Chirag Shrimali

India, BSc (Hons) International Hospitality Management

“The city is one of the good examples of work life balance, because when you have to work you have a proper space to work and to study, you have a proper space to develop yourself academically. At the same time you have a lot of spaces to enjoy yourself, like parks, botanical gardens, museums, even just clubs and bars”

When you were considering universities, what made you choose the UK and Oxford Brookes?

I chose the UK because it felt welcoming, I felt that it is very diverse and has a lot of people from my community. I felt the support provided by the UCAS portal as well as the various universities, including Oxford Brookes, was very welcoming and it made me feel at ease. Particularly I chose Oxford Brookes because it had a very good reputation for courses of Hospitality and Tourism Management. It was a very culturally diverse university and the location of Oxford itself was a very big factor.

What attracted you to your course?

I felt that the focus of the course on hospitality was one of the main factors because it was more focused on hospitality and hotels rather than tourism which was one of the main factors. Another factor was the good ratings, because it was ranked among the top universities for hospitality management in the QS rankings. Another factor was the faculty, I read through the profiles and they seemed really experienced.

What do you enjoy the most about your course?

I enjoy the sessions which involve discussions on hotels and their operations and the different sub-sectors like marketing and sales. I also feel that the connection we have with the faculty and their responsiveness is a big factor.

What do you like the most about the university and your time here so far?

The variety inside the university. The classrooms and the different buildings, and the different ways in which you can relax yourself as well, or the variety of study spaces. I like them the most. I also feel that the university is very approachable and accessible. It’s in the middle of the town and you can reach the uni from anywhere you are, and it’s a maximum 30 minutes walk.

When you first arrived, how did you feel settling in as an international student?

I think it was a new experience. I felt it was not very difficult, because I had a lot of support even before I arrived. I was told where I can access food shopping or transport and everything. I felt that the initial few days or weeks were a bit different but I tried to settle in well.

Are you involved in any clubs or societies?

Yes I am involved in two societies. One of them is the Korean Hallyu Society of which I am the president. I’m also involved in the Bacchus society which is the hospitality course-specific society, and I serve as the head of marketing for that society.

What are your responsibilities as a president of a society?

As the president, you are the face of the society, so you need to attend all the meetings and you need to be present for nearly all the events. You need to guide and give direction to the committee. You need to hold the people together and resolve any differences or be the person who people can rely on in the committee. At the same time there is the fun part of enjoying the events, conducting them yourself and gaining some good skills.

How do you find the teaching style in the UK compared to India?

I feel it is more focused on learning more independently, it is more focused on trying to explore new things yourself. You’re not spoon fed everything like you are in India and you have a lot more time with yourself and they teach you how to use your time the best. At the same time you have a lot of support which may not be there back in India. You have a lot of services, you have wellbeing, you have your academic advisor, you have your support coordinators, and there are teams like ISAT for international students. So I feel that you have support but at the same time you have time to independently grow yourself.

What do you like the most about living in Oxford?

The city is one of the good examples of work life balance, because when you have to work you have a proper space to work and to study, you have a proper space to develop yourself academically. At the same time you have a lot of spaces to enjoy yourself, like parks, botanical gardens, museums, even just clubs and bars. I feel it is not very crowded, it is a bit quiet so it is good for people who do not want a lot of crowd and it is not marred by pollution and all those environmental aspects which big cities face.

Have you visited anywhere outside of Oxford in the UK?

Yes, I’ve travelled to London, Birmingham, Scotland (Edinburgh) and I’ve travelled to Bournemouth and Bicester. Scotland is quite different, but it is quite the same as England. I feel that it is quite beautiful, it has a lot of valleys and greenery and the architecture is amazing. It’s a very good place to spend your vacation or have a good time with friends or family. 

How have you found making friends?

I found that there are different ways of making friends. You can strike friendships with your flatmates or housemates, then societies are indeed a very good way to make friends because you meet a lot of people who are like you - new to the uni and they are also trying to make friends and then you have similar interests in a group. Your course is another way to make good friendships because you study the same thing. As well as academic queries, you also try to hang out and make friends.

How have you found being a Student Ambassador?

I joined the Student Ambassador scheme only this year, so I've been serving since September. I feel it’s quite good because you’re able to meet a lot of prospective students, you’re also able to meet a lot of faculty and develop a good bond with the teaching team. You’re able to understand the queries of students better because I had been in that position three years back. I’ve mostly helped on Open Days.

Do you have any advice for future international students?

I feel that the future students should be open to considering the university because it is very diverse and welcoming. At the same time they need to do their research well and I feel that before arriving in the UK they should try to get as much information as they can about the university and the city, so that it does not feel as new as before.

Do you have any future plans once you’ve graduated?

I want to work in the hotel industry in the future. I want to travel around the world by working, so I want to work a few years here and there in different countries around the world. Ultimately I want to settle down into university life by becoming a faculty leader. I would like to move to Canada or Australia, maybe Singapore.

Are you considering any particular jobs within the hospitality industry?

I think I’ll be interested in the food and beverage department, which involves food catering or food service. Or, the front-of-house which is the front office like a reception, guest relations guest or concierge. I haven’t tried the other avenues yet. I worked a few months here and there in internships and part-time jobs and I’ve always worked like that in food and beverage or front-of-house, and I wish to continue in either of them.