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Voices VO LU M E T E N


Voices is a student-led campaign headed by Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union, providing a platform for people whose voices might previously have been lost in the noise.

Trigger Warning This publication contains language which may be offensive to some readers and references to issues which may be triggering to survivors. If you need to talk to someone, please contact the Student Support Services team or visit fxu.org.uk/welfare

VOICES VOLUME TEN I N T E R N AT I O N A L M A R C H 2019


International A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR


As Brexit looms closer, the UK still finds itself in an increasingly chaotic situation. The government are panicking about trade deals, tariffs and borders, but they seem to forget about the people on the ground that will be affected by the deal (or lack of deal) made. So, to coincide with the UK leaving the European Union, Voices’ International volume is a chance to hear the stories of students who have ventured from other countries to study in Britain. This is an opportunity to find out about their home cultures, their experience of life in the UK, and their thoughts on how Brexit might affect them in the future. Allie Guy Editor-in-Chief


RHIANNON DAVIES

W

here am I from? That is a question that

I really have a difficult time answering. Do I answer it like my mum is American and my dad is British but I grew up in Singapore? But people don’t want that, they want a straightforward answer. I’d like

I’m making a home for myself in Falmouth

to think that it’s Singapore, because that’s where I grew up, but I am also American, and British too. I went to a British international school, so I did my GCSEs and my A-Levels. My school trips were insane: I went to India, Gopeng in Malaysia, Vietnam. I can’t really beat my field trips. It was only different in the sense that a lot of students were British so I was aware of that culture. My friends were international and many were Muslim, Hindu

my parents moved to Aberdeen was a bit of a funky

and other religions. My parents moved back to the

time, especially with my mum getting deported

UK because of my dad’s company. My dad works

from the UK because her visa ran out. Then they

in the oil industry and has moved around a lot. I

got moved back to Singapore and it really hasn’t

wanted to come here for university because I have

felt the same since, because we had to move to a

never lived here and I wanted to. I felt like I didn’t

house that I had no emotional attachment to and

have that much of a connection to being British,

all my friends had moved away. So, this time, going

I felt more American, but I made the decision to

back for Christmas didn’t feel like home as much.

come and, coincidentally, my dad’s company was

But then I don’t know if that’s because I’m making

relocating him to Aberdeen, so it all just kind of

a home for myself in Falmouth.

worked out.

When I first got here, it was really strange. It felt

Singapore changes so quickly and every time

overwhelmingly like everyone was the same in the

you go something new pops up, but it always felt

UK—there wasn’t much diversity. It was tough be-

like I was going home, even once all my friends

cause if you tell people where you come from you

went away. It felt like home because I knew all of

can come across as really entitled and privileged. I

the places and where to go. I moved house a lot as

really had to tone back how I spoke. A lot of peo-

well, which helped. So coming to university when

ple thought I was kind of a ‘rich b*tch’ because I


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RHIANNON DAVIES

grew up in Singapore. Telling people I had a maid

I have friends who say they want to go home, but

growing up, people look at me like I don’t know

it’s so expensive and takes so long. If my parents

how to look after myself, but I have to stress that

lived in the UK I would take any opportunity I

that was the done thing, everyone grew up with a

could to go and see them. I can only talk to my

maid. People perceive me like a princess and I’d

parents, when they’re in Singapore, in the morning

like to think that I’m not. I’ve been quite lucky that

until 3pm at the latest. If something happens in

the people I surround myself with don’t judge me,

the evening and I really need to speak with them, I

but other people I know have struggled with it.

can’t talk to them until the morning unless I wake

Getting home can take between 18 to 25 hours

them up, but I’d rather save that for an emergency.

depending on travel. My parents have to fork out a

It was my birthday recently and they were travel-

grand when I want to go home, which is not always

ling so I couldn’t even speak to them when I turned

easy. I feel the distance all the time. This summer

21 because they were on a plane.

was tough as I felt overwhelmingly homesick; peo-

I do wonder how different I would be if I wasn’t

ple take being close to their parents for granted.

from overseas. Is it down to my parents and their


9

parenting, or is it because of where I grew up? I

and you can’t find anyone to turn to. Nobody can

don’t think I’d be as open-minded if I had grown

relate to how you feel. Homesickness is awful

up in the UK. I was able to see so many things and

and there is no other feeling like it. Just longing

gain so many perspectives because of where I grew

to have somewhere you belong. It’s important to

up. Even though I am open-minded, I tell myself

make sure people feel like they belong. I’d always

to try to be more. I find it really difficult to relate

describe myself as a third culture kid, which is one

to people who’ve lived a quiet life. Just because

of those people who grow up in a culture that’s

they’ve had a different life to mine doesn’t mean

different to the one that your parents grew up in. I

they’re different to me. For international students,

think it’s different because I don’t really feel like I

people are different, food is different, the climate

have a home. There’s no one country where I say,

is different. But having said that, I still don’t think

“This is where I’m from and this is where I belong”.

I’m used to the weather: I get cold so easily.

I grew up in Singapore, but my parents won’t stay

If your family lives so far away and you haven’t been able to integrate, you feel so isolated

there. But you don’t have to come from one place, you can be from everywhere.


BETTY TSANG


11 changed. People moved out, my pets rehomed and passed. The house I grew up in became deserted. The places I used to go to did not welcome me as they used to. The bonds I once had with people were no longer present. It all gradually became very foreign, especially after living in a completely different culture for such extended periods of time. You struggle to find your place and who you once were, and you wonder how you ever had a life there. But I didn’t have to be like anybody else.

I could celebrate being different instead of “T fearing it.

I could celebrate being different instead of fearing it. I learnt that if I looked hard enough, there were people out there who felt the same. I realised that my purpose here was more than just to study. I’m here to speak up for those who can’t. I’m here to share my stories and use them as a force for good. Nobody should ever feel alone and if I can make one person feel like they belong, it was all worth it. If only I had known sooner.

oo foreign for home. Too foreign for

here. Never enough for both.” There is no quote in the world that resonates with me deeper than this. My name is Betty and I’m from Hong Kong. Two and a half years ago, I started a brand new

chapter of my life. Before then, I had never stepped foot on the continent, let alone the country. I was 17, shy, confused, anxious, lonely and, of course, different. I looked different. I sounded different. Every single thing about me made me stand out, whether I liked it or not. I felt homesick, but there was no home to miss. There was no warm, cosy feeling to fall back on because deep down, I knew that, while I was gone, everything had changed. My family had always been broken and it turns out I was the only thing holding “home” together. When I left, the circumstances of those who cared for me


EVA SMORIGINAITE


13

B

eing an international student has not

been easy, especially at the start of my studies. I felt lost and confused in the first few weeks. It was just a completely undiscovered environment, with new people, but also a second language. It is probably just international students who can understand that problem. When you want to express yourself and you know the words in your native language but you just can’t quickly find the same

We all should be as positive as possible because there is enough negativity in our world.

meaning with words in English. And at the same

time, you just can’t express yourself in a proper way. It is so different to communicate in a different

language and to understand different languages’ expression styles. Over time, that problem just flew

away but, in the beginning, it felt like a really huge

and unsolved problem. I believe that Brexit won’t affect me and other international students, I just

feel disappointed that many British people wanted it. In my view, you should tolerate all people and

it shouldn’t matter the gender, race or nationality. We all should be as positive as possible because there is enough negativity in our world.


