International Students

International Student Stories #3 - Prague, to London, to Manchester

International Student Stories #3 - Prague, to London, to Manchester

Making the decision to come to London

After completing secondary education at an English international school in Prague, Czech Republic, it was natural for me to look for university degrees abroad, especially in English speaking countries. My decision was quickly narrowed down to London, as it was “close” to home.

I have always been passionate about fashion, photography and creativity. However, I did not want to pursue a pure photography or fashion degree, as my parents always encouraged me to be more entrepreneurial like them. Hence, it made sense for me to try to find something that combines both business and creativity.

After weeks of research and decision making, I opted for a degree in Fashion Business in one of the top 10 fashion universities in the world – Istituto Marangoni. I remember the struggle of writing personal statements and the UCAS application, and especially the pressure of getting the points required for universities for unconditional or conditional offers. In particular your overall score at high school was important in order to get into your chosen universities. I recall occasions where hard working and smart people were not able to get their first choice as they were missing points. It was a tough time I remember; choosing your degree, thinking that this will lead towards your career and life, saying bye to your old friends, and moving abroad to become an international student.

An international student mesmerised by London.

I remember my first day arriving in London with my big suitcases and accommodating myself in a decent size room in a private student accommodation ran by Unite. I remember thinking that four stations from my halls to the university campus was pretty nearby, but nevertheless, did not know that London is in zones and that it is absolutely normal to travel up to an hour across London.

I remember getting lost on the underground, because nowhere else I ever came across had three tube lines running from one platform (I’m talking about you, Hammersmith & City, Circle and District lines). My university years were amazing and it was a great decision to move abroad, because I not only got a degree and found new friends, but also it made me more independent, more flexible and open minded.

London is an exciting city. I was mesmerized by the endless inspiration I was getting from this city, especially the friendly and helpful people, and countless events, exhibitions and workshops to attend and visit. So much is going on in London and the city is always in a rush that it can sometimes be overwhelming and tiring.

Moving north to Manchester to study my Masters.

However, after completing my three years degree at university, I enrolled for a Masters degree in Marketing at the University of Manchester. The reason being is because my first uni option in London didn’t work out, and I was aiming for the best business universities in the UK. Manchester Business School it is then for me. I don’t think it was such a hard decision about moving out of London. I took it as a challenge.

Three years in London was enough and it was time to see and experience something new. Additionally, masters in the UK are only for one year (depending on what you are doing I assume), so why not go try out somewhere else for that year. Hence, when summer ended after my BA graduation, I packed my things and took a train to Manchester. I visited Manchester a couple of times before to see how the city was, to see the university and find accommodation. Manchester is also a vibrant city located in northwest of England, located just over two hours from London by train.

I 100% encourage everyone to spend their first years at uni in student halls, because it is an experience by itself, you won’t feel alone, and you will find plenty of opportunities to find friends there. This is what I did when I first moved to London. Whereas in Manchester, I chose to stay privately and rented a room in a flatshare.

University of Manchester has a big campus scattered across a number of buildings, therefore it felt like a proper university and it felt like you were a proper student. Since the city is much smaller than London, it was not only easier to get around, make friends outside of your class, pay cheaper rent, but also adds to the whole student experience feel. London was great, but outside of my university building, I was just an individual in a big city with the status of being a student. I felt Manchester was much welcoming and friendlier for students.

The valuable experience of being an international student in the UK

Overall, it was a great journey being an international student in the UK. I encourage anyone to take their chances to boost their education, their views and experiences. Whether at the end people decide to stay in the country, go somewhere else or go back to their native country, it is their choice. Either way, you are always carrying your new you, with your new experiences and knowledge which are valuable.

Since graduating and giving up my student status, I have decided to return to London to build my career in Marketing.

Where life will guide me next is in the stars.

Related Links:

Istituto Marangoni, London

Unite Students - Private Student Accommodation

University of Manchester - Manchester Business School

Thuy's Blog

Written by
Thuy Phamova

Studied BA Fashion Buisness at Istituto Marangoni, London, and MSc Marketing at University of Manchester.