Chloe from South Korea: Studying Engineering at Durham

01 October 2019

My name is Chloe, and I’m from South Korea. I have finished my International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering at Durham University International Study Centre.

Selfie of international student Chloe

I enjoyed studying at the International Study Centre and am glad for the opportunity to study here. By studying at the International Study Centre, you will meet a lot of people from all around the world with different backgrounds, cultures, and values. When interacting with people I met here, I felt inspired, and it allowed me to be a more open person. Never worry about not having any friends. I am an introvert by nature, and before I came here, I worried that I might have no friends and would have a lonely year here. However, on the first day of school, I found that there was a good mix of extroverts and introverts, and I have wonderful friends. Like me, everyone came here alone and is willing to make new friends.

As an under-18 student, there were pros and cons. I got to live on campus in Endeavour Court, which was five minutes' walk to my classroom. As the Welfare office is part of Endeavour Court, you get to meet welfare staff more often. Staff are really caring and welcoming and provide help and support whenever you need. For example, one of my friends was extremely homesick and they provided much help for her. If you have any problems, you can drop by and talk to them.

My schedule had a decent balance between work and rest. Compared to my life back in Korea, I had more free time between and after lessons, with a maximum of three lessons a day. You can either spend your spare time with friends, browsing on YouTube or revising what you’ve learnt during class. I always try to have a balance between work and life, which is the hardest part. Don’t spend your whole night watching Netflix during weekdays; it will ruin the next day for you. I tried to make daily goals to finish and after I did all of those, I enjoyed my time with friends and Netflix. Always remind yourself that you have to put certain amount of effort into your work because no one is there to force you to work and study. Make sure to use your time wisely.

The teaching environment and staff are the best quality. As an introvert, a class with too many interactions would sometimes make me feel uncomfortable, so be prepared to talk a lot in class, answer and ask constructive questions. It is really important to ask what you didn’t understand in class, as all the staff here treats us like adults. You have to be proactive and seize every opportunity to gain knowledge; nothing here is spoon-fed. There are so many ways that you can ask questions if you’re willing to. I tried to be interactive and asked questions right away. Emailing and going to their office are other ways to ask questions. The more you ask, the more you will learn.

As a non-native English speaker living in the UK, there were definitely highs and lows. Make sure to keep in contact with your family and friends in your hometown. At the end of our course, there was an awards and leavers day event. You get to meet all of your classmates, tutors, and staffs. All of the students receive a trophy and a certificate. Also, a few students receive special awards such as Academic Excellence, Student Representative, or Caring for Others. I won the Distanced Travelled award, which is a prize for the student who improved most, academically and as a person. Even if you’re not very good at academics, your persistence will still be acknowledged if you do your best in everything.

The last eight months went so fast, and I still am amazed that everything is over. During those times, I became more independent in studying and living, and by improving and acquiring skills that I need for university, I became more confident. The International Foundation Year at the International Study Centre set the basics of university for me and I am looking forward to the next step.

Find out more about studying at Durham University International Study Centre.