MIKKI CHOY

People put all these misconceptions I on you was born in Singapore and lived there until

I was 12, before relocating to Hong Kong and then

coming to the UK to study, where I did the Inter-

national Baccalaureate diploma followed by university down here in Cornwall. Looking at it now, it’s been about five years since I started living in the UK, which is sometimes crazy to think about, because time flies by so quickly. Coming to the UK for sixth form first was a really good decision, as it exposed me to the British culture early and I had the chance to learn how things work here and to get used to it. Hence, by the time I came to university, it wasn’t as shock-

in it, but in Chinese customs it’s the norm because

ing or daunting, and I settled in a lot more easi-

it’s better for your health and there’s lots of history

ly with everyone else. There was definitely a lot of

behind it. Another thing is that we hand wash our

homesickness in the first few months being in the

cutlery, which means we tend not to use dishwash-

UK though. It was almost as if you’ve been thrown

ers because we find it wasteful in terms of the wa-

into the deep end of the pool and you’re expected

ter and electricity used. Plus, hand washing is a lot

to swim at the same pace as everyone else. But I

quicker than doing a cycle in the machine. If Asian

was really lucky that the people I met in sixth form

families had a dishwasher at home, they would just

were so open and kind that soon it didn’t feel as

use it as an extra storage space. I remember see-

daunting anymore and things quickly got better.

ing a dishwasher for the first time when I was in

There are quite a lot of differences in terms

boarding school; we had one in the common room

of the cultures I’ve been exposed to and I’ve had

for boarders to use and I was really intrigued by

interesting experiences with them. For example, in

it. I knew they existed from books, movies and TV

Asia, we often tend to drink hot water, just hot wa-

shows but, at that point, I had never actually used

ter, without anything else in it. Lots of people out-

one before. To this day, I still hand-wash all of my

side of Asia would ask me why I would just have a

dishes and cutlery, it’s something I’ve grown up

mug of hot water to drink and not have a tea bag

doing and I’ll likely do the same when I’m older.


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MIKKI CHOY


17 I think one challenge that I have as an inter-

Coming to study in Cornwall means that it

national student is accents. In Singapore, there’s a

would take me five to seven hours just to get to

distinct slang that we use known as ‘Singlish’, and

London, and then flying home would be a 12-hour

it’s something that you just grow up with if you live

flight, which is not only incredibly taxing but it’s

in Singapore. Whenever I’m travelling and I over-

also very expensive. I’m very lucky that my family

hear strangers speak in the slang, I can immediate-

decided to move to Brighton about a year ago, as

ly tell they’re from my home country, just because

my siblings are now going to school here too, and

of how strong the accent is. My accent right now

I’m able to see them more often than before. When

is no longer a ‘Singlish’ accent, because attending

we travel back to Hong Kong or Singapore to visit

an international school in Hong Kong for so many

relatives and friends, it’s really lovely, but then as

years, followed by studying in the UK, really al-

you start to relax and settle back in, it’ll be time to

tered it and I feel like I now have just a mixture of

fly back again and it’s a really bittersweet feeling.

accents. It’s not a placed accent and it’s a bit jum-

People from here have so much more flexibility to

bled up. I’ve heard people say that they can hear

go home. I remember when my family were still

an American twang to the way I speak, but some

living back in Hong Kong whilst I was in sixth form

say they can hear some remnants of ‘Singlish’ and

and I could only go home for big breaks such as

then friends in Singapore will say that my accent

Christmas and summer, whilst others could easily

is very British and proper, which is interesting to

pop back home for the weekend. However, being

hear. In first year, people had difficulty understand-

so far away from home has meant that I’ve become

ing what I was saying, even though I was speaking

more appreciative of things and it’s also really

English, because my accent made it hard for them

helped me become independent. My confidence

to understand, and it just hit me just how much

has also grown a lot and being surrounded by so

it contributes to my daily life. Sometimes I wish I

many incredible people I’ve met in my time here

had a fixed accent to a place as it makes it easier

has been amazing. Being an international student

to grasp, but I’m embracing my accent more now

has shaped my life positively and turned me into

because it’s unique, and at times it automatical-

the person I am today.

ly changes depending who I’m with, which I find really funny.

Voices doing an International edition is really pivotal, as there are so many international stu-

Another difficulty with being international

dents around, but experiences like homesickness

is that people think we are all rich and that isn’t

and feeling separated aren’t talked about enough.

true. We’re privileged enough to travel and study

It’s so refreshing to be able to share it on a safe

in another country, but we can’t just drop money

and welcoming platform where that is wholly em-

into buying a car, for example. People put all these

braced and celebrated. You don’t feel as alone

misconceptions on you and, over time, you find

when you read about these kinds of stories be-

that you’re actively trying to not live up to it, even

cause you know there are people out there who

if it’s something that you do subconsciously. I’m

feel the same way you do and even go through very

someone who’s quite frugal with money, although I

similar things as you do, which is the beauty of

feel like this misconception has added to this trait

Voices. I’m really proud to be international and I

because I’m always trying to disprove this idea of

wouldn’t trade it for anything.

international students and it’s frustrating that this is still a widely spread misconception.


NOOR ABEED

of tea”. However, it was something that I fell in love with because I have been searching for a place to escape all the action and drama that the big cities have. I just love taking my fish and chips, sitting on the beach, and watching the waves come on to the shore without any distractions or stress. Coming to the UK also broadened my thinking and networks. I make every day an adventure to live for, with no regrets. Something which also made it easy to fit in is that half of my high school friends are scattered around the UK. Many think

T

being international is very hard, however, it can be one of the best elements of an individual; you learn a lot and get the most out of everything. If

he journey started for me when I graduat-

you keep yourself in your comfort zone, it won’t

ed high school and came to the UK to start my next

really get you anywhere. The UK hasn’t changed

chapter, which was my life at university. Many may

my lifestyle much, but it has brought me new chal-

think that because I came from abroad I would

lenges and opportunities. I was able to adapt as

have a culture shock but, luckily, I was able to trav-

soon as I arrived, due to my previous visits to the

el to many foreign countries before, and study at

UK numerous times, but one thing that I loved

an international school, which changed my mind-

about living here, especially in Cornwall, is that I

set and made me well-aware of different cultures.

got to personally develop myself and think a lot

Living in the UK taught me many things and has

about what I need to do and improve myself. I was

made me able to compare many things to home,

also able to start my own society, which made liv-

but it was the process of coming to settle in the UK

ing here even easier, as I was able to duplicate my

which took time, especially living down in Corn-

life back home here in Cornwall.

wall. I came from a country which has a population

Some internationals will face language issues,

of more than 100 million people, and I lived in a

homesickness, racism and discrimination, which is

city which had 12 million occupants, which is to-

always a major issue, but I was lucky not to see

tally different in comparison to Cornwall in the UK.

much of it or be part of it; however, I have seen

I was used to busy roads, shops open until three in

many cases. There was a lot of brutality to some

the morning, and the privilege of everything getting

Egyptians up North, who were stabbed and phys-

delivered to your front door. In the UK, everything

ically hit to death. These are stories which get to

closes early, especially on Sundays. In Cornwall,

your heart and you don’t want to hear, but Cornwall

Sundays are your worst nightmare. Buses are not

is one of the friendliest, most welcoming, areas in

on time, shops close by 2pm and, from that point,

the UK. I have travelled all around, from London,

you can’t do much.

Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Bournemouth,

Cornwall has a certain mindset which many don’t have or, as people might say, “It’s not my cup

but it is Cornwall, especially here in Falmouth and Penryn, where people are the most amazing.


