5,000 miles away from home and happy to be at UWTSD! By Reem Al-Shaibani, BA Business Studies student, Swansea Campus

Traveling thousands of miles away for education is always an exciting and horrifying feeling at the same time, especially because I was coming from a very different culture and background. I am originally from Yemen so coming here was a huge step in term of language and environment. I firstly started university in a different country where I stayed for six months however, I did not enjoy my experience as I was feeling homesick and having difficulty to adapt to the different culture. Therefore, I stopped university and decided to transfer to Swansea as I visited the city before and pretty much loved it. I have also had my sister living in Swansea studying at UWTSD too and she recommended the university to me.

Me (second from left) and some course friends

Me (second from left) and some course friends

Speaking, as an international student coming to Swansea, it was pretty much the best decision I have made as the surrounding environment is friendly, safe, and also in a beautiful city. The university lecturers are also friendly and I really built a strong relationship where they are not only involved in your course but also they help you in developing yourself and guiding you to the path that will support in building your future career. They are immensely involved with students and improving their experience during their degree years by offering support – whether it is English support for international students or PASS program for level four students. Student’s voice through course reps is very appreciated in the university as every semester meetings are held with the university board to help collaborate and solve issues students are facing. Through the last two years, we have seen progress from the university where recommendations and issues raised have been solved with a reasonable amount of time.

The university have a close relationship with their students, which helped in solving not only general issues, but also help me on personal level. As a second year student, I had difficulty in identifying the path I will be taking and what steps I should take in order to improve my experience and skills. Thus, one day I mentioned it to my tutor during a tutorial that I am looking for summer internship and that I am struggling to find one. I was extremely satisfied and shocked with the response I got back as my tutor did not only help me and other students to get summer internships, but also kept pushing us into developing ourselves through letting us participate in networking events and encouraging us to make connections to help us find internships. This support was major motivation for me and did have a huge influence on my experience. Sometimes in life, taking these first steps are difficult and scary thus having this help does make difference. In addition, the events held by the university presented by people from the industry, gives a realistic overview and advice that can help in the future.

Other than the academic support that I have been given by the university they have also given me their support through my personal struggle. March last year a war started in my country while my family were there, which was a major stress for me. I was concerned about losing both my family and losing my home, which could have happened at any time. When I went to university during this difficult time, my lecturers (including my personal tutor) were checking that I was ok, which was a major support. This made a huge difference and helped me in not feeling homesick or alone, which along with my friends’ support made things a bit easier.

They also take constant feedback on the courses we take each semester, which helps in applying improvement for second year. In addition, business courses are mostly related to the business world where they base our assignments on realistic topics. Constant challenges to motivate entrepreneurial spirit is held whether by joining a start up event with the university and other members which is run for three days. This helps in building ideas and having the possibility to make it a real business at the end. In addition to the Robert Owen challenge for entrepreneurship (which allows students to take their ideas to the next level and have advice from industrial experts) the winner also gets a prize!

The university environment has helped me through the past two years in developing myself in terms of skills, both on a personal and educational level. Being surrounded by a close and friendly environment has really made me enjoy my experience at UWTSD.