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The First Few Weeks of University - An International Student's Perspective

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Back home, in Thailand, the UK is seen as the leading education system in the world. Getting a degree from a British university looks really impressive when you go back home to start your career and can make you stand out.

I have always planned to help run the family business once I have finished studying and so wanted to get a top quality business education. I have just started my first year at the University of York studying Management and am on my way to achieving my goal.

The education systems in Thailand and the UK are very different, not just at university but also in school. In the high school at home students do not just study from teachers in school but also from tutors outside. However, they very rarely study on their own. At university in the UK independent study is a big part of the education and this is a big change. I have been told to expect to spend a hundred hours of study by-myself!

I am glad that I came to the UK to do A-levels before I started university as it has been such a big help in adjusting to this new way of learning. It was definitely scary leaving my friends and family to do my A-levels, but having this experience has helped me to prepare for university so much.

At Bellerbys College in Cambridge - where I did my A-levels in maths, economics and accounting - what we did was not just being taught by the teachers, we also had to learn by ourselves or in small groups with other students. This has helped me to become more independent and to manage my time better so that I can study more by myself.

Another big challenge is learning in your second language. Gaining experience of studying in English before university has helped me understand the lectures much better. At school you are in a class with a much smaller number of students so you are able to ask teachers to explain what words and phrases mean, this is more difficult in a lecture with 200 people!

I have been at university for over a month and am really enjoying the experience. The best things about the study is that the lectures are in-depth and that each module has a seminar where students get the opportunity to discuss the issue rather than just hearing about it in the lecture. For me this makes it easier to learn and to meet the module objectives. We are able to get a more in-depth understanding of the subject and to question and debate issues that we are told by lecturers and tutors.

This was something that was also present at Bellerbys in the A-level classes. Here you are encouraged to ask questions and discuss what you are learning to make sure that you really understand how it works, not just enough to pass a test.

I do like the challenge of coming to study in a different culture, language and education system and I am motivated to work hard by thinking about the success at the end of it all. Starting off in an international college at Bellerbys and then moving onto a big university like York you get to meet so many different people from all over the world and you can learn from their experiences. When it comes to things like a miscommunication of language or a culture difference you know that you are not the only one who has experienced it!

Coming to a different country to study is not just about getting used to the new education system you also have to adapt to a new culture and a new way of life. If you are not settled in well this will most likely have a negative impact on your study. Staff at Bellerbys helped me to prepare for university life a lot in terms of both studying and living, giving me lots of useful tips to take with me to York. The best thing is that I still keep in touch with some of the teachers and they are always willing to help me at any time.

Pasiri Onchuenjit

Pasiri Onchuenjit is in her first year of a Management degree at the University of York. She originally came to the UK in 2011 to study A-levels in maths, economics and accounting at Bellerbys College, Cambridge. When she graduates Pasiri hopes to return home to Thailand to help run the family business.