31 March 2020
Moving to a foreign country for me was extremely challenging, but right now, I am proud of my decision. I am from Lithuania, and my trip started from there. It was not easy to say goodbye to my family, friends and hobbies, but it was a new beginning in my life.
The first day at university was scary, but at the same time, exciting. I didn't know anyone, and I was not very confident about my English level. Freshers’ Week helped me to meet new people, understand what I should expect from life in the UK and find new activities which I would do for the entire year. Day by day I started to make more connections and friends who became a part of my life at ARU.
I spent the first month adapting to my new beginning. I had to buy lots of stuff for my room and kitchen. Moreover, I started to explore the city which would be my home for three years. Also, I met my tutors for the first time, and I started to get acquainted with the UK study system. At the beginning, for me, understanding the British accent was most challenging. I started to worry: could I do this? I was shy to ask or to say anything during class, even when I knew the right answer.
After a few weeks, things started to get better. I started to understand my tutor better and get involved in the class. Finally, I had to comprehend that it was my new life and it was set to be a unique and unforgettable experience.
As I mentioned before, the first few weeks were a challenge, as I had to get used to the UK study system. However, after this time passed, I loved my classes and my course. In Lithuania, my home country, it is very different. Tutors in the UK, I have found, are more friendly and open-minded. You can easily get support during the class or after. It is a normal thing to meet and go for coffee with your tutor and chat, not only about your studies, but about anything you want to. That really impressed me.
To upgrade your English level, the university provides free English support classes, where you can improve your knowledge and get personal support. I joined the classes, and I can say they were useful. Also, there is a lot of support around to get you prepared for your assignments and presentations. Furthermore, each student receives a personal tutor who can help and answer any questions about your studies or student life. I was nervous about my assignments, which I had to pass. Despite that, I received high marks for my work, which motivated me to go further.
There are many different societies you can find, join and create! When I enrolled into university, I didn't imagine that I would be part of any society. Now I am the President of the Karaoke Society. I have to be honest, I am not the best singer, but during freshers’ karaoke night, my new friends and I met the Students' Union President, who told us that they did not have a karaoke society. After not so long consideration with my friends, we decided to create it.
Since that time, we have organised and hosted all karaoke events on the ARU Chelmsford campus. Each month we have at least one karaoke event, which has become very popular. Of course, running a society is not only about having fun during events, but does involve a lot of work. We have to organise events, prepare the promotion and join all the training and forums ARU Students’ Union put together for us. Currently, we are working on our new aims and plans for the next academic year to develop our society further.
Students can also find a variety of sports to take part in. I am actually a professional swimmer, but unfortunately, Chelmsford campus doesn't have a swimming team. I decided that I still wanted to do some sports, though. During Freshers’ week, I met ARU’s Volleyball Sport Activator, who invited me to try out volleyball. I tried it and I enjoyed it straight away! I hadn't played volleyball before as my whole my life has been devoted to swimming. At the very beginning it was quite difficult for me, but I was not the only student there who didn't know how to play. I now continue to develop my skills and I am happy that I found an opportunity to learn a new sport.
Social life is one of the most crucial things in the whole student experience for me. It has helped me to stay mentally strong, deal with cultural shock, and made my friendships stronger. During Freshers’ Week there were a significant number of events inside and outside of the university. Everyone, when they join ARU, will find what they want to do and be involved in. There are different games, parties, special events, free food evenings and much more. My main piece of advice for future ARU students attending Freshers’ Week is… try as much as you can and go everywhere!
My friends and I like to go out sometimes. In the town centre, you can find a mix of different kinds of night clubs and various pubs and bars. When we get tired from parties, we usually go to the cinema, ice-skating, bowling or just for a walk around the town or through Chelmsford’s central park. Also, we love to arrange movie nights in one of our rooms and watch together in a nice, cosy atmosphere.
During my free time, I like to sleep, stay at home, and call my friends and family. I also have a part-time job in a restaurant, and sometimes I work as an ARU Student Ambassador. I enjoy the role of Student Ambassador as I get to work at Open Days, where I can share my experience with new potential students looking to study at ARU. I spend a lot of time exercising or taking part in sports, I go to the gym at least three times a week and swim at least twice a week. When I’m not working or exercising, I love to cook some tasty, healthy food which will last me a few days.
My first-year experience has been unforgettable. I have made lots of new friends and am now more confident about my English and have a better understanding of the British accent. Many different members of ARU staff have supported me throughout the year. I look forward to the start of my second year and facing new challenges and new experiences.
By Deividas Nikulin