First impressions.

The experience of choosing my degree was not at all uncomplicated. Being the kind of high-school student who would nurture several, often unrelated interests meant that my field of study has not been immediately clear to me and so at the beginning of my senior year I was left drifting back and forth between topics such as military history, international law, political philosophy, economics, anthropology or psychology. I soon came to realise,
however, that several UK universities, including all of those I was interested in, had a range of multidisciplinary degrees on offer. While at KCL, I was able to specialise in security studies and human rights and study elements of political philosophy, history, economics and international development. The unlimited access to the physical, as well as the digital libraries was perhaps my most valued resource and I was constantly encouraged to delve
into adjacent fields as well. It became clear that independent study is referred and encouraged by the university, as the number of contact hours for both lectures and seminars is limited (totalling eight per week for my programme); however, lecturers were at all points eager to offer assistance, particularly during office hours.

The application process was straightforward

Sonia Bunea

A perfect fit.

The application process was straightforward, due to the clear and easy to follow instructions on UCAS, but also due to information coming from the many classmates following the same route, and so I was able to fill in all necessary forms and create a list of pending documentation without external support. Sending in applications is free of charge, with only two universities charging its applicants a fee (University of Cambridge and University of Oxford). Communication with all universities during the application period was altogether smooth and satisfactory in my experience.
Being faced with choosing accommodation in London, I have ultimately opted to privately rent a flat through a local agency instead of accepting the housing provided in university halls. This gave me the advantage of increased autonomy, particularly in regards to the choice of flatmates and living conditions, but also the possibility of finding cheaper accommodation. I found the biggest downsides to be the longer commute to the campus, as well as the need to pay rent over holiday months. I have easily found relevant information and workable options on most estate agencies’ websites. ‘University of London Housing Services’, offering free support to most London university students choosing to rent privately, is also a valuable resource.

My advice for you

One of the most disheartening aspects of my experience of starting out as a foreign student in the UK was the complete lack of bursaries and scholarships, at least within my university and for my chosen programme. Although the university does hold a number of funds aimed at helping students out financially, those are only accessible under extreme hardship
circumstances and meant as temporary solutions, and students are generally expected to be completely independent from the university. However, finding a part-time job was relatively easier than expected and thus starting with my second year I was given the opportunity to work in a data processing role for the University of London. Although multiple options were available, I have found university jobs to be more flexible, allowing students to work according to their needs and availabilities, and, generally, more financially rewarding compared to other similar jobs. Online platforms and information centres in universities are good starting points in this sense.