February 8, 2019, by International students
International Student Ambassadors: Saejin Lee from South Korea
Hi, I am Saejin from South Korea and I am currently studying International Media and Communications. My English name is Brenna which borrowed from ‘brave’ and my mum wants me to be a brave person. This is my first year at the University of Nottingham so everything was new and felt curious when I first came here. To be honest, I was worried about the life in another country as the UK is not my original country, but I have been spending lovely days while I am settling in the university life. The University of Nottingham is such a massive university and there are many green areas which I like so much. I was living on Jubilee Campus which takes 10min from the main campus. There are many wonderful architectural buildings such as the atrium (canteen), the library and the lake. The main campus is also such a fabulous campus. There are the beautiful fountains and lights in front of Portland building which is the main part of The University of Nottingham. I usually have classes in the Trent Building, and I would like to say that Trent Building is one of my favourite places in the university. I like David Ross Sport centre because it is so huge and there are various sports. In University of Nottingham, there are many events and societies for every student and these made me make foreign friends and settle in the university well.
Why did you choose to study your specific course and what are your favourite aspects of the course so far?
(Honestly, I have transferred my major from Film and Television Studies to International Media and Communications. Film and TV studies in The University of Nottingham focuses on the history of film, but I wanted to learn practically. It was rather different what I expected so I transferred the major.) Now I am doing International Media and Communication and learning a language, as the major called International Media and Communications. Overall, the courses are very theoretical, and I feel the courses are related to Sociology. I wanted to study Media for ages because I strongly believe that media plays an influential role in today’s society and people, and I found it attractive. In the course, I studied Communication and Culture, Media and Society, Questioning and Culture and Spanish for this semester. I had little knowledge about academic writing such as referencing, plagiarism and research, but I have learnt these by doing this course. An interesting fact is that Media and Communications in The University of Nottingham is quite distinct from other universities because we choose a language for 2 years. I have chosen Spanish for the language and it’s interesting so far.
What attracted you to the UK?
When someone asked me why I chose the UK for studying abroad, I would say because of the atmosphere and the quality of educational system. To be honest, my parents did want me to go abroad more than I did, to experience a new and wide life which I had never had before. My mum was searching some countries for me and she and I decided on the UK taking account of safety (no guns) and universities. Another reason why I chose the UK among many countries is that there are not really many Koreans compared to other countries such as the USA, Canada, and Australia. I wanted to make many foreign friends and learn traditional English. Furthermore, the UK universities are renowned for Media studies so these facts attracted me to go to the UK.
‘What was your experience of arriving in the UK/in Nottingham?’
Before arriving in the UK, I was scared for everything even though I applied the Welcome Programme for international student. I arrived at night and I didn’t know how to get to Nottingham. Fortunately, I met the staff from the University of Nottingham, and they helped me find the coach station to get a National Express to Nottingham. After arriving in Nottingham, I was guided by the staff to go to a temporary accommodation although it was at about 1am. At first, I felt the university is lovely but it’s massive, so I thought I would be get lost. But I’ve settled into life in Nottingham and the UK now!
What has been your experience of making friends with people from other countries?
I am an extrovert and outgoing person, but I was worried about making friends with people from other countries. So, I tried to participate in social events a lot and say hi to people I met. People asked where you live, what is your major and country. Interestingly, I’ve met many people who are interested in Korean culture and it made me communicate with them smoothly. I believe that approaching a person with a friendly smile is the best thing to get closer with many people. Moreover, say hi first to your flatmates is one of good things as well.
How has your experience of finding accommodation – why did you choose to live where you live and what are the best aspects of it?
