Martyna Bylinska

Poland, MSc International Luxury Marketing

“The most exciting thing that we have done so far in our course was meeting with the marketing team from Porsche so we could get to know their people as well as their markets, this way we could have very authentic information about the brand. It was so impressive!”

Why did you want to come and study in the UK?

So when I started at the University back at home, in Poland, I decided to come to the UK with my friends just for a weekend, and since then, I noticed that life, like student life or general life is so different here than in Poland, for example how a university works, how lectures will explain their seminars and how the programme are. However, by this time I was studying languages, I was doing French and Spanish, and I really wanted to go to Erasmus but I couldn't at my university back in Poland, so I decided to change my university, and after they accepted my first year, I moved to Aberystwyth, Wales to study my second year, and in the third year, I went for an Erasmus to Seville, Spain! So I had the opportunity to study in four different universities which allows me to compare all of them, the experience and everything! Saying this, I think the way they teach in the UK it's so different, it's so much better as they open your mind so much that I am loving it! After my year abroad, I had one more year in Wales and then I decided to come to Oxford Brookes for my master’s degree, and here I am! If I could choose the country and university where I would like to study, I would still choose the UK because I'm very happy with the organisation, the way they teach, the atmosphere here and the contact with module leaders, so I would strongly recommend it!

Why did you choose to study at Oxford Brookes University?

Mostly because of the course that I wanted to do. I did some research and I really cared about the ranking of universities in the UK so Oxford Brookes was quite high worldwide as well as in the UK, which was a big advantage for me. It was quite hard to find the course, but Oxford Brookes offered it and was one of the top universities, that's why I trusted them! I'm doing International Luxury Marketing and we are focused on the luxury markets, and the customer needs here are different than in normal brands, so it is very interesting! I would love to work for big brands like Chanel or Louis Vuitton, as I speak four languages.

How have you found the city of Oxford?

Actually, before going to Oxford, I was watching a lot of YouTube videos about the city. Everybody knows Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland and Oxford University as well, which is a historical place so I was super excited to see the city! I was here before the lockdown, so I had a chance to look around, see the library, the old buildings, all the different colleges from Oxford University, explore the town centre, and meet new people so I would definitely recommend everybody to come to Oxford. I am currently waiting for the COVID restrictions to lift up so my friends will come to visit me so I can show them around as it is so beautiful here and I met a lot of people here. It is also a city for active people, we can go for a run to one of the many parks around the city and you can also cycle everywhere, so yeah, I really like Oxford!

What did you think of the campus and its facilities?

So when I first saw the campus in general, I really liked the main building, John Henry Brookes Building, which is very modern, clean and very nice. The organisation arranges events on campus, so on my first one there was an event with vintage clothes, so that was something cool I could attend. I also took part in an event where I could buy some plants, once, so yes, Oxford Brookes organises some very nice events. In my opinion the campus will look more interesting when there will not be COVID restrictions in place, so I'm looking forward to that. And in terms of the facilities, the library is a very nice place inside the building which is very modern, I like it a lot and its staff are very helpful. There are a lot of places where you can work and/or study, you have the computer area as well, so you have everything that you need on campus.

How have you found making friends at University?

It has been a bit difficult during the pandemic. However, I am quite an open person, plus there are plenty of groups on Facebook and WhatsApp so you can always chat with other students and you can meet with them. So the internet now is the first source of a place where you can meet somewhere. However, Oxford offers you other things to do, you can just go for a walk, as I mentioned earlier, when I was walking down the river, I met some people there, like a group of people that were doing some work out, so I approached to them and started a conversation, and that's how I made friends. But in general, international students, most international students, they're very open because they are just on the same page as you are, so it's easier. For example, you just contact them and get to know each other and just hang out because they don't have friends here. They just want to make friends. Then you have the societies that Oxford Brookes offers you too. At this very moment, due to COVID, it's quite hard because many societies cannot meet because of the restrictions, but they are groups of students that also have groups on Instagram and Facebook, with societies where you can talk to people and you could join them, and then when the COVID restriction lift up, we can all meet in real life.

How have you found studying online during the pandemic?

I think adaptation is the best thing that you can do in a difficult situation however, it is different when you're on campus face to face with all people; but when we have online seminars and we have breakout rooms, we can still have a chance to speak to other students, so we can still have contact with other students, which is cool! I didn't find it difficult at all. I found it ok, even though a bit better as I don't have to get up early! So yeah, I feel like I'm more prepared for online teaching, as I can focus more!

What would you say was a typical day for you as a student at Oxford Brookes before the COVID restrictions?

So I wake up and I go for a walk and I go to the gym, where I also made some friends. After that, I then go to the University, I have some lectures and then I would go to the library and study a little bit. This is also a place where you can hang out with your friends and study together, and then after that I would just go for a bike ride. I also found a part-time job, so I used to go there after university, and I used to arrive at home very late. I tried to be as productive as I could. So my day was mostly studying, staying active and working as a part-time job.

What about the course that you're studying - what has been your favourite thing you've done so far?

The most exciting thing was meeting with the marketing team from Porsche so we could get to know the people as well as their markets, this way we could have very authentic information about the brand, we all know that it is a very luxurious brand, so I was very interesting to see the presentation and just to talk with their people. I know that in a normal situation, without COVID restrictions, we would have gone to their offices and to the Porsche plant, and we could see how they work, how everything looks like, but this time it was just a Zoom meeting. However, it was still something impressive, and we learned a lot about marketing strategy, learned about customer needs, we also could hear some stories, like customers testimonials talking about their experiences, workers who have worked there for years. So it was an amazing experience and the most exciting part that I have done so far in my course.

How have you found the British food since you’ve been here?

So British food, I'm a big fan of the English breakfast, and the rest is very specific. Since I travelled a lot, I'm a big fan of Spanish food I would say! However, in Oxford, there are many international restaurants, so I really like to try different types of cuisines. I don't like to stick with just one thing, and eat every week or every day the same thing. Especially now that I have met many international students, there was this idea that we can meet in student accommodation and cook together each of us traditional foods so we can try different things and different food, but yeah, like I would also go for different restaurants, different cuisines.

What would be your top tips for international students that are planning to come to study in the UK?

You will need an adaptor, for the plugs, that's the first tip. Also, don't be surprised with the tap water in the UK, you have cold water and hot water separately, so many people found it very funny and weird. Food is very different, I would say, but there are some things you have to try, like fish and chips or English breakfast or the sunday roast, so yeah, don't be scared to try new things and new foods, as this is just something you should do when you are in a new country. Also the accent, I would say it is interesting, because especially if you are in London, you can speak to one person in the street and then in like, 20 minutes, you're on the other side of London and you can hear completely different accents, so try to understand, and maybe just explain that English is not your first language, so if you don't understand something, just ask them to repeat it. Just do not be afraid and explore!

Can you sum up your time at Brookes so far, using just one word?

I would say positive but challenging! But challenging in a good way because of the pandemic everything was challenging, but that is how we learn more, I think that is how we can grow and learn to adapt to every situation so yeah, challenging is my word.