19


GINTARĖ DRUMSTAITĖ

I feel like a jigsaw puzzle piece that’s from a different set.

I

didn’t properly consider studying abroad up

Settling in was difficult and it’s weird because

until the point when we were starting UCAS appli-

I moved in before the normal ‘move-in weekend’,

cations. I didn’t even know what I wanted to study

when I saw all of these British kids with their par-

at first. I just found my subject and figured out that

ents and their cars stuffed full of things. I remem-

I couldn’t really study that at home. I started dig-

ber feeling a little bit jealous about that because

ging around and found that I could maybe study

my parents couldn’t come with me. I just had my

in the UK. In Lithuania, it’s quite a big thing to go

bag with my clothes, and my plush lion, whilst they

abroad. It’s not expected, but everyone gets asked

could bring everything they wanted to; all their

about it, especially if you’re doing well in school. I

memorabilia. Settling in wasn’t that difficult be-

just had the thought and went into it on autopilot.

cause I think I was riding the high of being in a

I filled out the form and didn’t quite realise that I

new place and I was trying out things. But it got

was actually going here up until the point I was out

more difficult later on. A couple of years down, and

of the bus on Penryn Campus, lugging my bags up

I started feeling that I don’t really belong here. I’ve

to Glasney.

heard people talk about that, and migration is a


21


GINTARĖ DRUMSTAITĖ


23

big thing in our literature, so we’ve got a lot of po-

start going around explaining things to them and

ems and even novels talking about people being

they catch on, then it’s fine. If I’m giving a pres-

forced to emigrate, talking about how they miss

entation or talking to someone I don’t know, I feel

their home and how they find it really difficult to

really self-conscious about it and it’s the accent

settle in, and I’ve heard it from people that have

as well. Again, I open my mouth and it’s perfect-

emigrated in recent years. I always thought that’s

ly obvious that I’m not from here and that, again,

not going to be me, I’m going to be able to settle

puts that wall in between me and other people in

in. I thought that maybe the people that feel like

a weird way.

that are a bit more patriotic than everyone else,

I think my time in England has been made eas-

or they’re a bit more attached to home. I thought

ier by all the things I’ve managed to learn whilst

I was going to be fine. A year or two down the line

being here. Especially recently, I try to have a more

and I was just like no, actually, I can really relate

positive view of things. I figured out that if I hadn’t

to that. Especially with my name, because it’s very

left Lithuania at all, and if I hadn’t come down here,

obvious whenever anyone sees my name that I’m

I wouldn’t be able to cook anything that wasn’t a

not from here. I know that there are some people

boiled egg. But all students go through it, not only

from France or Germany whose names are more

internationals. I also think I’ve had a lot of time

English so they get to avoid the whole, “Oh, you’re

to self-reflect. I mean, my friends from home defi-

an immigrant” as soon as someone sees your

nitely made it easier, in a way, because they didn’t

name. I think that the little things started getting to

leave me out, and I kept in touch with them and, if

me because someone mentioned that I seem to be

anything, I grew closer to them. At the same time, I

distancing myself from people, even though that’s

learnt how to cherish them more, and how to cher-

the opposite of what I am usually and someone

ish my family more because I don’t have the luxury

said that could be body language. Those differ-

of just jumping on the train and going home for

ences that mean, basically, no matter how hard I

a weekend as most British students can. Whereas,

try to actually fit in, there’s this invisible wall that

for me, even those days where I hear of my grand-

keeps me away from others. I feel like a jigsaw

ma going to the hospital and I start panicking, it’s

puzzle piece that’s from a different set.

going to take me two days at the very least to catch

Sometimes I struggle with language barriers, I

a train from Cornwall, up to London and then

think it’s more the way that I speak and not the

catch a plane—and that’s provided that I can get

language itself. Obviously, there are times where I

on the next plane. It’s just really scary for me, but

can’t express myself or I have, as I call them ‘bad

that taught me to appreciate the times I am home

language days’, when it seems that my brain is just

and to be more present. I think my time in England

not working. I can speak in Lithuanian perfectly

has been really difficult and it still is, but I’m trying

fine, but the second I switch to English it’s like sen-

to have a positive attitude about it and just focus

tences come out all jumbled. That’s difficult, but

on the good things that it’s brought me.

it’s better when I’m with friends because then I just


THAÏS CARDON

I feel as if I’ve lost my home.

purposes three years ago. Surprisingly, it’s only just a little bit more humiliating this time, begging to stay, instead of begging for money. I’m so angry. I’m so afraid. I’m so tired. Many of my British friends are worried about their right to wander Europe freely after Brexit, about their loss of opportunities, about the future of their country, and while I’m grateful that I still have the option to return to a country that still has all sorts of benefits that are being lost by the UK in this process, I feel as if I’ve lost my home.

I’

Because my “home” country is not that. It’s a place that grants me a passport every few years, whose language I speak, and who gave me about half my

ve lived in the UK for a total of 11 years.

education, and to which, again, I am grateful for,

Abroad for almost 18, in my home country only

but it’s never been home. My extended family lives

three. I’m studying abroad right now, in Asia, and

there, but my parents will be in the UK at least until

the time difference is about eight hours, with a

they retire. My sisters might move away, but they

twelve-hour £800 flight separating me from the

don’t remember living anywhere else. My brother

house my parents bought six years ago. This was

and I do.

after over ten years of renting house after flat after

There’s no such thing as a perfect country.

house in London, then Brussels, then Paris, then

Anyone who says otherwise is probably being paid

London again. I felt so displaced for so long. It felt

to. I love and hate that I’ve got to see so many

almost ironic to want to displace myself again so

countries. I love the number of people I’ve met, the

badly after finally finding a semblance of stability,

number of places I’ve experienced, the number of

but I was so sick of the constant onslaught of this

things I’ve learned. But I also hate the normalcy

news headline that flashed “unwanted” in my face

it’s robbed me of. And now I hate that it’s led me

every time I read it. I had always wanted to try liv-

to only feel at home in a place that doesn’t want

ing somewhere else, but I didn’t want to wait until

me in it.

I found a job abroad. Then I found out that that

Coming to the UK after three years in Paris was

semblance of stability really was just an illusion

like seeing the light at the end of a long tunnel.

anyway, because now I have to apply to stay home

I relished in the culture shock; corner shops, old

when I touch back down. I have to prove that this is

houses, cleaner streets and stations, people who

where I have lived and studied and grown, just like

actually smiled in public. I loved speaking and

I had to when I applied to be considered a UK stu-

hearing English every day. I lost the constant, pain-

dent by Student Finance England for tuition loan

ful sensation of being judged every single second


25


THAÏS CARDON

of every day by complete strangers and began

Can I stay afterwards? Should I change my degree?

to grow roots. Four years in, the referendum was

English Literature is only a versatile degree if I stay

called, and I dismissed it like everyone else I knew.

in the UK. I still have relatives who, upon being told

We didn’t have a say, only British people living in

what I study, ask if I’m going to be a teacher. It’s

the UK did, and the English are reasonable people

the only outcome they can think of because, where

as a whole, surely. On the 23rd of June, I went to

we’re from, it’s the only outcome it leads to. Side

bed early, thinking there was nothing I could do to

note: I don’t want to teach. At all.

change the outcome, but feeling fairly secure in

Every now and then someone calls me an “ex-

thinking that it would turn out fine. When I turned

pat”. The term infuriates me. I’m white, I speak

my phone on in the morning, I cried. What are we

English with (I’m told, and I like to think) no dis-

going to do now? Will we have to leave? Where

cernible accent, and I go to university, so some

would we possibly go? Can I still go to university?

can’t fathom my being an immigrant. The only


27

thing that separates me from my Polish Londoner

I’m fully aware that I’m not the biggest loser in

neighbours is that my family had a bit more English

this scenario. Brexit is a kamikaze with no cause

when we came here and the drive back on holi-

for this country. But there are no winners, not un-

days is shorter. That’s it. I don’t want an exception,

less you count those who made it happen and then

a special deal that says I “get to” stay here. I don’t

washed their hands of it, pockets full. I have hope

want to be told I’ll be fine, just because xenophobic

for England because I know many wonderful peo-

d*ckheads see themselves in me before they see

ple who will go on to change things, but this help-

the immigrant in me and that scares them. I came

lessness has been draining. I still don’t know if I’ll

here for a better future and it was within my grasp.

stay or go. My roots are made of glass now, and the

Now I have to beg to keep it.

ground is shaking.


