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Diaries

Perugia
Perugia

A new-found respect

by Heather Kenny
Diarist Heather has been visiting a friend studying in Italy and is impressed by anyone who can cope with adapting to student life as well as living in a different culture with a different language.

About Heather

"Hello my name is Heather I am a second year Public Relations student at Leeds Metropolitan University.

"Originally from Preston I am never far from home. I took a year off to travel round the world after college and after a Fresher's year full of meeting new friends and the shock of going back into full time education, I am now settling in properly into my second year, being a Leeds student!!"

"The hard work is becoming a reality now and I'm having to start looking forward to and start planning a year out placement next year. Is it just me or is everything happening so fast?

"I have taken a few new things on this year such as a job (novel I know!) and I have started a foundation course in Spanish to expand my knowledge in languages."

I recently went to visit one of my close friends in Perugia in Italy where she is studying at University for a year as part of her degree. The experience of meeting and talking to international students in a foreign country who were English, brought it home to me how hard it must be for students to study abroad.

The anxiety that one feels when starting a new semester must escalate to a new level if that semester began in a new country away from your family and friends.

Perugia is a university town renowned for the amount of international students it attracts, so there is a lovely mixed-culture environment welcoming you as a visitor. Whilst there, I met people from Italy, Greece, Mexico and Australia who were all within the same friendship group and I asked myself would I find the same integration at my university, would this happen in Leeds?

I got back to England and started to notice those around me a lot more. When at university I saw that a lot of the international students seemed to socialise together rather than seeing English students and students from abroad mixing in a social environment outside of university hours. 

It upset me slightly, because I always felt I lived in a culturally diverse environment and the lack of integration brought it home that as students, the next generation, we could be more welcoming towards those students wanting to study in Britain.

When students come over here, English isn't usually their first language and this isn't made any better by the often cold reception they must receive as a newcomer in a foreign country.

I now have a new found respect for international students and the courage it must take to do not just one year but often a whole degree abroad, to embrace completely different cultures, languages and then to pass their qualifications through doing exams and coursework without the aid of their mother tongue.

last updated: 13/03/07
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