Student experiences

Mauricio Hernández Serrano

Mauricio Hernández Serrano
BA (Hons) Visual Communication (Film and Animation)

Mauricio spent some time at Birmingham City University as part of an exchange programme with his home institution in Mexico. He relished the opportunity to enhance his language skills as well as gaining an insight into a society and culture very different to his own.

“My home institution and BCU partnered up and the possibility to come over and study for a year opened up. The opportunity was offered to me and I accepted it as it represented a chance to develop my abilities and learn new ones in a different country, and do so in a language that is not my mother tongue, in the midst of a cultural background completely different from mine. It didn’t hurt that the United Kingdom was a place I’d spent years idealising and wishing to be able to visit.

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“Clichéd as it is, my impressions of the University were very positive. I found myself in a friendly and respectful environment, but above all I experienced diversity like never before. Geographically and politically speaking, Mexico’s diversity comes from ethnic groups, which means we have a common political, historical and cultural background regardless of our big differences. But here, in this one place, I had the possibility to communicate with people with whom I had absolutely nothing in common and found empathy and challenge. The fact that we’re all young adds another layer of interest and complexity.

“I liked the facilities at the University and truly appreciate the easy access to equipment that is pertinent to my course, such as studios, cameras and library resources. I also felt very supported by the University – every time I had an enquiry or needed help, I got it in a steadfast and efficient manner.

“Birmingham is peaceful and tranquil while having a nice cultural offer and the benefits of a big city but, again, I find its diversity to be its strongest suit.”

Sarah Isabel Torres Bravo

Sara TorresUniversidad de Monterrey, Mexico
BA (Hons) Business and Finance

“My home institution has a partnership with BCU and I’d always wanted to come to the UK. I’ve enjoyed it here from the start. Everyone is really helpful.

“The facilities are great. I use the Library a lot and have been using the gym here. The teaching style is different, but I really like it. The teachers give us copies of the PowerPoint presentations so we can actually listen during the lectures instead of frantically trying to write everything down!

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“I hadn’t heard of Birmingham before I came so I’m really surprised how much I like it. It is similar to my home town in Mexico, Monterrey. I often just walk around the city and find different places to visit. I really like the Jewellery Quarter and Selly Oak. It’s even better now that the weather is improving.

“I’ve also visited Stonehenge, Bath, Manchester, London and Sheffield, as my cousin lives there. I have even been skiing in Switzerland! Birmingham is so central that it’s so easy to get around. Everything is so close so I walk everywhere – this was a great surprise. It can be expensive at times though.”

“In June I will return to Mexico and have two more years of studying. After I graduate, I would like to find a job. I feel so much more independent, more ready to find a job, and my English has improved thanks to studying here.”

Leslie Carolina Martinez Olivas

Universidad de Monterrey, Mexico
BA (Hons) Fashion Design

Leslie Olivas “My home institution has a partnership with BCU and I wanted to visit the UK. The teaching is different but I’m enjoying it. I’m not used to just doing one project at a time, but it’s great to have more time to focus on something.

“I’ve met other students in my classes who have been really helpful. The machinery is great and it helps me to create, such as the laser cutters. We are freer to use the machinery here, and the hires and loans help a lot. We can also collaborate with one another. Sometimes the teachers forget that we may need more support as Study Abroad students, but if you ask for help, they always do help you. I have also used the ASK helpdesk a couple of times.

“At first, I imagined Birmingham would be like London with ancient buildings, but it is more industrial. Every day I love it more and more. I really like the Bullring and the canals.

“I would like to have my own fashion company or my own workshop, perhaps in custom design or with my own collection. Studying abroad has helped me so much. The Business module in particular has helped as I have learned more about fashion brands, merchandising and the legal bits! It’s great to have a variation of content and helps me to feel more prepared for the world of work.”

Bohwa Seo

Hanyang University, South Korea
BA (Hons) Textile Design (Retail Management)

Bohwa Seo “I really enjoyed the Orientation Week in September 2016. It was a great first impression. I think the teaching at BCU is even better than back home. I enjoy having more time to focus on my assessments and to work and study independently. I have classes twice a week, so I have more time to create and think. The facilities and tutors are very good, and the library has also been useful.

