academic related

Study in UK : Part 3

Finally the last part of “Study in UK” series. Apologize for the long delay.

Now I am going to share about how much is the living cost in Newcastle (as I was studying in that town. it might be different with the other towns in UK), how to find new friends, and how to find an accommodation that suits you.

How much money you spend in one month is really depend on your lifestyle. I was a pretty modest kind of student, so I (almost) never spent more than £200 per month unless there were some emergencies. However, bear in your mind, that amount of money is not including your rent and bills. I spent that money for buying groceries (I rarely cook by myself, though), buying frozen foods (that’s why microwave exists), eat-out once in a while, watching movies once in a while, buying books (nerd will always be nerd), traveling to some towns nearby. Yeah, believe me, that much money is enough for all of those expenses. All you need to know, is the trick.

I’ll tell you the trick. There are lots of student discounts and promos. You have to make use of them to the maximum capacity. For example, you can eat outside with some friends so you guys can divide your bills. LOL. If you want to buy books, don’t go to a big bookstore. Go to the charity bookstores, such as Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, etc. You can get secondhand books. In some certain periods, there are price reduction in big bookstores as well. Believe me, books are much cheaper there compared to in Indonesia. If you happen to study in Newcastle, I recommend you to visit a small bookshop located in one corner of Grainger Marker. They give you the best price! For you movie-goers, there are certain days when you can watch movies for a half price in that cinema at The Gate. I think it’s on Tuesdays, if I’m not mistaken.

Then, how to find an accommodation? I lived in a student accommodation. To tell you the truth, the price was really killing me. It’s expensive. Around £5000 for one year. However, with that amount of money, you don’t need to pay the bills anymore. You already got internet connections in your room. There’s a communal kitchen and communal lounge.And student accommodation is relatively safe. For me, it’s worth the price. There’s an option to rent a private accommodation, as well. The price looks cheaper when you rent a private accommodation, but actually with the bills etc you will find that the price of private and student accommodation is not really different. Moreover, the safety in private accommodation. There’s no security staff. It’s quite dangerous, actually. I once rented a house together with 4 of my friends and each of us need to pay £2000-ish for 6 months excluding bills. But in the end, it’s your choice whether you want to stay in a student or private accommodation. 😉

Last but not least, how to find new friends? Go out and mingle! That’s the key. Sign up for one or two student societies. Don’t just hang out with people with the same nationality as yours (read : Indonesian people). Open your mind. Yeah, looks simple but it works for me.

That’s all I can say about living and studying in UK (well, in Newcastle, specifically). I hope you find these series of articles useful. And I’m so sorry that I need like 2 months to write these articles. Life’s been busy these days hahaha (yeah, this is just an excuse).

Study in UK : Part 2

Continuing the previous post, Studying in UK : Part 1, here is the part 2.

In this post I will tell you mainly about what are going to happen with you while you are studying in UK. The education system, the class atmosphere, the students, etc. Of course, everything that I mention here are based on my personal experience. This blog post is not a guideline for you. This is just a sharing of my precious experience.

So, now you’re already stepped your feet in the land of Great Britain with one important mission : STUDY!. Always keep in your mind, you’re coming to UK for study. 🙂 For Masters degree, UK education is very different with Indonesian education system. In UK. students are expected to do most of their activities by themselves. They must manage their time very well. It means, you only need to attend the class maximum 3 times in a week. The rest is your choice, whether you want to spend your time in the library studying independently or not. It’s up to you. Your professors only expect that you submit the course works on time and that you are able to answer the exams. For me, personally, it was exciting. I could explore everything by myself, finding the answer for the yet unanswered questions through the textbooks, scientific journals, and asking some friends. Just for your information, there is no such thing as ‘lack of information’, because we have a full access to the most recent articles published in most of the well-known journals. So, there’s no excuse for not being updated! 🙂

Next, about the class atmosphere. UK students are so lively. When the professor ask a question, there must be (at least) two people who raise their hands to answer. When the professor’s explanation seems unclear or (they think) doesn’t make sense, they will give their argumentation. Every lecture always end up with nice discussion between the students and the professor. The difference between UK student and Indonesian student is, they are brave enough to express their idea whilst Indonesian students (including me), sometimes thinking way too much before expressing their brilliant ideas and/or opinions. In this case, we have to learn from them.

Finally, about the exam. Normally, the exam is in the form of essay. There are 5 problems, and usually you just need to choose 3 out of that 5. In a very rare case, the professor will give you a multiple choice kind of exam. But, that’s very rare. A special advice while you’re doing your exam : don’t write a very long paragraph that ends up not answering the question. you won’t get any point for that. A tips if you want to get a high score for your exam : elaborate your answer with examples taken from the recent scientific publication. it’s even better if you can give a new information that your professor hasn’t known yet. Professors in UK, as far as I know, always welcome for some new informations given by students. So don’t worry if you feel that you’re more ‘clever’ than your professor. They totally won’t hate you for that. :p On the contrary, they will be very proud of you. Believe me!

Last but not least, if you’re already accustomed with Indonesian education system, honestly you need to put a little more effort in order to survive in the middle of UK education system. But, you know, it’s fun to be a student in UK. Everyday is a new adventure.

