Vasilisa Sabaeva

Russia, MA Journalism

“It's so good that students from all over the world can really study together, make projects together and build friendships with other students from different countries.”

Why did you choose to study in the UK?

One year ago, I participated in the media exchange of the Global Achievement Programme. It is a programme for young journalists from Russia, in America and they chose 20 Russian young journalists and sent them to study for one month to Boston, to Europe or to Washington D.C. It was an amazing experience, because we look and communicate with journalists all around the globe. This moment changed my life because I understood I really want to continue studying journalism and continue to study abroad to have this global view. I also worked for six years in journalism since school as an editor-in-chief and had different internship in media, so I remain to become a real journalist and I wanted to study and get a Master’s in Journalism, and the first country that came up to my mind was the UK, because, I know English, as I learnt English from school and also journalism in the UK is very well known all around the world. I also love the fact that journalism was born in Oxford, since the first newspaper was printed here. So I started to search universities in the UK and opened the ranking of Guardian and saw that Oxford Brookes University is in first place, for Media, Public Relations and Communications, so I thought that it was an amazing fact and really wanted to try and get a place to study at Brookes. Since then, I started to watch a lot of videos from Brookes and I really thought that it's unbelievable and that It is the university of my dreams! Of course, this year I was adapting because of the COVID situation so, I was thinking maybe to defer for one year, but I understood that now it's the best time to study because the world is changing and you should be prepared for everything nowadays, specially for journalists, as it will be very useful and important right now and for any situation in the world. So I think that now is the best time to study and get an education so you are prepared for what comes in the future.

What were your first impressions of the city?

I managed to come to the UK and come to Oxford in September, as I was so lucky that Russia opened borders with the UK in summer, because with majority countries, they're still closed, so it was very challenging for getting aisa. So I went through all the steps, and I arrived at Oxford for the first time, and it was quite challenging but interesting at the same time because this is the first time that I moved from my country to a different one. For me, this was a very important step forward in my life because I was born in St. Petersburg, and growing in the city with such very beautiful architecture is great, so that is why I also love that in Oxford there's also beautiful architecture, it feels like home. In the same way, it's a very calm lifestyle with a lot of parks with nice people, and you can go everywhere just walking, I really love it! I'm so happy that I chose Oxford because it's really the city of students and you can network even on the streets. I was walking once and heard the Russian language so I approached, and I can say - Hi guys - plus there are other students from all over the world. They all come to this small city and really, you can make friends from different countries, I really love it! I think in London it's more complicated because it's a big city and of course, you will not start to speak with someone on the street. So I was so excited and glad to be in Oxford!

How else have you managed to make friends? Has that been difficult so far?

It was a bit difficult because of the COVID restrictions plus we didn't have so many lectures. However, when I was living in Oxford, I used to go every day to the university's library and I really enjoyed the atmosphere and having people around and I was lucky to make some friends. I really love that in our university there are people from all over the world allowing you to communicate and talk about different cultural stuff, about their countries… so yeah, I was lucky to make new friends. We used to go to their places and we had some nice talks, cooking together, so it was a very nice time, so I cannot wait to be back on campus.

What do you think of the campus?

I am in love with the campus, it's so stylish and modern! I was usually sitting on the highest floor, the third floor, and I really love it because you look around and you feel like you're sitting like in a modern museum! My favourite place to study is in the Terrace, with these yellow and purple colours which makes it so brightful! I really love to sit there with my study buddy sitting there, studying and enjoying the atmosphere. And there is another fact that makes studying here so cool, as for instance in my group, it's very small, just eight journalists/students on the Master’s, and it is a very international group. There is a student from Nigeria, another one from Germany, also one from China, I am from Russia and there are four students from the UK. It's so cool, so good when we get some group projects, you look at things very different, especially journalism. We absolutely have different journalists specific in our countries comparing Russia with China and with Britain, so it's so cool and I'm really happy that we have this diversity and such a nice group in our class.

What would you say has been your favourite thing so far about studying your Master’s?

First of all, I love that our professors are real journalists and they are still working on BBC Oxford, Harper's Bazaar and we have some lectures from professors from really big Media! For instance, today we had a lecture from an editor-in-chief from the UK, and it's amazing that you are learning from people who have so much experience in the field, and it's really interesting that we have professor who teaches us how to do reports, news reports and at the same time, we are watching her news reports on the BBC! It's so exciting and I really love that. I also love the fact that we have such an international group and it's very cool that our other seminars are really practical oriented. It's not like we're just doing some stuff that we will never use in future, we are learning stuff that we do to get experience to have it in our portfolio as journalists. I also love that this year our course is in NCTG. It's like an accreditation for journalists in the UK, and it's also very good because after we graduate, we will be like professional journalists so it's very good for our future career.

How have you found the British food? Have you tried any unusual things, anything different?

I really loved the food at the university, it's nice and there are very nice staff working there. I like some snacks when I get a coffee. It was also good and nice in Oxford as there are a lot of pubs and I managed between the lockdowns to go to some places. For example, I really love the pub, I can't remember the name but it was where Margaret Thatcher used to sit, so a lot of famous people like great scientists, politicians have walked through that pub which is a great feeling to be in the same place that they once were. Also, it is so cool to try national UK food like fish and chips, we had it with a pint of beer. I didn't drink beer before, but I love this culture in the UK! Yeah, it's like anywhere that you visit, even if you don't like it, you will try it because it is the atmosphere of the United Kingdom.

What sort of tips do you have for other international students that will be thinking about coming to the UK or thinking about Oxford Brookes?

Firstly, don't be afraid to go through the application process, I think it's the hardest thing to go through, to prepare very well to write the reference letter. I did a very big research about the university, about the student’s union, and the societies because it's very important to have a very good motivational letter. To the second tip, even with COVID time, even with the challenging world situation, don't be afraid to come to the campus. Don't think that it's just wasting time and money, because you will get new friends, you will have a new experience and trust me, it will change your life! And the third tip, it is to really focus on studying and not just to prepare for exams. Also, to get new friends so you can get new experience that you can be really happy with! You are doing a Master’s programme and it is just such a short time, just one year and it goes so fast. So this is my third tip, to not waste any time and to start making friends fast, to walk a lot in Oxford's amazing city, not sit at home, just go walking around very beautiful buildings to talk with people. But of course, for me, maybe it's easy to tell because I'm a journalist and I was so lucky to have some assignments. For example, I was doing a report about the end of lockdown in the UK, and I went to the street, I was talking with people and it was such a good vibe that I got this experience and I'm really thankful for it at Oxford Brookes. They have all the equipment that we need for making reports plus we have some interesting assignments that we can just go and try as the professionals in the city.

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

International! Because it's so good that students from all over the world can really study together, make projects together and build friendships with other students from different countries. And I hope once then the world will begin to calm, due to COVID, we will be able to travel and go to each other’s countries. I have a very good friend from Mexico who is waiting for me there, which it's really good and I am waiting for my friends to visit me in Russia, they are always welcome.