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Interview with Irina, student at University of London

A student from Saratov, who received a scholarship to study at the University of London, told us about his experience of receiving scholarships, study and work in England.

EI: Hello, Irina! Tell us a little about yourself (where are you from, how old you are). How is it that you were in England?
Irina: Hi! I'm 25 years old, I was born and lived in Saratov until he came to London in September 2013.
I have always been interested to see the UK, and when it's time to think what I will do after finishing graduate school, I decided to look for happiness in London.
My choice fell on a British government scholarship, Chevening, which does not limit the student choice of University covers the full cost of the master program, as well as the costs of accommodation and travel to place of study.

EI: In what year were you admitted to Birkbeck? Was it your first choice University, or filed somewhere else? Why Birkbeck? What attracted you to this University?
Irina: I started the application process in the fall of 2012, almost a year prior to the study. In the application for a scholarship Chevening scholarship , you must specify three specific programs in three different universities in the UK, and at the time of application the candidate should have at least apply to these universities. That's why I came and entered in addition to Birkbeck, in City University and Brunel.
But first on my list was precisely Birkbeck, primarily due to its unique master program on constitutional law. In addition, most programs at this College are evening (I have, for example, all classes are held from six to nine o'clock), it allows students to work during the day.

EI: you were in Birkbeck? Tell us about your experience.
Irina: I knew that studying abroad I would in any case be the required language exam. Though most of the universities accept IELTS and TOEFL, I decided that I was more suitable IELTS and began to prepare for the exam in advance. Receiving a scholarship of the rector of the Saratov state law Academy, where I studied at that time in graduate school, I took a 4 week course at Mayfair School of English in London and successfully passed the exam on 7.5 points (which is sufficient for admission to almost any University in the world) in August 2012.
The application process is quite detailed on the website of the respective University. You need to fill in the online form-application, upload the required documents (including the results of a language test, degree with application, two recommendations and a motivation letter).

EI: if you are Faced with any difficulties when applying to a University as a foreign student? If so, tell us about it in more detail.
Irina: I started preparing in advance, so I had enough time to prepare all the documents, in particular: to make a notarized translation of your diploma, to contact my references and to prepare translations of their letters of recommendation. The most important part of the application - cover letter (motivation letter) - the writing should be approached with the utmost seriousness.
At the final stage I had a small problem with proof that I graduated from graduate school, because in Russia diploma on completion of the course are not issued and the diploma of candidate of legal Sciences of the Higher attestation Commission takes quite a long time - British, such a system is not particularly clear. But, in the end, a certificate from University that I had dropped out of graduate school in connection with the defense of the dissertation, arranged admissions office.
The University has prepared an invitation for visa very quickly. It was a little disturbing to hand over the documents to the visa center, because you want to confirm that the necessary teaching and living the funds are in the account at least a month (that's worth thinking about in advance!). In addition, from may 2013 to interview applicants for a student visa, and it was not clear how this procedure goes. In the end it was not so scary - the interview questions were fairly simple and expected and passport with visa I received within a week.

EI: does Birkbeck scholarships for foreign students? Do you know of students that have received scholarships?
Irina: in Addition to the Chevening scholarships I applied to and scholarships offered by the universities themselves. Birkbeck offers a number of scholarships, including for international students.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) I was selected as a reserve candidate for a Chevening scholarship, but the scholarship I received. I got the School of Law Postgraduate Fee Awards for Master's students at Birkbeck. The school of law annually awards two scholarships, which cover tuition for a master's program for citizens of the European Union. I am very grateful to my parents that they supported me morally and financially and helped pay for the remaining difference between the cost of education for foreign and local students (a little less than half of tuition) and other necessary expenses. If they do not, then I would hardly be in London now.