SARA ABDELAHAD


29

The UK is very different from Jordan and Dubai in lots of ways. The food, music and the way people dress and go out is not like what I’m used to at home. Being in Cornwall means that the chance of finding Arabic food is close to impossible and, if I do find any, it tastes completely different from what I’m used to. Another thing that I struggled to fit in with is the type of music most students here listen to. I would not be able to count the number of times I have heard the question, “How haven’t you heard this song before? You must know this one, Sara. I’m sure you’ll know this one! You have to know it because everyone else does!” Well, I haven’t. Yes, I do listen to English songs, but not the songs everyone seems to listen to in

I’

m Sara, I’m a Jordanian girl who has lived

England. Slowly I’m being introduced to new songs and some friends have even made me a playlist of songs I am likely to hear at parties and events here, which is great.

in Dubai for the majority of my life, and am now

Also, another difference is that I have to think

studying here in Cornwall. I am the perfect defi-

less about what I have to wear when going out in

nition of an international student, as I have nev-

England. Since Jordan and Dubai are both Islamic

er lived in the UK before. Making the decision to

places, I have to always make sure I am dressing

leave my home country, family and friends was

appropriately to avoid offending the culture and

the hardest decision I have ever had to make, es-

religion of the locals. This means that the time it

pecially since I have no relatives or friends in this

takes to decide on an outfit to wear for a simple

country. I have also never lived away from home

outing takes more than it needs to. It may not seem

before and the longest I had ever been away from

like a big deal, but it does make a difference as

my parents was for a month before coming to uni-

it limits my options when deciding what to wear.

versity. Although I have studied at an international

Having said all this, although my home country is

school, I was still worried about meeting and fitting

very different from Cornwall, I love being here, es-

in with people from all around the world, espe-

pecially as I have met some great people who have

cially as I knew I wouldn’t find many other Arabs

made settling in a lot easier. I’m looking forward to

studying on such a small campus, far away from

my coming years here and to meeting new people

most other universities.

and teaching them more about where I’m from.


KENISHA GANESH

S

ingapore is a city-state, so it is not like

Falmouth. I went to boarding school here in the UK before I started at Exeter. Also, my family travels a lot, so I have plenty of experiences being away from home. People are often surprised that an international student would come to study here as well: you wouldn’t expect this university town would be here in secluded Cornwall. I chose Exeter because of a weird situation where my brother went to Exeter, so I knew the university and was already familiar with it. I didn’t necessarily choose the Penryn Campus but I’m glad I came here. It’s a lot like my boarding school, at a seaside town. I think the size and general difficulty of getting around the UK haven’t helped me settle in. I don’t have a car here and that makes it even harder. My dad helped my brother get his visa, so he knew what to do and helped me out. Now I have the Biometrics Residency Permit (BRP) that I have to show. Going through customs means that I have to

Sometimes, being the only Asian means you get looked at or treated differently

get my passport stamped and show the BRP. Now that I have my papers and my visa already, I don’t

Caribbean Society, but it did help because it was a

think Brexit will affect me. However, I think it will

place where other international students and oth-

affect how international students travel to Europe.

er cultures could come and be accepted. People

I also think people will be more standoffish and

in the Asian Society treat each other the same.

possibly harsher at customs. I absolutely think that

Sometimes, being the only Asian means you get

Brexit will change the UK’s attitude towards inter-

looked at or treated differently to others. In the

national students. I think the number of interna-

beginning, the society struggled for numbers, but

tional students will decrease. Just the willingness

it’s grown. We recently hosted an event for the

to integrate international students into the com-

Chinese New Year. We were only expecting 20

munity and into the country will be less noticeable

to 25 people but we maxed out a restaurant with

and probably not as important to universities.

45 people and that was really amazing. It’s really

In my first year, I joined the African Caribbean

come into its own. The problem with socials is, as

Society, and that really helped me find other in-

students, we are all super busy. I tried to plan some

ternationals, especially because there wasn’t an

and it seemed like others didn’t want to bother

Asian-based society. But then, in my second year, I

with it. Sometimes it’s really hard to feel accept-

started the Asian Society with some of my friends.

ed if people aren’t going out of their way to plan

The Asian Society hasn’t helped the university ap-

and organise events like socials. When students

preciate the culture in the same way as the African

try to organise things themselves it becomes hard


31


KENISHA GANESH

to make things convenient. With Exeter, a lot of

when I feel out-of-place, but I go to the gym quite

events are hosted at the main campus; I don’t want

frequently, and I’ve noticed that I get a lot of looks

to travel for three hours for an event that may only

both because I’m Asian and a woman. It’s really

be three hours long. Students shouldn’t have to

hard to take. There was this one time, a guy came

plan and organise events because they are already

up to me and asked if I was sure I could do a work-

pressed for time. Also, sometimes when students

out and I was shocked. It was definitely a low point.

put on events, the university shuts it down because

It’s particularly the looks from people that make it

they don’t understand the need for them.

feel hard to integrate.

There was one time I felt separated from oth-

Cornwall and Falmouth are both nice and I’ve

ers because of my internationality, and that was

adjusted better than I thought I would. I think that

when the professor seemed to direct the conver-

being at the boarding school helped. It was a lot

sation of colonialism towards me; that’s not really

smaller, but it still helped. I still miss home and

a professional thing to do. Being one of the few

familiar faces, especially because Falmouth and

ethnic people in the class, it feels hard to handle

Cornwall don’t have much, if any, Asian culture. I

at times because no one else knows my struggles.

think there’s only one Asian restaurant. I think the

The town has been more difficult to connect with

universities are doing enough to attracting inter-

than the universities. There’s already some hatred

national students, yes, but integrating them, no.

for university students. However, some people do

The students have to do everything themselves.

what they can to counteract this. You can go to

They have to put themselves out there. It’s just not

some places and it will feel really homely and wel-

the best. For instance, the Student Mentor scheme

coming. There are still good places to hang out

isn’t pushed enough. I have never met mine, and I

and feel accepted. There aren’t often moments

don’t think it’s believed to be important when it


33

is or it could be. The universities definitely need

we talk about African women we focus on slav-

to diversify their food because it’s really impor-

ery, but we should focus on things that are a bit

tant for international students to see their culture,

more uplifting.

a familiar culture.

