Kira-Harkonen-Canada

Kira Harkonen

Canada, modules in Publishing while on exchange from York University

Going on exchange in a country you’ve never been to with people you’ve never met is absolutely terrifying. But I have learned more about myself this past year than I ever thought possible, and I think, as a result, I have become more like the person I want to be. I’m not there yet, but this whole experience has been amazing and has helped me grow in so many ways, and to achieve the things I wanted to achieve for myself.

Kira Harkonen - Canada, modules in Publishing while on exchange from York University
Why did you decide to come to the UK on exchange/study abroad?
I decided to come to the UK on exchange because I wanted to go to another English speaking country (because I’m studying writing and editing). I’ve also always wanted to travel to England for as long as I can remember, probably because a lot of my favourite books are set here. It seemed like the most appropriate place then to study literature.

Why did you decide to apply to Oxford Brookes?
I decided to apply to Oxford Brookes because they have one of the best publishing programs in the UK, and there is a lot of literary history in Oxford that I wanted to explore for myself.

How did you find the application process?
The application process was fairly straight forward. I found the website really easy to navigate and everyone who I spoke to was very helpful. It was especially great that I got to meet someone from Oxford Brookes at my home university before I came here. It made the whole thing much less daunting, and more real.

How easy did you find it to settle into life at the University?
I was nervous about coming here, because I don’t make friends very easily, but when I arrived, I found there were a lot of opportunities for meeting new people and that there were a lot of international students in the same position as me, so I settled in quite quickly. 

Why did you decide to study the publishing course at Oxford Brookes?
I did some research and found that the publishing program at Oxford Brookes was one of the best in the country and could not find any negative comments about how the program is run, so I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to learn about UK publishing. Also, I know that Oxford University Press is one of the most well-known university publishing houses in the world, so it was additional incentive to come to Oxford to study publishing.

What is the best thing about your course?
All of the teaching staff have first-hand experience in the publishing industry so I really feel like they are teaching practical and useful skills that we can take directly to the workforce. Also there are a lot of other international students in the program and I like hearing all of the different views and experiences they have to offer.

How different did you find the university’s teaching style here compared to that of your own university?
Oxford Brookes is much smaller than my home university so I feel that I have a better relationship with my professors, and in turn, they are able to tailor their teaching styles to meet the needs of the students more easily. I feel more comfortable with my peers and professors here because I am able to get to know them a lot better. I am not just sitting in a room with 500 other students who I have never met before listening to a professor’s lecture. It is much more personal and interactive.

What do you think of the learning facilities and the support you received?
Everyone here is incredibly helpful and they regularly ask how I am getting on in my courses and offer assistance when I need it. All of my teachers know me by name and where I am from and they do their best to make my experience here as comfortable as possible.

Is there any particular tutor/ module/ part of your course that stands out as being particularly inspiring?
Leander Reeves is fantastic, as a lecturer and my academic advisor. She always makes sure I’m doing alright and has even gone as far as to recommend places in Oxford and London that I should visit while I’m here. She is very personable and welcoming.

How has your time at Brookes prepared you for when you graduate?
I got to learn about the places I might want to visit from a lot of international students, and made some really good friends who I hope to visit again one day. Career-wise, participants of the Oxford Brookes publishing program are among the most employable. And even though I was only here for a short amount of time, I used my experiences here in order to land an internship in New York this summer.

What are your top tips for exchange/study students coming to the UK?
I think a good piece of advice is to join societies and clubs with people who share the same interests as you. And try and meet a lot of people during Freshers Week because those people could become some of your best friends. Go to as many events as you can. Also, you might think that you can only be away from home for one semester, but you’ll probably regret not staying for the whole year.

Do you have any other comments you would like to add?
Going on exchange in a country you’ve never been to with people you’ve never met is absolutely terrifying. But I have learned more about myself this past year than I ever thought possible, and I think, as a result, I have become more like the person I want to be. I’m not there yet, but  this whole experience has been amazing and has helped me grow in so many ways, and to achieve the things I wanted to achieve for myself.