William Wong

Malaysia, MArch Architecture

“There’s always something going on in Oxford, even though it's a small town, it is such a diverse culturally and there's always something to do, always something to see and always something to join, something that you can be a part of, and I think it's really beautiful!”

Why did you choose to study in the UK?

Well, I think as any international student really, the UK has always been seen as a highly-recognised, world-renowned, best place for any education. So I think for me, it was quite an easy choice to come to the UK.

Why did you choose specifically to come to Oxford Brookes University?

I really like the city, and it's kind of strategic convenience and location to London. And, Oxford Brookes for this course, specifically, it was recognised by my country's board of architects as well as The Royal British Institute of Architects in the UK (RIBA). I guess I really like the facilities and the opportunity to kind of drive your own architectural career and specialisation through the studios and specialisations provided in the university.

What has been your experience with the facilities and support services we have on campus?

It is really convenient to work in the university as it is all the facilities on campus. The print room is really well equipped, so you have got 3D scanners and 3D printers. I even managed to kind of 3D scan myself into my only 3D models for my work. So, like whenever I do my work now, I get to kind of put myself in my own projects and just kind of render myself and put myself in these perspectives that I render. But I really enjoy actually the tutors and the support you get at university, they kind of make sure that you're heard and understood before they actually give you your feedback. And I think that's really important for me. The teachers have played a really vital role in your whole overall experience in your course, even though everything has moved virtually, we still feel supported and the guidance that you get from your tutors is great! They are really helpful and, despite it being virtually you still feel connected with them.

Do you live in student accommodation or private accommodation?

I am currently living in Oxford in a shared house that I kind of rented privately and it's really nice. I guess it takes some time to kind of pick the right place to stay. But overall, you just have to find the right place, I mean a place that suits your needs.

What do you think of the city of Oxford?

I absolutely love Oxford! It is such a beautiful city. I feel sometimes like living in a tourist destination. I've started to do pub crawls and I bought this poster from Amazon, a little cute illustration of all the pubs in Oxford, and I sort of like, take them one by one. And every pub in Oxford kind of has their own history and their own specialties in beers and food. And yeah, they're all different vibes, it's really interesting!

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

The British food is really different from any local Asian cuisine. And in my opinion, it is important to enjoy the local cuisine. So, yeah, I guess I have enjoyed quite a few dishes in all the different local pubs because they actually all have different styles and dishes, and everything has different tastes!

How have you found making friends since you moved to the city and started your course?

In my first year I kind of made it a point to join as many societies as I possibly can. I'm part of the Badminton Cup, the Badminton team in the university, the Malaysian Society in the University and the Architecture Society in the University. Now in my final year, I’m the President of the Malaysian Society and the Architecture Society as well and I am also the men's first team captain. I've built lots of relationships and friendships during my time here in the university and I think that is really important for your overall experience here.

Did you use the facilities, the careers department, the library? What sort of thing did you use when you're on campus?

Another facility that I've really enjoyed was the library, because it's really well equipped, and it's really interesting how it's kind of plugged into university, so it doesn't really feel entirely like your being dragged to the library. It is sort of this intermediary shift between the university and a library, so that's a really comfortable ambience to feel when you're feeling the University deadlines stress.

How do you feel being an international student and coming over being able to converse well in English? Have you had any problems with your English language?

I don't think I have had any problems so far, but I find a few accents that are really cute, for example the Irish one! Probably because I watched quite a few local TV series. Maybe Love Island is a very good example, but you get lots of mixture of accents there, especially the Irish one. Then you've got Made in Chelsea then you've got The Inbetweeners. This really kind of helps you to understand a local person better, I guess, for the different phrases and words that they use there.

Where did you do your undergraduate degree and how would you say the teaching style compares?

I did my bachelors in De Montfort University in Leicester, just a few hours away! We used to come to Oxford Brookes University to actually compete between universities for the British Universities and Colleges Sport in the local University league matches. I find that here actually is more supportive and the overall feeling of being able to kind of commute to London as well, whenever you want is also great! Oxford Brookes University has lots of affiliations to help you commute between London and Oxford, which is really convenient. Also, the overall city just makes everything so much better whenever you're stressed. You could just easily go for a walk around the beautiful city and enjoy all these free entry fee entrances to the botanical garden, for example, or any of those really nice historical monuments in and around Oxford.

Have you managed to get any part time work or work placements while you have been here?

Yes, I'm a student ambassador here and a campus monitor for the university. So that's also given me the opportunity to make a different group of friends, outside of my course and sport since you are able to interact with other student ambassadors. And there are lots of events, especially for student ambassadors, so you get to meet a lot of students, and you kind of realise that it is such a diverse set of people.

What would you say is your favourite thing about being on the architecture Master’s?

There are quite a lot of things to really like about the architecture Master’s. One of my favourite things was when we were back on campus and we got to work in our studio spaces. It is a really beautiful environment in the School of Architecture here at Brookes when we are at the studios, as sometimes tutors kind of drop in and kind of see what you're up to, see how your work is progressing, and I really enjoyed that because, I mean, their presence is always kind of really appreciated because they're really helpful, it's really nice, it is a really nice campus. I’ve truly enjoyed the friendships and our relationships made with our tutors and our fellow cohort.

What would a typical day in your life as an Oxford Brookes student look like?

I wake up at probably about 8, get ready for uni and hop on the really convenient buses, either the U1 or the U5 that goes all around Oxford all the way to the campuses, so I can arrive at my lectures on time. After my lectures, I go back, get ready for badminton training and after badminton training, I check emails and then I sort out all of my society stuff, so yeah, I get back and I get on with work! I guess being an architecture student, a future architect, kind of helps you prepare and organise yourself accordingly. Because essentially, I think all the organisation and juggling all these responsibilities is sort of a practise, quite similar to a project management in architecture, and essentially, you're kind of project managing your life too so it is a really good practise for me for the future for when I become an architect.

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?

One of the main tips for international students is to join a society and always try getting out to enjoy the city and the local cuisines as much as you can! You are here and even though you are far away from home, you need to kind of stop being homesick, and try not to be shy too much. Once you are trying to keep making friends outside your bubble and kind of experience everything as much as possible, it's a whole different experience - there's always something new to learn! Apart from that, you have Oxford as well. There are tonnes of things to do, like activities and poetry nights and a few local performances. There’s always something going on in Oxford, even though it's a small town is like such a diverse town culturally, and there's always something to do, always something to see and always something to join, something that you can be a part of, and I think it's really beautiful!