“When I arrived, I decided that I wanted to volunteer in my free time, but I didn’t know how to do this. I spoke to the Careers service and found the EFA Foundation. Through this programme, I teach English to students from other countries in Moseley, Birmingham. I have met a lot of East Asian people. I also use the Teaching Language Support Programme, through which BCU students help me with my English.

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“Birmingham is different to how I thought it would be. I expected everywhere to be classic and traditional, but Birmingham is industrial and a developing city which is quite similar to my home town. I really like the campus. London is too noisy for me, so Birmingham was the perfect option.

“I want to be a Visual Merchandiser or work in fashion for a culture company. Studying abroad has really helped me as it’s important to develop independence. I’ve also thought a lot about my future as I’ve discovered which aspects of design I am interested in. I have one more semester at Hanyang University and then I will graduate next year in February 2017.

“It is very special at BCU as there is a focus on management in the fashion industry. I now understand that it is important to learn about marketing as well as fashion these days.”

Alyson Crow

Alyson Crow

Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
BA (Hons) Media and Communication

“I’ve had more access to production facilities at BCU which has been great as we don’t get as much freedom at home. I’ve been into the studio outside of classes by booking them out whenever I’ve needed them. This has been so useful for my studies and really helped me to improve. The teachers are really friendly and you can really get to know them which isn’t possible in Australia!

“I’m aware of the support available and used the ASK helpdesk when I first arrived. The Library has also been useful and the staff helped me to use the printers for the first time!

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“The city is quite industrial which I wasn’t expecting. It’s easy to travel around from here so I’ve visited lots of places within the UK. I really liked Liverpool.

“I’ve enjoyed spending so much time in the TV studio and having the flexibility to choose different modules. In Australia, Film and TV is a separate degree but at BCU, Media and Communication allows you to experiment with different aspects of media as it is a broader course.

“I’m going home in May and still have two-and-a-half years left to study! I feel that studying abroad has really helped me as I have changed my mind about what area of Media I would like to focus on.”

Hsiao-Ting Chiang

Hsaio-Ting Chiang

Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages, Taiwan
BA (Hons) English

“BCU is a partner of my home university in Taiwan. I reviewed the course details online and I really liked the content of the modules.

“It’s very different from my home institution. The buildings are new and the UK students are nice; they help with answers, are great with teamwork and teach me how to use things if I’m unsure. Library resources are great and better than at home. The equipment is also new.

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“Staff are very helpful. Every time I have a problem, I email the International Office or the ASK helpdesk and I always receive a response with useful answers! I have to read a lot of articles and books, and I can always find them in the Library with the help of staff.

“Birmingham is nice and welcoming, and everyone is polite. If I ask for directions, people always help. I really like shopping in the Bullring as it is very convenient to buy clothes, shoes and cosmetics. I live in Perry Barr and this is a very easy journey to the City Centre Campus – 20 minutes by bus.

“I will graduate in June and find a job in Taiwan. My experience has helped develop my independence because I’ve had to find things out for myself. In future interviews, I have valuable experience that is different and this will increase my chances of getting a job.”

Awang Takong Siti Rahimah

Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Brunei
BA (Hons) English

Awang Takong Siti Rahimah “I chose BCU as it’s a partner university of UBD and English is my major back in my home country. The buildings are new, and it’s great that we have ID cards to enter buildings, as I feel very safe.

“There is a lot of reading and critical thinking, but the lecturers are very helpful and ask questions to enable us to express our opinions. I feel enriched by other students’ knowledge. When I email the International Office, they always reply to me to tell me where to get help, such as asking for a bank letter or Council Tax exemption letter at the ASK helpdesk. Everyone is very helpful.

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“Birmingham is very multicultural and I feel more comfortable here than in London. There is a Muslim community here so I can assimilate well. People are from different backgrounds, religions and ethnicities, but we are all one. This is a very unique characteristic of a city in the UK.

“People in the street are very helpful – I was trying to find curry leaves in the market and someone helped me without even working there! The food is OK; I have tried some British food and otherwise I can find halal and vegetarian food very easily. You can use mobile phones to buy bus tickets which is great, and I wish I’d known this before.

“After graduation, I will be a teacher through a government scheme in Brunei. My experience at BCU will help me to promote studying abroad to colleagues and students, and will help to motivate and inspire them to study or work abroad. I would happily recommend BCU – I like that it’s easy to assimilate with people and the support is very good.”