Student voices: Maissa, Theresa and Bella

A photo of Maissa, an international student

Maissa’s curiosity and the ambition for a legal career

Maissa, pictured above, from The Netherlands and Thailand, studied for her Law degree after completing an International Foundation Year in Humanities, Law and Social Science.

Finding and following your passion
“Initially when I was telling my family that I wanted to go to the UK and do Law, they were a little bit hesitant because they don’t come from a traditionally academic or legal background. But the more I talked to them about why I like law and the challenges that it brings, they've become more understanding.

What interests me most about law are the moral questions. I come from different backgrounds where the law is one thing in one of my countries and something completely different in the other. It's this stark contrast between something super bureaucratic and something where the rule of law might not necessarily even exist. It’s finding that balance to make a country good and law and democracy coincide. That’s what I find interesting.”

Adjusting to life and study in England
“I did A levels before coming here, so I already had some experience with the UK educational system. But I think university and A levels vary very differently. Going to the International Study Centre helped bridge the gap between A Levels and university education.

Studying at the International Study Centre was definitely an experience. I had just finished my A Levels and been away for six months, so it was definitely different coming to England and having to get right into studying and focus.

The teachers were the best part of the International Study Centre. They helped a lot of the students integrate [into the local and wider communities]. They helped us learn a lot about the culture and history, which is something I found really interesting. And helped me build closer connections to the place I'm going to be for the next four years. It helped us feel closer to England and made us feel at home.”

Advice for students considering global education
“I would describe my time here as something special. My favourite part is the entire experience together. Meeting new people and having the opportunity to build friendships, but also to chase an academic life… I would say... don't be scared. There are people that are willing to help you get there. It's important to bring your voice and your opinion and your distinct self.”

Ten years ago Theresa chose to travel to England from Nigeria

Starting her global education with us on an International Foundation Year, Theresa graduated in 2017 and now runs her own business. She credits the UK’s stable environment as a grounding enabler of connections, critical thinking and the ability to thrive.

Every international student has their story
“Despite significantly higher tuition fees in comparison to domestic students, I chose to study in the UK because of its high-quality education, proximity to home and access to global opportunities. I'm incredibly grateful to my parents for providing me with a fully sponsored education, especially given the high foreign exchange rate.

Having graduated in 2017 and now a settled individual contributing to the UK's economy through taxes, I'm not at all surprised by the number of students who decide to pursue their education here and the tremendous value they bring... However, it is crucial to recognise that behind the impressive financial gains are individuals with unique stories, challenges and dreams.”

The transformative power of education
“Reflecting on my own journey, I can confidently affirm that my education in the UK has brought me significant returns. Of course, this is also a result of seizing the opportunities that came my way and making the most of the cards I was dealt. For instance, choosing and taking a placement year had a transformative effect on my life. I'm also grateful to my university for endorsing my business idea, Their support turned a simple idea into a valuable and viable business that now contributes to the UK economy, engages in trade across multiple African countries, and serves customers around the globe.”

The benefits of global education
“My student experience exposed me to diverse cultures, largely thanks to the presence of international students in my university. I never felt out of place because I was surrounded by fellow students and friends who were also navigating this unfamiliar terrain of adulthood in a different country. Immersing myself in various cultures, stories, and languages was truly exhilarating. Considering the cultural, financial, and overall value that international students bring, I believe that more of them should be given the opportunity to study in the UK.”

Creating community connections
“The UK has provided a stable environment that has allowed me to ground myself, connect with amazing individuals, think critically, and thrive. When it comes to feeling respected and valued by my current communities, I believe true appreciation should extend beyond mere differences. Fortunately, I have been surrounded by people who recognise and value my unique perspective, experiences and what I can offer. They also challenge me, knowing that there is always room for growth.”

Bella has graduated but remembers the nervous ambition of her UK arrival

Like many students, Bella left home aged 18 for her higher education. As an international student, however, Bella travelled thousands of miles to a completely new culture. Leaving her native China behind for England, Bella's sights were set on an International Relations degree from one of the most prestigious UK institutions.

Maximising potential with a smooth transition
Recognising that cultural differences extend beyond language, food and customs — and into education —  Bella’s global education journey began with an International Foundation Year in Humanities, Law and Social Sciences at an International Study Centre.

Bella tells us: “The International Study Centre was really valuable and really helpful. The tutors and staff were really helpful to both my academic study and also my personal life. At that time, I was just 18 years old. I came to the UK and my English was not so good and it was my first time writing essays.”

At the International Study Centre, Bella received specialist teaching and support for international students, tailored to prepare her for collegiate life in the UK university system.

“My English teacher was really patient and she taught me a lot. She provided a lot of good ideas to improve my academic skills,” says Bella. “All the tutors and staff were really friendly to me and I think the academic skills were really helpful to help me enter the University.”

Making the most of international perspectives  
Upon passing the International Foundation Year, Bella was assessed by her first choice university and offered the opportunity to study for a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations, from which she graduated last year.

Being settled and confident, Bella was able to take full advantage of the learning experience on offer, finding the cultural diversity of her university's student population a benefit to her studies. 

“With my major – international relations – my classmates have different backgrounds from a lot of different regions in the world. So I can hear a lot of different values, different ideas from them. That's really interesting for me,” Bella tells us.

Learn more about our work
We've been working with universities to support the recruitment, teaching and care of international students from across the world for more than 25 years