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Student spotlight: “Studying abroad is a unique opportunity, so pursue your passions and immerse yourself in each moment."

Updated on: Oct 18, 2023
Student spotlight: “Studying abroad is a unique opportunity, so pursue your passions and immerse yourself in each moment."
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"Studying abroad has always been a goal of mine to gain international experience, learn about new cultures, and improve my career prospects," says Yifei.

Hailing from a bustling metropolis in southwest China, Yifei studied Automotive Engineering for her undergraduate degree before setting her sights on a Marketing Master's program abroad. 

Now at Cardiff University in Wales, her first time overseas, Yifei reflects on the motivations, tribulations, and triumphs that have defined her educational journey so far.

Yifei at a party

Yifei's quest for international education began as many do - with starry-eyed dreams of expanding perspectives. But her vision was matched by pragmatism, hoping to gain an edge in China's competitive job market. 

After months of research and application paperwork, Yifei took the leap, buoyed by her sense of adventure. Yet day-to-day life as a foreign student brought unforeseen challenges, from language barriers to cultural discomfort.

For Yifei and the thousands of Chinese students like her, studying abroad brings as many lessons outside the classroom as within. By sharing her story, Yifei sheds light on the realities of overseas academics and offers guidance to those aspiring to follow in her footsteps. 

Are you feeling inspired by Yifei's journey and considering your own academic adventure abroad? Start your application process with Edvoy today and get personalised assistance every step of the way.

Join Yifei's journey as she narrates her motivations, deliberations, and experiences - an intimate look at the triumphs and tribulations of leaving home in pursuit of education.

Motivation to study abroad

Yifei's decision to pursue overseas education was driven by twin aspirations - advancing her career and enriching herself culturally.

I was interested in experiencing a new culture and expanding my worldview.

"Studying abroad has always been a goal of mine," she stated, "to gain international experience, learn about new cultures, and improve my career prospects." In an increasingly globalized world, Yifei recognized that international exposure could expand her mindset and distinguish her professionally.

Yifei also sought to immerse herself in a new cultural landscape. "I was interested in experiencing a new culture and expanding my worldview," she explained. To her, studying in the UK represented a rare opportunity to gain firsthand exposure to the intricacies of British life.

Yifei also hoped studying abroad would give her an edge in China's crowded job market after graduation. "The job market is very competitive in China with many graduate students competing for jobs," she noted. The international perspective and experiences she would gain abroad could provide a vital advantage.

Her voice brimming with excitement, Yifei envisioned the personal growth and professional development that studying overseas could offer. By pursuing higher education abroad, she aimed to enrich her cultural outlook, strengthen her career prospects, and fulfill a lifelong dream. This vibrant mix of goals propelled Yifei's educational journey.

Everything you need to study abroad
Get step-by-step guidance all through your study-abroad journey

Choosing the UK and Cardiff University

Several key factors guided Yifei to pursue her Master’s degree specifically in the UK and at Cardiff University.

The accelerated one-year duration of Master’s programs in the UK appealed to Yifei, as she could earn her degree faster than in other countries. The condensed timeline aligned with her goals.

Beyond logistics, Yifei was drawn to the UK’s rich cultural heritage. As she explained, “I’ve always been fascinated by the UK’s culture. It’s rich in history, much like China, and I appreciate the cultural nuances.” Studying in Cardiff allowed her to delve into Welsh tradition.

Yifei at Durdle Door arch in Dorset, England

Safety was another consideration, as Yifei’s parents sought reassurance she would be secure. The UK seemed a safe choice amid global tensions. 

Additionally, the UK’s perceived openness towards Chinese students given the political climate impacted Yifei’s decision. She felt the UK offered a more welcoming environment.

In selecting Cardiff University specifically, Yifei valued that it was the capital of Wales, similar to Beijing’s role in China. She expected a capital city would provide greater support and opportunities. 

After researching alternatives like Australia and other UK universities, Yifei determined Cardiff University in Wales best matched her needs. Its accelerated degree, cultural richness, security, and capital city status offered the ideal fit.

Also read: 10 facts to consider before applying for a masters in the UK

Preparing for IELTS 

Yifei's journey to academic success in the UK required intensive IELTS preparation and perseverance to conquer language barriers. She invested copious time practicing the exam's listening, reading, writing, and speaking sections. However, as a Chinese student, Yifei faced particular challenges with the listening and speaking components. 

She quickly realised the IELTS test emphasised practical language use rather than grammar perfection. "In China, the focus is on grammar rules, but IELTS tests real comprehension and communication," Yifei explained. Resources like news articles helped strengthen her reading skills. Yet improving listening and speaking proved more difficult.

IELTS practice

In China's Mandarin-speaking society, conversing in English is uncommon. "We don't have a natural English environment; speaking English can be perceived as showing off," Yifei noted. To get comfortable speaking, she engaged in English conversations daily, from simple greetings to describing her day. Immersing in English radio, TV, and podcasts honed her listening abilities.

However, overcoming the fear of mistakes was Yifei's biggest hurdle. "I had to remind myself it's okay to make errors as long as I keep practicing," she said. Even simple conversations expanded her oral fluency.

I wish I had worked more on improving my English proficiency.

Yifei's anxiety spiked on test day, given her extensive preparation. Moreover, COVID-related cancellations heightened her stress. "My test got postponed three to five times due to the pandemic," she recalled. When the long-awaited test date finally arrived, nerves accompanied Yifei to the test center. Through perseverance and practice, especially in listening and speaking, Yifei gained the skills she needed to excel.

