Salama from UAE: studying chemistry at Durham

06 August 2019
International students walk next to the river in Stockton-on-Tees, near Durham University

My name is Salama and I recently completed the International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering at Durham University International Study Centre. This programme prepared me for my chemistry degree at Durham University. Being an international student was an incredible experience where I met people from different countries around the world. I learned about their cultures and even a few words from their language. Additionally, studying alone in a foreign country has taught me to become more independent and self-sufficient.

Durham University International Study Centre student Paolo

Durham University International Study Centre provides support for international students. The curriculum at the International Study Centre will be different from what you will expect, but you can adapt to it. Since I was a chemistry foundation student, I had to take several STEM modules. During these modules, new topics were introduced to me that I had not taken throughout my high school years. Whenever I had any difficulties, I would ask my tutors, and they were pleased to help me. Additionally, in the last term of DUISC a project is required from all International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering students, which is beneficial for us as it enriches laboratory skills and time management. The most important thing to do for your project is to plan and prepare in advance.

The foundation program at the International Study Centre provides students with great opportunities to ensure that all the students become well-established scientists. One of the great opportunities given to the chemistry students was the Chemistry Olympiad, where I got the silver medal. Such opportunities benefit the students by adding to their CV and developing their scientific skills. Also, the administration at the International Study Centre are very helpful and supportive. When I had to participate at a badminton competition back home, they supported me and gave me excused absence from my classes. When I came back, my tutors helped me catch up on the topics I missed and supported me whenever I needed their support.

The accommodation provided by the International Study Centre is very convenient and cosy. It is not far away and the rooms are en-suite with a shared kitchen. The first day you arrive, you receive a welcome pack which consists of everything you need in your room and kitchen. There are three accommodation buildings at the International Study Centre: Rialto Court, Infinity, and Endeavour Court. The time it takes to go the Study Centre from Rialto and Infinity is around 10-15 minutes. When I started here, I was 17, so I was allocated Endeavour Court, which is five minutes away from the Study Centre. Also, there is a great welfare team to support the students and ensure that they have good mental health.

Throughout my foundation year, I met new friends that will last a lifetime. We supported each other during this journey and made a small family. Whenever we would feel homesick, we would support each other. Also, we celebrated different occasions from each country and learned about their culture. Birthdays was our thing; we would celebrate our birthdays, do lots of surprises, take funny videos and dance in the rain. The weather is very unpredictable, so be prepared.

My experience studying at the International Study Centre was valuable. Not only did it prepare me for my chemistry degree at Durham University, but it also helped me grow as an individual. This program also developed my scientific and communication skills that will not only be useful for my chemistry course at Durham but also in my future career.

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