Brexit hasn’t changed my view of the UK nec-

I would say that without some of the friends

essarily, but I just felt like it was not well thought

I’ve made, I don’t think I would have done as well

out or well-intended either, and there will be lots

as I have. I think the students are still what makes

of people caught in the crossfire that didn’t have a

this place. We are tightly-knit and it’s about us.

say, like EU students and young people who didn’t

The university may be struggling with celebrat-

have the ability to vote at the time. It’s just a sign

ing international students but students as a whole

that the UK hasn’t fully accepted being apart of the

are working towards fixing that. I think something

EU and the wider international community. I think

that the university should improve on is integrat-

being an international student means that I have

ing professors of different races. It would help to

a very different perspective and that I have the

have instructors who know the same cultures as

challenge of facing a different culture. I think it’s

me and who understand some of my struggles.

also about facing the stigma of international stu-

Especially on the English course, there needs to

dents. Like people thinking that we’re really rich,

be more diversity in the course as a whole. There

we stick to our own group, and we’re really oriental

are only two international students on my course.

as well. It may be portrayed as easy, but it’s not.

We talked about colonialism and it felt like I didn’t

After I graduate I would like to go to a big city like

have anybody that knew about this subject, mean-

London or New York. I want to go into journalism,

ing people were looking to me. So what we learn

so I want to be where there are things going on.

needs to have more diversity as well, like when


EMILY TAJIMA


35

M

y name is Emily Tajima. I was born and

raised in New York City, and the transition from city to town was a big step for me to take. I was just 17 years old when I left my family and friends back in NYC. Not only did I have to leave my life behind, but I also had to adapt to not living in a big metropolis like New York City. I used to wear high-heeled boots to high school every day, even though there were five flights of stairs but, as soon as I stepped off the bus to Falmouth from London, I had to find out the hard way that I would absolutely not be able to wear my heels on the cobblestone roads in Falmouth (which, surprisingly, I was totally fine with). It didn’t take too long to adapt to the slow walking pace and “chilled” vibe of Falmouth but, even after nearly three years, I sometimes still find myself getting irritated by someone in front of me walking a thousand times slower than me (joking, sort of). I am a Japanese American, so coming to a town like Cornwall did surprise me a little. I am one of the few people of colour in my entire acting course, which made me realise I took diversi-

I took diversity back home for granted.

ty back home for granted. It was just something I grew up with and I thought everywhere was just like that. I’ve made so many great friends here and I am grateful for that, but I do wish in the coming years that the diversity of the university increases. I think after I graduate this July, I’ll stay in Falmouth until my visa runs out in the autumn so that I can soak up all that I can from this town, but I will definitely be going back home afterwards—or at least to a city. Three years is the perfect amount of time for a city girl to experience the country/ town life and I am truly happy that I chose to come to Falmouth University.


GERGANA GEORGIEVA

My mentor really helped me to realise that everything gets better

to London but I missed all the buses to Penryn Campus. When I landed in London, I was supposed to meet up with a girl that stayed behind to wait for me and help me out with everything, including transport to Penryn. When I went to pick up my luggage, my big suitcase was broken in so many ways and, eventually, when I met with the girl, I had to buy another one. She helped me get to the train station and from there I took the very last train to Plymouth. From there, I took a coach to Truro, and there was a taxi waiting for me. I wouldn’t have been able to come if it wasn’t for Mary and the girl that helped me so much, and of course everybody else. In the first few weeks, I was really anxious, but my lovely roommate (who left over a month ago) was always there for me and helped me a lot. I wanted to drop out of my acting course, but my mentor really helped me to realise that everything gets better, that the feelings that I had were just

O

mere stress and that it would pass. Eventually, it did. I had the opportunity to go back home for Christmas and it was amazing. When I came back,

n the 13th of September, I left Bulgaria

my roommate left due to health problems and I

and landed in Turkey (Istanbul) and I had a few

had to fight a lot to stay in my room and pay for

hours before my next flight to Heathrow. But I fell

it, by applying for the hardship fund (which I got).

asleep because the day before I was packing and

Now I am feeling really good about my course, but

getting ready for university. I hadn’t slept in 24

I’ve decided to take a year out when the year is

hours and so I missed my flight. I was unable to

done because right now I really need to be with my

properly call anybody but, eventually, I found a

family and my boyfriend. I adore Falmouth Univer-

university number that I called, and then I talked to

sity, but because of everything that happened my

an amazing woman called Mary, who managed to

mental health is a bit shaky, so I really need some

help me with everything. I had to change my flight

time off.


37


OLI KING

I

am 20, soon to be 21, and I have spent the

last 18 years in Asia. I was born in the UK, but relocated to China, then Thailand, Hong Kong and eventually to Cornwall. My background is that my mum is English Caucasian and my dad is black Caribbean. So I am mixed. I think one of the biggest things I went through growing up was that, even though I was surrounded by other international students, having gone to an international school and doing the International Baccalaureate, we were all different, coming from different backgrounds. We came from different cultures, countries, everything. It felt quite normal to have people do things differently to you. In a way, it felt as if

It’s probably the most depressed I’ve ever felt

racism wasn’t a thing. No one judged you for the way that you dressed and how you did your hair.

really patient with me and able to give me the time

I felt as though I skipped over any racism by be-

to help. Then I had people who made fun of me.

ing with international students as I grew up. I never

I have people who still make fun of me and I’ve

really understood what my mum and other peo-

lived here for nearly three years. It’s all just diffi-

ple who were mixed like me were going through in

cult, because Cornwall is renowned for being ten

regard to being discriminated against. My parents

years behind the rest of the UK and it does show

did try to warn me about what life would be like

sometimes. It does suck, but at the end of the day,

coming to the UK for university, telling me that

I’m quite proud of being international and having

people aren’t always going to be as nice as they are

all these stories from living overseas. When people

where I grew up, and tend not be as open minded.

say and do things that make me feel like I don’t

I moved here in 2016, studying Fashion mar-

belong, sometimes it does get to me, especially

keting. After about two weeks of living here, I be-

when it’s coursemates or housemates but, at the

gan struggling really badly. I had people unknow-

end of the day, I have to remember that I wouldn’t

ingly say insensitive things about cultures that I

be me if I wasn’t an international student. I think

had experienced. I don’t really identify as British,

that a lot of other international students who live

but I don’t really know what I identify as, because

here are fantastic and it’s lovely when we are in a

I just feel like home is everywhere which, at the

group and can tell our story to someone who has

end of the day, is a little bit difficult when you’re

lived in Bristol their whole life. It’s about exchang-

surrounded by people who have bases, because

ing what’s normal for us and what is normal for

I don’t. I have met some great people who have

people living here.

helped me when I’ve had homesickness feelings

I think being an international student has im-

though. I couldn’t count coins when I first got here;

pacted everything I’ve done. I used to be a really

I didn’t know what the currency looked like and it

shy person and not be able to hold the door for

was so embarrassing, but I had people who were

someone because I was scared they would talk


39


OLI KING

to me. I would try to keep to myself with certain

student house and being surrounded by people

things, until I started taking theatre classes in

who did not understand how far away home was

Hong Kong and appreciated myself and other peo-

for me. I had to explain the fact of the distance

ple more. It translated into me becoming a more

of Cornwall in relation to Hong Kong. If you were

outgoing person. I came by myself all the way from

to make the entire trip you’re looking at about 26

Hong Kong and didn’t know anyone here. I was so

hours alone and that’s a rubbish trip to make. The

oblivious to everything, and I just decided that I

time difference is about seven to eight hours, de-

needed to grow up and embrace the fact that I was

pending on the time of the year. Going home for

overseas. It’s now made me who I am and without

me is really hard and expensive, you’re looking at

that I still would be the same shy person I was, not

nearly a grand and it’s heartbreaking. People have

being able to express myself in the way that I want-

told me that I’m brave for what I’ve done and I

ed to. Being here has made me able to mix what I

guess I am. The other people I was living with didn’t

know with what I’ve learnt here and find myself. But

understand and they wanted the biggest room, the

it has been quite rough. A lot of the decisions I’ve

nicest room. I will never forget that we had to do

made and am yet to make are still riding on the

a coin toss over who got the better room upstairs

fact that I’m international.

