Blog: Wrapping up my first semester at UoB

Written by Student Content Shaper Muxin Chen

Hey everyone, I'm Muxin from China, currently pursuing a master’s degree in marketing at UoB. As the campus leaves turn golden and begin to fall, and Christmas around the corner, I'm about to wrap up my first semester here.

Three months have flown by, and without realising it, I've become familiar with our beautiful campus. The initial sense of novelty and unfamiliarity I felt when I first arrived in the UK has now transformed into a feeling of familiarity and confidence.

Female student with blonde hair stands with her face turned to the right. Behind her is a tall brick clock tower and trees with golden leaves

Life before UoB

Before coming here to Birmingham, I worked as a PR Manager in an investment firm, but I felt I wanted to pursue a more professional and long-term career path, That’s when I made the decision to further my studies at UoB.

It wasn’t an easy decision. After all, I was resigning from a stable job, navigating through a new culture and language environment, and maybe experiencing more psychological pressure than some of my peers. However, I now had a clear goal for the future and knew the MSc in Marketing at UoB was the right step for me.

Academic challenges and triumphs

What really attracted me to UoB was the fact that I could grasp the theoretical knowledge behind Marketing. So far, I've learned the principles and analytical frameworks of marketing strategy and delved into Consumer Culture Theory even having the opportunity to put this theory into practice by planning advertising campaigns.

I have to say, the first semester of postgraduate studies has been more demanding than my undergraduate experience. There's a lot of literature to read, several reports and presentations to complete plus learning in English has been a challenge of its own. Truthfully, it led to increased stress as I worried about reaching the comprehension skills of my peers who are fluent in English.

What really helped me was sharing my concerns with a Birmingham alum, who advised me to acknowledge the gap and work on it. In the process, I discovered my own strength and confidence.

Being an international student in the UK has taught me to tackle any challenges head on and embrace new experiences. An example of this how I've actively improved my English skills through communication with others.

I’ve also made use of some of UoB’s support services, such as the Academic Skills Center, where I've undergone skill training, for example, I attended a workshop on using generative AI tools for study and learning at a university. I also learned critical thinking and how to utilise library resources through the Academic Skills Gateway website.

Connecting with other students

I've found UoB to be a multicultural campus, and the Guild of Students serves as a supportive bridge connecting students from diverse backgrounds. Since my first week in the UK, the Guild has organised numerous activities to engage students. It was at their "Quiet Welcome" event during Welcome Week where I met my good friend Kate. I also connected with more students from Tanzania, India and France at their International Students Mixer Party.

There have also been plenty of opportunities to discover and try new hobbies on campus. As a dance enthusiast, I joined the K-Cover Dance Society, practicing the latest K-pop dances and making friends. If you're an international student worried about making friends, I really recommend joining interest-based societies, so you get the chance to meet like-minded people.

Female student with blonde hair, wearing a black cropped top and grey cargo trousers posing with her palm facing in front of her. Behind her is a grey wall with a small silver fan in the corner.

Coping with homesickness

One day, I suddenly felt a strong longing for my family and friends back in China. I believe this homesickness is a challenge experienced by most international students. Faced with a new culture, language, lifestyle, and even climate conditions, feelings of loneliness can arise, especially when reminiscing about past life.

If you ever feel this vulnerability, don't worry; it's a common emotion. To cope, share your feelings with others, whether it's your family or new friends. Try to describe these emotions instead of keeping them bottled up. Secondly, approach the current environment with an open mind, appreciating the charm of the new culture and accepting it to help you integrate faster. Lastly, if you need professional help, reach out to your personal tutor. They can provide expert advice and support. My tutor, Jed, had a one-on-one conversation with me, offering some helpful suggestions that proved effective.

A female student sits on a brown wooden bench with her back towards the camera. She is facing a red brick building with a domed roof. There is also a tree with lots of green leaves in front of the building.

And that’s my journey at UoB so far! Overall, it's been a busy but rewarding semester. I'm sharing this to connect with more students and hopefully assist those of you facing similar challenges.

Whoever you are, you’ve got this - let’s look forward to everything the upcoming semester has in store for us!


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