From Egypt to the UK: International postgraduate student experience
Coming all the way from Egypt to pursue my Master’s degree at The University of Manchester has been an incredible adventure full of new experiences. As an international student adjusting to life in a new country and educational system, I’ve gone through my fair share of challenges but have grown tremendously along the way.
Arriving on campus for the first time was overwhelming yet inspiring. Everything from using the buses for transportation from my home at Salford to UoM to finding my way around the 100+ buildings of the University felt daunting initially. I didn’t get the abbreviations of the Lecture halls, so I was looking for Uni Place, 4.206 as if I was solving a DaVinci code. Moments after my 1st lecture, I felt gratitude and inspiration walking between the University’s old and new buildings and capturing these moments with my camera.
The hardest part in my 1st week was being far from my family and childhood friends in Cairo – adjusting to independence and solving problems alone without my usual support system was difficult at first. However, the university’s Student Union provided invaluable support. I attended social events like the Freshers Fair where I got tons of freebies, Art Workshops like macrame, and meetups to meet other students which made me feel less isolated.
Academically, the rigour of the Master’s program was greater than my undergraduate studies back home. The expectations for critical thinking, creativity, and self-directed learning were different from my past educational system. At times during my first semester, I struggled to balance the heavier course reading load and academic writing in my non-native language. However, visiting the University website helped me work on improving my academic English skills. I also learned to fully utilize daytime and join study groups with classmates which allowed me to constantly improve. Though demanding at first, overcoming these academic obstacles has been immensely rewarding.
While aspects of British culture were somewhat familiar from Western media, experiencing day-to-day customs and social norms first-hand was an interesting learning curve. Everything from food to humour and slang required adjustment. I occasionally made social faux pas or missed references that my classmates understood intuitively. However, I gained precious intercultural communication skills by stepping outside my comfort zone. My perspectives expanded tremendously.
In addition to campus life, I’ve loved exploring the city of Manchester and making it my new home. From visiting museums like the Manchester Art Gallery in the city centre, to experiencing Egyptian Mummies for the 1st time in the Manchester Museum, there is always something interesting happening around town. I also enjoy how Manchester provides easy access to outdoor spaces like parks for a break from studies. The city has such a rich history and culture that even after three months here, I’m still finding new favourite spots. As a student, Manchester offers the perfect balance of both an academic environment on campus and plenty of things to do around the city for entertainment.
Overall, pursuing a Master’s degree at The University of Manchester as an international student from Egypt is empowering me professionally and personally every day. I’ve become much more independent, grown intellectually, and gained lasting global connections. Learning to live and thrive outside my home country is a priceless life experience. My advice to future international students is to boldly embrace the challenges that come your way. Seek help and support when needed and cherish the immense personal growth you’ll achieve. The rewards truly make every obstacle along the way worthwhile.
Written by Ahmed, current MA Digital Technologies, Communications and Education student at The University of Manchester