In reflecting on her journey, Yifei wished she had focused more on honing her English abilities earlier: "I wish I had worked more on improving my English proficiency. Being in a country where English is the primary language, it's essential to have strong communication skills."

Through self-driven preparation and persevering past language barriers, Yifei gained the proficiency to excel in her overseas academic program.

Also read: How to crack IELTS in 3 months

Applying with Edvoy

Yifei used Edvoy to guide her through the intricate process of applying for overseas studies.

She first discovered Edvoy accidentally through social media. Initially unsure, Yifei reached out to learn more. 

Edvoy staff

As she described, "The staff at Edvoy were incredibly passionate and helpful. One of them even reached out to me via WeChat, and we had a detailed conversation about the application process." Their expertise convinced Yifei to use the services on offer.

Also read: Top 10 reasons to use a study abroad counsellor

However, Yifei did extensive independent research beforehand to fully understand the application requirements. As she noted, "It wasn't an easy decision, as I had to verify many details to ensure everything was in order." 

With Edvoy's assistance complementing her own diligence, Yifei was able to successfully navigate the complex application process and paperwork required to embark on her overseas academic journey. Edvoy’s guidance and support proved invaluable in turning her study abroad aspirations into reality.

Everything you need to study abroad
Get step-by-step guidance all through your study-abroad journey

Life as an international student

For Yifei, daily life as an international student in the UK brought abundant academic support coupled with cultural barriers. Adjusting to this new environment required both diligence and open-mindedness.

Academically, Yifei found copious resources for success, including "a robust internet network, well-stocked library, and supportive staff" at her university. However, she noticed some rigidities in the marketing curriculum compared to real-world practices. "Some course content doesn't reflect actual marketing work," Yifei explained. She felt integrating more hands-on learning could better equip international students for employability in their home countries.

Socially, Yifei experienced occasional culture shock, like when locals singled her out with unwelcoming gestures on the street. "It's been challenging to fully integrate into local student circles," she noted. Yet positive interactions also occurred, as simple hellos from passersby made Yifei feel welcomed.

To unwind, Yifei visited friends, worked a part-time job at Tesco, and joined festivities like Halloween, where she dressed up as the joker and carved pumpkins with locals. Initially overwhelmed with balancing work and studies, tools like Grammarly and peer support aided her: "Fellow students share experiences and provide guidance for achieving goals."

Yifei dressed as the joker for halloween

Through dedication and an open mindset, Yifei found a sense of belonging. While facing adjustments, she embraced academic resources and cross-cultural connections to thrive as an international student

Advice for future students

Looking back on her overseas academic journey, Yifei hoped to provide guidance to those considering studying abroad. 

Regarding language preparation, she stressed: "Hone your English skills early. Fluency is essential for academic and social success in an English-speaking country." Don't underestimate the time needed to gain comfort conversing, reading, writing, and listening in English.

On academic diligence, Yifei advised: "Be prepared for intense study. Achieving top grades requires immense dedication, especially adjusting to a new academic culture." Set expectations for a heavy workload and utilize time management strategies. 

Lecture slides at Cardiff University 

Yifei also urged students to actively build connections, noting: "Establish relationships early on, especially with tutors who can provide invaluable support." Seek out peers, professors, advisors, and campus groups to find your footing.

However, Yifei's core advice was to embrace the journey wholeheartedly. "Live without regrets! Studying abroad is a unique opportunity, so pursue your passions and immerse yourself in each moment," she encouraged.

By enhancing language skills, connecting with others, anticipating academic demands, and fully engaging in the experience, students can thrive during their overseas adventures. Yifei's wisdom offers insight for future globetrotting scholars.

Key takeaways from Yifei's journey

Yifei's inspirational account of studying abroad as an international student offers several key lessons:

- Begin preparing early - From language skills to financial planning, take steps to get ready for an overseas academic journey well in advance. 

- Embrace challenges as learning opportunities - Obstacles like culture shock or language barriers come with valuable lessons if approached with an open mind.

- Immerse yourself in the local culture - Studying abroad is a special chance to expand your worldview. Seek out cultural experiences.

- Foster connections for support - Build relationships with advisors, professors, peers and campus groups to ease the transition.

- Balance academics with self-care - Make time for friends, activities and rest amidst your studies to maintain motivation.

- Stay focused on your goals - Keep sight of your original motivations and aspirations that started your journey.

With passion, preparation, perseverance and an open heart, students can have an enriching overseas adventure. Yifei's story provides inspiration and wisdom for those considering their own study abroad experience.

Turn study abroad dreams into reality

Inspired by Yifei's journey and ready for your own adventure overseas? Edvoy can help you turn aspirations into reality.

With end-to-end guidance, we'll assist with:

  • Finding the ideal program and destination
  • Selecting the perfect university
  • Managing applications and paperwork
  • Accessing scholarships
  • Preparing for language tests
  • Planning all practical details

Don't just dream about studying abroad, make it happen! With Edvoy's passion and expertise, an international education is within reach.

Start your journey and begin a conversation with a friendly Edvoy Counsellor and download the app today.

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Say hello to Chris, the Content Manager at Edvoy, based in Manchester. He enjoys running, reading, walking his dog, and ...Read More

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