Katie Williams

USA, MSc International Business Management

“I had the best time and I've learned so much, and I feel like I found my passion!”

Why did you choose to study in the UK? And why did you choose specifically to come to Oxford Brookes University?

I decided to come to Oxford Brookes, firstly, because I loved the campus when I came over and visited in September of 2019, I fell in love with the campus and I was able to meet some of my advisors, and I mean, it was just fantastic! It just felt like it was my home campus again like back as an undergraduate. So the minute I left, I knew that I was gonna attend Oxford Brookes. And then I decided to move to the UK because I came over to London in 2012 for the Olympics, and I fell in love with the people, with the places, the food, the culture; and so I told myself ever since then, that I was gonna find a way to come back, and I landed upon this opportunity to go for my masters in international business and so I jumped at it, and here we are! And I'm an Oxford Brookes student and I live in London, so that’s even better? It's great! I get the best of both worlds!

How does the teaching style vary from the USA to the UK?

So in the USA, I would say there's a lot more reading, a lot of more exams. In the USA, it's mostly exam-based, where I would have an exam, maybe once a month, and it would be a really big, strenuous exam, whereas with the Master's here in the UK, I really enjoy it because it's just papers, usually just one big paper at the end, and so no granted, it could be anywhere from 20 to 30 pages, but with me, that works really well, because I'm able to sit down, I can pop in my earphones and I could do all this research and I can really explain the topic and put myself into the topic, so I love it! So I would say that would be the biggest difference the way things are taught and then how people are examined.

What do you think about the British people and culture?

So I'm from the South of the USA, you know from the East Coast, and people in the South are very open and very talkative, and I feel like it's different here. Again I'm in London, but I feel like it's not really the case in here, so you'll know that I'm around because I always make small talk with someone, whether that be on the train or the Tube, or just walking down the street and it's just not normal! And so whenever I'm with my friends, they'll say, “Why are you making small talk to the stranger?” and it's just so normal to me. So I would say that the biggest difference is the Southerners, we are open books and we just want to chat with you and just either make a friend or just be nice. And here it's just not like that - people are very kind here, but people just don't talk to random strangers like we're used to back at home. So I would say that's the biggest difference, however I still talk to everyone I run into though!

Obviously, you speak American English, however, have you had any language barriers though still? Any slang or anything that we’ve said that you just don’t understand?

On some days I will have to really pay attention, because I think I talk very fast and I think I'm used to the Southern way of speaking really, really quick. And so obviously, people talk really fast everywhere so I have to sometimes pay attention and look at you when you're speaking, and then I'm able to understand. But if I'm just, like halfway in and out, I'll have to say “Will you repeat that?”, and then I'll have to look at your eyes and look at your mouth, and then I'm able to understand. So I would just say there are some learning curves, but nothing crazy.

What do you think about Oxford? And about Oxford Brookes campuses?

I love it! I honestly love it! So I was so grateful for choosing this University in this city. So I'm able to come in from London two to three times a week, depending on the week. And I think this coming up semester I should be on campus four times a week, I'm actually really excited about it! The campus is beautiful, like absolutely beautiful. If I got done with class early, I would always make my way down to Turf Tavern with a couple of people. And so we would always walk through the city and we walk through the Radcliffe [Square] and you always have to take a photo there, you just have to! It's almost like a city that's been stuck in time, and it's beautiful. Again the people in Oxford remind me back home, very kind, very welcoming, and they will chat with you on the street like I'm used to, so it is amazing. I am so forever grateful that I get the best of both worlds, but when I am in Oxford, it's just like a dream, so it is great!

How have you found food? Have you found good food here and similar food that reminds you of home?

So I would say the food here is actually better! It is such a melting pot and you get the best of all different cultures. You have some of the best Indian, now there's the Mexican, we do have better Mexican back home! But the Indian food here, like I've had some of the best curries I've ever had just right down the street, so you can get the best of everything really! Whereas back home, we are really good at Southern comfort food, of course, but I love being able to come here and it's just like, okay, tonight I want a good burger, a good American burger and you're gonna find an amazing burger or if you want a nice Massaman curry, you can go to a little shop 5ft away from you, or have some sushi, which is great here too! Everything is so good just again because it is such a big cultural melting pot!

You chose to live down in London. How have you found that in making friends and how has that been affecting the commute as well?

So it's actually been a little bit different for me because I do have friends here from university. So, as soon as I was done with quarantine, we picked right back up where we left off, and so we would go to restaurants once a week and now, even still, we are able to do that, we either go pick up takeaway/takeout and we go see each other. So it's been really easy for me to make friends just because I did have that core group coming in - which I strongly suggest if you do know someone at least like you know, contact them and say, “Hey, I'm moving, I'm moving over to London. Can you show me around? Can we go out together just to meet everyone?” And that's what my girlfriends did here. So now, I have got a big group of girlfriends that if I wanna go for a run, I could text them and ask them to go to Regent's Park and go for a quick afternoon run and someone's coming along, so it has been really easy, has been really nice. And then one time, one of them actually met me in Oxford after classes, we said we would go grab lunch and she came to Oxford, and we had a great time. So, yeah, it's been great and honestly I couldn't ask for better!

Have you joined any societies or sports teams outside of your course?

