Sometimes it’s hard to decide between the ease of studying while at home vs the freedom of studying somewhere that means you need to live somewhere else. As someone who has studied both at home (in Glasgow) and away (in London), I’m here to tell you a few of the pros and cons of each.
Home – It goes without saying homecooked food is amazing! Being at home means you can spend more time on other stuff like studying and going out rather than having to worry about food shopping and cooking.
Away – On the other side, living away from home means you get to decide to eat what you want when you want. You can also improve your cooking skills and have a lot of fun discovering new favourite recipes.
Home – “Where are you going?” “What time are you back?” “You need to be up tomorrow for lectures”. Sometimes living at home means question time every time you even mention that you’re thinking of going out. A morning after cup of tea in bed can make up for this though!
Away – Living away from home = flat parties. After a while however, the novelty will wear off and you will get sick of the cleaning up. The flat always looks messier the morning after!
Home – You really do take for granted everything that is done for you before you move out. You might moan about having to clean your room/hoover every so often but as the saying goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone”.
Away – Bathroom, Kitchen, Living room, Bedroom…The amount of rooms that you have to clean significantly increases and as does your time spent on cleaning. This can seem like quite a task, but cleaning with the help of a flatmate can be fun and you can have a flat you can be proud of showing your parents/friends when they come to visit!
Home – At home you have an extra alarm clock in the form of a parent. If you say you’re going to get up for that lecture, there is no hope of you changing your mind and sleeping in instead.
Away – How did you accidentally turn off the alarm again?! Relying only on yourself to get up for morning lectures, get places on time and leaving enough time in the day for chores and cooking can be a bit of an adjustment.
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On the same day Britain voted brexit, I received an offer to join ICAN as their back-end developer. As a European Union citizen living in the UK that day was a mixed-feelings day. On one hand, I had received the opportunity to join this company, which was great from a personal point of view. But when I opened the frame to get a big long shot it was quite a sad day, really. Especially because one of the strongest arguments of the leave campaign was blaming us, immigrants, on all the problems of the UK. And voters seemed to agree with that.
After a closer look at the results, one realises that those places where the leave vote won, were mainly rural areas in Wales and industrial areas and England that suffered the de-industrialisation during the Margaret Thatcher’s rule. Areas where the impact and the benefits of immigration and multiculturalism are not the rule, but the exception.
In this case, as in many other aspects, Scotland was different: bremain was the majority. According to analysts the reason for this sense of the vote was, among other reasons, because Scottish know and appreciate the positive impact that foreigners have in their economy and their society. And I am not only speaking of unqualified jobs such as cleaners, cashiers, or waiters. Scottish universities are also a good example of this multicultural interchange. For example, when I was studying Computing Science at the University of Glasgow, half of my class were foreigners. This diversity was not restricted only to students. Lecturers also came from many different parts of the globe: Australia, Brazil, Italy, France, Russia, USA… to name a just a few.
It was the same during my two summer internships at a research group there. My supervisor was from Kyrgyzstan, the project leader was British, but born in Zimbabwe and risen in Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Australia. The other two members of the team were from Iran and Scotland. Yet the project -funded by the European Commission- involved companies and universities in England, Sweden, Greece and France, counting more than 15 different nationalities, from all over the world, amongst the different teams.
ICAN Future Star is also a good example of this positive impact of immigration and multiculturalism in Britain. Founded by a Chinese and an Italian, with a staff from different Asian and European countries, and targeting the international students who want to study in the UK, the company looks like a small Tower of Babel. However, rather than causing confusion and diaspora, this diversity brings cohesion and helps the development of a well-rounded product. Indeed, at the company we are, or have been, foreign students in the UK. Thus, bringing forward our own experiences and different points of view, generated by our own backgrounds, we are in a stronger position to offer a high-quality product: because we know how studying abroad is like, and we know it from many different perspectives.
However, to me that is not the most important. The real good thing about working in a multicultural team is the opportunity it brings to learn more about other cultures, other languages and other ways of doing things. Because people can spend their lives without going further than their backyards. But looking at what is beyond the fence is much more fun. And definitely, multiculturalism at ICAN Future Star not only shapes a good product, but also shapes better people.
Because you constantly hear about teamwork being good, it may actually cause an opposite effect and make you lose interest in building a friendly, though the professional relationship with co-workers. And it is a perfectly understandable reaction. We tend to engage more in things and concepts which are new and exciting, so how to approach ‘teamwork’ if you find it tiring?
