From Colombia to Sheffield: Evelyn’s Study Abroad Journey
“Studying abroad in the UK was one of my biggest goals”
For Colombian student Evelyn, completing NCUK’s International Foundation Year was just the start of her journey as an international student. Now she’s about to start her placement year as part of her BSc (Hons) Biomedical Engineering degree at the University of Sheffield in the UK. She told us about her experiences so far.
Why the NCUK International Foundation Year?
Studying abroad was one of my biggest goals a couple of years ago, specifically in the United Kingdom as they’re very advanced in bioengineering –my current degree. I needed an International Foundation Year to study that, so I looked online and discovered the NCUK website. I could have done my International Foundation Year directly with the university in the UK, but at that time during lockdown and the pandemic my family and I thought studying at NCUK in my hometown, Bogotá, Colombia, would be not only cheaper but would also give me more time to choose my future university.
You Took Your International Foundation Year at Bogota International Study Centre. How was That?
I did my IFY during lockdown, and even though all my classes were online, the teaching was very effective and interactive. Being the only student in my cohort was an advantage as the lectures were more personalized and at my pace. I also had the opportunity to attend an in-person laboratory in the Bogotá NCUK site with high-tech facilities, which was exciting as it was one of my first hands-on experiences with a theory I learned in the process. In general, my experience was good, with support from the teachers and academic manager. They found ways to make my textbooks more affordable and helped me with my organization and my time management. They also helped me through the University and Visa application processes by providing answers to my questions, the websites I needed and even a checklist of documents I needed for my applications. Studying my IFY at NCUK has been incredibly helpful for progressing to my degree and their general support.
Why did You Choose The University of Sheffield for your degree?
It’s the top-ranked university for chemical and biological engineering, two core areas of study for bioengineering – it also has good reviews on the bioengineering undergraduate structure and core modules. I was looking for an affordable, safe and student-friendly city too, and Sheffield was one of the best options.
Since Starting at Sheffield, What’s it been Like?
At the beginning, it was a little bit tough as a new country means new and different systems in terms of language, transport, finance, studies and even the way you relate to people. It took me a little time – and homesickness – to adapt to the new university lifestyle and living alone, but now I find those struggles very insightful. I’ve learned and grown so much personally and become more responsible and more efficient at time management. The more I talked to people the better my language developed, and my degree became less challenging as I could keep up the pace and standards. Making friends has become easier and I’m used to moving myself around the city easily now. While it was hard at the beginning, it’s now so much better than I was expecting.
You’re about To Start on a Placement Year. Tell Us a Bit More About Where You’re Going and the Support You’ve Had from Your University.
My year in industry is with Centre for Progress and Innovation Limited, a company that helps research and new projects with their scientific, business, safety and whatever else they need to get to market. My role will be lab-based as a placement student with a focus on biotechnology and agricultural technology. The university was very supportive – every week they sent me new job opportunities related to my degree, and offered CV feedback and interview preparation services, which helped me build my CV for the first time and be successful in applying for placements. They also have virtual reality interview preparation to make sure you excel in those!
What Are Your Plans After University?
I’m planning to use the graduate visa to stay in the UK, and hopefully get a graduate offer from the company I’m doing my placement with. I want to stay in the UK to get job experience and perhaps longer if possible. Bioengineering is a very broad subject and I need more experience across all its branches to see if I like them or not.
What Do You Like the Most About Sheffield?
It’s a very student-friendly city, so things like housing, transport, finance and so on are easier to understand and affordable. Coming from a capital city where everything’s crowded and difficult to get to, I’m loving Sheffield because everywhere’s walkable and transport is discounted for students. It’s also a very safe place as half the population are students, but my favourite thing about living in Sheffield is being close to the Peak District National Park – a short bus ride and I can be surrounded by nature and go for a hike with friends.
What Would You Say to Current NCUK Students Who Want to Study Abroad?
Studying abroad opens up a lot of opportunities and it’s the perfect time to be involved in as many things as you want, to try new hobbies, get into volunteering or interesting workshops that the university offers. At the beginning, I was just doing it to experience new things, but I’ve met interesting people, found what I like and learned different skills, all of which help your personal growth, academic studies and job prospects. Definitely try as much as possible because university life is where you make memories and friendships.
Could You Sum Up Your Experience With NCUK?
I found NCUK really helpful. It was like a bridge to help me smoothly change cultures, language and study levels. My IFY gave me the necessary basis before starting my undergraduate studies, which definitely saved me a lot of stress and time. NCUK was also really supportive during my visa and university application process which I appreciate – doing it by myself would have been three times more difficult! Overall, my experience was really good and the teaching was effective despite being online due to COVID-19.
Speak To Our Ambassadors
Want to learn more about studying abroad? Like Evelyn, our Student Ambassadors have already completed their NCUK journeys and are now studying at world-ranked universities abroad. You can speak to them directly here.