Every year the UK welcome thousands of international students, who come to Britain attracted by its high quality education looking for boosting their career prospects.
Living abroad offers opportunities for both professional and personal development, students say, although it can also be challenging.
Hari Nayagam, 23-year-old, moved last year from Chennai, India to Cardiff to do his GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) and is now studying at City University London to become a barrister.
“It is challenging to fight for your ambition. I’ve had a lot of struggles,” he says.
He recalls his time in Cardiff when he was planning to contest the Student Union election.
“I needed to campaign and quite a few friends said to me at that time that I was going to ‘challenge the white men.'”
His answer, he says, was joining the election anyway. “I became the Student Union representative for Cardiff University,” he recalls.
Once in London, Nayagam says one of his challenges is to balance academic and social life. “As every student in London, I thought the city would be fun. In reality, I am stuck with exams, preparations and legal stuff.”
“Cardiff was fun, but starting a professional course has changed part of my life. It made me feel proud that I could do something for society, which compelled me to get involved in different activities.”
Nayagam says he wants to become a barrister to be able “to help people in need, who I feel justice has been denied to and who I feel I should fight for their rights.” He hasn’t decided yet where he is going to be based when he finishes his masters. “People in need can be anywhere in the world.”
‘London has everything’
Inês Valente, 24, moved from Paris to London this September to study International Journalism at City University London. She is both French and Brazilian and wants to be an international correspondent somewhere in the world.
She came to London attracted by the cosmopolitan character of the city. “London has everything: all the big stories are here. I can’t imagine myself studying Journalism anywhere else in the UK.”
Mastering English will also be crucial in her career, she says.
“I want to work anywhere in the world and I knew that with French I couldn’t, I knew that with Portuguese I couldn’t, but English makes it possible as it allows me to communicate with people in different countries. As a journalist, this is very important.”
Valente says the positive experiences are bigger than the challenges she has been facing here, as the overwhelming volume of deadlines and activities at her masters.
“You have to be opened to meet people. For me, it is an experience both professional and cultural. It is all about being opened.”