Since enrolling at UCLan in 2015, Giordana Failla has certainly made the most of her time as a student from spending a year abroad in Jordan as part of her course and learning Arabic to finding a new passion for teaching and achieving some amazing things with the UCLan Erasmus Student Network Committee. She now plans to continue at the university and study a Masters in TESOL.
When I was back home in Italy and I was choosing which UK university I wanted to attend, I had to pick 5 different universities during the application process. It was really strange because I just got the feeling UCLan was the right one for me – I felt as though I was welcome and wanted. I felt a connection immediately so I knew I’d feel at home once I got here.
The learning style over here is a lot different to what I was used to back home; in Italy there is more emphasis on theory, whereas in the UK it’s more practical-based, which is useful especially when entering the job market.
The relationship with staff is different too; in Italy it is a lot more formal but at UCLan my expectation of the tutors has been exceeded. I tell all of my friends back home to study in the UK!
At first it was scary coming over to a new environment and new country – I thought ‘how will I meet friends?’ It has been mind-blowing how easy everything has been for me, 4 years ago I would not have anticipated this. Preston is the perfect city for students because there is every kind of facility within a 5 minute walk. I come from a town a little bit bigger, but for me this is like home now and it makes me sad to think I will have to leave one day. The weather is completely different to my hometown of Taranto, however summer is beautiful here due to the outside culture - the parks, the barbecues; it’s so much fun! In my spare time I like to go for walks around Avenham Park or down by the Docks, I also meet friends at the cinema or cafes – there’s never a dull moment.
There have been some challenges during my time at UCLan. For example, at the beginning I found it difficult to learn a new language not in my native language (learning Arabic, in English when I am Italian!). This actually became a positive because my skills improved and the teachers were great because they really understood how to cater for international students. In terms of my course the positives have been learning about different cultures, being active as a student (in societies etc) and helping other students with languages – I have really found a passion for teaching.
I love how supportive my tutors have been, it’s a massive thing for an international student to have. They are all very well prepared and even though I am far away from home and could easily feel alone, they are always there to help and support no matter what the problem, academic or not.
I would recommend using the services available to students at UCLan. I have found the free onsite gym to be great to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to de-stress. The <i> was the first place I went to on arrival to help me know the basics and to settle in. I have been to the Language Centre to learn new languages and I also got a internship there (I didn’t expect to be able to work for the university as an international student and it really helped to increase my passion for languages and practice my teaching skills for the future). Finally, the Student Union has been a massive part of my life at UCLan because the societies are so important for international students and allow you to meet new people.
I have been a part of the Erasmus Student Network since my second year and I am now Communications Manager, Secretary and a Local Rep. We have gained over 100 members for the first time at UCLan and meeting new people from all over the world is so rewarding! One of my dearest friends is from China and she visited me one summer in Italy and we stay in contact now – this has been the most special part of being an international student at UCLan.
05 May 2019