Chile, International Foundation progressing onto BA (Hons) Media, Journalism and Publishing
Oxford is amazing! I just really liked everything, it's all so pretty here! Then I really feel safe here too. I feel like I could just go out with my friends, do things that I really want to do and I know that I am going to be safe here!
Daniela Hernandez - Chile, International Foundation progressing onto BA (Hons) Media, Journalism and Publishing
Why did you decide to come and study in the UK?
Firstly, because I wanted to get my studies a more international perspective, and secondly, because I know that learning English is really important in general, especially if you want to communicate with other people from the rest of the world. So, yes, I think that was the main thing as my English wasn't that good, so at first, I just came to the UK and took a gap year to learn English, and then I decided to study here!
What attracted you to Oxford Brookes University?
Because when I was searching, I found out that Oxford Brookes was in The Guardian list, and it was the first one for publishing and journalism! So, of course, that’s really good motivation. Also, I knew that I really wanted to study in a small town to have, like, the real experience for a student life, and Oxford offers that. I also applied to some universities in London, but I felt that it wasn't going to be the same.
What were your first thoughts about Oxford? What do you think of the city?
Oh, I think it's amazing! I just really liked everything, it's all so pretty here! Then I really feel safe here, I feel like I could just go out with my friends, I mean, not now because of COVID restrictions, but in general, I can just hang out and do things that I really want to do and I know that I am going to be safe here.
The other thing that I also really like is that I can meet people from the rest of the world and it's really diverse so I don't feel like I'm the only international student!
How have you found making friends at the university?
I mean, I think it was easy for me because of the societies, because now I am the president of the Latino Society and that has helped me a lot because now I know so many people from Latin America!
I think that as an international student, that is fundamental because you are so far away from home and knowing that all the people from the same place are just like you, it makes it much easier. We also organise events that are more related to our culture, so if sometimes they need the food or the music or just to talk to someone in Spanish, they can do that as well! So, I think that was one of the main things that have helped me to make friends.
How has it been for you moving to online classes?
I think it's difficult for everyone, of course, because it's not the same! And yeah, for me the same, maybe because I'm really like a really extroverted person, so I need that contact with other people. What is helping me a lot is the fact that, for example, the library is open, so even if I am not socialising with a lot of people, just to go to another place and being at University and see other students, it is a great feeling. It feels really safe because they are sanitising everything all the time. So I feel like in that sense, it's really good. There is also a lot of social -distancing and there are not many students on campus anyway at this moment, so I do not feel like in a very crowded place, so yeah, I think in general it is being good.
But yeah, I think like everyone, I am just trying to get used to this and I hope that it is going to get better soon.
What do you think of the British food?
To be honest, the British food is not my favourite. Maybe many international students say the same. But I really like the sticky toffee pudding, I love that one! The desserts are really nice here, I also love the red velvet cake, the carrot cake and the flapjacks, I think those are the things that I like the most, but I also like here, at least in Oxford, you have a lot of vegan options, so if I compare that to life in Latin America that is really, really helpful because over there, there are not many vegan options at all.
So I think, yeah, my favourite place is one on Cowley Road, the Happy Friday Kitchen, I think that vegan food there is amazing. And then on Cowley Road as well, there is like a Latin American pub, I mean, it's not open now because of COVID, but they have Latin American cocktails and Latin American music which is great!
How did you find studying your foundation course?
I think that it was great! Because it was an international foundation, so I met many people from different parts of the world, and then, I think just it was a very good experience to get used to the learning in the UK, because it is so different to how it is in Chile!
In Chile, you mainly have exams, however, here are more like essays, courseworks, so learning how to write essays, I think that was one of the main things, how to reference, so yeah, how to get used to the environment in general.
What would you say is a typical day in your life as a student?
Before the pandemic, I used to wake up really early in the morning, usually at 8.00am, then I often had my lectures around 9.00 am or 9.30am, so I was going to the lectures and after that, sometimes go to the library, or sometimes just you know having fun with my friends. We would go to the city centre all the time because I was also working in a pub, so we used to do that the times that I would be working in the pub. Then at night, I really like clubbing, so we sometimes just used to go clubbing with my friends, so yeah, just having fun in general!
What would you say has been your favourite thing about your course so far? What are your lectures like?
My favourite thing is that the course is a really practical one. For example, part of my assignments are writing articles or, now that podcasts are becoming really popular in this industry, we have to create a podcast! We also need to create infographics on things that will be very helpful for my future career because it is actually part of what I am going to have to do if I want to be a journalist or work in the media industry.
My lecturers are really nice and really supportive with you. I can email them every single day, and they still reply, and if you are still struggling, they propose to have an online meeting to clarify the doubts.
What are your top tips for other international students that are thinking about coming to the UK or coming to Oxford Brookes?
I will say to be open-minded and to join societies, that helps a lot to build up relationships with friends. Also having a job or trying to do different activities, it helps too, because it is good for your CV, but at the same time, is also good for your mental health. And then, do not be scared to talk and meet new people, as British people like people from different backgrounds, so I think just to try it and just give it a chance, you will be happy afterwards.
Can you sum up your time so far at Oxford Brookes in one word?
I'll say it is diverse! Because I have done so many things so far and met people from so many different parts of the world, so it's quite difficult to just say one word because I have done so many things together, but diverse will be my word!