Before coming to UCLan from her native Cameroon, Michelle Yanou didn’t know what to expect and hadn’t heard much about the university or the city of Preston. Now a few years on, after completing her master's at UCLan she has gone on to undertake a PhD, which she says shows the positive experience she has had as a student here.
When I first arrived in Preston, I wanted to go home because everything was so different to what I was used to. As a research student, it can be quite lonely too; you don’t have any course mates and it’s a very self-directed style of learning.
As an international student it’s often easy to feel lost; the accent is different, the education system is different and the weather is different. However, I quickly realised how interactive and open-minded people at UCLan can be and this allowed me to settle. Yes – I was out of my comfort zone, but this enabled me to grow as a person.
UCLan goes the extra mile to make international students feel inclusive, from the airport pick up service to the extremely accessible staff.
Obviously, the staff are there for academic purposes, but they also make themselves available for other concerns and enquiries. The Professors and Tutors care about the wellbeing of international students and about other factors away from just the academic side.
This place is so multicultural! There’s so much diversity around UCLan and Preston as a city. It’s very easy to meet new people and make friends, but sometimes you must continue these friendships from afar because there are students here from all over the world! It helps with booking holidays because I now have friends from so many countries, so I have global options! You become international without even trying.
I certainly value my bilingualism more after living in Preston because people are so impressed that I speak French. I’ve also benefitted from the free language classes at UCLan and have learned some sign language too. Speaking of freebies, I also use the gym at the Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre where the exercise classes are great. The library is open 24/7, something I appreciate as a research student and after 10pm there is a shuttle service to take us from the library to home. Even though Preston is a safe city this is always nice to have.
Living in the traditional city of Preston means the cost of living is a lot less than London, for example. In the UK the currency difference to Cameroon is huge, so it’s good to live in a smaller, more affordable city. There are low living costs, lots of facilities, you can walk everywhere and UCLan is developing all the time – so it’s a great place to be.
Since being here I have used travel as my ‘reset time’ and have visited so many other places which is easy to do, such as; York, Birmingham, Liverpool, Wales, Leicester and more. Ok, the weather is very unpredictable but I am used to the cold now and when I go back to the heat of Cameroon I struggle.
You will learn a lot from studying here at UCLan and even if it’s different at first, you will absolutely feel welcome in no time.
16 May 2019