September 17, 2020, by Matthew Lumley

International students – How the Advantage Award helped me settle in a new country

By Pawel Rogowski, BSc Hons Finance, Accounting and Management

Reflecting on my time at the University of Nottingham, the Advantage Award has certainly been one of the highlights. With so many modules to choose from, everyone can find something they like or would like to try. So you should get involved in the scheme.

Moving to study in a different country

Choosing where to pursue Higher Education was a big decision for me. In order to look for new challenges and opportunities I decided to leave my home country – Poland – and study in the United Kingdom. Moving to a new country is exciting, yet challenging.

In your first few weeks of living in a new country your time usually consists of – arranging accommodation, breaking the language barrier, opening a bank account and exploring a completely new city.

What really helped me in the process was getting involved in extracurricular activities such as the Nottingham Advantage Award.

Settling into academic life and the city of Nottingham

In my first semester I took part in two additional modules as a part of the Award.

Professional Development for Leadership and Management – for Business School students – supported me in adapting to academic life. This was an entirely new experience for me. It allowed me to find out about academic writing and referencing, career and study abroad opportunities and to practise my teamwork skills in a new environment.

During the Community Engagement Programme, I met local stakeholders such as the County Council plus marketing and travel agencies. Our team designed a strategy on how to improve Nottingham’s attractiveness as a tourist destination. As a result, I became much more familiar with the city.

Continuing my Award journey in China

Enticed by the chance to live and study for a year in Asia, I decided to go on exchange to the University’s Ningbo Campus. Since the Award is offered across all three of Nottingham’s campuses I could easily continue and complete my Award over there.

The Introduction to China – Culture, History and Society module was an obvious choice for me. Not only could I develop my understanding of China during lectures with various guest speakers, but I could also participate in field trips organised for us.  During one of them, we visited the Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan – the third largest container port in the world.

Some of the concepts I learnt ranged from the growing popularity of e-commerce in China to the Belt and Road Initiative. Consequently, a better knowledge of China and its culture was very helpful during my daily life as an exchange student.

Reflecting on my experience

Overall, the experience with the Nottingham Advantage Award has been a special one. By participating it has:

  • Enhanced my soft skills – communication and teamwork
  • Helped me make new friends and build lasting relationships
  • Greatly improved my cultural awareness by meeting people from so many different backgrounds

Despite already completing the Award, I still have many modules in which I would love to participate.

The Award offers a broad range of experiences including volunteering, career skills, learning languages and online modules. This makes it a very flexible and unique university experience.

You can find out how you can get involved in the Award here.

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