Studying in the UK can be quite an adventure. For many, it is a splendid opportunity to discover the UK’s unique culture, cities and countryside. Join Elizabeth Kow, Drama and Theatre Arts student from Goldsmiths, University of London, and Shawn Ong, Business Management student from King’s College London, as they share why you should choose an education from the UK.
What cemented your decision to study in the UK?
Elizabeth Kow: I was elated when I got Goldsmiths’ offer. It had always been my dream since secondary school to study and live in London. When anyone mentions drama or theatre, the first country that comes to mind is England – the land of Shakespeare, iconic movie scenes, famous actors and of course, Harry Potter. The opportunity to realise this lifelong dream of mine was the primary motivator and I was so pleased with my parents for letting me do it.
I wanted a balance between theory and practice and Goldsmiths’ course structure offered this. Also, I conducted some research on their alumni and the various career paths that were available to its graduates firmed up my decision.
Shawn Ong: I saw this opportunity as a gateway to more options and this was what motivated me to travel halfway across the globe. I picked King’s College London due to its strong historical heritage and world-class reputation.
Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Drama and Theatre Arts,
Goldsmiths, University of London
Outside of school activities, what do you do for fun?
Elizabeth: I am part of a dance group that meets weekly to indulge in our passion for dance. Aside from cultivating my dancing skills, it is great for making and learning from like-minded friends. Occasionally, I am also a front-of-house volunteer at the Battersea Arts Centre. This keeps me clued in on what’s new at the theatre and I get to watch some shows for free. It’s not the West End but that’s what I love about this Arts Centre – they are avid supporters of new work and always have a refreshing event calendar.
Shawn: I’m involved in Canoe Polo and was even the club treasurer during my second year. The University of London (UOL) Canoe Polo club comprises of players from all the London universities coming together to represent London. We go around the UK to compete with other universities and open category teams. It has been an amazing experience!
Shawn Ong Wei Quan
Bachelor of Science in Business Management,
King’s College London
Describe a memorable episode you experienced in the UK.
Elizabeth: In my first year, I was very self-conscious of the fact that I had a different accent because some people found it hard to understand, especially the way I pronounced certain words. I decided to confront it by volunteering to present during a tutorial. We were learning how to critique performances and I presented what the group wrote about a performance we had watched. To my surprise, the lecturer praised me for my presentation. It really boosted my self-confidence and made me proud of the fact that I was an international student.
Shawn: I have been on three different road trips in the UK, during which we rent a car or van and just travel across the country. I distinctly remember once when we rented a camping van – one that allowed us to pitch a tent on top. As it was so cold at night, we decided that the best way to reward ourselves was to have a steamboat feast in the van! As such, we went to the nearby groceries store and stocked up on food. What an amazing time we had in the van, parked beside a nice still lake, while enjoying our steamboat the Singaporean way.
How has living and studying in the UK contributed to your holistic development?
Elizabeth: Living independently in the UK has definitely taught me how to manage my finances and balance work and social life. I also feel that moving away from home has instilled in me the confidence and tenacity to produce my own projects.
Shawn: Studying in the UK, especially in London, has opened my eyes to different working styles and more importantly, the way people from different backgrounds think. People in the UK are generally more willing to voice their opinions. It is a little different from Singapore, where people are more conservative. In the UK, you also get to see how interactive lectures and tutorials help improve creativity and broaden our perspective.
How about some advice for polytechnic students considering a UK education?
Elizabeth: Do as much research as possible about the potential courses and institutions you are exploring. Consider the upsides and downsides of each option. If your heart yearns to do it, you probably should. It may be difficult at times but then again, nothing good in life ever comes easy.
Shawn: If you are presented with the opportunity, just do it! Coming to the UK will immensely enrich your educational experience and it is unlike anything in Singapore where you find comfort in the familiarities of daily living. Studying in the UK is not just about heading there and achieving good grades but it is also about establishing a whole new lifestyle. Living like a local in a foreign land and experiencing what life is like in another part of the world is a rare experience that you should treasure because it will be harder to do so after you settle down and start a family or enter the corporate world.