the UK. Overall, moving abroad has challenged me to come out of my comfort zone, push myself to be the best I can be, and take the experiences around me to learn and grow into a better version of myself.
I took a significant leap, and I absolutely have no regrets! Studying abroad has always been a dream of mine. I was in a challenging phase in my life, and I decided it would be the best time to challenge myself and embrace a new experience.
I reached out to Across the Pond, where I was fortunate to be paired with my advisor, a guiding light throughout the entire process. Her support was truly indispensable in navigating this long process. There was so much to do including drafting a personal statement, undergoing a DBS check, initiating the student visa application, and assembling transcripts and reference letters. It all seemed overwhelming, but my advisor's assistance and patience were instrumental! I still can’t believe that Across the Pond is a free service! Advice: start gathering your documents as early as possible, have a checklist and stay organized! Talk to your advisor if you have any questions and they’ll be able to direct you better. Thank you so much to my advisor for all your help!
I opted for on-campus accommodation as it would be more accessible, and I also felt more at ease. The ensuite bedroom is small but comfortable. There is a dedicated study desk that I often use but the library is also a great alternative. Sharing a communal kitchen with nine other students can be challenging! Although the cleaning crew comes in the kitchen once a week, your bedroom is your responsibility. It’s an adaptation to live in community and I would say that for me this is the hardest part.
I love my program! It is quite demanding as there is so much to learn in little time and so you’ll be studying A LOT. To be honest, I feel that’s the only thing that I am doing most of the time but I’m learning so much! It is rewarding and significantly prepares me for a future as a skilled physiotherapist. I’ve made good friends, and we depend on each other for note taking which has helped tremendously. To excel in this program, be sure to form a study group and ensure that you’re on track with your studying as if you fall behind, it will be much more difficult to catch up as you’re learning something new every day.
Placements are demanding as well since you’re new to the field and can be quite overwhelming, but the university offers great tools to support you and you can talk to other students as most of us feel the same way. But once you get settled in, placements are great and invaluable to improve your clinical knowledge and practical skills. They are interesting and varied from sports to women's health, pediatric physiotherapy and more!
Although the bulk of my day is devoted to studying and going to class, I also use the university's gym to stay active and I ensure to spend time with my friends to explore London’s bars and nightlife. There are also a multitude of student societies that you can join to meet new people.
Entering the second and final year of my master's degree, I'm happy to say this is by far one of the best experiences of my life! Although this program is very demanding and I can’t wait to be back home with my family, the insights I’m gaining into my future profession and the friendships I’ve made overshadow these challenges. I can’t wait to look back to this adventure in years to come and be proud of what I’ve accomplished! But for now, I’m taking everything in as it goes by fast and I’m enjoying every bit that I can!
Brunel University was my choice out of the universities I applied to because it felt more like a community than the others. From the start I was given the opportunity to engage in discussions online regarding the school, my program of choice and the UK/Europe in general. They were with me every step of the way, unlike other universities which only contacted me to confirm choice and a 'thank you' for applying.
I like the relationship the professors have with the students. I am able to approach any of my lectures with ease and have a one-to-one conversation with them if I need help. My class is fairly small making it easier to get to know my fellow students and create a bond that will continue past graduation. If you ever need anything there is always someone there to go to for help.
Accommodation is interesting. It really depends on what building you are placed in but for the most part they are nice. I have lived in an en-suite room since my first year and have become used to it. I would not choose a standard suite as I like my privacy and prefer not to share toilets/showers. All in all, not having to worry about bills and simple payment structures makes it easier than living off-campus.
I would suggest new students try new things and get out of their comfort zone. It was especially difficult for me moving across the world to a country, a continent that I've never been to. I was able to make new friends and it make the transition easier for me. Also, volunteer whenever possible! It's an easier way to find something you like to do and grow as a person.
I am the current events manager for Brunel University Law Society. My latest project has been planning and executing the 2014 Law Ball (first law ball in over 2 years). I have also been involved in the Brunel Law School Buddies program, which aims to reach out to students who are planning to enter the next phase of their lives.
I plan to become a family lawyer and continue running my family's law firm back in Canada. I would also like to start a summer placement scheme for Brunel students to have an opportunity to gain work experience overseas.
Why did you decide to study at Brunel?
I decided to study at Brunel because of the international reputation of the Occupational Therapy programme. I hope to someday be an occupational therapist that specialises in paediatrics, and the Masters in Occupational Therapy course at Brunel provides the opportunity to gain further experience working with children with disabilities. In addition, I was attracted to Brunel’s intensive, two-year programme, which combines classroom and practical experience in an urban environment.
The Occupational Therapy programme at Brunel also relies on practice placements. I am looking forward to participating in such placements, as I believe that hands-on learning will be critical to my education as an occupational therapist. While theory provides an important base, applying what you learn in the classroom to clinical situations is extremely important to the learning process.
In February 2013, I was presented with the opportunity to visit London for a week and attend an interview. During my stay, I toured the Brunel campus and saw the teaching facilities in the Mary Seacole Building. Utilising this venue seemed like an excellent way to learn about how to assist a client to learn a new way to perform an activity, while encouraging independence.
What do you like about studying at Brunel?
I very much enjoy studying at the Brunel campus, as we have access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, experienced lecturers and a lot of student support. I have also met some incredible colleagues in my department, and I have very much enjoyed sharing and learning from each other’s past experiences. On a larger scale, studying occupational therapy in the UK has enabled me to compare and contrast the public healthcare systems in both Canada and England, and to discover aspects of practice that could be applicable in Canada. It is my opinion that international study gives students a global perspective on issues in their respective fields. Learning abroad in England has provided me with the opportunity to understand what I am studying in a global context, to understand how occupational therapists function in different settings, and to help contribute my skills in a variety of communities in this increasingly globalized society.
What is your opinion of the university accommodation?
I am not personally staying in university accommodation, I elected to live in central London and commute to Brunel. However, several members of my cohort live in halls at Brunel, and they very much enjoy the facilities and the fact that they can live at such a short distance from their lectures.
What advice would you give to a new student at Brunel?
I would say that if you are new to Brunel, make sure you get involved with activities both within your cohort and the university as a whole. Also, make sure that you give yourself time to adjust to your new environment, choosing to study away from home can be a big change but it will be well worth it. And of course, a good pair of wellies will help you through the winter!
What social activities are you involved in?
While I am not currently involved in any formal clubs or societies at Brunel, we organise social activities through the Occupational Therapy department. One of the recent activities many of us participated in was a trip to the Science Museum as part of their "Lates" events. I was able to spend time with my colleagues away from campus, and explore the Science Museum at night with other young adults.
How do you plan to use your degree in your career?
I hope that my studies in Occupational Therapy at Brunel will enable me to pursue a career where I can help people, more specifically children. During my undergraduate degree, I became interested in how children cope with disabilities, which led me to consider how children could benefit from improvements in motor function early in life - specifically, how this would translate to increased overall function as an adult with a disability. My long-term goal would be to work in a paediatric therapy facility where I could help improve children’s lives through the introduction of occupational therapy.