No, and I wish I would have! That's the one thing I wish I would have been able to do, I mean, the only reason why I didn't is again because I live in London and the commute back home can be a little bit long just due to traffic. And so it almost became a - what time will you get home late at night and then again starting the next morning, depending on what class, depending on what time classes were, so it just kind of came down to I need to prioritise myself. But again, I still really wish I would have done it because a lot of my friends have and they've made amazing friends, they've had the best times! They always post pictures, and it's just like damn, like I wish I would have done it. So the only one thing if I could change about my time at Oxford Brookes, it would be to join a society or a club or a group!

What's been your favourite thing about your course? What sort of things have you had the opportunity to do?

So I would say that my favourite thing is just the diversity of classes. So, obviously it is international business, and I have a big sales background and coming into my Master’s I really wanted to do consultancy, and that's why I chose this course in particular and getting into it now I've really found out that I want to do either supply chain or operations and supply chain or something with data - just because of my classes, especially my operations management course. I had the best time and I've learned so much, and I feel like I found my passion! And so just being able to discover what I really want to do, and so I would say that you are able to actually find yourself and really find what you want to do, if you don't quite know, it's really gonna help you better. Let's say for example that you 100% know you want to go into consultancy, so these classes are going to make sure you are the best consultant possible. And then again, there's even a consultancy module where I'm on now actually, we're working with a real life client, so it just helps you either be better in your field that you choose to go into.

What do you think about the support service and facilities on campus?

So I basically live in the library when I'm on campus! You can find me always there or in the Clerici Building! I'm always in the very back of the Clerici Building! And no matter what, before classes or after classes, I'm always on my laptop, face down, earphones in! I’m always in there and then you might catch me running back and forth to the library to grab a book or two. But yes, the library is fantastic, beautiful! And the places we are actually able to go study are immaculate. The careers centre, which I started using it like when I was three weeks in, I booked an appointment, and so I've been on it just because, things are a little bit different here between the USA and the UK, and I want to make sure my resume was up to standard and making sure you know, I'm getting back up on my interview skills just because I've been in my career for so long and it's almost like if you don't use that skill, you might lose it; so I've been working with them on the prepping and my resume. So those three, the library, the Clerici Building studying/working area and the career services are what I use the most at Brookes.

What would you say a typical day for you would look like?

As I live in London, I'm having to get up a little bit earlier just to go catch the bus to get me into Brookes! But once I get to Brookes, I'm either running straight to the Forum to grab a coffee or I'm going to, there's another little shop as soon as you come into campus, a supermarket to grab breakfast or water or coffee, snagging that super quick and then running to classes and how I have my schedule set up, because I did let registration know that I am coming in from another city that things need to be hopefully on the same day if we can make it happen, or at least back to back. And then after I got done with my classes, I might take a little five minute walk, you know, a little mental break. And then again, I was right in the Clerici building, in the back stacks and again, you might catch me running back and forth to the library, you know, grabbing some more coffee, another snack, and then meeting up with friends again to continue to study. And then, after that we would always go to Turf Tavern, we would usually end the day with Turf Tavern and just get a nice pie, and then I would head home.

How has the experience of studying during the pandemic been for you?

So actually, it has not been too bad, so this is just me personally, I really like online teaching. One, because for me, there is a little bit of a difference in person and online, but online I'm able to, you know, get kind of cosy in my house. I can get really situated and I'm able to spread out on my desk here and for me I'm able to get the same thing out of it as I would in person. However, it is nice to be able to go to the campus, so you can talk to the teacher right after class, but I really have not minded it at all to have online classes, I really enjoy it. Although it saves me that extra time of not having to go to campus, plus my friends and I, we usually have a weekly Zoom meeting so we can connect all of us together. There's about twenty of us in a group chat, and we all get together, usually on Wednesday nights and then we talk about what happened during the week, so you sit and you gossip and then you think that actually, this is what we have been going on in Oxford and that's what's been going on in London, so we're still just as close as ever. I'm going to go into Oxford the minute we're allowed to and then we're gonna go to have wine night or, you know, just kind of catch up and hopefully, everything is still the same. I'm still able to stay really good friends with everyone, even though I am home and everyone else is home too.

What would be your top tips for other potential international students that want to come to the UK or want to come to Oxford Brookes?

I would just say that they need to come to visit the campus! I would ask you to come over if you can and kind of get the lay of the land. It was a big game changer for me, I was just able to see this beautiful campus, and meet the advisers beforehand or meet my programme heads, again, that really solidified that Brookes was home, my home away from home. Because it is such a big transition, you need to make sure this is what you want to do, making sure it lines up with your career goals because if not, maybe do it from home. But for me, it lined up with my career goals and knew I wanted to move over to London! The next tip is just study, study, study, that's what I do! I'm still able to have fun, of course, but knowing that you are gonna have to study a lot for this master's programme, however the rewards are enormous. Those have been my biggest tips for someone coming over to Oxford Brookes and coming over to London or coming over to the UK for school. It really has been great!

Could you describe your time at Oxford Brookes in one word, if you can?

I would just say amazing! That's it. That's the only thing that comes to mind! I was thinking joyous and then amazing but it’s just warm, you know, and warm as in like, it just feels like home. When I walk on the campus and I have never felt like an outsider really, everyone has been so kind, so I would just say amazing, just amazing, that's all I can really say! I have not made one wrong decision coming over here and choosing Oxford Brookes as my university.