I’d been thinking about living accommodation for the first year because of provided meal and close distance to the university. All the accommodation on the campus are self-catered which means we are provided meals from a canteen. Residents can have breakfast and dinner on weekdays and have brunch and dinner on weekends. There is a meal card and it’s filled with 28 pounds a week. We use the meal card for lunch at every canteen in the campus or buy food and drinks (without alcohol) at spar. I was living in Newark Hall on Jubilee campus. I applied for accommodation late, so I didn’t have a choice. At first, I thought living in Jubilee campus sounded far and not that attractive because all of my classes are on University Park. However, Jubilee campus isn’t far from the main campus and it is nice campus. There is a free school bus called hopper bus which I could get near the accommodation. And I like the buildings in Jubilee Campus, especially a library. The library is alongside the lake with a small fountain. The structure of library is an inverted triangle made by wood and the inside structure is circular. I was literally surprised when I first went to the library at Jubilee campus. Newark Hall is also lovely and there are common areas, a bar (core), and JCR. It’s a good opportunity to meet other residents. Now I am living Lenton and Wortley Hall on University Park. The buildings are wonderful and close to the Hallward library, Gorge Green library and Portland building.
Do you work part time? Tell us about where you work and your experience of working in the UK
I was supported by my parents, so I don’t have any specific tips. However, I feel that I should do something to get reduced my parents’ burden, so I tried to find some jobs. I’m in the first year so that getting used to the university life is the most important thing for me at the moment. These days, I am teaching a Korean class as a teacher to student who are interested in Korean. I will receive money for the classes. I am working as an international ambassador and I get paid for working as the ambassador. I did not know about getting paid from the Korean classes and working as an international ambassador. I believe both would be such good experiences not only working part time, but also being able to meet foreign people.
Do you have any tips for adapting to the academic environment in the UK?
Being a second-language speaker creates a lot of problems for my academic life in the UK. I didn’t have specific knowledge or skill about academic environment in the UK, as I first came to the UK to learn English and study academically. However, there are detailed guidelines and opportunities to meet my own tutors called Tutor’s Support and Feedbacks Hours. If you have any questions, you can meet your tutor when you arrange time with your tutor and ask what your question or weak point is. When I had the first essay, I was frustrated because I’d never had an academic writing in English. So, I made the appointment with the tutor at tutor’s hour and was able to get advice about my first essay. As well as, there is Drop-in Assignments Clinic where you can get advice, skilled knowledge and improvement of an essay. I heard most people don’t take this advantageous opportunity. I went to the drop-in assignments clinic and I truly received assistance a lot. The tutors can’t look at your real essay but they tried to give help as much as they could. I strongly can say that it would be really helpful and useful when you are panic about your essay or want to improve significantly your essay.
How have you found studying in English and do you have any tips for non-native English language speakers?
My weakest point was speaking, I didn’t have confidence and I was afraid of people’s thought if I make any mistakes by speaking English. However, I do want to tell non-native English language speakers is don’t be afraid of speaking. Native speakers know you are an international student and English is not your first language. They totally can understand you and some people try helping you speak English. What I did to enhance my speaking skill is imitating one of native speakers. It can be your native friend, actor or YouTuber. Learning English with a book or in your original country is different in reality, especially countries which don’t use English for speaking. In South Korea, we learn English from a young age but virtually most people can’t do speaking. We focus on exams such as writing, reading, and listening so we don’t have an opportunity to speak English in practice. Therefore, I recommend watching native speakers on videos like movie, entertainment show and so on. But the best thing is making foreign friends!
Tell us about your experiences of food in Nottingham. Have you been able to find food from your home country/region?
I’ve heard British food is too bad, but I don’t think the food is really bad. I like steak pie, cottage pie, and fish and chips. I like the UK dessert such as scones with fruit jam & cream and apple & berry crumble tarts with custard. There are hidden restaurants and cafes in Nottingham. Also, I’m happy that I can find many Korean restaurants in Nottingham. I thought I only could get Korean food when I go to London but I’m able to eat Korean food in Nottingham. There is a food market selling Korean food near Intu Victoria Centre at the city centre. I was screaming when I found that!!! There is an oriental market where I can buy Korean snacks, food and drinks. The taste isn’t exactly the same with Korea and the price of food is expensive compared to that of in Korea, but I do feel glad that I can easily have Korean food in Nottingham.