If someone had told me in my first or second year at secondary school that, in the future, I would be studying in London, I don’t think I would have believed them. I’m an example of the fact that even if you decide to study abroad quite late in the day, you can still get in to study what you want, at a good foreign university.
My name is Caroline and I’m studying Television Production at the University of Westminster in London. At the beginning of my third year at school, I was faced with a problem which affects most young people. In spite of having lots of ideas about what to do next, none of them was good enough, offered me a future or, as is often the case, received the approval of others. I think my story could inspire some people, and make others laugh, but so far, thankfully, it’s been a happy one, and I am really glad that I took that hard decision — one of the hardest in my life — and am benefiting from it today.
When I was attempting to decide what to study, I ran into lots of problems, because I fell between two stools and had not specialised either in the sciences or the humanities. As a result, all the tests which were supposed to help me decide what to do next did not apply to me or provide any useful advice. This forced me to sit down and think, and to ask myself the key question: What would I really like to do in life? My first answer was to consider media studies and the impact the internet has on contemporary society. This seems quite vague, but at that particular moment I just felt happy that I had found something, that I had a clue about what I could do. The idea of studying abroad immediately struck me — as well as my family — since I knew that the quality of the education in this field was much higher outside Poland, and I realised that I could also improve my language skills at the same time. Luckily, I went to see Elab and their good-natured and patient consultant, Michal, helped me consider all the options until I had narrowed down my choices to Rotterdam and London. I have no real idea why I chose the UK, but let me tell you that it’s turned out to be a brilliant destination.
The next step was to choose a course and where to study, and I picked out four options and two London universities. I was left with one choice, since we can apply to five UK universities, and since I had no specific option in mind, I looked through all the most creative courses and spotted Television Production. Once again, I have absolutely no idea what pushed me to look at it, but when I read through and discovered the topics it covers, I decided to apply for it and see what happened.
Once I’d filled in all the paperwork and submitted my documents, I waited, only to discover that all five courses had accepted me! I sat down to read about each of them in turn and think about what I wanted to do and what they offered. In the end, having absorbed all the opinions, feedback and information, I came to the decision that Television Production was the one for me. It covered most of the topics I’d always been interested in and wanted to learn more about.
Looking back, I can see that this was one of riskiest decisions I have ever taken, but also one of the best. The course is really interesting, it covers a lot of theory as well as practical work. Of course, it also has its drawbacks, but media studies is a fast growing branch and therefore a demanding one. We have to respond by asking a lot of ourselves, bearing in mind all the benefits and advantages we are getting, not only from the tutors, but also in terms of the hardware we are learning to use and can borrow for free. Studying at university is totally different to studying at school and I think no one really prepares us for this kind of leap. You have to set your own goals and push to reach them, no one is going to make your dreams come true for you and check every part of your work.
To finish, I’d like to say to everyone who is still unsure about what to study, to leave their comfort zone and look at every option. It might seem to you that this is a risky strategy, but you’ll only discover if it was worth it when you try. By doing nothing, we end up having nothing to regret — but also nothing to celebrate. From my own experience, I am sure that I would never have been confident enough to take this decision to study abroad without the support and help of the Elab team, who made the problem of choosing what to study vanish into thin air.