October 16, 2015, by International students
Academic culture shock: how to handle it
Last year, I arrived in the UK to get a Postgraduate Diploma in Economics before starting my MSc Economics and Econometrics course. I hadn’t done any economics modules previously, so that is why I had to take the Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in Economics. To be honest, at first I knew nothing about academic culture in UK, I didn’t do that much of research about studying in the UK, so I came to UK with minimum knowledge in the field and I thought everything will go well, and that it wouldn’t be that different from Indonesia.
After 2 months, I realized I had so much to study and revise, plus, there is not enough time, it was really different from Indonesia’s academic system. I am the type of person that rushes in the end, in Indonesia I usually stacked all of my work at the end of the semester (this is probably the majority of students in Indonesia’s main problem). When I did that in UK, everything became a disaster, it was the worst nightmare in my academic life. Even 2 weeks was not enough to integrate all of the stuff that I had to remember and comprehend. So my first semester was a failure, I barely passed my target.
In the second semester, I tried to be more organized, I revised everything I learned right away, but hey, changing a person’s habits cannot happened in one night, so I skipped some revision and I thought that I would be okay since there is 1 month left to study and revise it all. Well, it was better than the previous semester, but it was still not good enough for me because I thought I could do more than this if I had enough time. Therefore, based on my experience and failure, here are my top tips:
1. Schedule your work in order to be organised
There will be loads of work waiting for you, even it is just the beginning of your semester. Some are compulsory, some probably just homework that aim to improve your skills, but if it wasn’t compulsory, some students (like me) probably didn’t do it, and that was one of my big mistakes. So, if you do not want to end up like me, schedule your work in the weekdays, and have your weekend free from in order to refresh your mental and physical tiredness.
2. Do not think that holiday is a holiday
In UK, you will get lots of holiday compared to other countries like Indonesia. You will get approximately 3 weeks-1 month holiday in December and you will get approx. 2 months of Easter holiday in March, but you have to be aware of this: that is before your exams! In other words, you have to get your work and revision done in the meantime, so think twice if you want to go somewhere for a long time. In my opinion, if you want to go on a holiday to refresh your mind, you can go on holiday in March to be safe (9 days is more than enough), don’t you dare going anywhere in December (well, you can go if it is a 1 or 2 days’ trip) if you have 4 or more examinations wait for you. The conclusion is: holiday months are also revision months, the real holiday for masters students is after you finish your degree (since in summer you will also busy with dissertation).
3. Travel around the UK
This is the important part. As an international student, I used to live far away from the UK and this is my chance to explore it since I don’t know when will I come back after I return to my country. Save your time to travel, the best time is at the weekend, when you are free from your academic life (except for Monday deadlines). The UK has lots of tourist attractions so you will always have lists of where you want to go, and it will double the fun if you have friends who will accompany you on the trip.
4. Join a society, hang out with friends and do your hobby
Besides your academic life, you must have your own social life, you can do your hobbies, chill out with your friends, that will help you a lot to relieve your stress.
That is all I wanted to share. In addition for Muslim students: always work hard, pray hard, try to be closer to God as we know that He is The Only One who can overpower every problem.
I hope this information will be useful for you, and see you next article!
Marizsa Herlina, an international student from Indonesia studying MSc Economics and Econometrics at The University of Nottingham.