and who got the room downstairs. I was saying that

I’ve been mistreated and mislabelled and peo-

I wanted the room upstairs because I didn’t feel

ple would say that that is racism, but a lot of it

safe living downstairs, and that I would be here for

is xenophobia. There’s this misconception that

most of the year and at times on my own. I made

we are all rich because we come from overseas,

my case and lost the toss and I’ll never forget the

that we have an endless disposable income. I’ve

first night that she had her parents help her move

had people scam me of money, lie about me. Just

in and I was crying in bed with my computer on

straight up bullying. I basically missed out my sec-

my desk chair on Facetime to my mum, and she

ond year of university; I wasn’t going into classes

was upstairs in bed with her mum having a cud-

and I stayed with my boyfriend in Penzance for

dle. Obviously to have your parents see you that

four months, as I couldn’t deal with living in my

upset and unable to do anything, it’s so unfair. My mum and dad, to this day, still can’t get over the


41

fact that my flatmate did that to me. It’s proba-

speak about it. There is such a wide array of peo-

bly the most depressed I’ve ever felt and the only

ple who are kind, quirky and understanding. I’m

time I wished more than anything that I wasn’t an

using my internationality in projects I’m doing this

international student.

year as a stimuli basis and it’s pretty great that I

I’ve been to places like Bristol where I’ve had

can use this to shape how I work and live.

the bus doors shut in my face, abusive things said

The whole concept of Voices is really beauti-

to me by bus drivers. Those things don’t make me

ful. I think that the stories you read are ones you’ve

feel fantastic. At the same time, I wish that I had

probably never guessed, unless you’ve met them

thicker skin. Things still get to me easily. Nasty

and had a deep conversation about it. It’s a quick

things have been said and done to me because

snapshot of what life is like here. People pass each

they just don’t understand me and what it’s like to

other in the corridor, or go to the same party, and

be based so far away. I now live with a couple of

may never know each other’s pasts. Being able to

girls who are all so lovely and I’m quickly redeem-

have Voices for international students is wonder-

ing what I think I missed out on in my second year.

ful to help tell people how to cope with the chal-

But I didn’t have many friends that were interna-

lenges, or if they are unsure of how to go about

tional in those first two years. There are still things

doing things. To be able to read about somebody

I don’t really understand and I still need people to

that is similar to them, or had an experience that is

explain them to me. I try to rise above it all, but

similar to them, is reassuring. I remember reading

things still get to me. People don’t understand

the volume about Black History Month and being

things, and I get that, because I don’t understand

able to resonate with that, or seeing people I know

things too. I may not speak directly to people who

tell something about themselves that I would nev-

are more knowledgeable about subjects, whereas

er have guessed. It was eye opening for me and

other people will just unload their unwanted opin-

made me feel not so alone. Having the opportu-

ions on you.

nity to speak about this is good for me and to tell

I am proud to be an international student. When I first arrived, I was embarrassed and didn’t want people to know. I am more than happy now to

things that people might never guess or might never know. It’s nice to get this off my chest.


HAYA NAIM


43

M

y name is Haya Naim. I’m originally

Syrian, born and raised in Abu Dhabi, and I’m currently studying Environmental Science. I am lucky to have been able to experience different cultures around the world from a young age and travel to different places. I feel that helped me to slowly settle into a new and very different environment. Whilst being here, I’ve found that meeting new people and learning about their different ways of life, communication and interaction, was a learning experience in itself and it was so refreshing and beautiful. I was a little shy and nervous coming to the UK and starting a new chapter in my life, wondering whether the people at university would like me or not, or whether I’d get along with them but, on the day of moving in, I was greeted by the most welcoming and friendly people. They were so easy to talk to and befriend. They asked me questions about where I had come from and what I was planning on studying. We were doing this as we struggled to carry two huge luggage filled with 30 kilos of “essentials”. In a matter of seven days, I had already met the most wonderful and kind people from all corners of the globe and even started life-lasting bonds with some. The Penryn Campus is beautiful and it’s the perfect learning environment for all university students. It feels like a very close-knit community, so it’s much easier to form bonds with one another. In no time, I felt so comfortable finding my way around campus and meeting people.

I was a little shy and nervous coming to the UK


ANONYMOUS

If I manage to book on time, I can get a train from here to London and fly to Naples. The shortest time it took me to get home was 14 hours, the longest was 21. When I was at college, I could go home every half term because from North London it was a 40 minute train to London and then a flight home was two hours, so I could get home in about four hours. Since I’m so far away now, I have only been home for Christmas and at the end of the academic year. It’s a little bit tough. It’s strange that many people didn’t know that British people and European people pay the same

I

amount of fees. So every time they talk to me they tell me I’m rich because I study here. No, I pay the same tuition fees, I qualify for the same loans, come from Italy. I lived there for 16 years

we have the same struggles, we are in the same

and then I moved to the UK. I studied at an inter-

boat. When I come here and change my money to

national college for two years and then I moved

pounds, the conversion is better for you than for

to university. Education in Italy is very different

me. Some people think they have more significant

from the UK system in the sense that most of the

financial struggles but, actually, I have to think

assignments are oral instead of written exams or

about it a lot more.

coursework. It was more open to subjectivity. Pro-

I would say that joining multiple societies and

fessors have more power during the examinations.

getting involved with the students’ union all helped

When I came to Falmouth University, I definitely

me, because the more people you know, the better

had a bigger culture shock than in college. When

you integrate with the community. In the beginning,

I went to college, it was an international environ-

there were times where I was not actually trying to

ment and I felt that I was still in my own communi-

find a way to live together. When you first move to

ty. I felt welcome. When I came to university, there

a new country, you work out whether people are

were a lot more British people. So, for me, there

welcoming or cold. I find that English people are

was a little bit of a cultural clash. The most evident

a little cold when you first meet them. Getting in-

clash would be the language barriers. Sometimes

volved helped me break the ice with everything. I’m

during conversations, I would feel left a little bit

very proud of being Italian and feeling European, I

outside. They would use slang or inside jokes that

would never change that for anything. Now that I’m

only English people would understand. For me, the

integrating more, I don’t feel the need to; I know

accent was also a challenge. There were so many

the community and the community knows me and

people who hadn’t heard an Italian accent before,

we are merging together. Being Italian, they’ll still

so it was new for both of us.

call me their friend.


45


ANONYMOUS


47

As international students, we have our own issues.

