The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper

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Food & Health

Being an EU Student in the UK

Portsmouth student, Carolina, tells us of her struggles and strengths of moving to the UK to study

Throughout my education, I always dreamt about taking the next step when it came to my University years. Not just because I wanted to get away from what I knew, but also because my chance at the career I actually wanted to pursue would be bigger and better. Being Portuguese and choosing an artistic career would take me to one place: the job centre. Being a writer, musician, actor or artist was only for the lucky ones and those who begun from an early age. I wasn’t so lucky, so that’s when I knew that to give myself the best chance, I would have to move away.

My first day at University was terrifying. I knew that studying in a different language would be harder but was confident that with time I’d get used to it. The worst thing was the fact that all of the other students had already studied something related to our course and I hadn’t. I hadn’t because I’d never been given the choice. Reading Level 4 on the presentation slides for every unit gave me shivers. I had no levels 1, 2 or 3. I had only been accepted into Uni because I decided to start a blog, but I had never been taught things such as ‘how to write a character profile’ or ‘what the structure of a good plot is’.

As the year progressed it became very clear to me that the ‘amazing Uni years’ would come with a lot of hard work and little social life, at least for me. As an EU student I was entitled to a loan to cover the University fees but because I hadn’t lived in the UK for 3 or more years, I wasn’t entitled to the maintenance loan. At first, the idea of having to work an almost full-time job whilst studying didn’t seem impossible. I had friends who had done it so knew that if they could, so could I. When I eventually found a job in December 2016, reality kicked in. I had said goodbye to my parents in August, hoping to see them again at Christmas but this was no longer possible due to my new-found job. The reality was that my parents couldn’t cover my expenses anymore, so I had to work in order to provide for myself and therefore the ‘teenage years’ were over for me.

Now I’m not saying it was all work and no fun because it wasn’t. I did have friends; I did have activities in my spare time but in order to have all of this I had to learn to prioritise. Have I achieved the perfect prioritising system? No way. I’m still a procrastinator, I still leave things to the last minute just like any other student. I don’t believe I will ever perfect this prioritising system while at University for one simple reason: people my age are not meant to study full-time whilst working full-time. It just doesn’t work. There’s no way to live a healthy lifestyle or be emotionally and mentally stable while doing this. Only a superhero would be able to lead such a life. If you feel like things are not working out the way you expected them to when you first came to University, that’s okay, you’re not alone. Although a lot is expected of us during these 3 years, it’s still very much a time to discover ourselves, make mistakes and learn from them.

What have I learnt in these 2 years of University, you may ask. I’ve learnt not to compare myself to others because everyone is on their own journey. While some people might be aiming to get perfect marks with every assignment they write, I aim to make the most of this time without worrying too much about comes next. I’ve learnt that life will be an emotional rollercoaster if you don’t prioritise your health and wellbeing over everything. And finally, I’ve learnt that stepping outside my comfort zone when I made the decision not to study in Portugal was the best risk I could ever take. I’m not even close to being prepared for life but this experience has made me grow in so many different ways that if it happened that I needed to depend only on myself, I could. That’s what University is about, learning how to be on your own and taking care of yourself.