January 14, 2019, by International students
International Student Ambassadors: Braulio from Mexico
Hi, everyone! My name is Braulio. I am from the city of Torreón in Mexico, and I am currently studying a PhD in Genetics. When planning to study abroad, I understand it is quite hard to choose a degree, University, and even country, so I am happy to share my experience in the hope that it will aid some of you lovely readers.
‘Why did you choose to study your specific course and what are your favourite aspects of the course so far?’
First of all, my case is slightly unusual. I completed my undergraduate degree and decided I wanted to study a PhD because I wanted to learn much more about biology in general, but at the same time I felt I had had enough of lectures and practical classes. I wanted to go beyond what was taught in a classroom and venture into topics that no one in the world knew everything about. A PhD seemed like the first step towards that goal. After looking up descriptions about how PhD courses are structured, I was convinced that it was a good fit for me.
I specifically chose Genetics because I had graduated in the field of biology (as an Engineer in Biobusiness). During my undergraduate degree, I had done a lot of extracurricular work in research institutions in Mexico and it was always on the topic of genetics. Since I had the experience and the interest in genetics, I decided to commit to it. The UK is a great place for any course and genetic research in the country is no exception.
‘How do you hope your course will impact on your future career?’
To be honest, I hope my course defines my future career. As a PhD, I have really fallen in love with the perks and even the faults of academic research. I hope I can complete my PhD project with interesting results and publications that will help me establish myself in the field. Also, because my supervisors are world leaders in my field, I think graduating from the University of Nottingham will always be a mark of excellence on my CV.
‘If you were awarded a scholarship, please give details of the scholarship and the impact it has had on your studies’
I was awarded a scholarship which covers tuition, NHS health insurance, and a monthly stipend by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia, a part of the Mexican government. This was back in 2015 and the University of Nottingham covered another part of my tuition. This was fantastic for me as I did not have to pay for anything other than my visa and plane ticket.
‘What was your experience of arriving in the UK/in Nottingham?’
It was a bit crazy! My flight into London was delayed and the queue at immigration control in the airport took nearly three hours. By the time I finally left the airport, my coach to Nottingham had departed. I ended up arriving at the University late at night and went to my accommodation hungry and cold. When I arrived at the front desk of Broadgate Park to pick up my keys, the man behind the counter saw me and started making me laugh. He offered a sandwich, some biscuits, and tea (a British trifecta) and asked me where I was from. He cheered me up quite a bit and by the time I wanted to go to my room, I had forgotten about the delays. After sleeping for 14 hours, I woke up and one of my new lab partners came to my flat so that we could go shopping for essentials. The first few days are incredibly exciting and confusing and can feel like a dream, but by the time I got settled in I was really happy to be somewhere where people are so kind to strangers!
‘What tips do you have for managing your money as a student in the UK?’
Just be honest with yourself. In an hour, will you still be happy you ate that kebab instead of something homemade? Similar to this, if you find yourself never having money for big things like trips, make sure you aren’t buying lots of “tiny” things. They add up!
‘How have you found studying in English and do you have any tips for non-native English language speakers?’
Even as someone who has spoken and studied in English before in Mexico, I was surprised by my studies in the UK. There are so many accents! The country is not big but there are a lot of regional accents and some can be quite hard for foreigners and even for locals. Paying attention is very important. Also, the English used here is less direct or assertive compared with American English, so sometimes people can think you are angry even if you are not. Don’t worry! After a while, we all adapt, especially if you keep practising with other students.
Oh, and also, remember we all have accents, too. It helps if you speak slowly at first so that people get used to each other’s accents.
Finally, don’t hesitate to sign up for the CELE course! It’s an extra English course that’s always there if you are struggling.
‘What are your tips for making friends and adapting to cultural differences?’
Expect questions about things you never thought were strange! The first time someone in my lab had a birthday cake in the office and I went to get Coca Cola, everyone thought it was strange and preferred tea with their cake. I then got asked a lot of questions about how much soda I consume (too much, don’t ask). As long as you respect others’ cultures and don’t assume there is only one correct way to do things, you will be fine.
Also, if you have international flatmates, set up some dinners and share your country’s food!
If you have any questions about studying at the University of Nottingham as an international student, you can get in touch with our International Ambassadors via email.