When I came here, Brexit had already been voted on and I thought that, by the time I would

finish university, something would have changed, but now I am still concerned. Now there is so much

insecurity and it can really influence my life. If I

become an international student and not an EU student, then my fees for a masters degree will go

up and I won’t be able to afford it anymore. This is why I am learning French. That’s my second option. I think that is an important thing I have learnt from British people. When you know where you

apply to me. It doesn’t mean anything. As inter-

want to go, organise yourself in a way to get there,

national students, we have our own issues. It’s not

build the path to get there. I would tell myself that

just about the money, we move to another country.

now that I am in the UK, just always bear in mind

With this, I’m not saying I have not enjoyed my uni-

what you want and where you want to go.

versity experience. That was great and I’m grateful

I think Voices is good because there are voices

to everyone who contributed to this. These are just

which are not heard. In my case, I am straight, I am

small things that I’ve highlighted so far. I think the

a man, I am white, I am Christian. I don’t want to say

international community would have helped me to

my voice is excluded, but I’m always in the majori-

integrate if they had been there for me. I had to in-

ty. So when I talk about my problems, I’m told that

tegrate myself. I came here as an Italian and I built

it doesn’t matter because these problems don’t

my place in this community independently.


AMINA GHEZAL

I

am an international student from Alge-

ria and I am currently in my second year doing a PhD in Politics. I lived in Algeria my whole life before I came here. Before coming to university in Cornwall, I did, however, live in Canterbury for six months. All of the cultural shocks happened in Canterbury, so I was used to things when I came here. I’d have to say that the hardest thing was the language because now I have to speak only English. The education system here in the UK is not the same as in Algeria, everything is quite different, so I have to familiarise myself with everything here: the

I began to miss speaking Arabic.

social system, the education system and the language. I get to meet new people and learn new val-

with that and I know that’s the general demo-

ues, you might say, but it’s challenging at the same

graphic of Cornwall. When I came here, I did not

time. Canterbury is busy and packed with people

meet one person from Algeria. I didn’t see anoth-

all the time. The universities there are much larger

er girl wearing a Hijab or anything; it was just me.

as well, so you get a larger variety of international

There are a few others, but they are very rare. I’ll

students too. When I was in Canterbury, I lived with

chit-chat to someone in French but that’s about it.

students from Algeria and Arabic speaking coun-

I want to go to the Mosque, but I usually don’t have

tries, so we either spoke French or Arabic; I had a

time to get to Truro. In a way, I’ve been isolated

limited chance to speak English. When I moved to

culturally. But it’s okay because I want to discover

Cornwall, I had to speak English, which was great,

something new and find my strengths. I’ve met new

but I began to miss speaking Arabic.

and interesting people and learnt so much.

Personally, I have a really unique experience.

I never thought of coming to the UK, but the

I’m here in Cornwall and you can’t really help but

Algerian Government offered me a scholarship, so

notice that nearly everyone is British and white, and

here I am. I just thought I would give it a try. I’m not

when you do meet someone international, they are

sure that I want to stay in the UK after I finish my

almost always a student. I don’t have a problem

PhD. I never thought of settling in the UK before and I’m quite interested in working internationally and never want to call just one place home. If I could change things, I would want to get rid of stereotypes, stop people being ethnocentric, which is so incredibly dangerous. It’s all about accepting different people, but at the same time thinking critically regarding what I should accept and what I shouldn’t; I can’t restrain the world around me and so I have to be aware of that too.


49


NICOLETTE ALEXANDER

I’

m from California, Los Angeles. My dad

is English, so as far as citizenship goes, it wasn’t hard to make the decision to come here. I’ve spent

anyway. Things like Facetime make the distance

time in England over a few summers and I want-

so much easier, and I’m able to talk to my family

ed to do something super different. I signed up to

every day. If I didn’t have that, I’d probably have

loads of open days, came here and I just fell in love

really struggled.

with the place, which is why I came here. School

Going to university here, when you’re con-

in California was really different, especially in LA.

sidered an adult at 18, there’s so much more re-

Everyone is in the movie business and people were

sponsibility and so it’s straight into adulthood. If

really driven in the Prep School I went to. Everyone

I was still going to university in America, it would

was competitive with each other. It was fun, but a

be like a continuation of school. I wish I had pre-

challenge. When I first moved, I hadn’t met anyone

pared myself to do adult things like trying to find

from California that came here and I didn’t know

a house and sorting out rent. Drinking in the UK, I

how many Americans there were on campus. So

was so out of my depth. I still am. I didn’t drink at

in Freshers, I was going to flat parties and I had

home the way people do here. There are no bars

random people asking me if I was ‘the girl from

and going out. I remember during Freshers week

America’. People were so friendly and there were

going to the Pirate Party, I was invited by people

so many international people that I never felt left

on my course to go to pre-drinks at theirs. We were

out. People had lots of different stories about how

playing Ring of Fire and I was bewildered by just

they got here.

how much alcohol was going down. I had like half

I think people tend to have this impression

a glass and still felt really out of my depth. Even

that girls from California are these ‘California

now I’ll go out and I might not drink and do so-

Princesses’, like super divas with a ‘don’t mess

ber nights instead. People ask me, “Oh you’re not

with me’ kind of attitude, but I’m quite chilled; I do

drinking? You must be having a horrible time, let’s

sports and don’t care how many Instagram follow-

get your pace up.” I’ve had a glass, I’m fine.

ers I have. I study Business and, at the start, may-

I think in the world we are living in now,

be it was because of the accent, I struggled a bit

everything is global. Every workplace you go into,

with group work, because I would put points out

there are going to be people from different coun-

there and people would dismiss me as this ditsy

tries. Whatever job you get, you might have people

Californian. It was hard to overcome, but after a

on the phone or email from all over the place; it’s

while, people realised I was fine.

definitely a global time we live in. It’s good to real-

Travelling home takes a while. It usually takes

ise that you’re going to meet international people,

me five hours on the train to London, then another

or that you might have to go to work in a different

hour to Heathrow, then an eleven-hour flight to LA

country. Understanding what it’s like to be a per-

and finally another half an hour to my house, so

son in a new place will help with how you inter-

it’s quite a long journey. I’m just so excited that

act with others, or how you are able to interact in

the journey length doesn’t really matter, and be-

a new environment. By hearing their stories, you

ing here and choosing to come here is so worth it

don’t really feel alone.


51


CARL BJORKMAN


53

Door-todoor, it would take me I 12 hours. come from Switzerland. My dad is Swed-

ish and my mum is German. I’ve had a somewhat international background and coming to the UK

for university has been quite an experience. I went

through the International Baccalaureate programme, which gave me a rich background full of different people and cultures. My sister was actu-

there’s definitely been some homesickness whilst

ally at Exeter and my brother was in London, so I

I’ve been here. I use my railcard and try to find the

thought it would be nice to be near my siblings. I

best price, and I really try to plan a month or two

had never visited Cornwall before, so it was beau-

in advance to get home, otherwise, it can end up

tiful to be here. I didn’t really have any culture

being really pricey. I plan on working in London

shocks, because I think my international back-

next year.

ground prepared me. The main surprise was just to be in Cornwall.

I’ve never really thought about life if I wasn’t an international student. I would say that many of

Many people thought that, because I came

my friends have gone out around the world like

from Switzerland, I would be Swedish! Coming

me. Maybe if I was from the UK I’d have more

from Switzerland, people have often asked me if

friends and more connections here. It’s an inter-

I’ve got gold bars and stuff like that. It doesn’t re-

esting thought. I’d tell other potential international

ally influence me and friends will say it as a joke.

students to enjoy it. You’re going to have the best

Anyway, it’s not that important. If I went straight

three years of your life. It’s great to be in the UK.

back home, door-to-door, it would take me 12

When the weather is great, on days like this, it’s

hours. Even though it’s still in Europe, and geo-

hard not to enjoy it. Even though you might get

graphically it isn’t far, the transport from Cornwall

stereotypical views on international students, it’s

to Bristol or London would take a few hours. But

good to sometimes hear about how they experi-

now I try to visit friends in London when I do go, so

ence life at university through projects like this.

it’ll take two days. I’ve felt the distance a few times.