EI: what kind of program you're learning? At what rate? What are your impressions of the program? If you have a favorite subject, teacher?
Irina: Constitutional law is a passion of mine from the first course, which is why I chose this unique master's program Constitutional Theory, Law and History LLM. For students obrazuyuscikhsya full-time (full-time), it lasts for a year from September to September, so this is my first and only year. I really like the critical approach, which is practiced in Birkbeck and at each seminar I feel that my consciousness is expanding, and the perception of the world is changing. In addition to the two core modules on constitutional law, I have the 4 optional subject.
I was very surprised to hear that one of our professors - bill Bowring - speaks Russian and is working closely with Russia and Russian universities. He was appointed my supervisor for the thesis, I am very pleased.

EI: Who studies with you at your program? A lot of foreigners, Russian-speaking students? Were you able to have close friends, and who are they – Russians, foreigners, British? With whom it is easier to find a common language?

Irina: Group my program is quite small - apart from a few Brits with me students from different countries, which helps us to better understand the constitutional problems in different parts of the world. In addition, we engaged students from other master's programs, and it turns out that in each workshop I am surrounded by different people. With my closest girlfriends and friends I met during the installation week, International Week, organized by the international Department - many of them foreigners, but there are also British, and some Russian speakers. My circle of friends is not limited to friends from the University, I try to get acquainted with different people.

EI: What do you do in your free time? Do you have a hobby? Are you in any student clubs? Tell us a little about it.
Irina: Arriving in London, I thought to myself that this year I will not have two identical days, so my extracurricular activities are very diverse. I work two days a week, quite a lot of time in the library or at home, preparing for classes, and the rest attend various trainings at the University, public lectures, Comedy shows, drink, play in Encounter, go to museums, exhibitions etc. in London there is entertainment for every taste!
College Birkbeck is part of University of London, therefore, in addition to student clubs at Birkbeck, students are automatically University of London Union and can participate in all clubs and activities. I attend the events, sponsored by different clubs, but she was not involved in their organization.
I write an online diary, in which I described every day of my awesome life in London. It is primarily intended for my family and friends, but if someone's interested I'd be happy to see everyone as their readers www.s0ntik.livejournal.com. Blog from learn first hand what life is like for a foreign student in London.

EI: do you Work? It is not difficult to combine study and work?
Yes, I'm working. I have a month to get used to his new life in London – looking for housing, to get used to University and the workload, and then began looking for work. Actually, that's the hardest part of the job is to find her! In connection with the enlargement of the European Union and a large influx of labour migrants to the UK and London in particular - to find a job is very difficult. The matter is further complicated by the fact that, as I said, you can only work part-time (student visa in the UK can work up to 20 hours per week). So you need to be prepared for the fact that the job search will take months. I sent my resume to a completely different job – from personal assistant to waitress, but eventually got a job in a travel Agency, it is possible to tell, by a lucky chance. Me to combine work and study is not too difficult, but I think it is very individual – I worked while studying in Russia, besides, I not too intense program at the University, a little classroom and a lot of self-study.

EI: What are your plans after graduation? Where would you like to live and work in the future in England, in Russia or somewhere else? Does the University find a job after graduation, especially for international students?
Irina: This is probably the most difficult question. I don't know where I'll be after graduation. I love London, but the interior Ministry is strictly related to the migrants. While I am considering various options for further developments.
At Birkbeck there is a Careers Service, conducts seminars on various employment: how to find a job, how to write a resume, etc. At the University of London has an excellent website with vacancies, where employers post ads, aimed at students/graduates. In addition, you can sign up for a personal consultation, where all the attention will be paid to the problems and issues of a particular student. All this helped me improve my resume.

EI: Irina, thank you very much for this interview! What would you like to say in closing to our readers?
I can confidently say that life in London is one of the most remarkable periods in my life.
The decision to come was not spontaneous, I began to prepare in advance - have prepared and passed the language test; reviewed the websites of all universities in the UK offering master's programmes to find the programme suitable for me, and enrolled in all the universities that chose; and he received a scholarship. If you're hoping for a scholarship, the application process should begin much in advance, because the timing is very strict, and the requirements are high.
All who are still choosing a school, I suggest you look closely at Birkbeck is a University that is included in the world rankings, offers a diverse and unique programs, gathered within the walls of world-class specialists in different fields of knowledge, uses innovative teaching methods, organizes a variety of extracurricular activities and is proud of its graduates from different countries.