Study in UK : Part 1

I realized that most people coming to this blog after they googled about “studying in UK”. Recently, some Indonesian students contacted me about that query. I think, it’s the time for me to share what I know about this topic so that the information can reach more people out there. I will divide the post into 3 parts. The first part (this post) is about the preparation while you are still in Indonesia. The second part will be about the study in UK itself. And finally, the last part is going to be about finding friends, accommodations, living costs, etc. Hope you find this useful. 🙂

So, the first thing you need to do to apply for a Master program in UK (and I think in most of foreign countries) is to graduate from the university. You may apply before you graduated, but that is risky. Your graduation certificate is in your hand, and it’s time for you to think about the specific subject that you want to study. Then you can browse for the UK universities offering that program. You can find the list of UK universities, along with the programs that they offer in EducationUK‘s website.

The study period for most of the Master programs in UK is one academic year (2 semesters). Yes, it is relatively short. But it’s tiring. Believe me! There are some types of masters, such as MSc, MA, MRes, MEng. etc. I took an MRes degree last year. This degree requires you to conduct a research project as the main requirement to complete your masters. The credits for that research project alone is 100 ECTS, whilst the other 100 ECTS are the credits for all of the theoretical subjects that you take in the first semester. MSc degree is a masters by coursework or it is called “taught master”. However, if you take a master program in medical science (and life science also, I think), although you are an MSc student, you still need to conduct a short period (around 6 weeks) of research before you obtain your degree. MA degree will be given to those students who take such majors as architecture, journalism, music, literature, something like that. MEng is Master of Engineering. There’s an MBA for business students, as well.

After you have found the right universities and the specific program, you have to apply through the online application system. Most of the UK universities do not charge you for the application. However, as far as I know, Oxford University and Cambridge University charge GBP 50 for every application that you make. So, maybe you can also consider that before you decide to apply.

The application consisted of some sections. The most important ones, in my opinion, are motivation letter and references. Motivation letter should be brief and not exceeding 1 A4 page. UK universities usually ask you to provide the contact details of at least two academic referees. Ideally, those referees should be the people who are familiar with your academic performance. You can ask your thesis advisor or one of your lecturers in the university to write recommendation letters for you.

There is a section in the application form where you need to provide the information about your English language test. Normally, UK universities need your IELTS score. They accept TOEFL score, as well. For this matter, the universities are very strict. Your application will be rejected, even if your score just 1 point below the minimum requirement. In some special cases, they will accept you though, but you need to do a pre-sessional English course before you begin your studies. And it will cost you more money, of course! For a Master degree, the minimum IELTS total score requirement is 6.5 or IBT TOEFL score of 90. Just keep in your mind, if you want to give them a TOEFL score, they just accept IBT TOEFL and not the Paper Based TOEFL. So, I suggest you just send them your IELTS score. It’s far easier and simpler for you!

If you have fulfilled all of the requirements and your qualification meets their criteria, you will received an offer letter about 1-2 months after you submitted your online application.

Next step is about finding a scholarship. I’m sure this one is the most interesting for you, scholarship hunters. There are a lot of scholarships available, if you want to search for that. Most of Indonesian coming to the UK with Chevening Scholarship. Yes, those brilliant people. The pre-requirement to apply for this scholarship is a 2-year working experience. So, this is scholarship is definitely not for you, fresh-graduates. And also, the Chevening scholarship holders are required to come back to Indonesia after they finish their studies in UK. Another scholarship is “Beasiswa Unggulan” provided by Dikti. This scholarship do not require you to come back to Indonesia after you have done with your studies in UK. There are also some scholarships that available for people from all nationalities. The most common one is Erasmus Mundus (EM). This scholarship is highly competitive, but sometimes all you need is just a little bit of luck to get this scholarship. lol. This scholarship requires you to do a 2 year Masters in at least 2 European countries. EM scholarship holders must be mobile, indeed. I knew 2  Indonesian friends who were EM students while I was in Newcastle. If you want to know more about EM directly from the EM holders, maybe I can try to give you their contact. Last, but not least, most of the UK universities provide scholarships for international students. But remember, they will not give you a full scholarship for master degree. The maximum amount is 50 % reduction towards the tuition fee. When I was doing my Master, I received a scholarship from Newcastle University. I got around 20 % reduction of the tuition fee. It was not much, but it’s okay. I’m still grateful for that. 🙂

The last section of this post will be about visa application. It’s a little bit tricky. You can refer to all of the informations in the VFS website regarding the student Tier 4 visa application. This is a company which has been appointed by the British Embassy to deal with all of the visa applications. It’s located in Plaza Asia Building  Jalan Jenderal Sudirman, Jakarta. Just bear in your mind that what you need to provide for UK student visa application is BANK STATEMENT, and NOT BANK REFERENCE. I got a problem 2 years ago because of this little misunderstanding. Currently all UK visa applications from Indonesian citizen is no longer being processed in Jakarta. So, you need to allow about 2 months processing time. The best time to start your visa application is right after you got a CAS from the university to which you apply.

So, that’s all the general pre-departure preparation that you need to do, I guess.

Good luck! Feel free to ask me if you need more infos. I’m always happy to share my experience with you guys. 🙂