Carola joined UCLan in 2019 to begin a master's course in DNA Profiling. After travelling many hours from her native Puerto Rico, she admits on the journey from Manchester Airport to Preston she was a little apprehensive and wondered what she was doing here. But after arriving on campus and meeting the University staff, Carola knew that this was what she wanted to do and she has not looked back since.
"Before coming to UCLan I studied a Bachelors in Forensic Biology at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico and once I graduate I hope to work in a lab either here in the UK or perhaps the USA. I chose to come to UCLan because of the programme – it’s really amazing.
"I have really enjoyed gaining lab experience and getting to know the different instruments that professionals use day-to-day in forensic jobs. Sometimes it can be overwhelming because there’s a lot of information thrown at you that you may have never seen or heard of before.
"But the Professors are amazing and they keep us up to date with the latest techniques and they encourage us to read certain papers to increase our knowledge. There’s always support from the academic staff if you have any questions.
"At first, the UK style of teaching was something I needed to adjust to because there’s a large difference between the style of teaching I am used to in Puerto Rico. Here you learn most things by yourself and the Professors let you do your own work, whereas at home there’s always someone breathing down your neck saying: “do this, do that”. I certainly prefer the style here in the UK because it promotes independence, something that is important for when you graduate and get a job.
"My first impression of UCLan was that I really liked it. On my first day I had to go to the library along with all of the other new students to collect my student ID card and do lots of other admin things. The amount of staff there was incredible and they were so helpful and welcoming. Everything was set up to make enrolment an easy process for us, which I appreciated because it would have been easy to become overwhelmed. Overall it was a very positive welcome.
"Once I settled in to university life I began to take advantage of the free student services, for example, The <i> helped me with some banking queries and questions about travelling outside of the UK. There’s also the free on campus gym – I love it! It has great facilities and classes, such as studio weights, boxing and my favourite – Zumba.
"I live in UCLan accommodation at Boatman’s Court and I really like it. The first time I walked in my bedroom it was so much bigger than I was expecting, and the kitchen is huge. My first impression of Preston as a city was that it is really cute! I kept saying “look at those streets” because it’s so pretty and clean, especially at Christmas with all the lights in the trees. It’s a good place to live because everything is so close and the train goes everywhere. There’s supermarkets, shops, malls, pharmacies and restaurants nearby. If you need anything, it’s only ever a 10-minute walk away, there’s no need for a car at all. It’s completely safe too; I walk around at night and have never felt threatened. I don’t want to say the weather is bad over here in the UK – it’s not bad, it’s just different and I’m not used to it. You definitely need an umbrella, that’s for sure!
"In my spare time I like to go out with friends to places like The Warehouse (nightclub) or to eat at Turtle Bay or Nando’s. I find it’s easy to make friends, especially on my course because most of my classmates are international students so it’s easy to click. I have managed to visit many different places using the convenient train routes from Preston train station, including: London, Manchester, Chester and my favourite, York.
"My advice to you, if you are an international student thinking of coming to UCLan, would be to be organised with your papers and be 100% sure you want to do this because it can be a lot different to your comfort zone and it is sometimes hard being away from home in a new culture. But I like it, it’s something different and once you’re settled you get this feeling of “yes, this is what I want to do!”
8 January 2020