I’ve learnt more about the English way of living and

I remember my parents will go visit my brother

the slang, but I’ve adapted more to that. Coming to

in London and they would all be together but it

Cornwall has been an experience. It’s been more

would be difficult for me to join them because I

English-based than somewhere like London, which

didn’t really have the time to get to London, so

isn’t a bad thing though.


OLYA KOSLOVA

Sometimes older people tend to view Russia negatively

I’

m originally from Russia, but I moved to

that homesickness. Learning was alright for me. If I

England when I was 17, so I’ve been here for five

had any issues at university I always felt like there

years already, so I’m familiar now with the cul-

was someone to email to help me out. Probably

ture and the system. At school, in England, you do

the drinking was the thing that I noticed the most.

four subjects, but in Russia you will do 15 subjects

I wish I could tell myself not to hang out with only

until the end of your time at school. It was more

Russians. What changed me when I came to uni-

strict and the teachers are not that friendly. Here,

versity was that my English was not great and that

it’s quite different in that you do homework and

really was a struggle for me.

hand it in. In Russia, you have to present it in front

Some people believe that Brexit happened be-

of everyone. It’s chill here. I came to Cornwall be-

cause Russia wanted it. I don’t really know how it

cause Exeter was my second choice and I didn’t

went down, but people know that I’m Russian and

get into my first choice in London. I’m really glad

ask me all these questions like, “Oh, do you like

I came here and I couldn’t imagine living in Lon-

Putin?” Just because I’m Russian, it doesn’t mean

don. I love the campus life and think that everyone

that I have to love my government. I don’t under-

should experience living on campus. I was never

stand why the first question people have is about

sad about coming here. In sixth form, I wasn’t close

my government and not about me. Then again, I

with English people, so I thought that I wouldn’t

am a bit scared about what Brexit will mean, about

be friends with them when I came to university. I

how work will be affected, because things might

didn’t really know how to talk to them, but I ended

change and I want to look for jobs in England, but

up moving into a flat in first year with only English

at the moment I’m just not sure and I just have to

people. I was a bit scared but they were really nice

deal with it. People always ask me what it’s like be-

and now, in third year, I still talk to them.

ing an international student. Being an international

Sometimes older people tend to view Russia

student for me has shown that people just want

negatively and the way that the government affect-

to know more about you and what it’s like where

ed the Brexit result. It’s not a challenge for me, but

you are from. I want to share my story to show that

it’s a bit weird. I’m not coming from a family like

you shouldn’t be afraid of where you are from. Just

other Russian families who are usually very close.

be proud and don’t be ashamed that you are from

I’m really not close to them, so I never really felt

somewhere else in the world.


55


FRANCIS K. OWUSU

was going to be so different from the Streatham Campus. I just thought that everywhere was going to be the same and that Cornwall was going to be like London, where I’d been on holiday, so when I first got here I stayed in my room quite a bit. Then I just decided to go out more and managed to meet a few other Africans who were here. We linked up, became friends and I met their friends, so it really helped. People thought I was French when I first got here. People knew I spoke English but they started speaking really slowly so I could understand them but I was like, “Bro, the national language in Ghana is English. I’ve spoken it my whole life!” I brushed it off as ignorance rather than malice. There’s only

I am prouder to be black, prouder to be Ghanaian. B

so much we can excuse. I don’t get offended, but other people often do. Just do your homework— it’s not hard to learn about other countries. I try to go home every summer and some-

times Christmas break. It’ll take me longer to get to London from Cornwall than the actual flight to Ghana! It’s taken up to 17 hours to get home before. There has been quite a number of occasions where I’ve felt homesick. It’s nice having other African friends, but I wish there were a few other Ghanaian people. Each year I meet a maximum of two other people from Ghana. This year I’ve met one. It’s

efore coming to university, I lived in

Ghana. I decided to come to the UK looking for a university that would push me towards the career that I wanted. I wouldn’t say education in Ghana was too different. I did my GCSEs and International Baccalaureate like the British system. The transition to applying to study here wasn’t too rough.

When I first got here, I was quite nervous because I knew how small the ethnic minority population was in Cornwall, but I actually had no idea that it


57


FRANCIS K. OWUSU

really weird. I just wish there was someone who

but get ready to get out there and try new things.

could relate to my level. When I got here I start-

Just make sure that you have a solid foundation

ed being really quiet. I communicated mostly with

of friends to make your time at university easier. I

Ghanaian music and talking to my friends from

made friends eventually, but I wasted a lot of time

high school. I did everything I could do to squeeze

where I could have done so much and experienced

in every bit of home I could get. Eventually, I had

things I’ve never done before.

to tell myself to get out as soon as I got here. Try to

University in the UK has given me a perspec-

make new friends and to get involved in extracur-

tive of, not only how the outside world is, but the

ricular activities. To some extent, your university

conceptions people have of me. If I were to go and

experience is what you make of it. I know some

work in the US or somewhere else, I’d know what

people go through things and it’s hard to move on,

people are thinking of me. I have an advantage on


59

others who don’t have the same experience as me,

learn from international students, and Voices can

and I’m more independent for it; I am more con-

be eye-opening. I just thought on campus there

fident in myself and my abilities. I am prouder to

wasn’t enough to celebrate where I’m from, what

be black, prouder to be Ghanaian. This is what I

I can bring to the student experience, and what I

can offer and that makes me special. As I said be-

can offer my curriculum in class. What we learn

fore, people come from so many different places

about Ghana is focused on the negative instead

and I’ve met so many different people and done

of the positives. Africa, like other places, has its

different things. Art, sport, things I didn’t even

problems and we are dealing with them. I just want

know existed. I think Voices is really important

to share the stories of Africans, like me, and how it

to address some of the misconceptions interna-

has made us stronger, and shape what the campus

tional students face. It’s about seeing what we can

can be in the future.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS DIRECTOR

Harry Bishop PROJECT MANAGER

Lexi Goodland

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Alice Cass

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Allie Guy

SUB-EDITOR

Josephine Walbank GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Enrico Artuso

LOCATION PHOTOGRAPHER

Lucy Sarjeant Neal Megaw

STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHER

Danielle Goodland

SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR

Mikki Choy

SENIOR JOURNALIST

Harri McLady JOURNALISTS

Noah Michael Abbott Amber Skye Higginson

Our thanks go to Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union for their constant and ongoing support in facilitating this project and to Falmouth University and the University of Exeter. Thanks to Studytel, who has generously sponsored the printing of this publication. Printed by Booths Print in Cornwall, UK. Cover | Fedrigoni Symbol Matt Plus 350 GSM Text | Fedrigoni Arcoprint 1 EW 120 GSM

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© 2019 Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union is a registered charity in England & Wales No. 1145405.


The views expressed in this publication are the individuals’ own and do not reflect those of the universities,

Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union and the team involved in its production.


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Voices Volume Ten — International  

Voices is a student-led campaign headed by Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union, providing a platform for people whose voices might previousl...

Voices Volume Ten — International  

Voices is a student-led campaign headed by Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union, providing a platform for people whose voices might previousl...