It’s a constant battle and the pressure mounts up. It can really get to you
Being an international student is never easy.
For one thing, a lot of people assume you’re either from a wealthy background or you’re eligible for a student loan just like someone from here. Neither of those is true for me. There are visas – and the fees that go with them, as well as immigration bureaucracy – to deal with. Then there’s tuition as well, course materials and generally just trying to keep a roof over your head. It’s a constant battle. It mounts up and up, and so does the pressure. It can really get to you. I’m not going to go into the whole saga of red tape that still takes up so much of my time and energy. If I’m being truthful, it can be humiliating and it gets you down, the constant hassle. It really does. The university does understand but there’s only so much it can do.
I’ve found overwhelming support and kindness from friends, lecturers & teammates
That being said, I love my course. I’m glad I chose to come from Australia to study here. I didn’t know anyone when I arrived and had to form a new support network from scratch. As a person with autism who’s not the most extroverted, that’s difficult. But while I’ve definitely had my share of problems, I’ve also found overwhelming support and kindness from friends, lecturers and classmates. I found the personal tutor system very good for providing guidance and support regarding non-coursework-related issues – and there’s been plenty of them.
There’s not a huge number women in Civil Engineering, but we stick together. We’re there to cheer each other’s successes and we’re there in the low times too – especially during lockdown, for me when they’ve become like a second family.
I was keen to get involved with sailing here, and it’s been brilliant
I grew up around the water and sailing. I’ve always found it a completely magical sport, where you can just leave your worries behind you on the shore. So I was keen to get involved with sailing at Queen’s and it’s been brilliant. A lot colder than I’m used to – of course! – but brilliant all the same. Our crew has banded together and they’ve been my biggest support in the hardest times.
Similarly, my lecturers have provided a rock of stability in my life, encouraging me and giving me the chance to explore wherever my mind leads and find a true passion for my field of study. I’ve become fascinated with concrete as material, believe it or not, and after I graduate I’m hoping to find a job working in marine engineering projects. My immigration status is an issue that some recruiters just don’t want to deal with, but I’ll keep going until I get to where I want to be.
I’m in my final year now and I can’t speak more highly of my time here at Queen’s and the support from everyone. I honestly feel that I have found a home here.
Mental Health issues can affect anyone at any time. But confidential, professional help is available through the University.
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