My experience of International Foundation Year

Written by Mika Shirahama

Arriving in July, which is two months before the first semester started, I started my life in Leeds. I was very nervous to manage everything at first due to it being my first time living alone. Despite this, thanks to the tutors and friends at that time, I could get over it. And I soon fell in love with here when I noticed the beautiful campus!

After 10 weeks pre-sessional course before the International Foundation Year (I would like to call ‘IFY’ below), I was getting used to deal with chores and having some knowledge of studying in a university. On the other hand, I still did not have enough confidence on the point of my academic skills and had a lot of concern about IFY. However, during the welcome week, the IFY team provided us with some induction talks which made us have a clear overview. In addition, they conducted mentoring sessions to prevent stress for new students starting their lives here, we could also ask questions easily. These events made me feel much more comfortable before I got involved in my classes.

Now I am taking 3 modules which are ‘Academic Study Skills’, ‘Introduction to Communication and Media’ and ‘Exploring Arts and Humanities’ as I am a student in Arts and Social Sciences route leading into BA Theatre and Performance. In terms of the contents, I think those fit our required skills to study for the full degree here. For example, the ‘Academic Study Skills’ class provided us with a lot of reading and writing to prepare assessed tasks. We have practice tasks before the assessments in other different themes so that it would advance our practical skills.

Regarding the challenges during the IFY, I assume always keeping hard-working and motivated might be the most difficult thing. All of us are advised to study hard due to completing the assessment such as seminar discussion, essay, annotated bibliography, portfolio and presentations throughout the whole year. Sometimes the students are stressed out, but we support each other by working together or cheering each other up so that we could face the hurdles together.

Besides, the funniest event I remember in semester one is the Christmas lunch held by one of my tutors. He brought us to the market and told us about the culture of Christmas in the UK. We had a lot of assessments to submit at that time which generated our stress, but we all said the activity relieved our stress much better as we had some time away from our studies.

Overall, I satisfied the contents of IFY and encounter new things that I have never experienced before. Now I am still studying in the International Foundation Year, but I believe the experiences this year will be my treasure in the future.

If you have any questions about the IFY please email me! 🙂


Mika Shirahama
Hello, my name is Mika Shirahama and I am from Japan. Before coming to Leeds, I used to go to a girls' school in Osaka for 6 years and before...
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