It is easier to see the benefits when looking from own perspective. In any job, it is important to feel that one’s work counts, that you are not just a ‘human resource’, but your decisions actually matter. To learn how important you are in the company you have to know what other team members currently work on and how your tasks correspond to theirs. It is an instantaneous confidence boost, to learn that somebody’s work relies on yours, because without you it would just not work out.
At ICAN, each team member has a presentation on their progress every week. I like to keep them short, to give an overview of my work and to trigger a discussion afterwards. The informal style of communication within a team is very valuable. Sometimes it is just complaining about ‘unsolvable’ bugs and struggle in general, but it gives a sense of belonging and encourages helping one another. Thanks to this, everybody manage to solve their problems faster and learn from each other in the same time, which is awesome.
Teamwork should not be forced. It ought to be caused by the curiosity of other’s work, will help and a common goal. If you remain unconvinced, think of it this way, getting the job done quicker is exciting, helping others is exciting and last but not least, proving one’s value as an employee and as a person everyday is exciting. Keep up the good work!
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
“I have been working with HelloUni team for the past few months and have gotten to know the team and the product pretty well. The team is very pleasant to work with and they are very responsive to our feedback and requirements, and being able to adjust the product development accordingly. Despite being a start-up, the team has a very rapid product development and is able to meet project milestones. We found the product to be the ‘first in the market’ and no other equivalent mobile solutions at this moment. In particularly, the founders of HelloUni were international students themselves and they bring unique insights about the behaviour and preferences of the international applicants into the design of the product.
The product, HelloUni, is a cross-platform mobile solution that helps universities engage and communicate with prospective applicants, which is in line with our current ‘ask a student’ programme and ‘student ambassador scheme’. At the University of Glasgow, we are endeavoring to expand and mobilise the ‘global ambassadors’ network’ to a new level and so as to match the preferences of the mobile-device generation of young applicants. We believe that HelloUni app would work well on domestic and international applicants in terms of increasing engagement and communications, consequently, more applications and better conversion rates. We are excited to see the product working in action and looking forward to be working with the HelloUni team on a long term basis.”
Alan Monteith- Senior Recruitment Marketing Officer
The University of Glasgow
“The ‘HelloUni’ App launch was held at the Welcoming Association’s office and training centre in central Edinburgh. and was a great success in attracting over 60 people.
The event brought together a wide range of the Welcoming’s migrant participants with invited specialist education practitioners and lecturers, from colleges and universities across Scotland.
They came together to discuss ways and solutions to improving access to further and higher education courses to enhance the employability and economic contribution of migrant professionals in a wide range of employment.
All the Welcoming staff team and the organisation’s migrant participants, that assisted in the delivery, and also took part in the launch, stated that it was a very well-organised, informative, useful and interesting event that provided achievable solutions to their needs and requirements in accessing further and higher education courses.”
Jon Busby – Project Director of the Welcoming Association.
The Welcoming Association, www.thewelcoming.org
“A few months ago, we were approached by the HelloUni team with the idea of developing an app for The Welcoming and we immediately agreed to it, clueless as to what to expect. The HelloUni team build our app very quickly and answered patiently to all our ignorant questions. They are always very considerate of our needs and the needs of our students and Welcoming app users, and designed the app in order to satisfy those needs. With it, our students have our up-to-date timetable always on hand and can check in and see who else is going to the class that day, or use our Newcomers Checklist to better prepare for their new life in Scotland. I especially like the Sticky Post feature, that HelloUni team developed for us in no time, and which gives the opportunity to customise the app to include all our one-off events & workshops without distracting the entire timetable. It feels amazing to ask for an app feature and have it realised so quickly by the developers!”
Christina Rizou – Admin Officer
The Welcoming Association, www.thewelcoming.org
WHAT OUR USERS SAY
“I really like the virtual campus tour as I was googling the campus of the university before I came, it would be nice to gain familiarity to the campus on my mobile.”- Diana (MSc in Marketing, 2014)
“I talked to the alumni of my course prior to applying to it, by talking to people who have been through similar experience helped me to confirm that coming to study a MBA is a good choice for me” -Dheeraj (MBA graduate, 2014)
“I like the fact that its a mobile app, as I do spent more time now on mobile phones than laptop. I would like to check the university information and receive notifications of updates of my enquiries on the go” – Wen Z (Msc in Accountancy and Finance, 2015)