As a student who had just finished high school, I was not keen on conforming to the ‘norm’ of having a degree. To me, it was more of a societal norm than a genuine requirement in terms of gaining knowledge and a practical education. I continued to feel this way till the time I discovered a university in the UK that offered a Bachelor’s degree with honours in Make-up and Hair Design.
On my arrival in the small city that would be my home for three years, I was a bit confused. The weather is always a hot topic in the UK because it’s absolutely uncertain, it takes a little time to get used to this!
Being an overseas student, there were formalities to attend to, such as opening a bank account and getting registered at the NHS healthcare facility.
Coming from India, it was refreshing to have a legitimate system for everything. There are clear steps to follow for everything you need to get done, and things work quite smoothly. At the university, the faculty and management were extremely approachable and helpful. They always tried to find the easiest and best solutions to any problems the students faced; financial, academic or physical/mental health-related problems. In my very first month there, I lost my wallet, which also held my Biometric Residence Permit (visa). Naturally, I panicked because I had not yet opened a U.K. Bank account and only had a foreign exchange card. I filed a complaint at the police station after blocking my cards and reporting my visa lost. The process was not difficult at all, and within eight weeks I received my new Biometric card. Help is always at hand and systems are in place to help you through any problems you may encounter. Just remember that it’s expensive to live there so you might want to save your pocket the trouble of losing wallets and missing trains!
There is a vast range of options for student housing in the UK. I chose to stay in private student halls, which are the same as student dorms, with en-suite or non en-suite room options. These were privately owned, so there was a mix of students from the two main universities of the city. I found it extremely comfortable and safe as they were gated flats and all bills were included, if you are lucky you could get beautiful views from your windows too. You will probably have to deal with fire alarms going off at odd hours (we are all learning to cook) or hear a group of people getting back from the pub when you might want to catch sleep, but it’s all part of the experience. It is an extremely enjoyable student life.
“The system of education in the UK lays great emphasis on independent learning, which meant that students have to manage their own time and have to learn to prioritize projects on their own. The intention is for the students to not just learn, but to be self-critical and to choose the knowledge they seek”
The system of education in the UK lays great emphasis on independent learning, which meant that students have to manage their own time and have to learn to prioritize projects on their own. The intention is for the students to not just learn, but to be self-critical and to choose the knowledge they seek. Apart from the seminars and lectures given in class, we were expected to have our own individual approaches to our projects. This was difficult initially, because the CBSE board in India functions quite differently. However, after my graduation, I realized that I had not only explored a variety of artists’ work and gained more knowledge about beauty and culture as a whole, I had also developed a sense of direction in my chosen career. I had cultivated the ability to make decisions and definitely learnt to overcome procrastination. Learning to manage time when you have more hours to ‘independent study’ than be in classes took me three years!
One thing I would like to add is that England is not just an outwardly beautiful country – the greater beauty of it lies in the fact that it allows you to be exactly who you are or want to be. You are in a constant state of freedom, which teaches you a lot about yourself; at least that was the case for me and my friends, whom I will cherish forever.
To conclude, I would like to say – it was never a part of my plan to move to the UK to study. It was not a part of the plan to study further at all. At the end of my student years, I graduated with a first honors degree and an award for innovation in practice. The expansion of my horizon would not have taken place if I had refused to enroll myself for this course. I can feel the change within me, in my attitude towards life, and how it is continuously shaping my career. I am now twice as confident with myself and with my professional approach.
- The article was originally published in Career Ahead October 2020 issue.