I was quite nervous to come to the University of Aberdeen, it was my first time in Scotland and I wasn’t sure how things worked up here. I am an international student who went to college in England and then University in Aberdeen, so though I had some understanding of the UK educational system, I still felt a bit unprepared. Having said that, my college experience did prepare me for university life a lot as it did introduce me into what higher education is like in the UK and how assessments are carried out etc. I also knew that this was a common root for people from my country, so I felt reassured because I knew that others had had the same journey and had been successful in their endeavours.
I was lucky in a sense because I came from college to Aberdeen University with many friends from my college as we all studied engineering. It was really beneficial for me that I could move to Aberdeen already knowing people who are in a similar situation as me, and that I even had some friends. It meant that I didn’t feel alone in any academic struggles that I may have encountered.
Looking back though, I wish I had stepped out of my comfort zone more and had talked to more people who I did not know from college, as it meant that my friend group was quite closed and all from the same culture. I regret that I didn’t make too many friends from different cultures and from Scotland, because the one or two that I do know from Scotland, I only met after I graduated, and they are really nice people.
The university did have some events and information to help advanced entry students, and that really helped for setting things up here and knowing what forms to fill out etc.
The university experience was really good as a whole, I learnt a lot, and I loved it so much that I still haven’t left! It was sometimes challenging as the lecturers would refer to information from the previous year’s study that I was not present for, as I directly entered into 2nd year. But equally, there was information that I knew better than my classmates, and being quite a nerdy person, it was no problem for me to read up on the extra pieces that I didn’t know much about. Often, I would be helping my classmates as I always really enjoyed reading and making sure that I really understood the work.
I think because I studied so hard and everyday I was reading more (I did say I am nerdy!), that I didn’t struggle much academically. But the differences in culture was something that I took a long time to adapt to and even now I still struggle. For example mental health in my country is a joke and we shouldn’t talk about it, so I couldn’t talk to my friends about these things, but a friend I met here, I could talk to them a little bit about it because of the difference in cultures, but that took time to understand.
It is really important to look after your mental health and the university is here to support you. If you are struggling reach out to us so we can support you - you contact Student Advice and Support, find more information here.
I think because I came from college with people I knew, it was beneficial as we could work together and live together. But it meant that I didn’t explore much of what the University had to offer, like clubs and societies, because I didn’t go outside my comfort zone. I felt like I was an outsider. I don’t feel that way as much anymore, but it can be easy to think that way when you skip a year and come in when most people have already been studying here for a year.
But it all paid off and now I have completed a Masters degree at the University of Aberdeen and am now doing a PhD! I have come from being an advanced entry student and learning all about Engineering, to teaching other students about it, including direct entry students.
It is quite a big journey, but a very successful one, and one that I couldn’t have done without being an advanced entry student.